On Wednesday night, nearly 100 people filled the Tynan School Cafeteria for a community meeting and open house. What was the topic? Buses! The MBTA and the City of Boston joined forces to host this important gathering. When you first walked in, you were greeted by volunteers and asked to sign in. “It’s an open house format,” we were told. This confused most people. Attendees walked around aimlessly wondering that the heck was going on. Display boards were set up science-fair style, filled with information and graphics from the proposed plan to improve bus service.
We were encouraged to write our thoughts, ideas, concerns on post-it notes and stick it to the display boards. Some people followed the rules and were engaged. Most just complained about the format. This went on from 6:30pm until 7pm. At 7pm, Jess from the MBTA took the stage with a microphone and told us the proposed plan was exactly that – there was nothing set in stone. The new plan consists of eliminating every other bus stop, making sure our bus stops meet MBTA accessibility guidelines (which currently many do not), building bus shelters, and dedicated express bus lanes so buses can beat the traffic which we all know is a nightmare during rush hour. The bus lanes proved to be the most controversial topic of the meeting.
The MBTA encouraging the crowd to use the sticky notes to write comments multiple times. (They must have spent a lot of money on post-its.)
One man in the crowd is concerned the MBTA is using an outside consultant to help gather data. He brings up Facebook and is worried this consultant will “harvest our info.”
The vocal majority of the crowd seems to be against the proposed express bus lanes on Broadway.
City Councilor Ed Flynn voiced his concerns for public safety. “There are lots of women with strollers crossing on Broadway.”
City Councilor Michael Flaherty was not in attendance but a person from his office read a statement that basically said Flaherty is against the dedicated bus lanes.
One regular bus rider stated that the bus lanes should be closer to downtown where the traffic is and not in a residential area.
Paul, a Southie resident for 63 years, thought the dedicated bus lane is catering to the “new residents.”
A 2-year resident got up to speak and stated that he didn’t have a car and uses the bus regularly. He commended the MBTA for taking progressive steps like dedicated bus lanes. He mentioned if you live in the city “you don’t need a car.” The crowd promptly boo’d him.
Friend of CIS Corey Dinopoulos was next at the mic. He voiced his support for dedicated bus lanes and brought up the pilot programs in Roslindale and Everett.
We learned from the MBTA they are learning a lot from he pilot program in Roslindale. “The bus lane has cut the commute in half.”
Fr. Jim DiPerri got up and spoke and said it doesn’t matter if you’ve lived here for 60 years or 1 year, “We are all South Bostonians.” He also stated that no resident or business wants a bus shelter in front of their home or business.
One woman in the crowd asked about the fact the proposal states that the date of decision is listed as May of 2018 with a bid for construction proposals in the summer and then implementation in September of 2018. “It seems like it’s not enough time to get through all of this feedback.”
The MBTA states they will adjust the timeline.
The people who live on East Broadway still want the buses moved back to East Fourth. (That ship has sailed.)
In conclusion, it was great to see so many civically engaged residents passionate about bus service in Southie. The MBTA was taking notes on the meeting and would consider all of the feedback before making a decision about the proposed plan. We predict another community meeting will be organized within the next few months.
If you have questions, concerns or would like to request a pdf of the proposal, you can email [email protected]
Caught in Southie also has a copy of the proposal. You a copy you can email [email protected] for a copy! Thanks!