South Boston frustrated by poor MBTA planning

Residents left a planning meeting to improve South Boston bus services Wednesday night frustrated by bus stop changes the T developed without first asking the public for insight into major issues in the area.

Jenn Menjin said she came to the meeting expecting to learn about plans to permanently relocate bus routes from East Fourth Street to the less congested streets of East Broadway, but was surprised to hear about plans to eliminate some bus stops completely, leaving fewer stations in the area despite public feedback requesting otherwise.

“I feel kind of duped in a way. It came as a shock and then at the end, they essentially said ‘this is what will happen,’” the South Boston resident said. “They had this meeting, but they’re going to do it either way.”

Wednesday’s meeting was one of a two-part series held by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority aimed at enhancing service reliability and efficiency throughout South Boston. The MBTA hired consulting associates Nelson\Nygaard to develop a revised transportation system after receiving complaints regarding overcrowding and inaccessibility at many bus stops.

Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Principal Ralph De Nisco presented a plan suggesting current bus routes along East Fourth Street and P Street be moved to East Broadway and Farragut Road, where streets and sidewalks are wider, allowing for increased passing areas for both buses and residents.

De Nisco’s plan also included evaluations on each current and future potential stop, which analyzed sidewalk conditions, parking impact and resident and bus accessibility. Using these evaluations, De Nisco developed plans to eliminate “about every other stop and improve the ones in-between.”

However, many residents said there aren’t enough buses in circulation already, and to reduce the number of stops would cause more congestion around remaining stops in the area.

“This is unacceptable,” Menjin said. “I walk to work every day — I have that luxury — but I walk out and there’s about 60 people out on Broadway at 7:30 a.m. We can’t be getting rid of bus stops when there’s already so many people waiting.”

Other residents complained of frequently being passed by full buses, making them late for work or forcing them to wait outside in colder months for up to an hour at a time.

Around 15,000 South Boston residents rely on buses for transportation every day, according to the MBTA.

Sheila Greene, a resident of South Boston, said the issue of overcrowding stems from a lack of efficient planning surrounding South Boston’s recent development and population boom over the last decade.

“For five years the MBTA knew there would be an influx of over a thousand people into South Boston, yet you never built an infrastructure around any kind of plan to support these people,” Greene said during the meeting.

This poor planning became more evident to Greene during the meeting, when there was no mention of weather-related detour routes in the proposal. During the heavy snowfall last winter, buses were rerouted in an emergency action plan by the MBTA. Other residents spoke of harsh bus conditions throughout the winter, including un-shoveled sidewalks that made accessibility to buses difficult.

“Winter is a blink away and they haven’t planned this out yet. It’s insane,” Greene said after the meeting. “We have this meeting and they’re not even talking about the #11 bus, which was problematic last year. I don’t get it.”

At the end of the two-hour meeting, many of the 40 residents present asked if there would be a voting process before the MBTA goes forward with the proposal, but did not receive a clear answer from either De Nisco or members of the MBTA in the audience.

David Carney, the assistant general manager for bus operations and service planning for the MBTA, said he thought the meeting was successful and gave the MBTA the chance to educate residents on the issues and constraints they face when developing new transportation plans. However, he stressed that at this time the plan is just a concept and resident feedback will be taken into account.

“This is not something that is cast in concrete,” Carney said. “We will still have another meeting, and where they have comments we will listen. There is a possibility that we could step back from all of this.”

Residents and officials will have another chance to express their ideas and concerns at the next preliminary planning meeting on Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tynan School.

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Comments

A few more (or less) bus stops ain't gonna change a thing.

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Not when that daily number of riders increases as Southie continues to grow.

Not too mention the AM & PM drivers from points south cutting through Southie via Day Blvd, Dot Ave & Dot St., etc.

There's just too many cars, not enough pavement and no groundbreaking ideas to fix it. Hiring a consultant is nice (and expensive) but if the powers that be at the MBTA couldn't think of this pretty basic plan on their own then how can we honestly expect them to come up with a solution?

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There was a solution

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It was to run frequent 60' buses to/from South Boston via the Silver Line. The same buses which are full going outbound from South Station at rush hour now, but empty going inbound.

This was 10 years ago, but it infringed on Southie's right to double-park on Broadway, so they refused to let it run there, so it was pushed elsewhere away from where people lived, and no one rode it, and the T threw in the towel (and I can't blame them).

Sorry, Southie, you had your chance and stuck your thumbs to your noses and now you have the audacity to complain? You can't make this shit up.

Next please.

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Yes, that is true. But the

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Yes, that is true. But the census tracts around Telegraph Hill have the highest levels of 30+ length of residency in the City of Boston. So more people are there, yes, but the old boys are still around in force.

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'Old Boys'

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what exactly are you trying to say?

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^^^

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What he/she said.

Dedicated Bus and Bike Lanes on Broadway is the only solution! Screw the few left over, cranky townies that want to double park and drive everywhere.

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You live in Southie?

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You would know that the population has increased significantly, not all residents drive or ride skateboards to work and the buses going down Broadway go nowhere near the Silverline. You really can't believe everything you read on the Interweb.

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Those us who were around back

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Those us who were around back then know that the buses were supposed to go down Broadway. Pretty evident you didn't live in Southie back then.

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> You really can't believe

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> You really can't believe everything you read on the Interweb.

Yep. Don't believe the boston.com article on how South Boston killed the routing down Broadway and had it replaced with routings down D Street and First Street

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/12/17/s_bos...

Also, don't believe the maps from Wikipedia with those routes.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Silver_Line.jpg

And don't believe the death of SL3 due to low ridership by sending it down streets where no one lives instead of down the corridor where people now complain about there not being enough buses.

Facts on the ground are there would be Silver Line on Broadway if Southie hadn't killed it.

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The God Given Right to double

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The God Given Right to double park and 'space save' in Southie has done more to ruin transit there than anything.

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The solution would be a real

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The solution would be a real subway line (or light rail) going through the middle that hopefully connected up to the Seaport, as the Seaport is only going to make this worse in a couple of years.

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Idea

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From at or near Broadway Station - an elevated line down the length of First Street, cutting over toward Castle Island at the end of First, then back around over Day Boulevard and Old Colony.

It will probably never happen but it would eventually alleviate loads of problems, IMVHO.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Streetcars

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Having cute little streetcars running through Southie that you could hop off and on would be nice.

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Edit

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Having streetcars AGAIN running through Southie.

Back in the day, the 9 bus ran down Broadway and then in to the Pleasant Street subway portal and on to Boylston (where the old cars are stored) and Park and beyond. One seat ride, and not just to South Station.

http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=14060

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Please improve upon this...

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THE SOLUTION!

Every Weekday - 6:00am - 10:00am
No parking or driving on the north/east side of West and East Broadway. This will be a dedicate bus lane running straight to Broadway T.

Just to the left of the dedicated Bus Lane will be a dedicated bike lane.

Cars heading away from Broadway T can continue to use the south/west side.
Cars headed into the city can use 1st street.

Also, have buses that only go to Broadway T and loop immediately back to the beginning in City Point.

Add a bus route that goes up D street into the SoBo Waterfront. This will keep people off the other Buses (9, 11) and the Red Line...and get them to work much faster.

Every Weekday - 4:00pm - 8:00pm.
Just the opposite of the above.

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Let's be honest

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This is Southie we're talking about. The old guard that screams the loudest about everything will make damn sure nothing changes. A simple, no brainer change to move the busses from east 4th to Broadway is still being shouted down for no reason

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Why is this a no brainer?

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Why exactly is putting the end of the 5, 7, 9, 10, routes on B'way a no-brainer? B'way is more congested than 4th St.

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No,

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It's not.

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I spent most of the winter

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I spent most of the winter walking from Southie to Downtown because I couldn't get on a bus (all filled) unless I walked to East 1st St, the first stop. It took 20 min for me to walk to the bus stop (not including the time it took to stand there and wait) and it only takes 40min to walk to work - so I decided to save myself the aggravation and just walk. If you remember how much snow we had (how can you forget) you know that this will end up being one of those stories I tell my grandkids "Grandma had to walk 3 miles to work in 4 feet of snow every day for 3 months...barefoot!" Kidding, but just about the barefoot part.

Anyway, my point is the public transportation in Southie sucks and is only made worse when the weather gets bad.

I like that the buses have been moved to Broadway. It's a bigger road, buses can easily navigate around double parked cars and there are less turns. I also don't see why people aren't in favor of eliminating every other stop. If you live on M St, for example, and that stop gets eliminated, your walk to either N street or L street is not that far. The faster these buses make the loop around, the faster they're back to pick up more people. But to be honest, I don't really care either way whether the buses go down E4th and stop at every block or not. What I do care about is the amount and frequency of the buses. There just isn't enough or they aren't spaced out appropriately. It makes no sense to have 3 buses in a row (2 empty) and then not another bus for 15 minutes and it's filled before it gets to P St.

I don't know what the solution is but what we have now is not working. Also, these MBTA community meetings start at 5:30pm and the last one was apparently poorly attended. I can't speak for everyone, but it's really difficult to leave work at 5pm and get to a meeting by 5:30 especially if you're relying on the MBTA to get you there (isn't that ironic).

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That's The Set Up

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You people in Southie need to reach out to the neighborhood organizers in Mattapan that killed the so-called "28X bus." The 28X was to have been a dedicated busway from Egleston Sq to Mattapan Sq down the middle fo the road following the route traveled by streetcars removed in the mid-50s. There were numerous problems with the plan and they finally killed it in favor of more-frequent service.

They instead got the extra-long articulated buses that now ply the route. Why? because MassDOT had already ordered the buses for what was expected to be a "shovel ready" project and there was no expectation the route and the BRT plan would be killed. Now the T is trying to relocate stops and eliminate stops to make the extra long buses work better. never mind that these long buses are prone to jack-knifing and often have to be taken out of service in the winter until the roads are cleared.

MassDOT often set the community meeting times at odd hours when no one could make it, had a poor track record of announcing them, and almost never engaged city and state elected officials in the process. It was a set up from the get-go.

Eventually the neighborhoods organized and got their elected people on the same page and the plan being foisted on them was killed.

Southie needs to do the same thing to get the "public" transit system working for the public.

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you make too much sense...

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It's absurd to have 3 buses in a row, 1 totally empty, one w/ 10 people on it, and the other full. It's also crazy to move the buses back to E. 4th where they get trapped by oncoming traffic (esp in the snow), and have stops every block. What I don't think you've figured out is, people in Southie complain about anything new or different than what they're used to. "Things used to work fine" isn't really a solution to new problems.

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"What I don't think you've

"What I don't think you've figured out is, people in Southie complain about anything new or different than what they're used to."

Kind of a broad generalization that would be deemed offensive if it was an all encompassing statement made about any other demographic.

But PC only applies to minorities so it's all fair game.

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No one

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said anything about anyone's ethnicity, age, religion, creed, or nationality, except their current residence in a particular neighborhood. Neighborhoods have cultures and norms all of their own.

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No, because it's consistent

No, because it's consistent with behavior in that neighborhood, just like being selfish asshole is consistent with behavior in Southie.

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'Well Documented'?

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Where are these 'documents'? Are they scientifically vetted? Are they as reasonably trust-worthy as, say, DOJ and FBI crime stats, or just mostly anon people making (biased?) claims?

In this city, for whatever fucked up reason, 'Southie', South Boston is code (for some people) for scary, uneducated, backward urban white trash, who must be eradicated by any means necessary, so Boston can continue it's expanding 'gentrification' (meaning, the locals, 'townies', need to gtfo asap) to make room for more cosmopolitan and sophisticated people from suburban Connecticut, NY and NJ.

Just sayin'.

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Ouch

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I am rubber you are glue....

Clearly you haven't met everyone from Southie.

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Oh my God, you poor martyr.

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Kind of a broad generalization that would be deemed offensive if it was an all encompassing statement made about any other demographic.

Oh my God, you poor martyr.

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As a side note - this is my

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As a side note - this is my 11th year in Southie, so while I'm not "Original", it's hard for me to accept a "newcomer" tag. Not that you suggested that, but what I'm saying is that I've had plenty of time to get used to change because I've seen a lot of it in this decade. Some is good, some is bad - but it's true that there is a lot of resistance to it in this neighborhood and some is warranted but some of it is spiteful. Like, it wasn't our idea so it must be a bad one - and that goes both ways for Old/New residents.

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The residents need to be more organized

The poor planning and poor guidance during emergencies will continue as usual. The only way this will change will be through the efforts of neighborhood residents. A group of them (as many as possible) need to get together, mark up a map and present it at these meetings. The MBTA officials (as far as I know) don't live in South Boston and so can't really feel the pain of the residents. Just showing up at meetings and saying "This isn't right" won't get anything done in favor of those effected.

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What the residents really need is Ari O.

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Did you see that TURNPIKE UNDER presentation he did at the MassDOT meeting about the Allston Yards/Pike Straightening undertaking? That was some serious S%^&.

If you read his comment above, you'll see that he has probably worked all of this out for the T already, but it seems like he doesn't suffer Townies gently, so you'll have to get him past that.

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Ralph?

Didn't Ralph DeNisco used to work for BTD?

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MBTA is a state agency, but ...

Public transportation is a regional issue but, correct me if I'm wrong, the letters "M B T A" seem to have never passed the lips of Southie's TWO city councilors, Michael Flaherty and Bill Linehan.

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MBTA should

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team up with the BRA to build a time machine so they can travel back and say no to a handful of developers along the way.
I'm glad the city has learned from what's happening in Southie and have decided to not approve high rise housing projects at an alarming rate... OH WAIT!

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I didn't have the opportunity

I didn't have the opportunity to go to the meeting yesterday, but I plan on going to the Tynan next week.

I love that the 5, 7, 9 and 10 run on Broadway and bypass East 4th. I live on East 5th and it's just another short block with an incline (some streets higher than others) and I don't mind walking it because the service has been more efficient since the change in February. No longer is the bus stuck behind double parkers at Sidewalk Cafe and I haven't seen five (yes five) buses stuck behind a garbage truck since the change.

I would like the 7 to start running on Sundays. Right now I'll walk into town, but once the weather changes I'd like to not have to take another bus, plus the red line just to get into town.

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Busses

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The buses shouldn't be just on East Broadway - it is a mixed use residential/commercial street and can't tolerate the amount of buses going by daily. What about the elderly who now have to walk many more blocks to catch a bus - they depend on public transportation too.

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Put the buses back to the original route.

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East Broadway is a cut through street for South Shore traffic - East 4th is not. East Broadway has a school and is already a very busy road - East 4th is not. East Broadway can't handle the traffic or the weight of the buses - East 4th held trains for many years and can handle the weight of the buses. Where is Flaherty, Linehan and Collins on this issue? Enough of the radio silence local politicians.

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Why?

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So they can get stuck behind trash trucks and double parked cars again? Sounds great. I will be awaiting your report detailing the structural integrity and weight capacity of East Broadway and East 4th. I guess will ignore the fact that East Broadway is about 4 times the size of East 4th, but yep East 4th is much better equipment to handle increased traffic.

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They are right

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East 4th Street was designated for transit system back in the day based on the structure of the underlying street, which is very different than Broadway's structure. That makes East 4th better equipped to handle the weight of the busses, as well as the constant flow of them. Go look it up.

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That's ridiculous

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So East 4th uses stronger asphalt that Broadway? I don't need to "look it up", it's a ridiculous statement. Broadway is much better equipped for buses than East 4th.

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Regarding Southie Bus Routing

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The modern East Fourth Street routing dates back to horsecar days; namely the extension to North (City) Point shortly after the Civil War. After electrification in the early 1890s the streetcars continued to use that routing up until the 09 was bustituted in 1953.

As a historical note: road quality DID impact omnibus routing in the 1830s and 1840s. Jonas Gipson made a point of running his coaches entirely via Fourth instead of Broadway to avoid the deep ruts in the road. Seems he had learned the hard way when in the course of a few trips along Broadway the wheels sunk down to the spokes.

But moral of the story: bosguy22's point still stands. We have come a long way from macadam, Belgian block, and cobblestones. The MTA/MBTA and City of Boston have had since 1953 to figure this out. If we can't get past the provincial attitudes in 2015 then when? The 23rd century when folks will just be able to double park their hover-cars vertically?

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Need a ruler?

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B'way is FOUR times the size? Really? Maybe four, or more times the traffic load.

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Southie doesn't need more

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Southie doesn't need more busses. There is already enough. There is too much congestion with all the cars. Moving on..

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Phew, glad that's resolved

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You have decided there is enough busses, so glad that problem is solved now. Wow, that was an easier fix than I expected it to be. Guess we haven't really addressed that the number of cars and availability of public transit tend to be an inverse trend, but I'll move on as well...

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Bus stops and bus service

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I hope very much that South Boston can receive improved bus service from the MBTA. I do believe that the T is really trying their best, as the Key Bus Route Improvement project managed to help bus riders in other parts of the city when it was implemented two years ago. Eliminating certain bus stops was a critical part of those improvements, and it will be a critical part of these improvements too.

I will try to explain what the T is doing and how you can make it better.

However, many residents said there aren’t enough buses in circulation already, and to reduce the number of stops would cause more congestion around remaining stops in the area.

The number of buses and the number of bus stops are two completely different things. Increasing the number of buses running on a route would most certainly help with the crowding problem, because it implies an increased frequency of service. Unfortunately that option is not available because of limited funding and limited number of buses available for use.

Increasing the number of bus stops would not help and, in fact, might significantly worsen the crowding problem. For every bus stop on the route, the bus must pull over, make a stop, and pull away. That causes additional delay, which makes it take longer for the bus to complete its route, which reduces the possible frequency of service. When buses are delayed, that causes the dreaded bus 'bunching' effect. Delays and bus bunching cause overcrowding as more and more people show up to each bus stop and have to wait longer and longer.

The best cure is prevention.

Eliminating bus stops can help improve the reliability of service and reduce the possibility of bus bunching. But only if the remaining bus stops are well-spaced, well-maintained, and easy to access for both buses and riders.

“This is unacceptable,” Menjin said. “I walk to work every day — I have that luxury — but I walk out and there’s about 60 people out on Broadway at 7:30 a.m. We can’t be getting rid of bus stops when there’s already so many people waiting.”

Other residents complained of frequently being passed by full buses, making them late for work or forcing them to wait outside in colder months for up to an hour at a time.

These are terrible conditions but keeping the same number of bus stops will not alleviate them. It is possible that eliminating some bus stops could improve the situation, but there are other steps that must be taken as well:

Since the MBTA does not have the funding to increase the number of buses in service, the best we can do is ensure that the buses that do run are able to run in the most efficient manner possible. Here's how you achieve that:

  • All door boarding. Transit activists across the city have been and ought to be advocating for the of all doors when boarding buses and trolleys. San Francisco MUNI has implemented all door boarding system-wide and it has significantly improved service. Why does it help? Because when a bus pulls up to a stop with a large number of people waiting, using all doors on the vehicle reduces the delay caused to the bus as people get on and off the bus. And as I mentioned earlier, bus delays cause bus bunching, overcrowding and other bad effects. The other nice thing about all door boarding is that it greatly helps with accessibility for all people of any abilities, by using the low-floor buses, and a properly designed bus stop, to make it easier for people to get on and off the bus.
  • Bus lanes and priority queues. Wherever possible, dedicated bus lanes and/or priority at traffic signals can help make buses much more efficient, leading to faster turnaround time, better effective frequency, and much happier customers. Buses easily carry dozens of people and should be unobstructed by double-parkers, cars containing a single person, or other sources of congestion as much as possible.
  • Traffic signal priority for transit. When a bus arrives at a signal it is possible with the computer systems that run the traffic signals nowadays to either hold or expedite the green light so that the bus can pass through the intersection. This helps a lot with reliability of schedule, reducing bus bunching.
  • Properly spaced bus stops. Although there is no single one-size-fits-all answer, general best practice nowadays is to put bus stops approximately 1,000 to 1,400 feet apart from each other. It is a balance between how much walking you are asking people to do compared to how much unavoidable delay you are willing to tolerate to the buses running on the route. In the past, American practice has been to put some bus stops as near as 200 feet apart, and many bus stops were only 400 to 800 feet apart. People are coming to realize now that such close spacing is bad for buses because it makes the buses too slow and inefficient.

If you really want to improve bus service then go to the next meeting and call for those items.

I know Transit Matters is working on things like this, so you could talk to them too.

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How does the all door

How does the all door boarding work? Do you add another Charlie card scanner to the back door and if so how does the driver know if everyone has paid?

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Yes, in SF they added another

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Yes, in SF they added another card reader to the back door, as well as buttons on the outside to open the door on request. The driver is no longer reponsible for making sure everyone pays, just for driving the bus and keeping to the schedule. Fare enforcement is done by random checks by teams of fare enforcement officers. The question for you is: what is more important, making sure that everyone has pair their full fare, including that guy from the suburbs who comes in once a year and takes 3 minutes to figure out how to put money in the farebox while everyone else on the bus waits.

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Fare collection and driving a vehicle

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The question for you is: what is more important, making sure that everyone has pair their full fare, including that guy from the suburbs who comes in once a year and takes 3 minutes to figure out how to put money in the farebox while everyone else on the bus waits.

Yes. Under the existing system he won't pay the full fare. Instead, the bus driver will simply wave him on past in order to avoid a headache and to not to completely blow the schedule.

That's why if you care about fare compliance then it is important to separate the jobs of fare enforcement from vehicle operation. Forcing the driver of the vehicle to worry about fare collection is a safety hazard, an operational nightmare, and it also makes the bus much slower, creating delays and poor service for riders.

All-door boarding is a win-win-win kind of change, but it requires willingness to try something different. And that's really hard for institutions like the MBTA that are set in their ways. MUNI deserves a lot of credit for getting it done.

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POP

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Proof Of Payment is what you are talking about-a more poorly names concept I can't think of! Free ride is more like it. You can not have an official roaming a crowded rush-hour bus checking to see if passengers paid. This would amount to a free ride every day for thousands of commuters. Does the MBTA really need to be surrendering revenue right now? Less revenue=greater tax burden. Every city has it's own transit culture and what works in one city may not work in another. The only equitable way to have all door boarding would be to have a conductor on the bus at the rear door collecting fares. As it is now the current fare box system allows far too many free rides.

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LOL

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You losers think only South Boston has a transportation problem? Let's continue building housing without parking.

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Why didn't we think of that?

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You losers think only South Boston has a transportation problem? Let's continue building housing without parking.

Because cars are the perfect solution to all transportation needs and introducing more cars into a neighborhood cannot possibly cause any problems.

Right?

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South Boston MBTA Service

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I've lived in South Boston for over 60 years. I was complaining about the MBTA bus service when Ray Flynn was Mayor, so my complaint has nothing to do with all the changes in the area. I still can't figure out why 3 busses run together with only the first one picking up passengers. I've written to the T numerous time about this and have never gotten a response; never saw things improve. I think in addition to a scheduling problem, we have a problem with employees being late or not showing up for their shift, which only exacerbates the issue.

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Better Bus Service AND More Parking

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Want to see better bus service and more parking? Bus bulbs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_bulb With bus bulbs and select stops we can increase sidewalk width allowing room for passengers waiting while keeping walkway clear, eliminate time pulling in and out of traffic, Create more than enough room for deploying wheelchair ramp. (maybe even room for a bench or shelter) AND with bus bulbs designed to cover both doors on the bus allow room for at least one more parking space at each of these stops.
Along with bus bulbs we need to consider dedicated bus lanes. A dedicated bus lane each way down L/Summer Sts. from B'way to South Station would do wonders for speeding up the route 7. Eliminating stops without other measures will do very little to improve bus service-it is only part of the solution. When it comes to the L/Summer Street corridor Boston residents' needs must come before South Shore commuters. Transit priority signaling is needed as well a a law requiring motorists to yield to transit vehicles. Finally South Boston residents need to stop double parking and our police forces and BTD need to enforce the law.

The MBTA is trying to fix this problem without spending money-we can't solve this problem without spending money. And we can't solve this problem with our co-operation.

A note on stop consolidation-in some instances it can speed service, but I believe bus bulbs will accomplish the same thing. Our buses are local service and a hallmark of local service is frequent stops. The MBTA has a social responsibility to provide service for all our citizens that includes those with limited mobility; hills, bad sidewalks and intersections are all impediments to accessing service. I would remind all those healthy, young commuters that what to them is inconsequential can be a barrier to transit access for someone else. It's easy to look at a two dimensional map and wipe out every other stop but there are geographical features, heavy traffic flows, clusters of businesses or schools or industry, or elderly housing which impact stop placement. Also traffic loads have to be considered. The traffic on E. B'way is far heavier eat of L St. than on 4th St. Finally it's only fair that two streets share the burden of bus service.

There are other ideas and views worth discussing, but we need to rise above personal concerns only

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