MBTA drops most bus-stop consolidations on Mass. Ave.

The MBTA, which last spring proposed to consolidate or eliminate some bus stops on Mass. Ave. to improve service, has revised its proposal, retaining nearly all stops at or near their present locations.

The plan also calls for benches, trash cans, and, possibly, shelters at some locations.

The T will hold a public hearing on its revised plan in the Town Hall Auditorium in Arlington on Tuesday, September 25, from 6:30–8:00 pm. Stop-by-stop details, and a map, are available online.

My take: Stop relocations are generally minor and reflect the recommendations of the Town’s plan. The stops near the signalized crossings at Thorndike and Teel and at Foster and Linwood are retained. Many of the other shifts bring stops closer to existing or new cross walks.

At least two inbound stops in Arlington Heights would be consolidated under this plan.

The above is a quick and dirty summary, not a comprehensive analysis. Please post your own observations in comments.

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6 comments so far

  1. Paul Schlichtman on

    Adam:

    Thanks for posting this. It is obvious that the MBTA really did listen to the comments of the community, and paid attention to the Mass. Ave. reconstruction project.

    One thing that disturbs me. There are several cases in which shelters were proposed but were withdrawn due to abutter objections. I can’t imagine someone wanting folks who are waiting for buses to be forced to stand in the rain because of a vague abutter objection. Why is this happening?

    Obviously, there is no need for a shelter in fron to the Capitol Theater, where there’s a lovely marquis to protect the happily caffeinated bus patrons who emerge from Quebrada. However, there are some very cold and wet locations without canopy or caffeine that call out for shelters. Does Scrooge own businesses on Mass. Ave.?

    • Mark Kaepplein on

      Paul, some other businesses want to have an option of sidewalk seating instead of being prohibited by a bus shelter. Safety was sacrificed so Capitol Creamery could have sidewalk seating. Excess sidewalk width on that side of Lake could have been removed, greatly helping cyclists directed to and from the bike path with the new signage instead of four seats, occasionally used, 1/3 of a year. The clutter of tables and chairs there along with parked bikes already hinders pedestrians. Narrowing the sidewalk would remove those obstacles, not allowing their placement.

      Likewise, the bus stop at Lake should have been moved east in front of the bank, across from Fox library. That intersection is the most dangerous and congested. Conflict from buses is the last thing needed there. Instead the space could be an official loading zone instead of Comella’s, the theater, and other businesses on that block using the bus stop illegally.

      Selectmen blew another opportunity wanted by MassDot, to lengthen the 3 lane portion of Lake street. This would reduce evening backups and multiple cut through paths used to avoid the congested intersection at Mass Ave.

      Thankfully, MBTA isn’t adding to the suffering of Arlington residents more than what selectmen are doing. Road diets do not increase safety as demonstrated by Central Square’s top ratings in the state as a hot spot for bike and pedestrian accidents.

      What would most improve #77 bus service is to make Fresh Pond Parkway go from 4 lanes to 6 from the rotaries west to where Rt narrows from 6 to 4 lanes. This would then make Fresh Pond Parkway more attractive to drivers so they would not compete with buses on Mass Ave in Cambridge. After 75 years, its time to add some capacity to parkways, taking on the Luddites and Mennonites.

    • Adam Auster on

      Paul, apparently bus shelters are one of those things that everyone likes—in front of someone else’s home or business.

      Otherwise it’s “Not in front of my front yard.”

      Requiring abutters’ permissions to site them may be tantamount to saying no shelters anywhere.

      I encourage you speak up about this. Written comments should be copied to Laura Wiener, the town planner assigned to the Mass. Ave. project.

  2. Donna Janis on

    Paul limited his “scrooge” comment to businesses which refuse shelters, but Adam’s response expands the complaint to homeowners. As a homeowner on Mass. Ave., let me give you my point of view. 1) The shelters will be covered in advertising–an eyesore. 2) They will have lights–more light pollution all night. 3) They will be graffiti magnets. 4) They take up sidewalk space–more clutter. 5) Any realtor will tell you that a bus shelter in front of a house devalues that home. These are practical reasons for refusing a bus shelter in front of a house.

    I grew up in the house that I later ended up buying, and commuted to Boston by bus and train from it for many years, so I do understand why some people like shelters. It shouldn’t be hard to also understand why most homeowners do not.

    Keep in mind that Arlington as a town is breaking some ground here, as the MBTA / Cemusa partnership had, before Arlington, only installed advertising-covered bus shelters in maybe 11 Mass. cities, not towns (with maybe one exception)at the time they did their presentation at town hall. The MBTA can now point to Arlington to nudge other towns to accept these shelters–“see, the town of Arlington thought this was a great idea!”

    My family goes back 65 years in Arlington and my 90-year old mother remembers the question of installing bus shelters along Mass. Ave. came up decades ago on the town-wide ballot and was voted down by the majority of residents who wanted to preserve our town ambiance. Too bad the selectmen didn’t give us that option.

    • Adam Auster on

      Donna, love them or hate them the proposed shelters (which are not a done deal) would be ad- and illumination-free. These are not CEMUSA shelters (which also do not have lighting).

      Graffiti is a serious concern, but only because without advertising there is no revenue stream to pay for upkeep.

      You also misread my comment if you suppose I think that bus shelters impose zero impacts on abutters. However, bus shelters are an important amenity and if we are going to have them they must go in front of someone. No?

      (On the other hand someone who opposes all bus shelters is not a NIMBY. But I think most people support them as long as they are in front of someone else’s house.)

      Finally, this is a proposal from the MBTA, not the Town. The Town has not signed off on these shelters yet to the best of my knowledge, and unless the T is going to maintain them graffiti is a very real concern.

      I honestly do not know what I think of these shelters. However, I do think that the general need for shelter from rain, wind, and snow should trump the specific preferences of abutters, at least for some locations that are heavily used.

      The Town has already heard considerable testimony from residents, including seniors, about the need for shelters at the hearing on the CEMUSA proposal last year.

  3. Laura Notman on

    Can we get the shelters they don’t want on Mass. Ave up on the Route 2 stops where there is neither coffee nor awnings and scheduled 20 minute gaps between buses at rush hour?


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