With the Sumner Tunnel's reopening, here's what changes on the MBTA

MBTA commuters watch Berklee students Liz Shin, piano play jazz before boarding their train at Wonderland Station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MBTA commuters watch Berklee students Liz Shin, piano play jazz before boarding their train at Wonderland Station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Merry Allston Christmas! Good luck to everyone moving into a new place today and congrats to all those who didn’t drive their moving trucks onto Storrow Drive. (So far, so good!) Having narrowly avoided the Great Boston Milk Disaster of 2023, let’s get to the news:

The Sumner Tunnel is open again! It even opened a few hours earlier than expected this morning. It’s welcome news for East Boston residents and people driving back from Logan Airport — but a little bit of a bummer for local transit users. With the end of the two-month closure also comes the end of a bevy of public transit perks that officials used to entice commuters to “ditch the drive.” That means…

  • …the Blue Line is no longer free; you’ll have to pay your full fare again.
  • …the East Boston ferry also costs money again — specifically $2.40 each way. Additionally, the price to take the Lynn and Winthrop ferries are now $7 and $6.50 each way, respectively. (They were just $2.40 during the tunnel closure).
  • …the bus routes that were free during the closure — the 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, and SL3 — will resume fare collection, too
  • …discounted fares on the commuter rail’s Newburyport/Rockport are over; you’ll have to pay the full zone-based fare. Plus, as we reported earlier this week, you’ll no longer be able to flash your CharlieCard to take the commuter rail around Boston.
  • …no more free or discounted parking along the Blue Line and Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail stations.
  • What about the Sumner itself? Officials told reporters the drive inside the two-lane tunnels should feel a bit “roomier” due to new archways put in during the closure. But there’s still more work to do — starting with another closure on the weekend of Sept 15.
  • Tune in: Massachusetts Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver was just on Morning Edition to talk about the reopening and what drivers should expect next. Listen here.

PSA: Hey new residents, make sure you’re registered to vote! Tomorrow is the state’s deadline to register ahead of Sept. 12 municipal preliminary elections in Boston and other cities around Massachusetts. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Springfield, and your crowded mayoral primary.) Not sure if you’re registered? It’s easy to check! Just enter your name, birthday and zip code here.

  • Early voting in Boston also begins tomorrow and continues through next Friday, Sept. 8. Here’s a map of the city’s early polling places and ballot drop boxes.
  • What’s on the ballot? In Boston, it’s just City Council races. The preliminary will narrow down the field to two candidates in four district races ahead of the November election. Our daily podcast The Common has a preview of the most-watched races here.
  • Bookmark this: Registering to vote is item No. 7 on our moving-to-Boston checklist. Here’s our full guide to settling in.

Gov. Maura Healey is recommending another four pardons in her first year in office. What do they have in common? Her office says they’re hoping to give a clean slate to four individuals who were charged with crimes when they were under 25 years old, but have since gone on to give back to their community and live productive lives.

Cambridge-based Sage Therapeutics is laying off 40% of its employees after getting mixed news from the FDA last month. While the FDA approved Sage’s pill specifically intended to treat postpartum depression, it rejected its drug for major depressive disorder. According to the Boston Business Journal, the layoffs affect around 275 people, though it’s not clear if they’re all based in Cambridge.

Farm aid, Massachusetts edition: The state’s disaster relief fund for farmers will begin accepting applications today. The fund has a total of $20 million for farmers in central and western Massachusetts who were hit hard by flooding this summer — though officials say that’s still not enough to cover the total amount of damage.

  • The timeline for distributing the money remains unclear. Winton Pitcoff, the deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources, says they’re still working on a program to “get that money out to farmers as a direct payment.”

P.S.— Do you know what Boston will no longer require on marriage licenses? If you think you know the answer, take our Boston News Quiz and see how you stack up against other WBUR readers.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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