Watertown’s new shuttle will not be starting this fall, as officials hoped, but the shuttles could serve more than just Watertown, and may extend to Newton.
Thursday night the Town Council’s Ad Hoc Transportation Committee discussed the transportation management association, which will include a shuttle.
Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said the effort to bring a shuttle to town will not happen as quickly as originally planned.
“It will not be rolling out until the spring,” Magoon said. “Quite frankly we are not there yet.”
The budgeting for the shuttle and figuring out how much member businesses, residential developments and the town will have to pay has not been completed, Magoon said.
One reason for the delay is the person working with Watertown on the project left the 128 Business Council – the town’s consultant for the town’s TMA and shuttle, Magoon said.
Plans so far include a shuttle down Arsenal Street and linking to the Harvard Red Line station. Another would go down Pleasant Street and also go to Harvard Station. The shuttle would be free for both employees of the business served and for Watertown residents.
Magoon said Newton is interested in possibly joining the Watertown shuttle, and would like to link to Newton Centre as well as the Charles River Mill District, which includes the west end of Pleasant Street, as well as parts of Newton and Waltham along the river in that area.
The Watertown shuttle could also coordinate with neighboring TMAs, including the Allston-Brighton TMA, said Monica Tibbits-Nutt, executive director of the 128 Business Council.
Town Councilor Tony Palomba wanted to make sure that the shuttles are not just serving the businesses along Arsenal and Pleasant streets, and the big apartment complexes.
Councilor Aaron Dushku agreed, and wanted to know how a shuttle that would serve other parts of town – particularly areas that lack close MBTA service.
Tibbits-Nutt said that the town could add more routes, but the town would bear the brunt of the cost. She said not other TMA in Massachusetts has routes that businesses contribute to if they do not get service from the route.
The committee had hoped to have a community meeting to discuss the TMA and shuttle in mid-October, but Councilors said they could not hold such a meeting with no budget and timetables.
The 128 Business Council will meet with businesses and other members of the TMA to find out what services each one wants, and see how much each will contribute. Their share will be based on the square footage for businesses and number of units for residential complexes, Tibbits-Nutt said. However, she said this would take some time.
The timetables can be determined after that information is gathered, she added.
The next Transportation Committee meeting will be on Oct. 18, and will also include a discussion of proposed transportation demand management (TDM) regulations. The TDM looks for ways to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips to reduce the amount of traffic in town.