A new effort by the MBTA to improve bus routes – unveiled last week within the Better Bus program – features two major changes for Charlestown riders amidst a proposal that seeks to make 47 changes to 63 of the existing routes systemwide.
Wes Edwards, MBTA assistant general manager of service development, said they have 47 changes that were unveiled for discussion on Jan. 28. He said they will be soliciting input at several public meetings and online through March 13.
“We did a lot of outreach over the summer with the Better Bus initiative and far and wide we heard frequency and reliability as the biggest issue,” he said. “The package is to bring more reliability and frequent service to our customers…There are trade-offs to a lot of these because we have made all of them cost-neutral so we are just re-positioning service and not creating anything new.”
He said the same number of buses, operators and investment would be used, but just in a different configuration.
In Charlestown, the two biggest changes come to the #92 and #93 routes, which run from Sullivan Station and into the Town and Navy Yard – cutting out some runs that may or may not be controversial in the coming weeks as the T solicits input from the public.
So far, there hasn’t been too much reaction, but State Rep. Dan Ryan – a member of the House Transportation Committee – said it would be important to look at ridership numbers. As one who has ridden both routes in the past, he said there likely is room for discussion.
“The proposed alterations to the 92 and 93 bus routes were news to me,” he said. “I understand the need to take a closer look at ridership numbers. We do need to determine whether existing routes still make sense in an demographically altered Greater Boston. There is a process here and nothing is set in stone. I’ll have some questions for the MBTA once I digest the information and alternatives. But my gut tells me Charlestown should be in line for increased service not less.”
The 92 bus take a circular route from Sullivan Station and down Main Street for the most part. However, it does also go from Sullivan Station to Assembly Row Mall during certain times. That leg of the journey is suggested to be cut out, something that some in the elderly community of Charlestown haven’t been happy with. The alternate would be to take the 92 to Sullivan and go one stop on the Orange Line to the new Assembly Row stop.
For the 93, which goes from Sullivan Square and loops into the Navy Yard for pickups, the proposal is to eliminate the Navy Yard from the service and just continue on into Boston – speeding up the trip significantly for riders coming from the mainland to Boston.
Melissa Gullea, MBTA senior director of service planning, said they are simply investing the resources where most of the riders are located.
She said the 92 only goes to Assembly Row at certain hours in the afternoon, and ridership data shows that only about one to three riders go there per trip.
“We are taking the time away from that loop and reinvesting it in new support for the trip from Charlestown to Boston,” she said. “That will improve frequency for most riders.”
On the 93, she said that the bulk of the riders come from the Bunker Hill Street area and not the Navy Yard.
“There are certain trips through the Charlestown Navy Yard that could be eliminated because the bulk of riders come from the traditional Charlestown neighborhood, such as in the Bunker Hill Street area,” she said. “They are going from there to Boston. The bulk of the employees in the Navy Yard are using the employee shuttles that are already there.” The Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard have alerted members to the change, but said their board had not discussed it and didn’t have a position on the change yet.