Councilors to consider just how the T sucks for BPS students

Boston city councilors agreed today to focus some attention on problems ensuring BPS secondary students can get to schools - and after-school activities and jobs - in a far-flung city with an unreliable public-transit system, and will schedule a formal hearing on the matter.

Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, Charlestown, North End) said she's concerned about equity issues in a system that forces most middle-school and high-school students to ride the T to and from school, when some neighborhoods, which she didn't name, but which include West Roxbury, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, have "charter" MBTA buses to ferry students to and from school, while students in her district have to take two and sometimes three different T trains and buses to get to and from schools.

Edwards, who sponsored the request to hold a formal hearing along with councilors Michelle Wu and Anissa Essaibi George (both at large) questioned why BPS and the T run those morning and afternoon charter buses to and from BLS and BLA when there is nothing comparable for Charlestown High School.

She also said she's concerned about safety for kids on the public system. Knowing whether a child is getting to school safetly, she said, "is the one stress, I would think, a parent should not have to have."

Wu, who blasted the T as unreliable (a topic she has personal experience with), noted that, for all the problems Madison Park Vocational-Technical High School has, when one student was asked at a hearing on Monday about the first thing he'd change about the school, he replied: "Transportation."

Wu said she had a graduate student in her office this summer working on a report on student transportation issues. She said she hopes to release the report, based in part on interviews with 300 BPS students, within a couple weeks.

Councilor Michael Flaherty (at large) said kids in the city's more remote southern neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Readville also have problems getting to and from school - some have to get up at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m. just to get to school on time.

Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), who lives in Readville, says he has another issue: The fact thayt BPS keeps most of its buses in a yard in Readville, close enough to the Dedham line you could throw a baseball from the yard into that town. It just makes no sense, he said to have "300+ buses roll through Hyde Park, roll through Rozzie, roll through Mattapan," to get to other parts of the city to pick up kids.

McCarthy added a major concern in Readville is "you can't even jog the neighborhoo without breathing in the diesel fumes from the bus yard, choking you as you run by."



Free tagging: 



Great, how about we make the T reliable for everyone

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Great, but it would be nice if the city council started worrying about how everyone who relies on the T can get to work. Its broken and the city council, "Im a car guy" Walsh, and especially "I rode the T in my Harvard days" Baker would start taking the T issues seriously. Chartering students from wealthy neighborhoods like West Rox, JP and Roslindale is not a solution, its admitting the T is broken and patching it up for a select few.


She takes the T and never

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She takes the T and never misses an opportunity to tweet about how much she takes the T. Did you know she takes the T?



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I mean, lots of people take the T and tweet about it. When you're standing on a platform because there's Yet Another Dead Train, there's not much else to do.

At least she actually knows from first-hand experience the problems T riders have (she's also been active with Tim McCarthy on the whole commuter-fare thing for Roslindale, West Roxbury and Readville). When's the last time Marty Walsh actually took a train to work?


If he did

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His PR people would post a picture of him in front of a train, half smiling, half squinting at some random point above and to the side of the camera.

I completely agree. The heck

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I completely agree. The heck with the hard working people trying to get to their jobs on time - no focus there. Why not work on a permanent solution as opposed to another band-aid.

It is possible for most people to work on more than one thing

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If this were the only time councilors ever dealt with T issues, you might have a point. But to take just Wu and McCarthy as examples, they've been fighting for several years now on other transportation issues, most specifically, the fact that people in West Roxbury, Hyde Park and Roslindale have to pay so much to get on commuter rail - unless they all drive to Fairmount station.


I agree it is possible to

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I agree it is possible to work on multiple things at once - and I also agree children should have reliable transportation to get back and forth to school. There have been very little improvements that have been meaningful to on-time service. I feel as if this is a band-aid because the council, Baker and Walsh are all lip-service when it comes to the "T."

Question for you

1. who controls school transporation

2. who controls the MBTA

If you think the City Council controls the MBTA, you need to read up on how state agencies and authorities work.

The City Council no more controls the MBTA than they do MassPike


Who cares

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If the kids get to school easier, you will get around easier, too.

Stop letting your petty self-important sense of ME FIRST wreck every effort to assess/fix the problem. You are like the NIMBY jerks keeping housing costs high.


Did you take the T to school?

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Stop. This city screws the kids of the city over and over and over again for decades kids and Boston have been treated like trash absolute trash when compared to how the city treats college students and yuppies it’s sick it’s disgraceful and you are to be ashamed for deflecting from the seriousness of the situation I took the TV a bus and a train or sometimes two buses to school. Insulting that anyone would try to deflect from the issue.

Kids are the ones who benefit lease from the economic boom of the city and they feel the most of when the city has failures because the reliance on their parents in the city because they have no incomes. I’m sorry but this attitude gets me so mad. These are children that you’re asking to be out at the bus stop at 4:30 4:45 AM just so that they can go to run down school buildings and receive a subpar education no fault of their own.


The MBTA buses are not

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The MBTA buses are not "charters", there is no special contract between the city and the MBTA to operate them. They are "supplemental" trips that the MBTA operates on their own dime to relieve the crowding that would take place if the students took regular trips and transferred. Per Federal regulations, they have to follow regular bus routes, and they have to be open for anyone to ride (not just students). And its not just the exam schools that get them, Brighton High has a large number of "supplemental" Route 66 trips that operate to/from Dudley.

If the City thinks the MBTA service is inaedequate, there is nothing to prevent them (except of course, lack of funds) from operating more of their own yellow school buses for middle school and high school students.


Yes, but ...

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You know what everybody who takes them, and their parents, call them? "Charters."

Yes, anybody can get on on of them, but if you're expecting to get from Forest Hills to Back Bay on one of the buses marked 39 / Ave. Louis Pasteur, you're going to be a bit disappointed.

For BLS at any rate, the T could just as easily solve the problem by running more buses on the regular 39 from Forest Hills, rather than dedicating a "charter" that ends up at BLS (since BLS is only a couple blocks away from Huntington Avenue). It would require kids from West Roxbury to transfer from their 35 or 36 at Forest Hills, but given the number of West Roxbury kids who already have to do that so they can take commuter rail home (since, yes, their passes are good on commuter rail), it's not a foreign concept for them.


It would require adding buses

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It would require adding buses to the regular Route 21, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, and 38 schedules to accomodate the added demand, and then having to still add buses to the regular Route 39 to accomodate the added demand. For the MBTA, it is actually more efficient and requires fewer buses/drivers to add one through trip at the specific time when demand spikes.That is even more the case in the afternoon, when an army of Route 39 buses would have to be waiting in front of the school, only to force several hundred students to then transfer (arriving at the same time) at Forest Hills. The MBTA would not keep operating the "supplementals" that they do operate if it was not the most efficent way to carry the demand. They have eliminated some supplemental services over the years were student demand fell to the point that regular service could accomodate the riders without having to add extra service.

okay but does anyone REALLY

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okay but does anyone REALLY take the 39 from Forest Hills to Back Bay? That's literally what the train does, faster and more efficiently. There's a lot of mid-route demand to get on to go to BB, but by the time you get to Hyde Square there's no room on those busses anyway, because there's 492340823 teenagers who don't move to the back. (Source: take the 39 from Forest Hills to Huntington Ave every morning) Better to just give them a couple busses to handle the crush and then don't get stuck in the horrendous Back Bay traffic pit on top of it, dragging the whole rest of the schedule off.


more remote southern neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Readville also have problems getting to and from school - some have to get up at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m. just to get to school on time

I worked with a lawyer who was a METCO kid who got up at 4am to get to Sudbury.

You could not ruffle that guy. Talk about inner peace from paying ones dues.


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My neighbors had their kids in Metco and they had to wake up early, too (and get themselves somewhere in Hyde Park for their bus pickup). I'm not sure why the answer is we should make all kids suffer like that, though.



It builds character

Often I had to take a slow running POS orange trolley to BLS with no heat.

I worked REALLY hard to buy a car at 16 years old and that dynamic served me well in later years.

And for the record... I never stated all kids should suffer. Some will be lucky to face challenges and some will not.


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I did much the same (when I wasn't just resigned to tardy detention that day). Even got the license/permit as soon as possible. Then realized, at BLS at least, there was no where to park reliably, and continued to take buses/trains/trolleys. That is to say, I don't particularly buy into you either driving into BLS vs. public transit, or, really, that you went to BLS in the first place.


Take the trolley from

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Take the trolley from Arborway , alternate Forest Hills el to Dudley the next day, 3 changes either way but diffeerent scenery. Am Forst Hills parochial school girls. Its a life experience, you only get so many days, groove on it! Forget about parking.

And as an added feature, take

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And as an added feature, take Oak Square bus from Dudley , get off at Mission Church on Holy Days, it was a 2 for one.....

I don't feel tardy

when I wasn't just resigned to tardy detention that day

I slipped in with late charter kids on the extremely rare day I was late. Never served a single detention.

As for defending my enrollment... I can do a pretty good Dr Carroll (the older one) impersonation.

"Charter" buses not so great either

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My DD couldn't use the one that ran near our house because it was so unreliable. The bus for BLA was labeled but the one for BLS was not. So there was no way to tell which 34 was the right one unless you asked all of them. And inevitably it would be the right one that blew past without stopping. You couldn't use the tracking apps to track the specific bus because it wasn't labeled. So she mostly took a bus to Forest Hills, Orange Line to Ruggles, then another bus or walk to school. But if you're late on one of those, you don't get excused, only if you're on the actual charter.

And those charter buses are regular buses with regular passengers and packed to the gills besides.

I think the City and the T need to improve the system so it works better for all Boston secondary school students.



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I do love how all the other councilors in your writeup are concerned about student travel time, inequity, early wake-ups.... and Tim is griping about traffic in his 'hood. Sounds about right.



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If it's about Readville, he's right there.

I don't live in Hyde Park,

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I don't live in Hyde Park, but I have to drive through Readville every day to get to work and all those busses on the narrow streets around there really is an issue. It's also pretty bonkers that 300 busses start and finish every day at the ass-end of the city--who knows how much extra mileage that's adding to their routes.

First person experience

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I sat across from counselor Michelle Wu and her kid today on a very crowded and delayed orange line train. She, at a minimum, will be able to relate!


Will the august City

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Will the august City Councillers each shadow a BPS kid for a day or two?

As in - sleep at their house, get up same time they do, maybe skip breakfast, walk however far, wait out in the elements at the stop, ride how many ever bus trips to school, and do it all going back home?

To dig a bit into Councilor

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To dig a bit into Councilor McCarthy's claim about "BPS keeps most of its buses in Readville, 300+ roll out to other neighborhoods, etc.." - How many school buses does BPS have? How many places do they keep them?

Veolia runs about 225 from Freeport Street in Dorchester.

Sure it sucks

For scheduling and for adults who have to put up with these young adults BS.
Rude obnoxious behavior with their vulgarity amazes me.


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Obviously you’ve never been on the orange line after school.

Have you?

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Because when I go downtown for City Hall hearings, I tend to wind up on the Orange Line when kids are going home for the day. And they're kids - they're sometimes loud, but so what? Stop being scared of kids just because they're kids.


Don't you know?

Brown kids are actually scary adults and should be treated as such. White young adults of course should be treated like kids when they fuck up though. Signed, every white boomer.


Stinky school buses

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Councillor McCarthy is definitely right about the foul exhaust coming out of the city school buses. When I'm riding my bike behind one, the exhaust is choke-inducing more than any other vehicles on the road. There must be some kind of exclusion for school buses when it comes to catalytic converters or other pollution controls.

Not exempt

They just tend to be much older than most remaining vehicles out there.

The stringent controls went in during 2007 - 2010. Many school buses are older than that.

So explain

I have to get my car emissions tested every single year. And it's old too.

Oh, wait. The goog.

Smog Check Exemptions for Massachusetts Drivers

All Massachusetts vehicles must pass a safety inspection. However, the following types of vehicles are exempt from smog checks:

Cars, trucks, and SUVs made in the 2000 model year or earlier but do not emit smoke
Diesel vehicles weighing less than 8,500 lbs and made before the 2003 and/or are over 15 years old
Diesel vehicles weighing up to 10,000 lbs and made before the 2007 model year and/or are over 15 years old
Non-diesel medium-duty vehicles made before the 2008 model year and/or are more than 15 years old

Is that the exemption school buses fall under?

Because some of them belch quite a lot of black nasty smoke.