A number of questions were raised during a recent meeting at the Watertown Senior Center. Below, please find information from the Mount Auburn Street Team about proposed changes to the 71 Bus line on Mount Auburn Street, as well as rationale behind these changes.
Inbound Stops to Harvard Square:
Patten Street—no change
Parker Street—relocated from before Parker Street to before Chester Street
Walnut Street—no change
Boylston Street—no change
Winthrop Street—no change
School Street—no change
Adams Street—relocated from after Adams Street (Cass Florist) to before Adams Street (Adams Clinical—521 Mt. Auburn St.)
Bigelow Ave.—relocated from before Bigelow (Town Diner) Ave. to after Bigelow Ave. (new green space in front of Dunkins)
Tufts/Keenan Street—no change
Cottage Street—no change (this was changed from Piteri Terrace to Cottage Street last year in conjunction with the BRT project)
Outbound Stops to Watertown Square:
St. Mary’s Street—no change
Tufts/Keenan Street—no change
Kimball Road (7-11)—relocated from in front of 7-11 to near Templeton Parkway (in front of Mobil)
Upland Road/Dexter Ave.—no change
Langdon Ave.—relocated from after Langdon Ave. to before Winsor Ave.
Adams Street—no change
Amherst Rd.—relocated from before Amherst Rd. to after Amherst Rd.
Bates Rd. East—relocated from before Bates Rd. East to before Bates Rd.
Marshall Street—no change
Patten Street—no change
Rationale for Bus Stop Changes
The Routes 71 and 73 were part of the MBTA Key Bus Routes Program, and some of the changes to bus stop location and design are based on recommendations from that study. The project design has relocated several bus stops to improve the speed and reliability of bus service. By relocating a bus stop from the nearside (before) of the intersection to the far side (after) the intersection, the project can take advantage of new technology (Transit Signal Priority or TSP) that will hold a green light for an approaching bus, which was a recommendation of the Key Bus Routes study. MBTA staff have been closely involved in the project, reviewing each existing and proposed bus stop location with the project team, and have indicated they agree with this approach.
Other bus stop adjustments have been added to the project in response to community feedback to maximize on-street parking in business districts, to ensure bus stops are appropriately located near crosswalks to maximize pedestrian safety and accessibility, and to comply with the current MBTA bus stop design standards, which have changed since the Key Bus Routes recommendations were implemented.
The relocation of bus stops are also subject to feedback from residents and abutters adjacent to the bus stops. In particular, the bus stop at Adams Street was discussed with the business owner and residents adjacent to the existing stop. Based on the feedback received from these discussions, the bus stop location was adjusted to better suit the demands of adjacent businesses, in particular the medical offices located on the western corner of the Mt. Auburn Street / Adams Street intersection.
Why is the Parker Street bus stop being relocated to Chester Street?
By relocating the Parker Street bus stop from the nearside (before) the Common Street intersection to the far-side (after) the intersection, the project can take advantage of new technology (TSP) that will hold a green light for an approaching bus. This also creates a safer experience for bus riders as they disembark from the bus and can cross the street behind the bus instead of in front. The MBTA prefers far-side locations at signalized intersections. From an operations standpoint, a far-side stop creates shorter deceleration distances for the bus and allows the bus to take advantage of gaps in traffic flow created at the signal behind the stop.
Why is the Franklin Street bus stop being eliminated?
The project team has worked in partnership with the MBTA to evaluate the entire bus stop network along Mt. Auburn Street for a number of variables. We did not take the decision to consolidate the stops lightly; however, we believe that there are transit benefits for all bus users, benefits to bikes and pedestrians through enhanced safety, as well as benefits to customers visiting the business districts.
The new Chester Street bus stop would be very close to the existing Franklin Street stop and would not comply with MBTA standard distances between bus stops. Fewer bus stops, appropriately spaced, means the bus does not need to slow down as frequently and will help improve bus service.
Another benefit of bus stop consolidation is it creates a better experience for customers in that there is less customer jostling as a result of boarding/alighting, and there’s a reduced “Stop & Go” dynamic that creates the perception that the bus is traveling extremely slowly.
As discussed during the public process, bus stops displace on-street parking spaces. Greater stop spacing results in fewer stops and reduced parking impact. Parking needs within the Common Street business district was highlighted as a major concern during our public process for the project.
How much time/distance is increased for pedestrians by removing the Franklin and Russell stops?
A negative impact associated with bus stop consolidation is the fact that some users will need walk further to access a bus stop. However, some users may actually have a shorter walk as well.
The walking distances and times will vary based on where a pedestrian is coming from. For some, there will be a reduction in walking distances and times. We have provided some estimated maximum walking distances and times between current and proposed bus stops:
• If you wish to board the bus to travel eastbound to Cambridge, the furthest additional distance you might need to walk is 600 feet or about 3 minutes on foot (walking from Franklin St. to Chester Street).
• If you are exiting the bus in the westbound direction from Cambridge, the furthest additional distance you might need to walk is 600 feet or about 3 minutes on foot (walking from Bates Road East to Russell Ave.).
• If you wish to board the bus to travel westbound towards Watertown Square, the furthest additional distance you might need to walk is 600 feet or about 3 minutes on foot (walking from Russell Ave. to Bates Road East).
• If you are exiting the bus in the eastbound direction from Watertown Square, the furthest additional distance you might need to walk is 500 feet or about 2.5 minutes (walking from Chester Street to Franklin Street).
These distances are based on the bus stop layouts as shown on the Conceptual Design Roll Plan and typical walking speeds (200 feet/minute).
What types of amenities will be provided at bus stops?
During the public process, a strong desire for amenities such as shelters and benches at bus stops was expressed. The design team continues to work with the MBTA on this issue. As the design progresses, additional information will be provided.
More information about the Mount Auburn Street construction can be found at: https://mountauburnstreet.com/