Hub bus routes to get $100M makeover

Dan Devine | 5/6/2009, 3:19 a.m.

According to the American Public Transportation Association’s ridership statistics for the fourth quarter of 2008, the MBTA has the sixth-highest bus ridership in the country, with an average weekday headcount of more than 347,000 riders.

While the T Riders Union responded positively to the upgrade funding, it did express some concerns, including the lack of a “public process … to determine what transit riders need and want.” The union called for the creation of a community advisory board to discuss how the two-phase plan should be implemented.

“Plans for improving public transit should come from a robust process of public involvement, not from unilateral announcements,” the union said.

Some also stressed the importance of ensuring that new jobs resulting from the influx of stimulus funds go to members of the communities where the work is being done.

“… I am looking forward to working with [the Patrick administration] to stretch every dollar for the maximum impact in the district and to make sure that local residents have access to the construction jobs created,” state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz said in a statement.

But the chief complaint raised by residents, as well as legislators like state Reps. Gloria Fox and Byron Rushing, is that no matter how many improvements are made, the Silver Line is still not the true rapid transit option that many have long clamored for in the Washington Street corridor.

“We call on the Patrick administration to begin the planning process to bring real rapid transit, rail transit, to the corridor by investing funds in planning a new rail line from downtown through Dudley Square and Dorchester to Mattapan,” the T Riders Union said. “It is time to plan transit by rail to connect that densely populated corridor to downtown.”

For his part, MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said he views the BRT expansion as an adjunct to “the tremendous success of the first phases of the Silver Line.”

The new transit investment is part of the “You Move Massachusetts” transportation initiative, which received feedback from transit riders who complained of slow, unreliable bus service. For more information on the BRT plan, visit http://www.mass.gov/eot.