Route 39 improvements hit snag

October 11, 2013
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The consolidation and moving of certain bus stops during the Route 39 bus improvement project has sown confusion.

Meanwhile, the “bump-out” curb extension at the Centre Street and Seaverns Avenue stop has been delayed once again.

Several people recently complained to the Gazette about the stop at Centre Street and Robinwood Avenue being removed without any notice and other stops being consolidated along that stretch. They said people do not know where the new stops are, and neither do the bus drivers.

“Every morning, the bus drivers on the inbound side are so confused on where the stops are. Also, most people do not know where the stops are,” said Jamaica Plain resident Justin Tremont in an email to the Gazette.

The MBTA responded the day after the Gazette inquired about the problem.

“The signs were installed yesterday, bringing clarity and distinctness to the relocated bus stops,” MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an Oct. 3 email to the Gazette.

He said that the MBTA held more than 50 community meetings before the start of the bus improvement program, which includes numerous other routes.

“Many of the changes made to the bus routes are a result of recommendations from the community. The MBTA appreciates its customers’ patience and understanding as these route enhancements are implemented,” said Pesaturo.

However, the Route 39 plan originally began in secret, opening up only after Gazette reporting, and was frequently criticized for its deliberate lack of local outreach on specific stop changes.

The Centre Street and Robinwood Avenue stop was removed and pushed back about 200 feet to a spot across from Beaufort Road. The Gazette visited the stop Oct. 4 and saw a bus that could not pull to the curb because cars were parked at the new stop.

JP resident Poonam Nande said that the moving of the stop was made with “poor planning and communication.” She also criticized the new stop, saying the sidewalk is narrow and that a tree is there. She said those obstacles prevent accessibility, especially for people from the doctor’s office across the street.

The MBTA had similar issues when it made an early move last year of a Route 39 stop in Monument Square, partly for safety reasons. Drivers continued to use the stop for months despite notices and new signs until even more signs were added.

Meanwhile, the “bump-out” curb extension at Centre Street and Seaverns Avenue has been delayed again. The work was supposed to be completed several weeks ago, but has not because the relocation of a storm drain did not go as planned, according to Pesaturo.

“More design work is necessary to accommodate an existing gas line and a street lighting duct bank,” said Pesaturo.

The Route 39 bus is undergoing several changes, including the consolidation of some stops and improved amenities like new shelters and benches and “bump-out” curb extensions. The project is meant to speed service and improve accessibility.

A bus was prevented from pulling to the curb at the new stop at Centre Street and Beaufort Road, which replaced the stop at Robinwood Avenue. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

A bus was prevented from pulling to the curb at the new stop at Centre Street and Beaufort Road, which replaced the stop at Robinwood Avenue. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)