Study of 70 Bus Sought in Effort to Improve Transportation on Arsenal St.

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MBTA bus.

Charlie Breitrose

MBTA bus.

A study of what can be done to speed up buses on the 70 and 70A bus routes has been requested by a group interested in improving public transportation on the Arsenal Street Corridor and beyond.

A the transportation summit held Wednesday, elected officials, town officials, developers and members of groups interested in transit in the area met with MBTA officials. The group brainstormed ways to improve the service, which even T officials agreed can be slow and crowded. The area is one of the hottest areas of development in the Boston area.

Developers of more than one project on the street have promised to contribute to a shuttle system to serve the area, but all agreed the MBTA service must be improved too.

The consensus in the group was more buses should be added to the the 70 route, which runs from Central Square to Waltham. Some help is already on the way, adding two buses on weekday evenings, Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings. Those buses will be added in September.

Other measures can be taken to improve the way the route works with the current number of buses, MBTA officials said. Steps such as eliminating some bus stops and moving them so buses do not get stuck at lights as often can speed up buses. Another idea that has been discussed by MBTA officials is turning around some 70 buses at Watertown Square. That would cut down the length the bus must travel and serve Arsenal Street with more buses.

Before those changes can be made, a study of the route must be done to figure out what changes should be made.

One of the hurdles is finding money for the study. Watertown’s state legislators put in a $200,000 item in the state Transportation Bond Bill specifically for studying transportation on Arsenal Street. This money must be approved and allocated by the governor’s office, said State Rep. Jonathan Hecht.

The group will reconvene in the fall, at which time MBTA officials will have information on the cost of a study, have more information on funding the study and whether to study just Arsenal Street or include other areas and other communities served by the 70 bus.

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