Micro-Bus Path? Newly Approved Shared Path Could Be Transportation Hub

After a new community benefit shared path has been approved through the Little Mystic leasing process, one resident has proposed the idea of using part of the path for a micro-bus local transportation corridor.

Dan Jaffe has been pushing the idea for some time as the transportation director in the 02129 Neighbor Alliance – particularly with the introduction of so many new living units in the Bunker Hill redevelopment project. However, there was never any groundwork done to house the path – until now. The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) announced this month one of the community mitigation pieces for the renewal of the MassPort Little Mystic lease would be the creation of a shared path along the railroad right-of-way along Terminal and Medford Streets.

Jaffe said that is exactly the corridor he has pinpointed for some time to provide a local public transportation service via Micro-bus – which is an electric vehicle that can carry between six to eight passengers. He would propose that a small fleet of the vehicles travel between the Little Mystic and Sullivan Station – the majority of it being on the shared path adjacent to Medford Street.

“We have some big boulders to roll out of the way to get this to happen as drawn,” he said. “We may have to drop back some of the pathway to streets beyond the Medford and Terminal Street sections. I hope we can get some interest in Town for this kind of transportation as the One Charlestown project parking and traffic won’t work as they have presented.”

Jaffe’s idea would have a hub on state property under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge where the Micro-buses would be stored and worked on. It would be the starting point for the routes as well. The route would run along the Little Mystic and then on the Pan Am Railroad right-of-way to Schrafft’s. Then it would cross over via D Street and Spice Street to arrive at Sullivan Station.

Such local transportation options are used in Europe and in other parts of the United States. Because Charlestown is so isolated, Jaffe said he could see an internal transportation system working quite well, similar to the private buses that serve Winthrop exclusively.

So far, Jaffe said he has run the idea by several local officials and some transportation experts. While there is much more to do, he said he feels like it’s a promising start.

2 comments for “Micro-Bus Path? Newly Approved Shared Path Could Be Transportation Hub

  1. Bill McCallum
    January 12, 2020 at 12:14 am

    This seems a tragically wrong-headed idea. About half the Pan Am Railroad right-of-way currently provides a significant green space with old growth trees along much of northern Medford Street. This open space compensates somewhat for the break in the Harbor Walk forced by the many industrial properties on the Mystic at that point. The remaining half is in deplorable condition but could easily and cheaply be rehabilitated for more connected pedestrian space and greenery, The plan described here entails extraordinary loss to the community, and it is inarguably a boondoggle to pave this space over for the ‘microbenefit’ of a few limited use buses. What’s more, this new traffic portal adds to the unstable situation at the Medford/Main/Bunker Hill intersection. This is already significantly more than a 3-way major intersection because Mishawum and Schrafft’s effectively make this a 5-way intersection with two abutters, the ambulance and fire companies, who need immediate emergency exit-and-entry rights 24/7. Having an oddball lane of microbus traffic entering from an unexpected direction will only add to the complexity and congestion at this intersection. Transportation needs from the southern end of Medford Street would be far better met by upgrading the right-of-way path to include safely lit continuous pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

    • Dan Jaffe
      June 18, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      One of the concessions the BPDA had to bend to MassPort was reserving one rail connection from D St. to Terminal St. So while it would have been nice to have the whole width of the pathway as open space it just won’t be. The micro bus service will be using the rail link pathway which will run parallel to the community pathway.to 275 Medford St.

      As far as crossing in already a dense transit area, consider instead of having 5 to 10 people within a single micro bus vs the addition of five or more cars coming down or retuning on Medford or Bunker Hill Streets when the Boston Housing project is completed. I would rather have one bus verses the number of cars it replaces. That would be worse!

      I’ve seen some early outlines of the what is being planned for the pathway it looks good and you will still have large blocks of green that you have now.

      The details are still being worked on in the fall we should get an update so we all can see what is finally agreed to.

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