Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Started May 14

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began the closure of one of three southbound travel lanes on Route 1 in Chelsea and the Tobin Bridge the morning of Tuesday, May 14, snarling traffic in many parts of Everett as commuters looked for an alternative route.

The public was also reminded the one-lane northbound closure on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 was expanded the morning of Tuesday, May 14. MassDOT anticipates that these lane closures will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers for months to come.

These traffic impacts are associated with MassDOT’s Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project and lane closures will remain in place for approximately two years. Additional overnight lane closures will be necessary throughout the project meaning only one lane of travel may be open during certain evening hours.

In order to accommodate travelers during this necessary construction work, MassDOT is opening the I-93 southbound carpool lane between Medford and the Zakim Bridge to all vehicles regardless of the number of occupants. This lane will continue to function as an “express lane” and vehicles in this lane on I-93 southbound will not have access to Exit 28 (Mystic Avenue) or Exit 26 (Storrow Drive).

“North Shore commuters should be aware that beginning the morning of Tuesday, May 14, a travel lane will be closed on Route 1 southbound in Chelsea, and the lane closure that is already in place on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 northbound will be expanded,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver last Friday. “MassDOT is carrying out this necessary rehabilitation work in order to ensure the continued use and reliability of Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Viaduct. We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the traveling public and advise everyone to make smart decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

Travelers are also reminded of options such as free fares in the inbound direction on the MBTA Silver Line 3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail. The MBTA is also running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to increase capacity. These measures are all being funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

MassDOT is also advising the public to also consider using the Haverhill or Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail lines and note that the Haverhill Line historically has parking capacity at Haverhill and Bradford stations. The Newburyport/Rockport Line historically has parking capacity at Newburyport, Salem and Lynn station. Customers can monitor @MBTA_Parking on Twitter for capacity updates and information. In addition, the MBTA has installed a digital parking capacity sign at the Blue Line Wonderland parking lot so drivers approaching the lot can get “real time” information on parking availability.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that the most impactful work will be completed by 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

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Improving Issues Congresswoman Pressley Visits Chelsea To Talk about Transportation Equity

At a packed house in the GreenRoots office Tuesday night, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said she would use her legislative power to help improve issues of transportation inequity for her constituents.

The Chelsea Transit Equity Roundtable was one of a series of meetings Pressley is holding throughout the 7th Congressional District to gather input about the issues affecting the region, she said.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was on hand at GreenRoots Tuesday night to discuss Transit Equity in Chelsea and throughout the district.

While the evening focused on issues surrounding public transportation and pedestrian and bicycling access, the Congresswoman did also touch on her thanks for local support from Chelsea, her first 100 days in office, and her gratitude for the activism of GreenRoots and other local organizations.

“I appreciate that when I come to Chelsea, they always put me to work,” said Pressley. “I think GreenRoots is at the center of community building. GreenRoots is such an inclusive movement.”

Pressley said the idea behind the equity roundtables for transportation and other issues is to create an intimate space to actively listen to residents about their needs and concerns.

“Developing the best and most sustainable legislative solutions is what we are after,” said Pressley. “Inequities and disparity did not just happen, they were made by policy, and that’s why the mitigation has to be through lawmaking.”

Some of the highlights of the roundtable included discussions of transit challenges for the disabled, for cyclists, and for young people.

Disability rights activist Colleen Flanagan pointed out that Boston and the surrounding area have taken steps to make transportation more accessible to disabled people, but that there is still a long way to go. She said price increases and attacks on non-emergency medical transportation are having a negative impact on disabled public transportation users.

“We need to continue to show that access to transportation is a civil right,” said Flanagan.

Pressley also talked about the public transportation issues facing young people, especially low income youth who rely on MBTA buses and the subway.

One youth leader Pressley spoke with said she feels like she is punished because she is a low-income person who has no other options for transportation.

Cycling educator and activist Gamal Smith made his way to the Chelsea roundtable from Chelsea on two wheels.

“It’s faster and more reliable to be on two wheels for almost any distance” in the Boston area, Smith said.

But while cycling can be faster than other modes of transportation, Smith said there are still many challenges for cyclists, including safety, with a multitude of roads that have no safe crossings for cyclists or pedestrians.

Smith said the speed of getting around on two wheels also highlights the at-times substandard service of buses and other public transportation options. He said his son takes the MBTA bus to school, and it can wreak havoc on keeping track of schedules.

“I shouldn’t have to wonder if it’s going to take my kid a half-hour or an hour when he comes home on the bus,” said Smith. Pressley encouraged anyone who wants to continue the discussion on transit equity, or equity on other issues, to use the hashtag #APequityagenda on social media.

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Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 beginning April 1.

These impacts will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers.

The Department also released details about transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

Beginning April 1, lane closures on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.

Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.

“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the 20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1 area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

The MBTA said they will be offering the free fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.

“During construction, free fares are being offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered during construction.”

MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93 ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1 southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with significant delays expected.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:

•Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

•Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.

•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.

•Check parking availability at the T’s 8 largest garages @MBTA_Parking. •Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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Proposed ‘T’ Hikes Meet with Outcry from Commuters, Elected Officials

Proposed ‘T’ Hikes Meet with Outcry from Commuters, Elected Officials

A roomful of commuters and elected officials roundly rejected proposed MBTA fare hikes during a public meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the State Transportation Building in Boston.

Steve Poftak, general manager of the MBTA, outlined the increases, which would go into effect July 1 and raise fares an average of 6.3 percent system-wide.

Under the proposal, the cost of a local bus Charlie Card would increase to $1.80 from $1.70 while a subway Charlie Card would rise to $2.40 from the current $2.25. The monthly LinkPass, which provides unlimited bus and subway travel for one customer, would jump to $90 from $84.50, and a seven-day LinkPass would rise to $22.50 from $21.25.

The proposed fare increase would bring in $32 million in additional revenue to help recoup losses against the budget shortfall of $111 million projected for the next fiscal year.

The last hike came in July of 2016, which raised fares an average of 9.3 percent across the system, but since that time, the Legislature has passed a law limiting fare hikes to a maximum of 7 percent every two years.

After Poftak’s opening remarks, City Councilor Michelle Wu presented T officials with a petition she circulated calling for unlimited year-round passes for seniors and children, as well as a lower fare for the city’s poorest residents, which had already garnered 2,700 signatures by the time the meeting commenced.

“This moment in history demands aggressive action against the threats of income inequality and climate change,” Wu said. “Sustainable, affordable, reliable public transit is fundamental to providing Boston residents with the greatest access to jobs, schools, and opportunities beyond their home neighborhoods.”

State Rep. Adrian Madaro, who represents East Boston, read from a letter on behalf of the Boston Legislative Delegation urging the MBTA board of directors to hold off on fare hikes at this time.

“Public transportation is a vital resource for residents of Boston, and especially for low-income individuals, seniors and students who rely on MBTA service as their primary means of transportation,” the letter read in part. “We realize fares bring needed revenue to the operations of our public transportation system, but understanding how higher fares affect these vulnerable populations is essential to striking the right balance between funding and public accessibility to transportation services. We believe that there needs to be a more in-depth discussion with the MBTA about the background and reasoning for this proposal prior to the imposition of any fare increase.”

James White, chairman of MBTA Accessibility Advisory Committee for the past 18 years, advised against raising fare until after planned improvements are made to the Red and Orange lines, including the replacement of both fleets by 2023.

In response to the MBTA’s own projection that a fare hike would amount to a 1.3-percent loss in ridership, State Rep. Andy Vargas, who represents Haverhill, said, “At a time when we have increased ridership on the T, we should be doing everything we can to encourage that.”

State Rep. Tommy Vitolo, who represents Brookline, took to the podium with a can of Arizona Iced Tea in hand.

“It costs 99 cents, says it right on the can,” he said. “It has cost 99 cents for 18 years. What the good people of Arizona Iced Tea figured out is if you don’t improve the quality of the tea, you don’t raise the prices,” Vitolo said before drinking from the can as the audience applauded him.

The fare increase would put an even bigger burden on commuters living outside the city as illustrated by statements from Egan Millard, a 27-year-old Weymouth resident who works in Cambridge and currently pays $217.75 for his monthly commuter rail and subway pass.

“I, and I’m sure most T riders, already feel we’re paying too much for such abysmal service,” Millard said “Commuter rail service is so infrequent I have to plan my entire day and sometimes week around it. I have lost, at this point, days of my life on the T that I can’t get back.”

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Better Bussing – MBTA Meets with Chelsea Community to Discuss Proposed Fare Hike, Projects

Better Bussing – MBTA Meets with Chelsea Community to Discuss Proposed Fare Hike, Projects

By Laura Plummer

Chelsea residents and MBTA officials mingled at the Chelsea Senior Center on Tuesday, February 19, where the MBTA sought community feedback on three new system-wide changes on the horizon: a proposed fare hike, a bus system improvement initiative dubbed The Better Bus Project, and an upgraded program for managing ticket purchases called Automated Fare Collection 2.0.

The event was the first meeting in a series that the Transit Authority is hosting in the Greater Boston area throughout February and early March. Other cities and communities on the list include Quincy Center, Woburn, South Boston, Harvard Square, Downtown Boston, Watertown and Worcester.

Chelsea residents perused information from the MBTA on Tuesday
night at the Open House – the first of many in the Greater Boston area dealing with rate increases, the Better Bus Project and the new fare collection system.

Departing from the traditional town hall-style meeting, there was no speaker or agenda. Rather, officials from the MBTA were stationed at a horseshoe of tables featuring large informational posters and fliers in Spanish and English. Residents from the Chelsea community were invited to circulate from station to station in order to learn about the proposed changes, ask questions and provide oral and written feedback.

FARE PROPOSAL

The MBTA is looking to increase fares by an average of 6.3%, which, according to its website, it needs in order to “continue making system investments to improve service.”

The increase, which is aligned with Boston’s inflation rate, also meets the State law allowing the MBTA to raise their rates no more than 7% every two years. The fare hike, which would go into effect in July, would be the first since 2016.

The 6.3% increase would be applied to all fares, including bus and subway, commuter rail, ferry, and The RIDE.

In terms of the most common fares and passes, a local one-way bus ticket would go from $1.70 to $1.80. A one-way subway ticket would go from $2.25 to $2.40. A monthly LinkPass would go from $84.50 to $90.00, and a 7-Day LinkPass would go from $21.25 to $22.50.

Those interested can read more about the proposed fare hike at mbta.com/fare-proposal-2019. Comments can be emailed to fares@mbta.com, or mailed to MBTA, Attn: Fare Proposal, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116. Respondents can also share their opinions via an online survey available at surveymonkey.com/r/6TW8FFQ.

THE BETTER BUS PROJECT

Another project on the table is The Better Bus Project, an expansive initiative looking to overhaul the entire bus service of the MBTA. Its current projected rollout date is 2020.

“Too many of our bus routes still fail to live up to our own standards,” states the MBTA on its web site. “Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that. Every day we’re finding new ways to improve the experiences of the people who use and ride our buses.”

The Better Bus Project would be comprised of five distinct elements: continuous change, analysis, proposed near-term changes, multi-year investment strategy and the Bus Network Redesign.

Continuous change refers to changes that can be made incrementally over time as the opportunities arise. Analysis includes reports generated from a period of outreach in which the MBTA surveyed riders most affected by gaps in service.

“Riders want more frequent, more reliable service,” said the MBTA. “They want more routes that run more often throughout the day—not just during peak service hours. And we learned […] that there are too many routes, too many complex routes, and too few routes with frequent, all-day service.”

Proposed near-term changes for The Better Bus Project include 47 specific suggestions for the consolidation of duplicate routes, the increase of space at bus stops and the elimination of some obsolete bus routes.

One of the 47 proposed projects is Route 111, which runs from Haymarket through Chelsea to Revere. The MBTA aims to “provide faster and more reliable service to Route 111 by removing service on Park Avenue in Revere, with connection remaining via Route 110,” according to a Better Bus Project flier.

A multi-year investment strategy will kick off a dialog about how to best leverage resources to improve the bus system as a whole, taking into account what riders want and need.

The ambitious Bus Network Redesign would re-envision the current MBTA bus network in the hopes of better serving passengers.

To learn more about The Better Bus Project and share your input, go to mbta.com/projects/better-bus-project.

AUTOMATED FARE COLLECTION 2.0

Citing an outdated system, the MBTA hopes that its new project will make paying for transit easier. With the introduction of AFC 2.0, the MBTA hopes to “improve customer experience, ensure equal access, upgrade outdated hardware and software, improve revenue control, operate buses and trains more efficiently and support future MBTA changes and growth.”

According to the MBTA, passengers will be able to pay their fares faster with improved Charlie Cards, a smartphone app, different payment options and digital fare readers. Under the new system, passengers will be able to conveniently reload their Charlie Cards in a number of venues, from schools and employers, online, over the phone, retailers and an increased number of vending machines.

MBTA employee Anthony Thomas explained that people could still use cash to reload their Charlie Cards at a number of locations throughout the city, but that cash would no longer be an option for paying on buses. The idea is to reduce the long bus queues, resulting in faster routes.

“Our new fare system will get you moving faster,” said the MBTA. “It’ll also get our vehicles moving faster (by up to 10% according to some estimates).”

These changes would not be rolled out all at once, but would overlap with the current technologies available, some of them in place for over a decade. In this way, the MBTA hopes to have a seamless transition to the new system.

For more information about AFC 2.0 and to submit your feedback, visit afc2.mbta.com.

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MBTA Better Bus Kick-Off

MBTA Better Bus Kick-Off

Steve Poftak, who has been the MBTA General Manager for about a month, expresses his commitment to Chelsea during the inaugural Chelsea Transportation Task Force meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24. The Task Force plans to continue meeting for the next six months regarding MBTA issues and the Better Buses program.

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Chelsea Transportation Task Force Inaugural Meeting: Driving the Discussion

Chelsea Transportation Task Force Inaugural Meeting: Driving the Discussion

The people of Chelsea are demanding increased frequency on the Silver Line, more reliability, and additional bus connections from the MBTA. Over the next two years there will be three major construction projects in Chelsea that will adversely impact bus traffic, and City leaders and residents are concerned that the already poor services will worsen.

“There have been big shifts in population and ridership, and the bus routes have stayed largely the same,” admitted Steve Poftak, the newly appointed MBTA General Manager. “The T is playing catch-up.”

On January 24, Poftak sat with locals and members of the City Council during the first inaugural Chelsea Transportation Task Force meeting at City Hall. The goal of the committee is to gather once a month for six months of interactive discussions with the community and Poftak to develop solutions.

“For a lot of us who live on both of the hills, buses are the only means of transportation,” commented a Bellingham Square resident. “Every year or two, they threaten to cut off both of the hills. That would leave us totally stranded, and I’m not having it.”

Many aren’t content with the massive traffic that builds with the 20 minute rising and 20 minute lowering of the Chelsea Street bridge, which slows bus travel. The MBTA noted that active discussions with the Coast Guard regarding the creation of a period of time during peak hours of commuting when the bridge does not open have been hindered by the government shutdown.

“We have limited control over the bridge. Maybe we could have some predictability with windows when we know the bridge will be active and when we know it won’t,” said Poftak.

The Better Bus Project is investigating the quality of the current bus network and working on cost-neutral proposals that will result in more frequent services for customers. Researchers have been speaking with riders to learn more about where people’s trips begin and end, the economic demographics of the area, and where jobs are located.

“We are advocating for fair mitigation,” expressed Council President Damali Vidot. “We’ve needed quality service for years and are working at a sub-par level. Chelsea was an afterthought in the Better Bus Project. We want to make sure we’re getting the service we deserve.”

The Better Bus Project has 47 proposals for changes in the MBTA bus system that will impact 63 out of the 180 routes in 35 of the 50 communities that are served. Proposals include removing bus routes with low ridership, and re-investing resources elsewhere.

The Transportation Task Force is suggesting more inspectors, less cancellations, and easier transfers between Chelsea and Lynn on the Commuter Rail.

“We are re-imagining the infrastructure on Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We will be presenting the City Council with alternatives that do away with two fast lanes to make travel safer. One idea is incorporating a dedicated bus lane.”

Gentrification has also forced many Chelsea residents to relocate to Lynn because of the high cost of rent. One Chelsea resident, who works in Lynn, voiced that it takes her up to two hours to commute from Lynn to Chelsea using public transportation. She commented that the only line that directly connects Chelsea to Everett is the 112 bus, and many avoid it due to the lifting of the bridge; and recommended that the 426 bus through Lynn could stop in Chelsea, as it already passes over the Tobin Bridge.

“In the overall bus network redesign, people on the north side of the city are particularly interested in going to Lynn and Malden,” Poftak concluded. Better Bus Project proposals will be available at www.MBTA.com with maps and data. The MBTA will also be providing riders with a warm place to view proposals at Haymarket Station, where they see the most response from Chelsea residents.

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MBTA, MassPort Seek Pilot for Chelsea Street Bridge Restrictions

MBTA, MassPort Seek Pilot for Chelsea Street Bridge Restrictions

There has been no shortage of colorful language used to express frustration for the often ill-timed Chelsea Street Bridge closures, and now the MBTA has joined the chorus in cursing the 250-foot vertical lift bridge – a bridge that far-too-often makes a lift in the dead of rush hour traffic.

At the MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) meeting on Monday, Kate Fichter – Assistant MassDOT Secretary for Policy Coordination – said that the Silver Line extension to Chelsea has been a great success, but the delays at the critical crossing of the Chelsea Street Bridge have stifled the new service.

A plan put in place to warn Silver Line drivers in advance of a bridge closure has not worked out very well, she said, and the Silver Line’s growth is believed to be hampered by people frustrated with the bridge delays.

“It impacts a lot of things and it’s been an issue a long time for Chelsea, East Boston and Revere,” said Fichter. “With the SL3, we had a plan in place that had a system for early warning with dispatch that we hoped would mitigate the issue. It hasn’t really turned out to work as well as we had hoped. It is a challenge to the Silver Line, the 116, the 117 and a lot of its other uses…The Silver Line usage has grown, and we believe if we can solve the delays at the bridge, ridership can grow even more.”

Fichter said they are working with MassPort and several other partners to propose a six-month pilot program to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Regulations on the bridge. Those regulations prioritize maritime travel over all other forms of transportation and often result in ships coming through at the worst times of the day. That has caused problems for MassPort workers trying to get to and from the employee parking garage in Chelsea from the airport, and it’s also caused problems for parents trying to get to Chelsea to pick up their children from school or day care. Likewise, it is a constant headache for commuters and commercial/industrial ventures when it goes up.

“We are going to apply with the Coast Guard in the next couple of months to propose a pilot program to those regulations that would last six months,” she said. “At this point, we’re proposing that the bridge would not open in the a.m. peak times or the p.m. peak times for a two-hour period at each time.”

The exception would be if a fully loaded petroleum tanker sought to come into the Chelsea Creek or there was an emergency situation. The purpose of the pilot program would be to collect data on MBTA delays, as well as delays for other users.

“I am cautiously optimistic about getting the pilot,” she said. “The situation is such that we have no real leverage. We can only ask.”

She said the goal would be for the multiple agencies to seek a permanent regulation change with the Coast Guard if the pilot shows improvements. That, she said, is a tough road to travel and would likely get resistance from maritime uses on Chelsea Creek.

“They see it as a maritime facility and we see it as the bottom of a road,” she said. “It’s no secret the users of the Creek and vessel operators are very opposed to this and I anticipate they will oppose the pilot program and would really oppose a permanent change. There are plenty of regulations that have changed across the country, but it’s a tough fight…My hope is there is a compromise position where everyone gives a little and we all get some relief.”

Fichter said they would be having public meetings in the new year at some point to get input from the community, and they are encouraging everyone to come out and voice their frustrations with the bridge as it is set up now. The more people that voice their opinions, the more likely it will be that the pilot would be put in place.

She said they would like to see any approved pilot program start in June 2019.

Chelsea Silver Line extension seeing major growth in weekday ridership

MBTA officials reported this week that Silver Line ridership for the new Chelsea service has been growing steadily since implementation last April.

Members of the MBTA’s Chelsea Task Force reported to the Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) on Monday that ridership on weekdays has grown by nearly 2,000 riders per month.

The service started with about 4,100 riders per month on weekday at the outset, and now boasts around 6,200 riders per month on weekdays. At other times, though, ridership has stayed flat.

On Saturdays, ridership started around 3,000, grew to nearly 4,000 riders and has now declined to about 3,200 riders.

On Sundays, ridership started at about 2,900 and surged to about 3,000 riders in August, but has now declined to about 3,800 riders per month.

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A Silver Line-ing: First Rides on the SL-3 Line Begin Saturday

A Silver Line-ing: First Rides on the SL-3 Line Begin Saturday

The MBTA is gearing up for the big rollout of its Silver Line SL-3 expansion on Saturday, April 21, as operations on the expansion of the bus rapid transit look to change the landscape, and the commute, of the City.CHEL_20180419_A1

For the first time ever, “can’t get there from here” territory like South Station will be only 27 minutes from the Mystic Mall on the new SL-3 buses, according to information from the MBTA.

“SL3 will make commuting to the Airport, Seaport, or South Station better for anyone who rides bus routes 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, anyone travelling on the Blue Line, or anyone who is driving,” read information materials from the T. “Right now, your commute might be pretty complicated. If you’re going to the South Station area, you probably start out on a bus, and then make a few transfers to get to the Red Line. If you drive, you deal with a lot of traffic, and pay for tolls, and parking.”

On Wednesday, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez was out to Chelsea to get a sneak peek of the new service, taking the SL-3 from Airport Station through to the new Chelsea Station. Deputy City Manager Ned Keefe accompanied him, as well as several MBTA officials.

The new SL-3 service will operate in Chelsea between the hours of

5 a.m. (Monday through Friday) to 12:55 a.m. On Saturdays, it opens at 5:30 a.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.

Service will run every 10 minutes at peak periods, which are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Service runs every 12 to 15 minutes in off-peak and weekend times.

It will operate in Chelsea out of three brand new, heated stations – complete with covered bike racks at each. The stations are:

  • Chelsea Station – 174 Everett Ave.
  • Bellingham Station – 225 Arlington St.
  • Box District Station – 200 Highland St.
  • Eastern Avenue Station – 40 Eastern Ave.

As part of the project as well, the 111 bus will be enhanced.

It is expected that of the 11,700 riders of the 111 bus, some 2,000 will switch to the SL-3 service, reducing the crowds on the 111 somewhat.

Additionally, the MBTA plans to work with the City of Chelsea to improve the 111 bus with potential dedicated bus lanes and signal optimization.

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New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.

The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.

There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:

  • Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
  • Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
  • Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
  • Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.

“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”

“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”

The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.

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