The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D – Belmont) who represents Watertown:
Thousands of commuters on Mount Auburn Street and on Fresh Pond Parkway had a very rough ten days starting on Monday, November 5. That is the day that a contractor swapped in a new controller for the traffic signals and failed to properly program it. The new Siemens 60 signal controller is so sophisticated that only a few engineers have the expertise to properly program it. Commuters endured ten days of bad timing until the right specialist was able to get it working as intended. As of Thursday, Nov.
The Mass. Department of Transportation provided the following information:
To accommodate attendees of the parade celebrating the 2018 Boston Red Sox World Series victory, the MBTA will operate enhanced service on Wednesday, October 31, 2018. The MBTA will operate subway service at rush-hour levels from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Additional Commuter Rail capacity will be added to lines that are expected to experience higher-than-normal ridership. On the Green Line, the nightly shutdown of trolley service on the D Branch has been cancelled, meaning regularly scheduled D Branch service will continue until the end of service on Wednesday night. “Because the parade coincides with Halloween, we fully expect Wednesday to be a busy day in Boston and around the region,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez.
It takes something special to get state and local officials to gather next to a bus stop at 8 a.m. a chilly morning, but celebrating the start of a program to speed up buses along Mt. Auburn Street rose to that occasion Friday morning. The group in front of Star Market showed up for the launch of the Cambridge-Watertown Mt. Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot, also referred to as bus rapid transit or BRT. Users of the roadway may have noticed the red lanes, and new traffic patterns, which are designed to move buses, and — they hope — other vehicles, toward Harvard Square at a brisker pace.
A plan to redesign the Mt. Auburn Street/Common Street intersection would create 10 more parking spaces in that area, but some businesses in that area would lose the parking spots in front of their stores. The Town Council’s Public Works subcommittee heard a presentation from WorldTech Engineering, the firm designing the Mt. Auburn Street reconstruction project. Designers presented three options for the business area just east of Watertown Square based on where MBTA bus stops would be located.
Changes to sections of Mt. Auburn Street will go into effect early next week which will change the traffic patters for drivers, bus riders and bicyclists. The Town of Watertown and City of Cambridge have teamed up to create a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) pilot with the goal to create faster and more reliable bus service for more than 12,000 daily MBTA bus riders and shuttle passengers and improve traffic flow for all users of Mt. Auburn Street. The pilot is being funded with a grant from the Barr Foundation and is being done in conjunction with the MBTA and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The following announcement came from the Department of Public Works:
The Town Council Public Works Committee has scheduled two meetings for a Mount Auburn Street project update. Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 and Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Ask questions and review plans with the project team starting at 6:00 p.m. Each Committee meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall, Administration Building Richard E. Mastrangelo Council Chamber, 149 Main Street, Watertown.
The following information was provided by the MBTA and Town of Watertown:
Beginning the week of Oct. 15, the Town of Watertown, the City of Cambridge, the MBTA, the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and the Barr Foundation will roll out a bus priority pilot funded by a grant from the Barr Foundation to bring elements of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the Mount Auburn Street Corridor, serving MBTA routes 71 and 73, as well as employee shuttles. The project will feature painted bus and bicycle only lanes – primarily on Mount Auburn Street between Cottage Street and Coolidge Avenue in the inbound direction – as well as signage and signal changes to create faster, more reliable service for 12,000+ daily bus riders while improving traffic flow for everyone. The partners will host an official launch event with speaking program on the morning of Oct.
State Sen. Will Brownsberger, (D – Belmont) who represents Watertown, provided the following piece:
MBTA bus arrival predictions should get better as of today and further improvements can be expected over the next few months. Representatives Jon Hecht and Dave Rogers and I learned a lot at a recent meeting with MBTA management about bus service complaints that we had received from riders. Most regular bus riders now rely on mobile phone apps to get predictions of when the next bus will arrive. Here is how those predictions are generated and how the technology is changing. Each MBTA bus is equipped with a device that transmits its location back to the MBTA’s control center.
The MBTA recently released its “Focus 40 Investment Plan.” On pages 13-19 of that plan, the MBTA gives an overview of which communities it considers “Priority Places” in its Focus 40 investment plan. https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/files/projects/focus40/2018-07-30-focus40-draft-plan-digital.pdf
I believe that Watertown (East Watertown in particular) deserves the “Priority Place” designation because it’s fits many of the criteria for a Priority Place listed on page 14 including:
“• Lack rapid transit service, but bus usage exceeds available capacity
• Face traffic congestion that compromises the performance of MBTA buses in mixed traffic
• Host major centers of activity or dense residential populations, but lack efficient public transit access
• Feature population or employment densities that support higher frequency transit”
I urge Watertown’s residents and local and state representatives to contact the MBTA to add Watertown to its “Priority Places” so that our small but growing city can get the public transit investments we need for our future,