By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Members of the Winthrop Transportation Advisory Committee announced that the six new MBTA/Paul Revere buses will arrive in town just in time for use during the Parade of Sail June 17-22.
While there is excitement about the buses, there is also a little disappointment, but nothing that would jeopardize the bus service in town. Committee members found out last week that the Charlie Card fare technology will not be included in the new buses as the Charlie Card technology is phased out, but a new GPS tracking feature will be included. People wishing to catch a bus to, from or around Winthrop will be able to use their NextBus app or other tracking apps to view real time arrival data.
“This is a huge improvement to our service and we hope it will not be too long before the new automated fare technology is implemented,” said Julia Wallerace, chair of the committee.
New technology in the buses will allow officials to get a better sense of how each route in town runs.
“Service will be adjusted accordingly,” said Andrew Smith of the MBTA.
Riders will also see some schedule adjustments, adding an extension for Orient Heights and making sure no one gets stranded at the Orient Heights station late on a Sunday night. Extending the runs to Beachmont and Seal Harbor is also something being looked at.
“The Highlands is a major underserved area,” said Wallerace, adding that someone has to walk three-quarters of a mile for a bus stop. The standard walk to a bus stop is a quarter of a mile.
She also noted that it’s disappointing that there is a one year delay on getting the technology. People will have to pay cash, or use the monthly link on the Zone 1A pass.
“It’s frustrating and confusing,” Wallerace said.
Smith said all the date collected will be analyzed in the winter of 2018. The fall ridership data is to be the most accurate. The MBTA and Paul Revere will see the patterns in ridership around the entire town on Routes 712 and 713.
“This is the first realistic view,” Wallerace said. “The data is the biggest asset.”
Identification of bus stops is also an issue on the routes. For years some have been identified with just a blue stripe around a utility pole. Now there will be signs.
“The residential density will be increasing in Winthrop and I want to see an accessible community,” said committee member Stephen Hines.
“We want to help modernize the transit system,” Smith said.