Last week, Janssen McCormick’s wife, Kelly, tried to take the Orange Line one stop, from Charlestown to the North End, where she works as an optician.
That one stop took two hours. The T, as it has been for almost three weeks, was a mess. The historically bad weather has wreaked mechanical havoc on the T’s infrastructure, resulting in delays and cancellations.
That experience prompted McCormick, a 30-year-old ESL (English as second language) teacher from Charlestown, to launch a GoFundMe page. His aim? To raise $300 million for the ailing MBTA.
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He thought he would get a handful of small donations – say $5 to $10 -- from friends. As of press time though, more than 60 people – the vast majority of whom he doesn’t know – have donated. Some have given $50. He’s raised $1,280 in eight days.
“A lot of people do recognize that it’s tongue in cheek,” McCormick told the Metro. “They say, ‘I understand it’s a joke but let’s embarrass the T.’ I think people are just really frustrated.”
McCormick said he initially wanted to set up the fundraiser for $30 billion — just enough to drag the T into the 21st century, he said. But GoFundMe, a fundraising site, would not process a figure that large. He settled for $300 million. On his fundraising page, he offered rewards, as a joke, for different level of donations; for $200 you are given carte blanche to “forcibly remove remove backpacks from passengers and throw them into the pit between platforms.” A $10 million donation and you are allowed to rename Tufts Medical Center.
But some people actually donated $50 – the reward for which was McCormick will scream their name on an Orange Line car for 45 minutes during rush hour.
So next Wednesday, during the afternoon commute, he’s going to make good on those rewards. He plans to yell various donor names while on the Orange Line.
“Part of why I started it was the fact that this happens every winter,” he said. “Yes, we live in a climate where we have severe winters. But there are other metro systems that have severe winters that don’t break down like this. Oslo, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, Russia. You never hear about those cities being paralyzed by the cold and the snow.”