Beverley Scott, the general manager of the MBTA, got the full Watertown experience this week when she toured the town and spoke with residents and the Town Council.
Residents had plenty to say – some complaints and some requests – for Scott. The head of the T rode the 71 bus into town. Then Town Councilor Aaron Dushku picked her up and along with State Rep. Jonathan Hecht and resident Joe Levendusky, they visited Arsenal Street. The group tried to get over to the other booming area – Pleasant Street – but traffic and time did not allow, Dushku said.
Scott was invited by Town officials at the urging of Levendusky, who is chairman of the recently created Watertown Task Force on Public Transit. He asked Scott to add three buses during peak times to relieve crowding.
Some buses could be added in the next 6-9 months, Scott said at the Town Council meeting, but she believes they will be during off-peak times. Other possible improvements such as speeding up fare collection on outbound buses and more Charlie Card kiosks could be possible, too.
Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said his dream would be for the Red Line to be extended to Watertown Square, but realistically he sees other possible improvements.
“Extending the Red Line would cost billions but buying new buses and hiring drivers would be more cost effective,” Piccirilli said.
Several people said they would like to see the return of the A Line of the Green Line, which used to go from Kenmore Square to the Watertown Yard on Galen Street. The service was discontinued in 1969 and now has been replaced by the 57 bus.
Christine Loken-Kim, a 57 rider, said she often sees buses go by without stoping when she is waiting to commute home from Boston University. Then she uses the 70 bus. Her commute can take as long as two hours.
Transit for New Developments
With all the new developments coming to Watertown, officials want to make transportation a priority. Dushku said Scott seemed very interested in the Watertown Comprehensive Plan and other zoning and planning changes.
“She said that she is excited to work with us further and to get ‘dirty and sticky,’ down in the weeds with our planning,” Dushku said.
At the Town Council meeting Scott suggested creating small transportation services in town, perhaps teaming with businesses.
Bill McQuillan, a principle with Arsenal Project co-owner Boyslton Properties, said he wants to help out and he thinks other developers would too.
First, he would like to know how much it costs to add a bus and what developers could do to increase the number of buses serving the area.
Scott said she would continue to make Watertown a focus.
“You absolutely have a partner,” Scott said. “This will not be first and last time we’ll be here.”
She also mentioned that the MBTA is looking for a new bus yard, which would need 6-9 acres of land.
Before the Town Council meeting, Scott met with interested residents at Eastern Bank, and food was provided by Danish Pastry House, Aegean, Sevan, Red Lentil, Roksana and Stelina.