Double, double toil and trouble for local T users

April 17, 2009
By

An MBTA proposal for reducing transit costs was published in the Boston Globe on April 10. [See article elsewhere in this issue of the JP Gazette.]

The plan is particularly damaging to public transit in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill. Specifically, on weekdays the MBTA proposes abandoning all E Line streetcar service beyond Brigham Circle with no service to Parker Hill Avenue, the Riverway, the Veterans Administration Medical Center and Heath Street. The T pro-poses eliminating the entire E Line, period, on weekends.

The T claims the ability to make these cuts because the Route 39 bus serves the same corridor. While true, it is important to consider whether the 39 bus is capable of accommodating this change. Recently, for example, the MBTA increased rush hour headways on the 39 bus to 8 minutes from what had been service every 6-7 minutes. This reduction in bus service to JP, coupled with the loss of Green Line service to Heath Street, means fewer buses making more frequent stops to pick up more passengers. This is not better transit without trolleys. In fact, it puts the lie to the whole idea that JP can be better served by buses than by the Green Line.

Of course, these serious cuts in transit service along the corridor would not have been contemplated if Green Line service ran all the way to the Arborway. Both internal MBTA studies and the New Program for Mass Transit confirm that the best way for the T to reduce operating costs along the Arborway corridor is to discontinue the 39 bus altogether and restore streetcar service to the Arborway.
Such a solution would remove the specter of service reductions; increase access to Centre Street without increasing reliance on the automobile; and advance the cause of environmental protection. Like the witches in “Macbeth,” the MBTA and the City of Boston administration have once again prepared a brew that spells toil and trouble for JP residents and commuters.

Franklyn P. Salimbene
Jamaica Plain