OP-ED: Citizen Group Critical of Slow Roll Out of Watertown Shuttle

The following piece came from the Watertown Transportation Task Force:

The Watertown Transportation Task Force (WTTF) today released a report on the status of proposed shuttle buses for Pleasant Street and Arsenal Street, titled, “Shuttle Buses for Arsenal and Pleasant Streets: What’s Happened, What Hasn’t, Why?” The report is critical of the lack of progress made to date and recommends changes the Town should make going forward. The Task Force report describes the efforts to get shuttle buses running along Pleasant Street to Watertown Square and along Arsenal Street to a mass transit station. It recommends that the Town should fully enforce special permit conditions which require “proportionate financial participation” by developers to fund effective TMA shuttle operations. The WTTF has strongly advocated for shuttle service, but the report also proposes that Town funds should not go to any shuttle program until (1) a realistic multi-year financial analysis forecasts the budget for shuttle operations on each corridor and estimates any budget shortfall due to inadequate private funding, and (2) strong pre-conditions are set for all Town contributions to a shuttle program. The concept for the shuttles was that a Watertown Transportation Management Association (known as a TMA) would be created to implement transportation demand management programs for large new developments along these corridors which would include shuttle busses.

OP-ED: Changes to Traffic Signal Timing Will Make Mt. Auburn St. Bus Lanes Work Better

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.

MBTA Helping Red Sox Fans Get to Parade With Enhanced Services

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.

Bus Priority Lanes Going Into Effect Soon, See What to Expect, Take Survey

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.

Buses to Start Using New Red Lanes on Mt. Auburn Street Soon, Also Impacts Bikes, Cars

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.

OP-ED: MBTA Making Changes to Avoid “Ghost Buses” on Cellphone App

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.

LETTER: Watertown Deserves to be a Priority in MBTA’s Investment Plan

Letter To The Editor

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,

 

Teddy Kokoros
Watertown Resident

Public Hears About Narrowed List of Projects to Improve Roads, Bicycling, Walking in Watertown

A variety of projects – from the Community Path to crosswalks to traffic calming – made the first cut in the creation of Watertown’s Complete Streets Prioritization Plan. Town officials, however, still seek input about which should make the final list of 15-20 projects. Wednesday night, consultants hired by the town to create the Prioritization Plan discussed why some of the projects made the grade and others did not. The town will be able to apply for funding from the Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for projects on the Prioritization Plan.