Letter to the Editor

MBTA’s New Bus Network Redesign Proposal: Winthrop Voices Needed

Dear Editor,

Last week the MBTA unveiled its long awaited proposal for a newly revamped regional bus system that has only been changed at the margins for the last half century, known as “Bus Network Redesign”. While far from perfect, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the MBTA’s bus network to meet the needs of people who ride the bus today- not the people who rode it 50 years ago- and encourage more people to ride in the future. But to be successful, it needs to be shaped by the voices of the people most impacted by the changes, including many people here in Winthrop.

The goal of the redesign is to make taking the bus more efficient and convenient for people throughout the region, particularly for those who depend on the bus as their primary way of getting where they need to go. By re-drawing route lines to match travel design lines revealed through cell phone data, more people who ride the bus will experience:

• 25% more overall service and 70% more weekend service.

• Buses coming at least every 15 minutes, 20 hours a day, 7 days a week along busy routes (via 30 “high-frequency” corridors crisscrossing the region).

• 275,000 more residents across the region with access to the high frequency network.

• A simpler, easier system to navigate, with 68% of routes running the same service all day, every weekday (up from 28%).

• New connections to more places – with less waiting and fewer transfers for most.

Of course, the MBTA’s plan on its own only gets us partway to this vision and to what people who ride the bus deserve. We need municipalities and other roadway owners to do their part by dedicating street space for buses where possible by building bus lanes and improved bus stops, and we need the T to procure many more buses and hire more operators. By working together, we can bring to life a bus experience so efficient and convenient, it becomes true rapid transit – creating cleaner air, reducing traffic, and making our streets safer for everyone.

Public input is critical to this process. The redesign will change the network in major ways, and there will be trade-offs in doing so. Unfortunately, some of those tradeoffs are being seen in Winthrop, particularly through the removal of service to the entire Point Shirley neighborhood. Make your voice heard – both in support of better bus service in general and around any specific changes you want to see to the map.

A public feedback survey, list of public meetings, and interactive maps for the project (particular to each municipality) can be found at https://www.mbta.com/projects/bus-network-redesign

Julia Wallerce, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), Precinct 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.