For hundreds of years, the Tufts Medical Center has served as a research and teaching facility and a full service hospital for residents of Back Bay and the greater Boston area. Given the Center’s significance, a MBTA Orange Line stop was built underneath the hospital in the late 1980’s to allow patients and employees to commute with ease.
Although much about the station and medical center has changed since the MBTA stop’s creation in 1987, a core component of its infrastructure has not: its elevator system, which allows for direct access from the station to the hospital. After 31 years of use, the 3 elevators in the station require replacement. On October 16, 2017 the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began a project to replace the elevators. The project costs $8 million and was slated to be completed on May 1, 2018.
Despite the official MBTA website stating that the project would end on “approximately May 1,” those who hope to use elevators in the Tufts Medical Center station still find themselves unable to do so roughly two months after the expected date of completion. In response to the project, the MBTA has set up a shuttle bus service from Back Bay, the closest station with functional elevators.
While a prolonged elevator outage at any MBTA stop poses an issue for commuters, the Tufts stop is arguably one of the most damaging places for an extended elevator outage given the health issues faced by many of those who rely on the facility’s convenient access to care. Although the shuttle bus service from Back Bay Station to Tufts Medical Center alleviates some of the inconvenience, for those with significant health and mobility problems, the disruption forces them to arrange other, often more costly, means of transportation.
Last week, Pioneer reached out to the MBTA press office for comment and was informed that the construction of the new elevators has been completed and they will soon begin rigorous testing followed by a final inspection. Although the elevators will soon be up and running again, missing the project deadline by two months reveals an underlying issue. All too often the MBTA struggles to meet deadlines resulting in major problems for commuters.
Jay Anderson is a Northeastern University Co-Op at the Pioneer Institute; he is a Political Science major.