Committee sues to extend E-line train service to Jamaica Plain

Committee sues to extend E-line train service to Jamaica Plain

By Stephanie Moran

The Arborway Committee is suing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to restore E-line service beyond Heath Street to the Arborway at Forest Hills, aiming to reduce traffic flow and pollution. The extension could benefit students looking for off-campus housing, but at the same time, it may lead to higher rent in Jamaica Plain.

The Arborway Committee filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court Feb. 13 against the Executive Office of Transportation, the Department of Public Works and the Conservation Law Foundation to follow one of the original goals of the Big Dig: restore T service in Jamaica Plain.

The Arborway service was suspended in December 1985, leaving the MBTA’s route 39 bus as the only public transportation for most Jamaica Plain residents.

Last December, former governor Mitt Romney’s administration vetoed the Arborway project despite efforts by transit advocates to advance the project.

Committee chair Franklyn Salimbene said the decision by the Romney administration to cancel the project was “unconscionable.”

“Jamaica Plain is on the ‘top 10 list’ of neighborhoods with the highest asthma rates in the entire state,” Salimbene said in a statement. “Restoring Green Line service is the only viable way of improving public transit and thereby improving air quality in Jamaica Plain.”

Professor John Cipolla, chair of the mechanical and industrial engineering department, said restoring the E-line and ending route 39 bus service would benefit Jamaica Plain residents and Northeastern faculty and students.

“The value in the E-line for Jamaica Plain is that it provides easy access to Harvard Medical Center and a one-way seat to downtown,” Cipolla, a Jamaica Plain resident, said.

Terminating the 39 bus would increase the number of trains traveling both inbound and outbound on the E-line, providing Northeastern faculty and students with a speedier, more timely commute, he said.

Cipolla said extending the E-line to Forest Hills will also reduce traffic on the streets of Jamaica Plain. Residents who now drive their own cars or ride the bus may ride the T, he said.

Arborway Committee Chair Franklyn Salimbene said the state should extend the E-line to Forest Hills because the 39 bus is an unreliable means of transportation.

“People depend on a service that is reliable and on time,” he said. “The route 39 bus service has a 43 percent on-time performance rate.”

Aside from inaccurate scheduling, Salimbene said the 39 bus provides “terrible service,” because instead of taking a direct route to places like Park Street and Government Center, riders must transfer from the bus to the T at Copley Square.

Senior photography major Julie Schober, who usually takes the bus to campus, said she would rather ride the T. The E-line is a much more reliable source of transportation than the 39 bus, especially now that the renovations past Brigham Circle are complete, she said.

“I think the E-line is running more efficiently than ever,” Schober said. “While standing and waiting for the bus, I usually see two or three [trolleys] pass through the Northeastern stop.”

Schober, like Cipolla, also said restoring T service to Jamaica Plain would lessen traffic issues.

However, Rachael Weaver, a political science graduate student, said extending the E-line, “is not going to have any benefit.”

Weaver said it would only add to Jamaica Plain’s congestion. The T would be alongside all other vehicles on the road, meaning cars would continually have to stop as passengers got on and off, and the traffic would never cease, she said.

If the E-line is restored to Forest Hills, those who rent apartments in Jamaica Plain may see an increase in monthly payments due to increased popularity, according to local realtors.

City Realty Group’s Jamaica Plain representative Rafael Hernandez said rent for a two-bedroom apartment in that area is likely to increase from its current range of $1,200-$1,500 per month if the green line is extended, but he did not know by how much.

Schober said she will continue to live in Jamaica Plain if the rent doesn’t increase too drastically.

Weaver, however, said she will be disappointed if rent rises in Jamaica Plain. She said in comparison to everyone she knows in Boston, she pays about $100 less for her apartment and likes it that way.

Leave a Reply