The Planet Southie Transit Action Team is working on transportation issues in South Boston. We started with the problem of bus transportation in the First Street area, but we’d like to gather together recommendations for transportation changes for the whole of South Boston.
First Street Bus Service: East First Street from Pappas Drive to Summer Street is between two bus routes. One of them—the No. 9—runs down Broadway and is a three block walk. The other—the No. 7—runs along Summer and is about a half mile walk down E. First or along Pappas Drive. But the No. 7 bus could easily run down E. First. It now runs along Summer Street, and from E.
1st to Pappas Way where there are no residents. But if the bus were to jog down E. First and then up Pappas way, it would pass over 600 residents. It would be great if the bus were to change its route, which would make it much more useful.
The bus does come down E. First in the morning rush hour, but it is going in the wrong direction, out of town, and has no stops. And it loops down E. First in the evening rush hour, also going the wrong way. It is supposed to stop at the corner of Pappas and E. First, but there is no marked stop there and it never does. It also stops at the Boston Athletic Club, for those in the know, but there is no marked stop. Minimally, the T should maintain the stops that it has. If we can get the bus route changed, the currently designed stop at the corner of Pappas and E. First is probably an optimal location. But there should be others added.
We’ve been trying to get the bus route changed for two years, and everyone—the Boston Transportation Department, The Boston Redevelopment Authority, and the MBTA—thinks that it is a good idea. But nothing changes. I put out a petition in the Distillery Building of people who wanted to change the No. 7 bus from Summer to First Street and got 18 signatures on it. I sent that to Richard Davie, Director of the MBTA along with a letter explaining what we want. I am also contacting various condo associations along the route to see if they are interested in supporting the petition. I need more support.
Shuttles and Vans: Public transportation in the city is in a state of crisis. The MBTA has huge operating deficits each year, which adds to its already unmanageable debt. The crisis is the result of a political contest between legislators who think the T unfairly advantages people in the Boston Metropolitan area, and who also think that the system is patronage-ridden; and the Boston ridership and transit unions. The result is what you see, that with ridership rising, the T cannot maintain equipment, and cannot get more buses even when paying customers are left standing at the curb. (This is the problem now with the No. 7 and 9 during rush hour). We hope that there will be a deal this year to solve this problem. Governor Patrick promises to put the solution to the problem of public transit top on his agenda for the year. But this crisis also opens up opportunities for private solutions so that the city does not have to suffer from a broken system.
We have been approached by a company that would like to run a van along the First Street corridor during morning and evening rush hours. The van might trace the route of the No. 7 bus, i.e. to South Station (Red Line, Silver Line, Purple Line (Commuter Rail)), and then on to Downtown Crossing (Red Line, Orange Line, Green Line). Or it could terminate at South Station.
This would be for people along the First Street corridor on a prepaid subscription basis (so that it would not run afoul of Taxi Regulations), and people would reserve a space and have a card punched when they use up a ride. The cost is not yet determined, but the developers of the various properties will probably contribute some of the cost of the service.
While this is a private in-house system, it would also try to accommodate people who are not in the subscribing properties, and will subsidize transportation for those in financial need. Private transit represents a way of alleviating the current problems with the T. But beyond that, it has enticing possibilities. It potentially can increase transportation convenience, as people are brought from point to point on the basis of their need, rather than to pre-set stops. It can be environmentally more sound, as vans are deployed—bigger or smaller-- on an as-needed basis. The vans can be run more efficiently, using GPS technologies to figure out optimal routes for its riders’ needs. And it can easily run electric or hybrid vehicles, integrating electric generation with PV electricity at its launch sites. We put out a petition and there are about 10 people in the Distillery building who would be interested in such a van.
Learn more about the Shuttle Service here.
Learn more about the Shuttle Service here.
Planet Southie Transportation Team will be discussing progress on both of these issues at the February 28th meeting. We hope you will join us!
Planet Southie Transit Team