Rosa Parks resonates for the MBTA today

Thanks to a bill signed in January, the MBTA is displaying a permanent decal or utilizing LED boards on buses to recognize civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Parks was arrested when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Her actions inspired a year-long boycott of the bus system by African-Americans and became a touchstone in the civil rights movement.

Over 60 years later, Boston Globe columnist Nester Ramos wonders what her thoughts would be on the state of MBTA’s bus system today, with structural inequities that have led black riders to spend 64 hours a year longer on buses than their white counterparts.

“If Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Boston today,” Ramos wrote, “she wouldn’t see black and white sections; she’d see a dysfunctional system that is disproportionately failing the low-income people — largely people of color and immigrants — whose livelihoods depend on it.”

The MBTA updated its State of the Bus System on February 1, as a part of its efforts for The Better Bus Project. The program aims to rethink how bus service is delivered in accordance to the expectations of riders in 2019. With 176 total bus routes, and over 400,000 riders to support, the challenge is hefty.

Assessments of ridership, routes, and stops are all being taken into account as the T prepares to undertake a network redesign of the entire bus system. Of those 176 routes, only 19 have frequent all-day service. That number drops to 14 on Saturdays, and 8 on Sundays.

Sixty-three percent of residents in the MBTA service area are not served by any route that offers all-day frequent service. Some of those people work weekends, or early morning and late hours. Many are people of color and immigrants who work low-wage jobs.

The agency has identified problems, including overcrowding, slow service, buses starting too late in the morning, and irregular schedules. Public meetings are being held to discuss potential changes. But change won’t come easy. A shift in the pickup location for the 435 bus in Lynn  could mean a half-mile extra walk for some riders, but the change is meant to reduce wait times by 10 minutes.

About 21 percent of Lynn’s population is below the poverty line, and the median household income is also low. Some commuters have multiple jobs and rely on reliable service to get from work to home, or even more importantly, work to work.

The bill to honor Parks on MBTA buses was spearheaded by Braintree residents led by Natalie Ornell, who saw similar decals on a trip to Miami and wanted to replicate them in Boston. Ornell told Ramos that her goal was more than just remembering a courageous woman.

“Raising awareness of T inequities is one of the many reasons why I thought this would be important for Massachusetts,” Ornell said. “I hoped this would be a conversation starter for people on all bus routes and I hoped it could create more engagement on these issues as people ride the bus and see her name, which is now permanent on the buses.”




CommonWealth fact-checks a new poll on voter attitudes toward tax increases and higher spending and finds some of the questions slanted.

Carolyn Kirk, who was mayor of Gloucester before becoming deputy secretary in the Office of Housing and Economic Development, is going to be the new executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Attorney General Maura Healey, who regulates a broad range of sectors, including health care, got thousands of dollars in donations from health care and other interests for her inaugural celebration. (Boston Globe)

Western Mass Politics & Insight profiles Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield.


The Stockbridge select board fires the fire chief, Ernest Cordillo, for mismanagement and 12 of his volunteer firefighters resign in protest. The vote was 2-0, with the third member, Cordillo himself, recusing himself. (Berkshire Eagle) A Berkshire Eagle editorial says it’s time for Stockbridge to bring in professional management.

The Springfield City Council pulls the plug on a proposal to hike the pay of councilors’ pay from $19,500 to $29,500. (MassLive)

Commuters may lose half of the parking at the MBTA’s North Quincy station as the transit authority breaks ground this month on a mixed use development at the station. (Patriot Ledger)


Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon will meet with Vice President Mike Pence and many other local law enforcement officials at the White House today for a discussion of the opioid crisis. (Eagle-Tribune)

Gov. Charlie Baker testified before a congressional committee urging more federal action on climate change. (Boston Globe) Baker’s move marks yet another break by the Republican governor from the party’s prevailing views. (CommonWealth)


Globe columnist Joan Vennochi says the latest revelations of Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American identity make her no longer viable as potential Democratic presidential nominee who could defeat Donald Trump. A Herald editorial urges her to abandon her presidential quest because of the issue.

Margaret Monsell says the Massachusetts GOP’s urban strategy is unconvincing. (CommonWealth)

A day after delivering the Democratic response to the State of the Union address, Stacey Abrams was generating buzz not just as a potential US Senate candidate in Georgia, which some are urging, but as another potential entrant to the burgeoning 2020 presidential field. (New York Times)

Springfield City Councilor Orlando Ramos said he is seriously considering a challenge to incumbent Mayor Domenic Sarno. (MassLive)


Should we just ban billionaires? (New York Times)

Boston City Councilor Kim Janey wants to give minority-owned businesses and certain others harmed by the war on drugs a leg up in the forthcoming retail marijuana market in the city. (WGBH News)


Protesters at UMass Boston say their parking strike against sharply higher rates was successful. No confirmation from the school. (CommonWealth)

Worcester education officials can’t seem to find common ground on a sex education policy for students, withdrawing a second curricula because of concerns raised by parents. (Telegram & Gazette)

Local officials are considering their next steps now that the town of Yarmouth has sued the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District and the town of Dennis over the method used to approve a new $117 million regional middle school. (Cape Cod Times)

MIT says it won’t cut research and financial ties with Saudi Arabia over the recent killing of a journalist, despite calls to do so from faculty and students. (Boston Globe)

Saugus is cracking down on school absenteeism. (Daily Item)

Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons issued a statement saying his suspension last week dealt with a personnel issue and had nothing to do with sexual misconduct or a violation of coaching rules. (Telegram & Gazette)

After the acting Lowell school superintendent, Jeannine Durkin, declined to apply for the permanent post, a majority of the School Committee voted to enter a closed-door session to work out a contract to retain her. (Lowell Sun)


Sean Cahill of The Fenway Institute says President Trump’s talk of eradicating HIV in his State of the Union address is undercut by several policies his administration is pursuing that discriminate against LGBT individuals and those with HIV. (Boston Globe)


Jim Aloisi, the former secretary of transportation and TransitMatters board member, says weekday sports victory parades have to end. He argues that they are putting too much strain (and costs) on the MBTA and inconveniencing too many regular passengers. (CommonWealth)

Sky Rose, an MBTA employee, urges the transit agency to consider extending the Red Line from Ashmont to Mattapan and ditching the whole trolley debate. (Dorchester Reporter)

A proposed five-story, 56-unit condominium project next to the Ashmont T station drew mixed reactions at a public meeting, with residents raising some concerns about the minimal number of affordable units and the absence of any parking. (Dorchester Reporter) CommonWealth recently reported the building would have no off-street parking and residents would be barred from obtaining on-street parking stickers.

WGBH News looks at the decrease in valet parking permits and conversion of parking garages into other developments as evidence that the number of parking spaces in the city is shrinking. Yet traffic doesn’t seem to be diminishing, which could be explained by an an increased reliance on ride-hailing services. A recent analysis of Census data by Bruce Schaller found that between 2012 and 2017 car ownership became more prevalent among Bostonians.


US Rep. Bill Keating and US Sen. Ed Markey filed similar bills to reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission for another 10 years. (Cape Cod Times)

Metropolitan Area Planning Council Executive Director Marc Draisen says despite the organization’s findings, he has “deep reservations” about a proposed compressor station in Weymouth to service a natural gas pipeline. In issuing its air quality permit for the project, the state relied on MAPC’s report that emissions from the compressor would not likely cause health effects in the surrounding area. (WBUR News)

Among its other treasurers, the New England Aquarium houses the world’s largest collection of right whale feces, which is “indescribably potent” and can help researchers understand the nutrition and stresses of the majestic creatures without bothering them. (WBUR News)


MGM Springfield is in talks with the city to take over management of Symphony Hall. (MassLive)


The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of Michelle Carter who, as a 17-year-old in 2014, urged her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide. (Boston Globe) Evan Slavitt decries the ruling as one that has “criminalized pure speech.” (Boston Herald)

Saying “the tough on crime mantra has failed,” Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington says she is preparing to launch a juvenile jail diversion program. (Berkshire Eagle)

A lawsuit by gun shops challenging Attorney General Maura Healey’s ban on copycat assault weapons is moving along slowly, and some of the gun advocates say the AG is dragging her feet. (Telegram & Gazette)

The absence of a will means a family that’s lived in a Cambridge home for 40 years may lose it to relatives in Barbados. (Boston Globe)


The New York Times is getting close to becoming a majority-digital company. (Nieman Journalism Lab) The Times also employs more journalists than at any time in its history.

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is facing plagiarism charges in connection with her new book, Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts. (Washington Post)

Veteran court reporter David Boeri recounts how important it can be to hear jurors’ perspective on a recent trial, and celebrates a recent federal appeals court ruling rebuking a judge’s effort to withhold information about jurors from the media. (WBUR News)


Veteran Boston radio news anchor Gary LaPierre died at age 76. (Boston Globe)