MassDOT Offering Free Digital Media Due to Tunnel Closure

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation – in partnership with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Boston Public Library or BPL – is offering access to free digital newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, and e-books as a way to improve the transit experience for commuters during the two-month long $160 million Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project.

[Above photo by MBTA]

Built in the 1930s, the Sumner Tunnel – the very first traffic tunnel in Massachusetts and one of the oldest in the nation – offers one of four ways into the City of Boston, handles over 39,000 vehicles per day, is the main connection for East Boston and Logan Airport, and serves as a main entry point for the North Shore.

MassDOT closed the tunnel July 5 through August 31 to significantly upgrade the structure, which includes removing and replacing the tunnel ceiling and repairing the overhead arch; demolishing and replacing the tunnel deck and roadway surface; repairing tunnel walls and installing fireproof panels; installing new light emitting diode or LED lights inside the tunnel; upgrading CCTV and fire alarm systems; installing new utility conduits and cables under the bridge deck; and improving the tunnel’s environmental resiliency.

Photo by MBTA

As part of the project’s mitigation efforts, MassDOT is helping provide free trips on the MBTA Blue Line during the tunnel’s closure; free and reduced cost water ferry options; reduced commuter rail fares for riders; reduced parking costs at MBTA and commuter rail parking lots and garages; discounted tolls for residents; and alternative travel options to and from Logan Airport.

Making those transit options more appealing is one reason why MassDOT and its partners are now offering free digital content at more than 50 subway, bus, ferry, and commuter rail locations.

While riders are waiting to board the bus, train, or ferry, they can scan the QR code available near the transportation stop to access the digital library in their default internet browser – no mobile application or library card required. The service allows transit riders access unlimited newspapers and magazines as well as select up to five eBooks or audiobooks to read or listen to right in the browser.

[Editor’s note: This free digital content service is an expansion of an experiment Boston launched at 20 bus stops in May, also in partnership with BPL and the MBTA.]

“As we encourage travelers to ‘Ditch the Drive,’ we are grateful to the Boston Public Library for partnering with us to find a way to make trips more enjoyable,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca in a statement

“The BPL is a terrific resource for communities throughout Massachusetts and this program is great opportunity for riders to experience all that the library has to offer,” she noted. “We’re committed to providing a safe, reliable ride to the public during the tunnel’s closure and beyond,” added MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng.

“So now, when you leave the driving to us, you can now enjoy a great book, catch up on the news, read your favorite magazine, and more,” he said. “These types of creative initiatives are a great way to both relax and enhance your travels. We hope riders and the public take advantage of public transportation and the library’s digital offerings.”

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