Southie petition seeks better MBTA bus service

Passengers line up for an outbound route 9 bus on Broadway in South Boston. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Passengers line up for an outbound route 9 bus on Broadway in South Boston. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

A Southie blogger is trying to get 2,000 people to sign a Change.org petition urging the MBTA to improve bus service in the rapidly growing neighborhood.

“I started the petition because this is a real problem that residents face on a daily basis. It is a known problem and it’s just wrong,” said Darren Smith, 37, whose blog Savekstreet.com focuses on neighborhood improvement.

Smith points to a lack of bus dependability that forces residents to rely on Uber or their own cars to ensure they get to work on time, which adds to traffic congestion.

Demands include that the T:

-Put more #7 and #9 buses into circulation during rush hour so riders aren’t passed over due to overcapacity.

-Convert buses to the Silver Line concept and consider using longer accordian-style buses to increase capacity.

-Ensure that buses keep to their published schedules.

-Make near real-time performance statistics available to the public.

“The root cause is the lack of response to the rapid growth in Southie’s population over the last several years, and it’s only getting worse. The issue is being completely ignored by the MBTA and Southie’s elected officials,” he said.

The petition was approaching 100 signatures as of Wednesday evening.

What Southie is saying:

Chad Gaughan, who signed the petition Wednesday, said “I live in, work and enjoy all that Southie has to offer. The transportation problem is severe and also effects the incentive to ditch the car- which isn’t helping the parking situation.”

Kimberly Hampton, who also signed the petition, said it is not uncommon for two or three completely full buses to pass her by.

“It makes predicting my commute time difficult and the ride itself frustrating,” she said.

Annie Lin described the bus service in Southie as “unacceptable.”

“The buses are unreliable and always full. The MBTA must do better,” said Lin. “The fares keep raising every 6 months, and we get no improved service. Southie is neglected by the MBTA. The MBTA does not provide the same level of service as in other areas of the Boston.”

The T responds:

MBTA Spokeswoman Kelly Smith said the transit agency has added service as resources allow and continue to look for creative ways to make improvements. The T is also working with elected officials to investigate route and bus stop changes in Southie, she said.

“The MBTA is always happy to hear input from our customers and while we are constantly looking for ways to improve service throughout the system, there are many constraints beyond our control that can sometimes limit improvements we would like to make,” she said, pointing to the following strides in Southie service:

-In December 2013, the T added two peak morning round trips to Route 7 which increased capacity by 7 percent.

-Starting in September, every other peak morning Route 7 trip will end at South Station which will allow for more frequency and a 10 percent increase in capacity; however, some people will need to walk further to the Financial District or use only the trips which continue to Otis and Summer; these are the difficult tradeoffs in order to alleviate overcrowding; the T recently surveyed Route 7 riders about this change and there was overall support.

-Starting in September 2014, there will be one additional peak morning round trip on Route 9.

-For off-peak service, the T recently reallocated weekday trips on Routes 7 and 9 from the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. hours to the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. hours, in order to better match demand.

-Starting in September 2014, Route 9 Saturday afternoon service will be improved in order to alleviate crowding.

-The MBTA is participating in a study of long-range transportation needs for the South Boston Waterfront.

The petition can be viewed at Change.org.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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