Indigo Line Pilot Could Improve Fairmount Commuter Rail Line

Trial program would upgrade transportation for communities that have been previously underserved by the MBTA

Hoai Thuong Tran

The MBTA map could be getting a new line. A bill in the Massachusetts Legislature would put money into a pilot program to turn the Fairmount commuter rail line into the “Indigo Line.”

The Indigo Line pilot would make the Fairmount line run more like the region’s other subway lines. It would improve public transit for communities along the route, including Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roxbury. The more frequent and more reliable service would make it easier for people living in these communities – which have traditionally been underserved by the MBTA – to go to school, work, a doctor’s appointment, or the grocery store.

With your help, the Indigo Line pilot could become a reality. Call your senator and representative (find contact information here) to tell them you support the Indigo Line pilot.

Legislation Would Benefit Communities Along the Fairmount Line

The bill, H.2723, would meet the transit needs of the communities along this line, which runs through some of Boston’s most underserved and lowest-income neighborhoods. The city has not always provided the Fairmount line’s riders with the best service.

During the major snowstorms that paralyzed the T in 2015, many Fairmount Line passengers were left stranded at crowded stations, waiting for trains that never came. On clear-weather days in 2016, services were delayed or canceled because Fairmount trains were diverted to replace malfunctioning trains on commuter rail lines serving more affluent communities.

If passed, the pilot would give riders the same levels of service, speed, and affordability as the region’s other subway lines.

Ticket prices would be fixed at the flat rate of $2.25 per ride (with a CharlieCard), and the line would have dedicated trains, creating more frequent service. The pilot would also allow free transfer to other parts of the MBTA network, instead of having to pay to move between the commuter rail and subway, as riders do now.

Pilot Would Build on Recent Success

CLF and our partners, including the Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition, the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, the Livable Streets Alliance, and T Riders Union, have long advocated for better service from the MBTA, including the Indigo Line pilot.

One recent victory came when these community partners worked with local transit proponents to allow riders to pay for a commuter rail ride with a CharlieCard. This summer, the MBTA announced plans to start using a handheld device to scan CharlieCards on the Fairmount Line. This integration is a significant step in the right direction, especially considering the implications it has on the daily lives of people riding the line.

Currently, without the option of using a CharlieCard, passengers who do not carry smartphones with a mobile ticketing app have to pay more for onboard cash tickets. Allowing CharlieCard payments, which passengers already use for the bus and subway, will make transit more accessible for everyone using the Fairmount Line.

The Indigo Line Pilot Needs Your Support

Handheld readers are a small but important step in the right direction. Now, it’s time to build on the grassroots advocacy to pass H.2723 and create a rapid transportation pilot for the Fairmount corridor. Because the bill would require the MBTA to commit resources to the Indigo Line, it gives the pilot dedicated funding to get up and running.

H.2723 is currently under consideration by the House Committee on Ways and Means, but the Massachusetts Legislature only has until July 31 to pass this bill. Call your representative today and tell them you support H.2723 and the Indigo Line pilot.

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