Chamber News

March 04, 2019 Likes Comments

Fuller concerned about proposed bus changes

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller is raising concerns about several proposed changes to MBTA bus routes serving the Newton and neighboring communities.

The changes are part of the T's Better Bus Project, a system wide initiative the transit agency describes as a "first step in our efforts to improve bus service and the system as a whole," which, if approved, would go into effect this coming September.

In a letter sent to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, Fuller said she appreciated "the goal of improved bus frequency and reduced travel times" but "unfortunately, though, the MBTA proposal shifts service away from important existing routes, leaving users of those routes with unacceptably long or unsafe walks to access the bus."

Read Fuller's letter to the MBTA here.

"My most serious reservations are focused on the proposed changes to bus routes 501-504," Fuller wrote. "The proposed changes would require hundreds of passengers to navigate the unsafe walk over the turnpike bridge (north to south side and vice versa) in Newton Corner. This proposal also dramatically reduces service by replacing higher frequency lines with lower frequency lines, resulting in a loss of frequency and loss of midday and weekend service."

Fuller also expressed concerns about changes to the No 52 bus route, which travels between Watertown and Dedham but under the new plan would eliminate stops on Winchester and Nahanton Streets.

"The Winchester/Nahanton route is the only public transportation serving two key, heavily populated sites: Seniors living at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and Nahanton Woods" and the "more than 4,000 employees working at the Wells Ave Business Park and JCC," Fuller wrote.

"While currently no sidewalk exists on Nahanton Street to access the Nahanton stop, the city is in the design phase for a $1.875 million capital project to reconstruct Nahanton Street, including building sidewalks and bike lanes," the mayor added.

Another proposed changes that would impact both Newton - as well as Needham - is a reworking of the No. 59 bus route, which travels from Watertown across Newton and onto Needham Junction.

This proposal would double the bus frequency on Needham Street but also eliminate the Eliot Street/Lincoln Street part of the route.

"We encourage the MBTA to maintain service on Lincoln/Eliot while increasing service frequency on Needham Street. Eliminating the Lincoln/Eliot variant requires users to walk up to an additional 10 minutes to get to the nearest bus stops, thereby reducing access to the stop for many users.

"Additionally, MassDOT is embarking on a 3.5 year reconstruction project of Needham Street and Highland Ave, beginning in Fall 2019 or Spring 2020. The expected construction delays likely will make Lincoln/Eliot the preferred route."

Finally, the mayor wrote in support of an amended proposal to bus route 60 (from Chestnut Hill to Kenmore Square) which would add a bus stop on the north and south side of Route 9, at Mall and Chestnut Hill Square.

"This proposal allows the MBTA to eliminate the time-consuming turnaround at Langley, and out-and-back to Bloomingdales, while ensuring the 174 daily users of the Chestnut Hill Mall stop can safely walk to and from the bus stop without crossing Route 9," Fuller noted.


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