(Image courtesy MBTA)
MBTA officials went before the Mattapan community Thursday night to discuss the agency's “Key Bus Route Improvement Program” and adjustments that will be made to the 28 bus route.
The program, paid for by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, has reviewed 15 of the T’s busiest bus routes, looking at ways to improve service, speed up travel, and provide more amenities at bus stops.
Thursday’s meeting concentrated on the 28 bus, which services Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury via Blue Hill Avenue and Warren Street. While the route, the sixth-busiest, serves multiple neighborhoods, Thursday’s meeting concentrated on the part of the route that services Mattapan.
There are 41 outbound stops to Roxbury and 46 inbound stops to Mattapan. The T and its consultant team have been reviewing all the stops along the route, eliminating some and moving others, to space out the stops so that they average a distance of 750 feet to 1,300 feet from each other. The current space between stops for the 28 is an average of 650 feet.
T officials said they will also be making improvements at specific stops with signage and rider amenities, including more trash receptacles, benches, and shelters.
The T hopes that the elimination of stops will not only improve reliability of the buses, but speed up service and improve accessibility.
“Traffic conditions have really slowed down transit,” said Kurt Steiner, a consult with the T. “There are some things we can do that will help alleviate that.”
For the Mattapan leg of the route (Morton Street to Mattapan Station) the T has proposed eliminating four outbound stops and five inbound stops.
While the few residents who attended Thursday’s meeting were quick to offer suggestions, T officials assured residents that the proposed eliminations were merely suggestions and no stops will be eliminated till more community input has been gained.
“Some of these proposals you are making are going to be a culture shock for some people,” said Bobby Jenkins, a Mattapan resident.
The four outbound stops proposed to be eliminated are located at Babson Street, Norfolk Street, Wilmore Street, and Evelyn Street. The five inbound stops proposed to be eliminated are located at Clarkwood Street, Hazelton Street, Tennis Road, Almont Street, and Regis Road.
Residents agreed that some stops were redundant, but concerns were raised about what was located at the stops. Although officials with the T said they did the best they could to take into account the stops and the surrounding institutions, residents said they missed the point.
Some raised concerns about stops being eliminated in front of churches and apartment buildings with large senior populations who rely heavily on the bus.
“We understand that this is a trade off from having a stop right outside your front door and having a quicker bus ride,” said Steiner. “We don’t know this neighborhood as well as you do and that’s why we want your input.”
Concerns were also raised about moving the outbound stop at Babson Street across the street to the front of the Mattapan Library. Residents said the loss of parking was unacceptable and that the T should just leave the stop where it is. Officials with the T said they understand residents’ concerns, but some stops were proposed to move to better fit the 60 foot buses, which some stops along the route can’t accommodate.
Residents also raised concerns about the redundancy of the process. Residents said with the recent Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan Transit Needs Study and 28X Study they already sent proposals about how to improve the route and didn’t know why the T didn’t use those studies.
“We’re doing this for the third time now so let’s get it done and done right,” said Barbara Crichlow, a Mattapan resident.
While the stop eliminations at times were contentious, most residents were receptive of improvements to the actual stops.
“We’re trying to put shelters at as many busy bus stops as we can,” said Eric Scheier, project director for operations for the T. “We’re going to try, but sometimes the sidewalks aren’t wide enough or the businesses don’t want them.”
Residents suggested that the T look at ways to improve amenities in front of the new Mattapan Health Center that is currently under construction in Mattapan Square. Residents also said that while shelters could be a nice improvement they had concerns about them being located in Mattapan Square.
“Will they be graffiti proof?” asked Jenkins. “We’ve also been having problems with people drinking in the Square and those shelters could give people a place to sit and drink all day.”
Residents who missed Thursday’s meeting or those who didn’t feel they had enough time to provide input will have two more chances in April to meet with T officials.
The T’s next public meeting regarding routes 15/22/28 will be held April 9 at the Dudley Library. There will also be another meeting April 24 at Grove Hall Community Center.
For a copy of the T’s presentation Thursday night, click here.
For more information about the T’s “Key Bus Route Improvement Program” and upcoming meetings, click here.