MBTA would eliminate, consolidate bus stops

The MBTA proposes to improve bus service on Mass. Ave. by moving and consolidating bus stops and providing benches, shelters, and other amenities.

New bus-stop location replaces those currently at Thorndike, Teel, Lafayette, and Sunapee. Blue X = removed, blue dot = proposed, white dot = current.

The proposal, which is preliminary, would move four bus stops from traffic signals that the neighborhood and the Town had retained over objections from the staff at Mass. Highway.

The plan would move and merge bus stops in East Arlington, including Sunapee/Boulevard Rds., Teel/Thorndike Sts., Linwood/Foster Sts., and Wyman Terr./Palmer St. Similar consolidations are proposed near the Foot of the Rocks area in Arlington Heights.

The T will present and take comments on the plan in the Selectmen’s Hearing Room at Town Hall from 6:30 to 8 PM on Thursday, June 9.

The MBTA’s plans are different from, and sometimes at odds with, those filed by the Town of Arlington with Mass. Highway for the redesign of the street.

For instance, The Town has proposed shifting the Thorndike St. bus stop (inbound) to the west side of Thorndike, but the MBTA finds that the two driveways on this stretch would “not provide level landing areas.”

The plan would replace the stops at Boulevard Rd. (near Rt. 16) and Thorndike St. with a single stop at Fairmont St. The outbound Sunapee Rd. and Teel St. stops would be replaced by a new stop at Henderson St.

Similarly, the plan would replace the stops at Linwood St. and Wyman Terr. with one in front of Walgreens. Outbound, a new stop at Adams St. would replace those at Palmer and Foster Sts.

The existing traffic signals at Foster/Linwood and at Thorndike/Teel were in jeopardy in the early assessments made for the Mass. Ave. Project, but the Town fought to keep them in the plan even though they did not meet state traffic warrants for signals.

Ironically, one reason for doing so was to protect pedestrians crossing the street to get to or from bus stops that would no longer exist under the T’s proposal; meanwhile the new bus stops would not be at signalized pedestrian crossings, though they would be within a block of one.

Other proposed changes also would shift stops away from crosswalks, either existing or proposed.

Fewer bus stops mean more-efficient and faster routes, and generally more on-street parking.

The plan mentions the possibility of benches at Avon Place, Lake St., and Milton St., none of which have them today, and of bus shelters at 260 Mass. Ave., Milton St.,  and the new Walgreens and Fairmont St. stops.

The T and the Town (and Mass. Highway) appear to be applying different design criteria to these decision and reaching different answers.

The reassessment of these stops is part of the MBTA’s Key Bus Route Improvement Plan. The Town has posted this information about the June 9 meeting.

Similar changes in Cambridge could affect Arlington residents who ride the 77 Bus.

In case you missed the link earlier, the preliminary plan (at a whopping 4 MB) is here.

Update: Maria Cutchian’s account of this meeting (in the Arlington Advocate) is here.

Further update: The T has abandoned or softened many of these changes.

6 comments so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    I have many reactions to this effort to improve 77 bus service:
    1. The greatest improvement is by reducing traffic congestion on Mass Ave in Cambridge through widening of Fresh Pond Parkway.
    2. Did MassDOT, MBTA, and FST coordinate anything?
    3. I’ve wondered about Mass Ave’s road subsurface integrity. Numerous road cuts have sunken and seem to need more work than surface grinding. MBTA calls for concrete landing pads. These keep pavement from sinking at bus stops. The one at Winter Street is our worst example of this. FST didn’t mention them, so I’m glad MBTA does.
    4. Location of stops needs resolution prior to Mass Ave. 100% plan as bump outs and landing pad locations need to be sorted.
    5. The MBTA’s $10M could mean more money for us in shelters etc.
    6. Bus stop distances are a Catch-22. Too far apart and people drive instead. Too close and long, slow rides discourage ridership too. Fixing Mass Ave traffic congestion shortens rides without increasing stop distances. Rule of thumb is that people will walk 1/4 mile.
    7. FST’s planned to widen sidewalk in front of Walgreens with no parking spaces. That leaves no room for a bus stop, so existing curb location should be retained.
    8. The Lake Street shop should be moved east in front of Cambridge Savings and Fox Library, out of the way of the intersection and more central to businesses.
    9. Foster/Linwood and Thorndike/Teel lights ought to be on-demand pedestrian crossing lights only. Traffic lights increase traffic risks. Risk from rear-end accidents, speeding up to make yellow lights, distracted and deliberate red light running, and higher speeds to make up for time lost at lights. In particular, the Thorndike/Teel light is frustrating. Drivers heading west, escaping the congestion in Cambridge get demoralized hitting the light there and stopping for no reason.

    Just this afternoon, a truck was blocking the bus stop in front of the Capitol. Camilla’s was getting food provisions delivered. The bus double parked and impeded me, and other traffic turning right on to Lake. This and bunching there are why the stop needs to be moved. The space out front needs to be for deliveries and passenger drop-off.

    • Mark Kaepplein on

      How could I forget to mention it? Don’t worsen bus service by removing lanes from Mass Ave, as every T driver will state. Also on point #9, traffic lights also interrupt traffic flow. I view breaks in traffic flow as needed opportunities for side street traffic to enter and pedestrians, including my cat, to J-Walk or more easily use uncontrolled crosswalks. FST advocates a single traffic lane to facilitate a constant stream of traffic without breaks.

      • WillRideNoMatter on

        “FST advocates a single traffic lane to facilitate a constant stream of traffic without breaks.”

        Yes, likewise entrance onto mass ave westbound from our many one way towards mass ave streets (on the south side of the Ave i i.e. Chandler & Melrose) will queue up longer now having to still cross 2 eastbound lanes lanes and jam into a now more pipe filled single west bound lane. Swell….This is kind of longer queueing and difficulty to drive cross safely has evident on my street in the winter (since the 70’s when snow reduces lanes). Since local banks are lesser in E Arlington and the post office has reduced hours and there are no longer gas stations before BP or Global and fewer yet corner stores for groceries it means for just about everything done in town one has to drive to or past the town’s center (or shop in Camb & Sommerville). This is not even getting into the problems that same or increased bus use or stops create on a reduced pipeline they are like asynchronous wait states (bad system engineering). Lane reductions would slightly isolate E. Arlington from heading to the center of town and that along with junky ad covered shelters makes E Arlington less livable not more so. JMO (we all have opnions – are some counted more often than others? lets vote!)

  2. laurie on


    Thanks for this info. Any chance you could give details about the Heights foot of the rocks area–not really ready to download the whole report.

    • Adam Auster on

      Laurie, I don’t see myself doing that any time soon, sorry!

      But the download, though large in bytes, is not long, and you can get a pretty good idea of the major changes by looking at the map for that area. (The detail map in my post is from that document.)

      If you decide to take a look after all, please consider posting a summary of Heights changes here.

  3. Rob Fellows on

    You would hope the ‘T’, the town and the state would make sure their plans are coordinated before appearing together at a public meeting! That doesn’t make anyone look good.

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