Category: Transportation

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu delivers petition opposing MBTA fare increases

By Web 2019/02/28 Announcements

BOSTON – Tonight, Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu presented representatives from the MBTA with a 2,700-signature petition opposing the MBTA’s proposed 6% fare increase and urging immediate steps toward transit equity and access.

“The proposed 6% fare hike would place an undue burden on residents already struggling to meet transportation-related costs, totaling an unaffordable 41% increase in MBTA fares since 2012,” reads the petition. “The increased costs would push more commuters to drive, undercutting our most urgent goal of increasing transit ridership to ease congestion, limit air pollution, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

A coalition of local elected officials joined Councilor Wu’s opposition to the fare hike by signing on to her petition, including Boston City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Boston City Council President, District 4, Michael Flaherty, At-Large, Annissa Essabai-George, At-Large, Althea Garrison, At-Large, Lydia Edwards, District 1, Ed Flynn, District 2, Tim McCarthy, District 5, Matt O’Malley, District 6, Kim Janey, District 7, Josh Zakim, District 8, and Mark Ciommo, District 9; State Senators Sonia Chang-Díaz, Second Suffolk and Sal DiDomenico, Middlesex and Suffolk; State Representatives Adrian Madaro, 1st Suffolk, Jay Livingston, 8th Suffolk, Nika Elugardo, 15 Suffolk, Liz Miranda, 5th Suffolk, Andy Vargas, 3rd Essex, Mike Connolly, 26th Middlesex, Tommy Vitolo, 15th Norfolk, Maria Robinson, 6th Middlesex, Tram Nguyen, 18th Essex, Tami Gouveia, 14th Middlesex, and Cambridge Vice Mayor Jan Devereux.

Also joining Wu as co-sponsors of the petition were a number of grassroots organizations, including Boston Clean Energy Coalition, Boston Climate Action Network, Boston Cyclists Union Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition, Greater Boston Young Democrats, Green Streets Initiative, LivableStreets Alliance, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Massachusetts Sierra Club, Progressives Massachusetts, Sustainable Sudbury, Tufts SPINES, WalkUP Roslindale, West Roxbury Saves Energy, and 350 Massachusetts.

“Tonight, we delivered a mandate to the MBTA on behalf of over 2,700 residents. Riders of every T line, from every neighborhood in Boston and others across Massachusetts, stood together urging transit equity and access, not fare increases,” said Councilor Wu. “This moment in history demands aggressive action against the threats of income inequality and climate change. Sustainable, affordable, reliable public transit is fundamental to providing Boston residents with the greatest access to jobs, schools, and opportunities beyond their home neighborhoods.”

The petition also outlines ways in which the MBTA could remove barriers for public transit to ensure the right of mobility for all, including the creation of free, unlimited, year-round youth and senior passes,committing to a low-income fare, and designating fare-free bus lanes through underserved communities.

The petition goes on to urge the MBTA to take immediate steps towards fare equity. These include a commitment to rejecting distance-based bus and subway fares, which have been shown to be regressive, as more residents are being priced out of housing close to job centers. The petition further calls for a re-zoning of the commuter rail fares so that all of Boston is Zone 1A and no municipality is split between multiple fare zones.

Finally, petition signers asked the MBTA to focus on building a sustainable funding base for public transit by implementing smarter tolling and congestion pricing and supporting increased surcharges for rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft.

Councilor Wu has long championed a climate and economic justice-centered approach to public transit. She first announced her opposition to the MBTA’s proposed fare hikes in an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe, where she argued that Boston should set fare-free public transportation as the target goal.

The full text of Councilor Wu’s petition can be found below.

Dear Members of the Fiscal Management and Control Board, Secretary Pollack, and Governor Baker:

We oppose the proposal to raise MBTA fares.

The proposed 6% fare hike would place an undue burden on residents already struggling to meet transportation-related costs, totaling an unaffordable 41% increase in MBTA fares since 2012. The increased costs would push more commuters to drive, undercutting our most urgent goal of increasing transit ridership to ease congestion, limit air pollution, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are running out of time to transform our economy and society in the face of climate change, and the Greater Boston region is now confronted with the worst traffic in the nation.The proposed fare increase represents a step in the wrong direction when we can’t afford anything less than aggressive progress forward.

We urge you to reject the fare increases and instead take steps toward a fare-free transit system to ensure the right of mobility for all:

  • Create a single youth pass with free, unlimited, year-round access to the MBTA. Currently, MBTA options for students and youth passes are needlessly complicated and inconsistent, and are turning the next generation of riders against public transportation.
  • Extend the same free, unlimited, year-round pass to seniors residing in Massachusetts.
  • Provide low-income riders with Charlie Cards and a low-income fare option, distributing these MBTA passes through agencies that administer SNAP and other means-tested benefits.

We also urge the MBTA to take immediate steps for fare equity:

  • Commit to rejecting distance-based bus and subway fares, which have been shown to be regressive, as more residents are being priced out of housing close to job centers.
  • Rezone the commuter rail fares so that all of Boston is Zone 1A and no municipality is split between multiple fare zones.
  • As the MBTA moves toward a cashless fare collection system, reject plans to spend resources on costly fare vending machines at every bus stop and instead designate the bus routes where riders will depend on cash as fare-free routes.

Finally, we ask that you focus on building a sustainable funding base for public transit:

  • Advocate for the Transportation & Climate Initiative.
  • Implement smarter tolling and congestion pricing.
  • Support increased surcharges for TNCs (such as Uber and Lyft) that encourage shared rides.
  • Support legislation to enable regional ballot initiatives that would allow voters to identify and raise revenues for transit priorities.

Transportation planning must not exist in a vacuum, and fare hikes will only continue to exacerbate the inequities and climate and public health challenges facing our city and region. Please take action to strengthen opportunities for generations to come by embracing transit equity and access.

Signed,

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For the Coming Year Livingstone’s Legislative Agenda Considers Both District-wide and National Issues

by Dan Murphy • February 7, 2019 •

While State Rep. Jay Livingstone conceived his legislative agenda for the new year with his constituents firmly in mind, he hopes it will also reverberate on a national level.

“I focused on priorities for the district, as well as thinking about how to continue making Massachusetts a leader, which is more necessary now because of what is happening at the federal level,” he said. “One thing that is under attack nationally is women’s reproductive rights…and we want to make it clear that Massachusetts reaffirms women’s reproductive rights.”

Livingstone and Rep. Pat Haddad have filed legislation called “The ROE Act” to protect women’s decisions regarding their own bodies, which has become the “top priority in the legislative term” for the nonprofits NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and Planned Parenthood.

According to Planned Parenthood, “The ROE Act eliminates the onerous requirement that forces teens to obtain permission from a parent or judge to access abortion. This process causes teens to delay care or travel outside of the state, and is opposed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Another bill that Livingstone filed with Rep. Adrian Madaro, who represents East Boston, aims to raise fees on Uber and Lyft to better align them with the fees levied on ride-sharing services in other states while using the proceeds to improve public transit, as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

 “I’m excited to address improving our transportation system and discouraging use of fossil fuels,” Livingstone said. “I think this bill will help address congestion that is increasing at an exponential rate because of these services and decrease transportation pollution as a result.”

Meanwhile, Livingstone and Rep. Andy Vargas have filed new legislation t to further facilitate early voting in all elections.

“I think we should continue to make voting as easy as possible for people to increase participation,” Livingstone said.

http://beaconhilltimes.com/2019/02/07/for-the-coming-year-livingstones-legislative-agenda-considers-both-district-wide-and-national-issues/

Gearing Up: Plans for Bike Lanes on Craigie Bridge Move Forward

by Dan Murphy • January 31, 2019 • 

Following the end of the public comment period on Jan. 22, the state is now moving forward with plans to install dedicated bike lanes on the Craigie Bridge.

Current conditions on the bridge, which carries traffic on the McGrath O’Brien Highway (Route 28) between Land Boulevard in Cambridge and Leverett Circle in Boston, include six travel lanes with no dedicated bike lanes leaving bicyclists to use travel lanes or the sidewalks and no defined turn lane into the Museum of Science, according to The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

MassDOT and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) unveiled two bike-lane options, as well as planned safety improvements for the bridge, on Dec. 18 at the MIT Stratton Student Center in Cambridge.

New safety measures, which are slated for completion by this spring, include changing speed-limit signs to 25 mph; installing “speed feedback” radar signs; conducting road-safety audit; installing pavement-marking change; and installing flex posts if possible, according to MassDOT.

The design team presented two options for creating bike lanes, both of which would eliminate one traffic lane.

The first option, which was developed in 2008, would create continuous on-road bike lanes and maintain the existing sidewalks while providing two travel lanes in each direction and adding a left turn into the Museum of Science.

The alternative is just like the first option, except that it would create three travel lanes into Leverett Circle and restrict left turns into the Museum of Science.

The final design is expected to be presented in the winter of 2019, wrote MassDOT spokesman Maxwell Huber.

“O’Brien Highway is a key bike route between Cambridge and Boston,” according to a statement from the Boston Cyclists Union. “It’s also eight lanes wide in parts, with a high volume of truck traffic and speeding vehicles. Protected bike lanes are absolutely necessary to minimize conflicts on this road.”

The bridge was the site of a fatality on Nov. 9 of last year when 24-year-old Boston University Meng Jin,24, was struck and killed by a dump truck while biking there.

Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Cambridge nonprofit Livable Street Alliance, is pleased that the state is proceeding with the project, albeit more slowly than was originally anticipated.

“Citizens have been advocating for bike lanes since the late ‘90s…and we’ve been asking for these changes for more than a decade,” Thompson said. “There was a commitment when Longfellow Bridge rehabilitation project was complete that they would install the bike lanes, but there were various delays with that bridge and now that it is complete, we still don’t have the bike lanes [on the Craigie].”

While Thompson said she sees no merit in debating which alternative is preferable, especially since they were developed, at least in the case of the first option, more than a decade ago, she emphasizes that “the devil is in the details,” such as connectivity to the Charles River and whether or not buses can make a left turn into the Museum of Science.

“Having strong biking infrastructure is an absolute must, but they still have work to do so that the bridge can move the most people, which includes improving walking and biking infrastructure,” Thompson said.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone also said he was pleased that the project is moving forward while underscoring the bridge’s potentially hazardous conditions. “I think current situation is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclist, and I think separated bike lanes should be installed with minimal disruption to current traffic,” Livingstone said. “I’m pleased that MassDOT is doing the public process with all stakeholders involved so that everyone has a say.”

Cambridgeport – BU Bridge Update

As you may know, last Thursday, Jeff Parenti from DCR and I came to the last CNA meeting and presented his update short-term plan for the BU rotary.  As I promised at the meeting, his draft plan from the meeting is attached to this email.  If you have any comments that you wish to share, you may contact Jeff directly at   Jeffrey.Parenti@mass.gov.  I am also happy to answer any questions.

BU_Bridge_Rotary_Striping_Plan_DRAFT_2019-01-11

Jeff also announced that DCR has hired a consultant to work on Memorial Drive Phase III, which will involve roadway improvements between the BU Boathouse and Mt.. Auburn Hospital.  Every intersection will be evaluated as part of that process and the rotary may be completely redesigned.  DCR anticipated starting a public process for that long-term project later in the spring.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Cambridgeport Update: BU Bridge and Safety

Cambridgeport Update: BU Bridge and Safety

Last week, I attended the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting, where MassDOT gave us an update on the state of the BU Bridge and how we should address traffic issues moving forward. For those who could not attend, Joe Barr from Cambridge, Jeff Parenti from DCR, and Neil Boudreau from MassDOT came and provided updates.

This is the third meeting regarding traffic issues related to the BU bridge that arose shortly after changes completed on that bridge as well as on Granite Street.  The streets impacted are under the jurisdictions of the three entities.  Granite Street and Brookline Street are under the jurisdiction of Cambridge, the circle and Memorial Drive are DCR’s, and the BU Bridge is MassDOT’s responsibility.  Once you arrive at the lights on the bridge at Commonwealth Ave in Boston, it is Boston’s responsibility to operate them.  Although no one from Boston came, both Neil Boudreau and I had been in touch with Boston officials, who have been very cooperative to find out what was happening and trying to fix it.

First, for Granite Street, Joe Barr announced that Cambridge was finished experimenting with parking and had decided to permanently remove parking on one side of Granite between Rockingham and Brookline Streets.  This will allow two lanes of cars on Granite so that people can make a left on Brookline Street even if those making a right on Brookline are stuck in traffic.  There were several suggestions regarding improving signage on Granite, Waverly, and Rockingham Streets.  Joe agreed to evaluate the suggestions and make appropriate changes.

Second, Jeff Parenti from DCR spoke about his work.  He spoke about long-term and short-term improvements.  For the short-term improvements to the circle, he had his initial thoughts, which are in the attached document.  He is going to come back to CNA’s next meeting on January 17, 2019 and have a more specific discussion on what people think.  DCR will make improvements through adding paint to the circle and signage.  The changes can be made as soon as it is warm enough for paint to dry, probably next March.  In addition, DCR just hired a consultant to start a public process on infrastructure changes as part of Phase III of the improvements to Memorial Drive.  (Phase I was from the Charles River Dam Road to the Longfellow Bridge and Phase II was from the Longfellow Bridge to the BU Boathouse.)  He is looking forward to redesigning the circle as part of this project.  He said that people should think of the circle as a “blank slate” as they imagine what could be there.  If you have comments on the short-term fix, you can email him directly at jeffrey.parenti@mass.gov. Below is his initial thoughts on short-term changes that could be made.

BU_Rotary_Bike_Lane_Concept

Finally, Neil Boudreau from MassDOT spoke about what he had found looking into the lights on Commonwealth Ave.  The lights are designed to adjust to minimize traffic.  This clearly was not occurring at all.  Between the first and second meeting, he said that the problem was that the system was damaged during construction and had only recently become operational.  In the last six weeks, Boston and MassDOT worked to make sure the lights were working as designed.  It turned out there was a communications issue where the lights were reverted to mid-day settings at rush hour.  This meant that there was approximately 15% less green time for those driving from Cambridge to Boston than there should have been.  This has been fixed.  In addition, the signals were adjusted to add a little more green time for the Cambridge to Boston movement.  The combination means that there should be 25% more green time consistently during rush hour than was the case during the worst problem times.  That should help.  Neil said he was continuing to work with Boston to determine if more improvements could be made.  The handout that Neil distributed is below.

BU Bridge Traffic Count Comparisons_Dec 2018

This is obviously an issue that remains to be worked out completely, but I’d like to thank everyone involved who helped us come closer to reaching a resolution. I’m always impressed with the activist nature of Cambridgeport and it’s a great joy of my job to work with the neighborhood to fix issues like these. More updates are forthcoming, but I thought that ahead of the holidays, the people of Cambridgeport deserved some peace of mind that this issue is being worked out.