MBTA holds public meeting on Arborway Bus Modernization Project

     The MBTA held a public meeting on December 9 to discuss the Arborway Bus Modernization Project.

     Scott Hamwey, Director of Bus Modernization for the MBTA, gave an overview of the project and how it will impact the future of bus ridership in Boston.

     He said that upon completion of the facility in 2027, it will “almost entirely eliminate emissions from buses” as well as “support more reliable bus service” and increase bus capacity.

     The facility will be fully enclosed and feature a modern design, as well as “support community vision for Washington Street,” according to a slide presented.

     “We’re really excited about this; we’re proud of it,” Hamwey said, calling it “one of the most aggressive electric bus strategies in the nation.”

     The buses that will be housed at the new facility will be battery electric buses, which means they will be quieter on the road, and  will not have tailpipe emissions.

     The first MBTA bus facility to undergo modernization is the Quincy facility, which is expected to open in 2024.

     Hamwey said that the “Arborway is very clearly our next priority,” as the current facility has “exceeded its useful life.”

     Hamwey then talked about the 2001 Memorandum of Understanding, which, according to a slide “contains 21 specific items of agreement on: fleet markup, site access, Emerald Necklace connectivity, parking, land use and ownership, design process coordination, [and] environmental safeguards and others.” 

     Additionally, the MOU states that the “MBTA to transfer target of 8 acres on Washington side for community uses,” the slide reads.

     Hamwey then spoke about the new facility, saying that the fleet will be expanded from 118 CNG buses to 200 battery electric buses, as well as offer more capacity for 60 foot buses so routes like the 32 can have increased capacity.

     He also said that the Arborway will be the “first facility where we are housing both 60 foot articulated buses and traditional 40 foot buses that come out of Arborway.”

     Alexandra Markiewicz, Manager of Bus Modernization for the MBTA, spoke about the existing conditions at the site, which she said are split into two different parcels, one on the Arborway side and one on the Washington St. side, where the maintenance and storage currently sits.

     She said that the Stony Brook culvert “bisects” the site, and more room is needed for the modernization of the facility, so it “pushes us to looking at the Arborway side of the site.” She said that they “need the full length and width of that site, including the pole yard, in order to meet the needs of a modern facility.”

     Markiewicz then spoke about the proposed building, which would house 200 buses and include two levels of bus operations with employee parking underground.

     Though there is no design for the facade yet, the team showed a photo of the design for the Quincy facility to get an idea of what this new type of facility would look like.

     Then Markiewicz spoke about the interior of the proposed building, explaining where the charging, maintenance, and storage would occur. She also said that the proposed height of the building is similar to that of the development surrounding the facility.

     She said that the buses will be charged overhead, and “software will help orchestrate bus charging and dispatch,” according to a slide presented.

     “Buses would come in and out off of Arborway in the southeastern corner of the facility,” she said.

     She said that the “challenges” with the existing intersection will be discussed with the city “to identify what type of improvements might be made to meet our operational needs,” and to potentially use Lotus and Washington Streets “as a secondary access point.”

     Employees will use Forest Hills St. to get into the underground parking garage.

     Hamwey then talked about the timeline for the project, explaining that from Fall of 2021 to Spring 2022, the project will be in the 0 to 15 percent design phase, and then from Summer 2022-2023, it will be in the 15 to 100 percent design phase and the MBTA will hold more public meetings. Additionally, there will be environmental review and permitting during that time.

     Construction is expected to commence in 2024 and be complete at the end of 2027.

     Many residents asked questions and made comments about the proposal, and the full video recording of the meeting can be found on the MBTA’s YouTube channel.

            For more information about the project, visit mbta.com/arborwaybus, and email [email protected] to get on the mailing list and receive updates on the project.

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