LETTER: Watertown’s Road Overhauls Should Include Bus Improvements

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The Watertown Square Redevelopment has provided us a once in a generation ability to reimage the core of our city and while what has been proposed has made great strides in helping meet our housing goal, in my opinion it has dropped the ball when it falls to transit.

The current plan outlines a reduction of 3 lanes but does not do enough for those of us that use Public Transportation. I propose the creation of a true busway that would greatly improve ride times and thus encourage more citizens to us public transportation; I know others have suggested thus during the town meetings.

Watertown doesn’t need water downed bus lanes that are ineffectual by being painted on the far-left lane only for cars to use it to turn. What we need is a bold vision of what it can and ought to do.

Currently the city has said that they’ll consider some left lane bus lanes on the bridge and that they think with a bit of signal priority work they can improve the bus speeds but why tinker around the edge when we have the possibility for a bolder vision of what the Square can do. Even with the little amount of bus lanes we currently have its already cut commute time by four minutes on average so imagine the savings a busway could provide on the busy Main St roads. By improving our bus infrastructure, it sends the message that Watertown takes serious our public transit, which we have consistently been shafted with the closing of the A branch or the removal of our trolly bus.

The creation of a busway would also allow us to improve capacity which will be important as the square is being upzoned to allow for more housing so improving our bus system will be critical in reducing traffic but also hitting our climate goals. I should also mention that I’m not calling to make all of Mt Auburn Street a busway as there is already redevelopment plans in place, but we can improve a certain stretch of it, a section that I might add is usually chalk full of traffic that slows down riders commutes.

If the town is thinking of reducing lanes it might as well just make them dedicated for transit and while I do support expanding our sidewalks and greenspace this is an opportunity, we cannot let pass us by.

I’ve also included a link to a petition that calls on Stantec as well as the city to put greater consideration into how we can improve our bus system as well as urge others who agree to contact their local councilor.

Andres Guzman
Watertown Resident

Send letters to watertownmanews@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown’s Road Overhauls Should Include Bus Improvements

  1. Andres Guzman. Thank you for your thoughtful letter. Watertown Faces Climate Change has a small working group focusing on transportation. Would you consider joining us? You can find information here: https://watertowncitizens.org/working-groups/climate-action/

    Transportation contributes 40% of Watertown’s greenhouse gas emissions and our climate plan includes a goal to reduce car trips by 50% by 2050. To reach this goal, alternate modes of transportation must be improved, particularly public transit. The MBTA must do their part with route re-design, etc., but as you point out, the City has a major role as well.

  2. Andres Guzman (“Watertown’s Road Overhauls Should Include Bus Improvements, ” May 15) is correct: “What we need is a bold vision” for what Watertown Square can be. The main difficulty with the square, and the city’s transportation system, is that there is no transit terminal — much less a modern one.
    It’s reasonable to conclude at this point, then, that the central problem with Watertown Square is the MBTA itself — and the shoddy service it provides. (https://www.watertownmanews.com/2023/10/14/op-ed-mbta-has-terrible-track-record-of-providing-service-to-watertown-square/ )

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