MBTA needs to be more pedestrian-friendly in JP

October 9, 2009
By

The following letter was addressed to the MBTA.

What’s wrong with you? As an organization devoted to mass transit, shouldn’t you be concerned with the smooth flow of pedestrians in and around the city, especially as it intersects with your stations? That’s the mass in mass transit, right?

I live on what is apparently the wrong side of the tracks— southeast of the Forest Hills train station, near Forest Hills Cemetery. Each morning, when I walk my son to school, I have to pass through the station and cross the now-defunct Green Line tracks where the 39 buses line up. This is the main access point from my neighborhood to the Southwest Corridor Park and the center of JP. Most mornings I have to walk around parked buses, stopped directly in front of the pedestrian “path” from the station to the park. Some mornings, bus drivers, who seem incredulous that a pedestrian would dare cross their path, actually honk at me.

MBTA, you have a stranglehold around our collective neck and you are cutting off pedestrian circulation between the various parts of JP. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the work you do. I appreciate having train and bus access so close to my house. But are you so insecure in what you do that you want to stop me from walking? All paths lead to the station, and your various architectural and vehicular obstructions are making it very difficult for me to bypass the station. Don’t worry, MBTA, I will always need you. But if you continue to be so controlling, I will start to resent you.

So, the big item I propose is: Invest a little money in making a pleasant walkway through the station designed for, and only for, pedestrians. After all, the more people who opt to set out on foot, the more people who will likely use your services. But that’s a big deal, and I know how difficult it is to get a construction project going in this city.

So, here are some smaller things you can do right now to demonstrate your good intentions: Find another place for the 39 bus to stop; instruct your bus drivers to respect that space as a pedestrian space; and, while you’re at it, stop parking your official vehicles in the pedestrian plaza between the station and the park.

I am not implying that you have ill intentions. Sometimes we get so hung up in an immediate task at hand, that we forget how our actions are affecting others. I know you think that you are all about buses and trains, but without pedestrians where would you be? You need to let us pedestrians get to you in a clear and accessible way. And sometimes, only sometimes, you need to let go a little a bit, and let us walk past you.

Eric Gordon
Jamaica Plain