Riders, JPNC want to save JP bus

October 10, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

Bus riders and local transit advocates protested the MBTA’s plan to kill the Route 48, or “JP Loop,” bus line in recent public meetings.

Eighty-five residents of 125 Amory Street, a public housing development for the elderly and people with disabilities, signed a petition to keep the JP Loop—the only bus service that connects their building directly to the rest of the MBTA transit system.

Members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Public Service Committee suggested saving the JP Loop by returning it to its 1970s roots: using smaller vehicles on a well-advertised, consistent schedule.

The JP Loop links Monument Square in central Jamaica Plain with local Orange Line subway stations via residential streets. It is known for running off-schedule with very low ridership.

The MBTA drastically cut the route in 2005. Now the MBTA is declaring the line too expensive to operate, and proposes killing it in the 2008 Service Plan, a plan for the next two years of transit service.

The MBTA also proposes re-routing the Route 29 bus—which only runs down Columbus Avenue to Mattapan—to include a 125 Amory stop.

But 125 Amory residents are not convinced. They lodged their complaints at a Sept. 24 MBTA downtown meeting about the Service Plan.

“We need the #48 bus to travel to the Centre Street shopping area for our everyday needs,” said 125 Amory tenant Task Force President Earl Eutsay in a press release sent to the Gazette.

He called the Route 29 “a route completely out of our familiar neighborhood. I guess, if we were casual residents, a new and exciting journey into the unknown would be wonderful.

“But we are a frail and sick population, just leaving our building for a doctor’s appointment, going grocery shopping, or just visiting the shops along Centre Street can be very traumatic,” he added.

Public Service Committee members also supported saving the JP Loop at a Sept. 16 MBTA meeting at the State Lab, committee chair Michael Reiskind reported to the full council at its meeting last week.

Reiskind proposed using a smaller, 24-seat bus on the route. The Loop began with such mini-buses in the 1970s, connecting central JP with the Orange Line, which at the time ran on elevated tracks on Washington Street.

Reiskind said MBTA officials seemed receptive to the idea of saving at least part of the Loop service.

Eutsay reported that 125 Amory residents were not so optimistic. He indicated that when an MBTA official described the JP Loop as a “cost standard failure,” residents took it personally.

“We residents at 125 Amory Street do not consider ourselves as a failure,” Eutsay wrote. “We strive every day to maintain our limited dignity. We residents hope and beg you to understand that we are an isolated community and need transportation to the Centre Street business district to attend to our life-saving needs…Please do not consider us a ‘cost standard failure.’”

The public comment period on the Service Plan ended Sept. 30. An MBTA board vote on a final version of the Service Plan is expected later this fall, according to MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo. Any changes approved in the final Service Plan would take effect in spring or summer of next year.

David Taber contributed to this article.