On Wednesday morning, I met with State Representative Nick Collins at the corner of N and Broadway to check out the dreaded Southie bus situation. To add to to the misery of of it all, it was a very raw and rainy morning. We met around 8:15 am and there was a group of a dozen or so commuters at the corner that quickly grew to about 50. A number 7 – full to capacity drove by the stop we were waiting at. Then the crowd quickly multiplied to almost a hundred people – a hundred, damp, jaded, slightly angry commuters waiting anxiously at the stop for the arrival of the next number 7. You could see people plotting moves in their heads on how they were going to squeeze onto the bus without coming off as a complete jerk. It was evident you needed to be aggressive to get on the bus. When the next number 7 arrived, the crowd slowly pushed its way onto the bus. If only we had those train pushers from Japan available, every last commuter would have a ride.
While Nick and I observed the bus stop, he filled me in on some of his ideas on how the MBTA can improve this quality of life issue.
Here are some bullets points from our chat:
- Bus service has not been updated in decades in Southie
- Possibly moving the number 7 from Broadway to First Street
- If #7 bus is moved to First Street – facilities available, more accountability of MBTA due to location to bus barn, and potential coffee/food trucks.
- Some of the #7 bus routes to be shortened to an express route with stopping before South Station and then loop back to Southie – thus creating a more constant flow of buses.
- Moving the #11 bus to Day Blvd. and taking it off of 8th
- Developing at 311-style app to report late buses, service issues etc.
- Cabot Yard by West 4th Street – moving trains underground and developing that area to bridge South Boston to the South End.
Early this week, Nick testified before the MBTA board and stated that bus service in South Boston needs to improve. His office issued a joint press release from both Nick and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry regarding the urgency of the bus service improvement on Tuesday.
“We need action from the MBTA now. People can’t wait any longer.” said Nick.
This fall there will be community meetings with the MBTA to discuss service improvements. Nick urges all to attend.
More to follow.
Like the move of the 7, but the 11 won’t work on day blvd. That much pedestrian traffic across a notoriously dangerous street will cause more problems than it solves.
Glad that people, particularly Rep Collins, are trying to find solutions though
MBTA bus service is unreliable and customer service is beyond acceptable. A serious overhaul is needed to get service to meet demand and increase reliability to 90+%.
I agree with the improved waiting station at O &. 1st Also have the Silver Line extend from Design Center to O & 1st station via the new truck road and back to South Station via catenary tunnel
Appreciate efforts to be creative but there is a somewhat simple solution to the #7 fiasco. Acknowledge an explosion in the population of young workers/commuters and double the number of buses running between 7 AM and 9 AM. if we want to encourage bright young people to stay in Boston after graduation, or move to Boston to become part of a vibrant and stimulating city, we must prioritize quality of life. This is not rocket science.
Potentially Broadway to 1st Street? As you pointed out –the Edison project is coming. Is it me, am I missing something? How could running the buses along that route possibly work with a major construction project about to commence? That project will, inevitably, take years. Maybe I’m not picturing it properly — but, if I am, seems like our representative is out of touch too. Apologies if I’m off base.
Excellent ideas from Nick Collins that seem relatively easy to implement. Love the idea of buses on 1st St and Day Blvd relieving congestion in the middle of the neighborhood and making the streets safer for pedestrians. Also like buses looping back at South Station as most people get off there and walk because it is faster than sitting in traffic between Atlantic Ave and Otis St. Let’s give this a try MBTA!
These are all ideas from someone who doesn’t take the 7 or 9 enough. People don’t want food trucks or coffee on East 1st. They want to get to work and not be in the heat, rain, or snow for long. Also do not want to be shoulder to shoulder doing so. The “more accountability” of 7 buses running on East 1st is also ridiculous because the 7 runs within 3 blocks of East 1st at all times in City Point. Where the 7 runs has nothing to do with the 10 or 11 either, which mostly picks up in volume far away from City Point, which is where the 7 lives before Summer St. The 311 idea will do nothing – how often does the T’s twitter or phone solve issues? Won’t be anything more than a complaint line. Just add 3-4 extra bus routes between 7:15-8:00am and problem solved. Don’t over complicate the issue because you stood at the bus stop for one morning.
Couldn’t agree more. I am still trying to figure out how the whole 1st street suggestion could even be considered a ‘solution’, it only worsens the problem. It puts more of a burden on every single rider to walk even further to get their bus. It’s like a restaurant with poor service having the people at the tables get up and go to the kitchen themselves to pick up their food.
David and Ed are spot on. None of these changes to the #7 will do anything to fix the problem, except make people walk farther to catch the bus. So instead of 50 people waiting at P, 50 at N and 50 at L, we will have 150 people waiting at the bus depot. But that’s cool because there will be food trucks with crappy coffee and breakfast sandwiches? Maybe try actually riding the bus instead of standing there for an hour and come up with some real ideas.
One solution, add more buses, that’s it. If a few more busses per day can’t be added then stop building more housing in the area. What’s it going to be like when the power plant development is finished? You would assume the majority of people who move there are going to be taking the #7 or #9 to work.
Thanks for sharing Maureen. The problem is almost as bad at Broadway station. I work near Kenmore Square and have a daily debate whether I should take the 9 or the Red Line to the Green Line. I live near D Street and don’t even bother trying to get on the 9 there, and walk to Broadway instead to assess my options.
Yesterday morning, with MBTA services running “business as usual”, I couldn’t get on the 9 bus at Broadway even after dozens of riders got off b/c of how many more riders awaited to board ahead of me. I went down to the train platform and watched 2 Alewife trains go by that were packed that I couldn’t get on.
Given Southie’s population growth since 2000 and its demographic shift of residents being more dependent than ever on MBTA services, it’s painfully more obvious than ever that zero change to MBTA services in decades for Southie has compromised weekday quality of life for many residents.
Moving the bus to 1st street solves nothing. The only solution is to add more buses. Maybe extend the Silver line to service broadway like the MBTA originally wanted.
Can we have Sunday service for the 7 as well? I don’t need a food truck in the morning, but an easy way to get to downtown Boston on Sunday would be more helpful.
What about articulated buses like those used for the Silver Line? If the buses run down E. 1st, Farragut, and Broadway, there should be plenty of room to accommodate the longer (and more spacious) vehicles.
I agree with so many of these comments – moving the bus stop only makes commuters walk further, relocating the crowds. It does not resolve the underlying issue of an increased population requiring reliable transportation to get downtown. The obvious resolution is to run more buses during peak hours, alleviating the crowds.
They are overthinking the issue which has a simple resolution – more buses during morning and evening commutes. They should also consider riding empty buses halfway through Southie and start taking riders in the west end where currently buses are too full to get on. The express route is one idea that has potential. Food trucks feels like a sad attempt at being “cool” or “trendy”, much like the new food vendors in shipping containers at the Bronstein building.
The problem is not just the buses, although I do believe they need to be fixed first due to people needing to wait outside. I live near Andrew and very rarely can I get on the first Red Line train towards Alewife that comes through between 8:15 and 8:20. And now the city wants to redevelop the area between Andrew and Broadway and put roughly 15,000 more people there?! Every planning meeting I’ve gone to for that project, when the MBTA is brought up, they just say they will cross that bridge when they come to it. Our buses and trains cannot handle the population who uses them now and the only solution that works is more buses and trains. Moving bus stops won’t help, trying to placate people with coffee won’t help.
More buses would help – but the scheduled number of buses is already high. I don’t know how the MBTA will cope with the rapidly expanding population in South Boston. I agree we don’t need food trucks, As for accountability – I don’t understand what the East 1st St proposal will accomplish. There are phone apps now that tell us where the buses are – can’t the MBTA use technology to monitor?
So for now, add more buses and make them express? Thank you for looking into this !
More buses and make them express – yes, please! Maybe change the Atlantic buses to expresses.
1 morning in the rain does not a commuter make. The route needs more buses, plain and simple. When you take the 5;15 AM bus, which I do every day, and it fills up most days by L and Broadway, it’s time to increase the amount of buses during the commuter hours. We are all aware of constant renovations, new buildings going up and an over all increase in the working population of South Boston. Respond to the simple math, more people, more buses. It would certainly wake up the attendants in the MBTA counting room if they had more quarters to count!
Why are coffee/food trucks even considered when thinking of improving the bus transportation in southie? I don’t care about coffee, I care about getting to work on time and not having to stand in a huge line to get on a bus! Amenities at bus stops should not be a priority right now…
Don’t know if “T” still has split shift drivers that work during morn ans eve shifts could some of these drivers do their shifts on the 7
Agree with many of these comments. My only complaint about the express bus to South Stations is many of these people now get off in the Seaport. As the Seaport district continues to add more businesses, people relocate to Southie to be closer to work. The East side of Southie has very poor access to the Seaport district, with none on Sundays.
This also impacts the evening commute, when most of the #7 buses are full by the time they get to the Seaport. Recently, in the morning they started terminating some buses at South Station and immediately looping back to Southie. Why not do this in the evening, and when they loop around add a stop in the Seaport for the afternoon commuters? Seems like a waste to send back empty buses.
I agree, moving the buses to 1st street will not solve anything. Construction will be on going for quite some time. Imagine if everyone in Southie decided not to purchase their monthly pass for a couple of months, maybe then the T would be inclined to add more buses…..
Echoe the comments above. Seems like a fairly straightforward solution- a little concerning that none of the proposed “solutions” even get at the heart of the problem.
I don’t use the #7 but do use #9, #10 and #11. #10 is the worst line in Southie. Their schedule seems to be” run whenever you feel like it”. A lot of Seniors use this bus to get Boston Medical. we need to get to our appointments on time or you can be cancelled. The Silver line has a lot more buses than Southie. How about getting us some for morning and evening?
Moving the buses from Broadway to First street is laughably unproductive… All the people lining up at L st and Broadway now will just need to walk another 3 blocks to 1st street where they will all be waiting just like they are waiting at L and Broadway.. some of these people already walk from as far as day boulevard so now they would need to walk clear across Broadway in order to get onto the bus.
A reasonable solution would be for the #7 to have more buses that travel the same or similar route it has now and then perhaps turns around at South Station, then add double the amount of buses between 7-9AM
Couldn’t agree more with most of the comments above. Moving to East 1st street solves nothing. Moving the 7 from 4th to Broadway was an improvement that was miraculously something smart the MBTA kept in place.
I agree with everyone’s notion that “more buses” during prime commuting hours is the simple answer. The question for the MBTA and its bus drivers however is really about the route. Most of the 7’s go all the way to Otis street and are getting stuck in traffic at South Station (Atlantic Ave). Sometimes I get to N & East Broadway around 845/9 and there will be a collection of 3-4 number 7 buses that all come within 5 minutes of each other and some are literally empty! My guess is that these are all the buses who got stuck in the loop and ended up way off their scheduled time.
I think the MBTA has attempted (poorly) to put more 7’s into circulation but because of the horrible loop down to Otis, there is no consistency to the TIMING of the buses. More buses will undoubtedly help the situation, but I truly believe the inconsistency in the arrival times is the issue at heart. Maybe the express bus solves part of that and a shorter loop brings more frequent buses and maybe some of them turn around at Melcher Street or Dorchester Ave (before South Station) and loop back somehow?
Candidly, if South Boston wants to have a productive conversation around this issue, they should invite a few of the bus drivers to the meetings and find out what they perceive to be the biggest challenges to stay “on time”. They would have the answers. I can’t help but scratch my head and laugh when I see 3-4 number 7 buses lining up next to each other after 9 AM and no one to ride them.
This wouldn’t be a bad idea. The volume of riders at rush hour certainly warrants it.