By Adam Swift
The MBTA has made adjustments in the latest draft of its massive Bus Network Redesign project to address some potential Winthrop route issues.
The MBTA held a virtual public meeting to go over the system-wide changes it made to its bus routes since the release of an initial draft of the plan in May.
Since May, T officials said they have received and reviewed 20,000 comments about the bus route changes.
“The public feedback was key,” said MBTA bus route project manager Doug Johnson. “We reviewed all the comments from May to September and beyond and incorporated them into the revised bus network.”
While the MBTA could not incorporate every change that was requested, Johnson said the new bus network is just as was proposed in May in that it would still increase service by 25 percent across the network and double the number of high frequency corridors (defined as a bus leaving a stop at least every 15 minutes, seven days per week) across the system.
“We ended up making changes to 85 of the 133 proposed routes in the May, 2022 draft bus network,” said Johnson. “The changes include new routings, restoration of existing routes, the addition or subtraction of routes, and modifications to frequency of service.”
In Winthrop, the routes affected are the 119 and 120 buses, extensions of existing routes that will be replacing the 712 and 713 buses.
Concerns had been raised that the new routes previewed in May would cut service to a number of areas of the town.
The 119 and 120 routes were adjusted in the latest draft under the general heading of “rerouting to provide better connections to medical facilities, senior housing, and other destinations, or at the request of the municipalities,” according to Johnson.
The 119 bus would travel from Winthrop to Revere via Orient Heights Station. Changes from the May draft of the MBTA plan include extended service to Cottage Hill and the Winthrop Public Landing ferry parking lot. Bus frequency would be every 30 minutes or better from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and every 45 minutes or better from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The 120 bus would travel from Winthrop to Maverick via Orient Heights. Changes from the May draft of the MBTA plan include extended service to Cottage Hill and the Winthrop Public Landing ferry parking lot and be rerouted through Orient Heights. Bus frequency would be every 30 minutes or better from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and every 45 minutes or better from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Still, it could be a few years before riders see changes to the majority of the bus routes.
“We anticipate implementation of the new network to take about five years, beginning in 2023,” said Johnson. “Over that five year period, we intend to make changes to routes incrementally every year until by the fifth year, the whole network is in place.”
The Bus Network Redesign is one portion of an overall Better Bus Project for the MBTA, he added. That project aims to transform, modernize, and decarbonize the entire bus fleet, create more dedicated bus lanes and signalization, update and modernize bus stops, and modernize how the MBTA collects fares for its bus trips.