Council Asks for Transportation Improvements from Group Studying MTBA

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Charlie Breitrose

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

Charlie Breitrose

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

With changes at the MBTA, and this winter’s transportation woes, the Watertown Town Council will send a letter to the committee set up by Gov. Charlie Baker to examine the MBTA.

Last year, Watertown invited MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott to town and showed her the town’s transportation challenges and areas of heavy development that will need transit. The town council followed up with a letter to make sure Watertown’s needs are still in the minds of MBTA officials.

The MBTA has shared its ideas for improving the 70 bus route along Main and Arsenal streets, but improvements are also sought for the 71 and 73 routes to Harvard Square.

Scott, however, resigned after the challenges the MBTA had during the heavy snows this winter. At the same time, Gov. Baker appointed a commission to examine the MBTA and recommend improvements to the system.

Town Council President Mark Sideris said he wrote a letter to send to the MBTA and the committee to emphasize Watertown’s public transportation challenges. The Town Council voted unanimously to approve the letter that will be sent to the MBTA Committee, along with Gov. Baker, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan who is on the committee, Watertown state representatives Jonathan Hecht, John Lawn and Sen. Will Brownsberger.

The letter reads:

MBTA Committee

Our historic winter has posed many challenges for everyone in the Boston region this year. This has certainly been true for the MBTA in many respects, and the performance of our mass transit system has made the general public very much aware of the system’s shortcomings, and we need to seize the opportunity this represents.

We applaud the Governor for appointing this committee to look at the root causes of the issues that have plagued the MBTA and its service to the citizens. Watertown is very dependent on the bus service, and also the rail service that it connects to. This service is critical to support his region in terms of economic development, our environmental protection, our health, and many other aspects of our daily lives.

We have been undergoing significant economic growth, and the ability to service these residents and businesses as they navigate the area is critical. The bus lines that serve our community are already overcrowded, and the T is unable to meet the demand. This critical situation will only worsen over time if solutions are not found. It is imperative that the problems with the existing system are fixed, but equally imperative that we find ways to improve and expand service to meet the increasing demands of Watertown and the region. We are very concerned that any blanket moratorium on expansion of public transportation will cost Watertown economic growth and jobs and impact our quality of life.

The leadership in Watertown is committed to working with you to find long term solutions to the challenges before us, including raising additional revenue to improve and expand MBTA service. We think it is imperative that we embrace any opportunity to help address these critical needs. This needs to include partnering with your municipal leaders and the private sector. We need to be prepared to take full advantage of any opportunities when they arise.

Watertown Town Council

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