The MBTA May Be Privatizing Some Watertown Bus Routes


Charlie Breitrose

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

Charlie Breitrose

An MBTA bus in Watertown.

MBTA officials have proposed to privatize some of the T’s express buses and the less-used suburban bus routes – including several in Watertown.

The proposal calls for privatizing 32 routes, and removing 93 buses and their drivers, according to a report by the State House News Service run by WBUR.

The routes on the privatization list fall into three categories – low ridership, express and late-night service.

The routes in Watertown that would be impacted, and category are:

  • 52 (Watertown to Dedham) – low ridership
  • 7oA (Waltham to Cambridge) – low ridership
  • 502 (Watertown to Copley Square) – express bus
  • 504 (Watertown to Downtown Boston) – express bus
  • 57 (Watertown to Kenmore Square) – late night service

Joe Levendusky, chairman of the Watertown Public Transit Task Force said he worries about the loss of quality and of middle class jobs if the MBTA privatizes the routes, in a story in on Wicked Local Watertown (click here to read more).

The bus routes with fewer passengers have a net subsidy of $3.51 per ride and the routes cost $8.9 million annually while they bring in only $1.9 million in revenue annually, according to the MBTA. The express routes have a net subsidy of $1.19 per ride, which is closer to the system-wide per-ride subsidy of 98 cents, according to the WBUR story.

The door was opened to privatization through an item in the State Budget which suspended the 1993 Pacheco Law, which regulates the privatization of state services, according to a report in the Patriot Ledger. Gov. Charlie Baker backed the limited suspension of the Pacheco law, with the support of some in the House and Senate.

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