Service Issues on the Waverley Bus

We’ve been hearing complaints about a degradation of service on the 73 bus line — unexplained significant delays in the arrival of buses. We’ve brought them to the attention of the MBTA and their position is that nothing has changed — the schedule with the diesel buses is the same as it was with the trolleys. They say that any delays are caused by the construction on the Belmont-Trapelo corridor.

This doesn’t sound right to the riders who have been in touch with us. They have reported substantial delays but no obvious problems for the buses getting around construction. We went back to the MBTA with this report and they asked for specifics.

So, I’m reaching out: Please post as replies to this post any notable experiences that you have with the 73 bus. Please include specifics, most importantly date, time and location. The more specific instances we can document, the more useful the information will be to the MBTA. When we’ve received enough specific feedback, we’ll convey the results to the MBTA.

As background for those who may be unaware, last fall the state started its work to reconstruct the Belmont-Trapelo Corridor, from Waverley Square to Star Market. It’s a great project for Belmont and Watertown but there will be some frustrations during the construction process. The MBTA is running diesel buses through the construction process, but will restore trolley service at the end of the project.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

44 replies on “Service Issues on the Waverley Bus”

  1. Yes! I usually take the bus from the Woodleigh Road stop going inbound to Harvard, and the buses are spaced about once every 5 – 10 minutes. That’s fine, except for when the bus is so full that it has to pass my stop, which is quite frequently. I board between 7:45 and 8:00 typically. I’ve basically given up on taking the bus because of this unreliability, and instead bike to Harvard and then take a train downtown.

    There are also times when the buses are bunched up two together, but others when they are more like 15-minute gaps during morning rush hour.

  2. Sorry, the most recent example of this was on Monday, 1/13/14 at 7:45am at the Woodleigh Road stop going in-bound. I ended up rushing by bike to Harvard because if I waited for the next bus, I would have been late to my first day at work!

  3. Hi Will,

    This week has been particularly bad and unreliable. Tuesday morning, I walked to the School Street and Belmont Street intersection from my home, saw that there were multiple people waiting at the bus stops, and started walking back towards Cushing Square. I do this on a regular basis because the buses are so full that they will pass by without picking us up. On this day, when the bus which picked us up finally came, I asked the bus driver what was happening. He said, “I don’t know why, but they pulled two buses off this line this morning” – so the MBTA is not being truthful about things not changing. There was clearly something wrong on Tuesday. Wednesday was better, but today was not. I walked up to the Pason Park stop and the bus was already full. The people who live down by Grove Street don’t stand a chance. This line is heavily used, because many people from out of town drive their cars to Trapelo and Belmont Streets, park, and get on the bus from our neighborhoods. Thanks for your efforts!

  4. i ride from waverly to harvard and back most days. The diesel buses are far noisier and less comfortable than the electic buses. Significant construction is only just starting, yet the electric buses were suspended many months ago.

    There is always a lot of variation in any bus service so it is subjective, but from the day the diesl buses took over, the waits have been seemed a little longer and the buses more crowded. Inbound they are often full, including standing, by cushing square. That used to be very rare.

    Do teh MBTA keep statistics of actual number of buses per hour each day fo reach route. Every other form of business woudl keep these key business metrics and they shoudl be askd to make them public.

  5. Hi Will,

    I can’t recall the specific date of the most recent incident. This happens nearly every evening though, and becomes much worse under poor weather conditions.

    The primary issue that I have with commuting on the 73 is “stacking” which is when the timing of the buses becomes out of schedule which can result in 3-5 buses essentially being 15-30 seconds behind each other. This can result in long wait times in the Harvard Sq. terminal, which means that several buses will become entirely filled to handle the queue in the station. A packed bus, while annoying to those riders is better than a filled bus that passes you by while waiting at the Post Office stop. There have been numerous times over the past 3-5 months where multiple buses will just pass the outbound Post Office stop because they are completely filled. It isn’t uncommon to wait upwards of 35-45 minutes for a bus with space to stop, and when it does, there can be 2-3 nearly empty buses behind it. What can often be a 20 minute commute can quickly turn into a 60 minute wait and ride.

    This most often happens between 5:15-6:30. If I am lucky enough to get out of work before 5:15 I can cruise home, but leaving just 10 minutes later means that it’s a crap shoot, I might get home in 20 minutes or 60. Good times.

    This seems like a fairly simple problem to address, especially with the diesel buses, park a standby bus in the above ground busway in-between the old Chillis restaurant and the parking garage. When the timing becomes out of sync, or the queue at the Post Office becomes large, drop one of those buses into service. I get that it’s the traffic at Star Market and School St. that can cause delays, it just doesn’t make any sense as to why they wouldn’t account for this knowledge and have a one or more “floater” buses.

    This same evening strategy could be used in the morning for inbound riders that are closer to Harvard Sq. that I often see waving their arms begging the driver to stop when my bus is full. Another option, is to allow a bus or two to bypass the first N stops so that the riders closer to the end of the morning inbound route or the start of the evening outbound route are able to be picked up in a timely manner.

    I love taking public transportation, I just hate waiting, especially in the cold. The week prior I picked up frostnip while waiting for the bus. That was a blast.

    Matt MacDonald

  6. I agree that the service is far worse and much more unreliable. My impression is that because the buses are not trackless trolleys, the MBTA diverts them to other routes. Today (Jan. 16) I waited about 14 minutes for a bus in the Harvard station tunnel at 6:35 pm. During that time, one bus labelled “out of service” and one labelled “73 Waverly Square” went by without stopping (plus a lot of other buses). By the time the bus came, there were about 100 people waiting. This is fairly typical.

    Last week, on Jan. 7, a morning when the temperature was about 5 degrees, I waited at the Payson Street stop for a bus into Harvard Square for nearly 20 minutes. One bus went by during that time but didn’t stop, because it was too full.

  7. I’ve noticed problems also with the 71 Watertown Line as well. The waits can be as long as 1/2 hour during the day as well as massive crowding during the rush hours which appear to be getting longer and longer. They moved the folks for the 73 Waverly bus up a level in Harvard Square in order to get the bus, and I kind of wondered why as there was always a comraderie between 71 and 73 on the lower level about who would be picked up first. It was always 73.

    From 7:30 to 9:30 am, the bus is jammed with people — no place to sit if you get picked up at Arlington Street or later. And sometimes when I go home at 1 pm or so, the wait can be a cold and long one.

  8. I reguraly commute on the 73 into Harvard from the Payson Rd stop on the Watertown side of Belmont Street. I’ve used the 73 for many years intermittently since I have also lived in Belmont. But this current situation (annecdotally since the disels were introduced) is the worst I can remember. Unlike previously the bus app I use is now rarely able to accurately predict when the next bus will arrive. Today I missed the 8:20 ish bus and though a bus was predicted for 8:29 it soon was pushed back more than five minutes. On Tuesday it was much worse. I waited about 20 min for a bus only to let the others waiting at my stop squeeze on to the first bus so I could wait for a fortunately less crowded option. It’s a small consolation to be able to sit while you anticipate being 20 minutes late!

    On numerous other days since the fall I have waited 40 minutes (in the morning) for a bus which would pick me up. Needless to say when you expect a bus every 5 (maybe 10) minutes and instead wait 40 minutes it is very hard to be on time for work. It’s impossible when the red line is also not cooperating!

    It is a total crapshoot at our stop (and beyond) as to whether the next bus will be too full for more people, nearly empty, or so full you don’t need to hold on as your fellow passengers will hold you up!

    I can certainly cooborate the experience of other riders on the Harvard sq end – particularly during bad weather. During the dec 17th storm I waited a full 50 minutes for a 73 to arrive in Harvard during the rush hour commute. When the next one came I got just close enough to be at the door but there was no room left on the stairs. I opted to take my mom’s offer of dinner in Belmont and took the next 74 and walked to Elizabeth Rd and then home to Watertown rather than wait another 50 min.

  9. Hi Will,

    I regularly take the Waverly bus, but the time of day I take it varies a lot. For all the folks who take it around 8am and 5pm I can echo their frustrations. At Woodleigh Rd. where I wait, buses often pass by without picking people up, because they are too crowded. This sometimes happens with several buses in a row. At Harvard Square there are often Waverly buses that change their sign to “Out of Service” as they pull up, and of course do not pick up passengers. So at rush hour, it is often a one-hour deal.

    At other times of the day, for example 9am and 4pm, it is much less crowded. I often get a seat, and do not get passed without being picked up.

    When I have time, I walk to Harvard Square from my house. It takes 65 minutes, which is not a lot more than waiting and then riding the bus, plus I get my exercise in. This should be a choice, however, not the near necessity it is at times.

    I do think this has gotten much worse recently. I agree with other respondents that it seems to coincide with the start of the diesel buses. No clue why this would be. Can the daily logs be accessed by the committee to verify what is happening and compare to the pre-diesel records?

    Thank you.

  10. The trackless trolleys were already at capacity at rush hour, if anything went wrong people would be waiting at the stops as several full buses drove by. The diesel buses do not hold quite as many people, and there are more delays getting on and off due to the crowded aisle, so even if they ran same number of buses they would not be able to carry everyone at rush hour. If anything goes wrong e.g. a little traffic jam or one broken or diverted bus there is no way they can catch up with the demand until after rush hour ends.
    I think most of the bus drivers do a good job, but a few drivers do silly things like an empty bus immediately following a full bus rather than spacing them out a little. There is now always a crush at Harvard Station at rush hour, often several buses go by before you can board, that was rare with the trackless trolleys. I often take other buses since I am frustrated with 73 at rush hour. Away from rush hour the 73 service is still good.

  11. I’ve had the same experiences as the others who commented before me. The buses are always overcrowded and late. I’ve switched to boarding at an earlier stop in the morning because I could no longer get a seat from my usual stop. I’m glad I don’t live closer in; the bus often passes by closer stops without picking people up. The schedule used to call for a bus every 5 minutes during the morning rush hour; now the schedule says every 9 minutes or less, but it’s rarely less. I wish I had saved earlier schedules. In the evening after the rush it used to be every 20 minutes; now it’s every 25 minutes, which is a disincentive to use the bus. It’s crowded no matter what time of day. At Harvard station there are usually massive crowds waiting in the evening. I wrote to the T in Sept. to complain about the schedule. They responded that they would “monitor” the route. The T management has no credibility. One Saturday while waiting for the bus at Harvard, when it comes only every 20 minutes, a bus didn’t show up. The driver of the next bus told me the bus had been pulled from the route.
    The older diesel buses (0000 series) are crap. They rattle like hell and can barely make it up the hill on Belmont St.
    A couple of years ago the T was holding meetings about routes 71 and 73 because they are “key routes”. That’s all gone by the boards.
    So far the construction has had only minimal impact on traffic, but I’m not surprised the T is trying to hide behind that.

  12. Hi, my most significant delay with the 73 bus occurred Tuesday, 1/14/14. I arrived at Belmont and Prentiss Street at 7:45 AM waiting for an inbound bus. I waited 45 minutes. There were 4 buses that passed us. I’ve never waited that long for an a.m. bus on a weekday, and I was significantly late to an appointment. The 73 is a very frustrating bus to be at the mercy of. Walking to Harvard is a faster, more reliable mode of transportation most days.

  13. 73 Bus Service
    I have been riding on this bus for over nine years. My route is from Trapelo Road between CVS and Cushing Square to Harvard Square and back again.

    Broadly my experience is that in 2004 the service did not run on time; BUT buses appeared at Regular Intervals.

    From 2005 until 2010 the service steadily became worse, notably driver attitude: with criminal-passenger-seeking, gruff, rude, and racist bus who engage in their own form of “gender and racial profiling”. I filed at least three complaints about this.

    From 2009 or 2010 until now I have regularly experienced a problem of having to wait for very long periods of time for a bus only to have three buses show up together; in nose to tail fashion. (Note: this seems to occur with greater frequency on Saturday morning Sunday early afternoon, and weekday early evenings; much as it might if all drivers had returned form dining together.)

    I would be satisfied if buses ran at regular intervals…it seems to me this can always be achieved, be it naturally or by inter-driver coordination, no matter the congestion issues that arise from time to time.

    A Culture of Exceptional Driver Discourtesy
    When Passengers Have Been Waiting An Inordinately Long Time For A Bus To Arrive
    When the buses arrive three at a time, they seem to have decided on a default behavior to let the first two pass the waiting backlogged hoard of potential passengers (at a really quick clip). This is dangerous.

    This also leaves everyone who has been waiting, to need to squish into the last remaining bus; as they have no other remaining option to ride a bus in the next half hour remaining available to them. It also usually causes this third bus to need to stop at every stop both because more passengers want to cram themselves onto the bus, but also because with so many passengers the likelihood of needing to get off at all stops increases.

    The 73 is one of the few lines on which one must swipe before riding in one direction and yet swipe after riding in the other direction. Beyond being inconsistent unto itself or with what is customary on other MBTA bus routes, this creates the following problems:
    Passenger inability to exit the bus from the closest spot to where one is (Traversing crowded buses to get to the front of the bus to get out is uncomfortable and causes route delays also.), the desire on the part of some to exit form the back of the bus, if successful this usually causes the driver to bellow in a bellicose manner about the criminality of the action, finally resulting in a tirade of insult to passengers who do return to re-enter the bus to pay their fare.

    I think much of the root causes for a lack of remedy to easily fixable interval issues has to do with the culture itself. If one thinks they are driving the disenfranchised they will feel no pride in their position. The passengers will be abused and stressed out; and it will become a self-fulfilling belief…certainly those who can will endeavor to stop riding the bus, then the ridership will go down and the MBTA will lack the necessary ridership and a lack of enthusiasm for goodwill co-funding by institutions and taxpayers to be fiscally healthy. The result is a cascade of system wide malaise and decline…

    As a resident of the part of Belmont surrounding Trapelo Road and Belmont Street;
    rather than one who lives on Belmont Hill or near Leonard Street, I feel particularly maligned by the fact that there is no bus service linking me to “the better side of Belmont”.
    In order to make use of “my” library I would have to take a bus to Harvard Square and then another bus to Leonard Street or Concord Avenue; a three hour round trip transportation endeavor.
    How convenient would it be if the maid delivery service style public transit (bus service “from the inner city” – something which I thought had all but died out outside of the southeastern US) into and out of the tony part of Belmont were challenged and updated with a service which allowed one to travel North-South between the Belmont Town Hall and the intersection of Common Street and Mt Auburn Street in Watertown??

    Similar irregularities exist with regard to using existing bus service to Huron/Concord and Newton neighborhoods after the buses facilitating the evening commute-home-after-dinner-service hours are over has passed (~7pm). One who lives in Belmont cannot attend something on a weekday evening at the Newton library or Huron/Concord neighborhood and get home by bus (nor any other combination of public transit). Weekend service between these is similarly poor…enhancing my belief that these lines operate to funnel staff to homes not to facilitate public transit in a broader sense of the concept.

  14. Yes, the service is much less frequent and reliable.

    Additionally, *every* Waverley bus comes through at Harvard Station with their sign reading “OUT OF SERVICE” to drop off passengers, then, according to their drivers, mandatorily goes on break for 10 minutes before swinging all the way back through the Square to come back down the same tunnel, to the same location, and pick up passengers. This results in huge queues of people waiting, often more than can fit on one bus.

    It’s just silly… ostensibly, the same number of drivers must be employed for this route at a base-staffing level, so why aren’t there the same number of buses running, and why now, with the diesels, is this strange mandatory break there on every run? It seems punitive on the part of the MBTA.

  15. Hello Senator Brownsberger,

    Thank you much for allowing a forum to vent about constant issues with the MBTA and the #73 bus route, which I use daily to commute from Belmont to downtown Boston.

    Here are my top concerns:

    1) There clearly are not enough buses to accommodate the amount of commuters. Thankfully for me, I get on one of the first stops (at Trapelo Rd. and Beech St.), between 7:45 and 8:00 am, and I can get a seat because I’m one of the first people on. But by the time the bus gets to Cushing Square (Starbucks) it is usually full, and by the time it gets to Belmont Street (Oakley Country Club), it is extremely full and cannot pick up additional passengers. I would say this happens 70% of the time.

    (Sidenote: This morning I had to pick up the bus at the corner of Belmont and Arlington streets because I needed to drop my car off at the service station. One bus passed that was completely full. A second bus allowed me and one other person on, but we had to stand ahead of the “yellow line” next to the driver because it was so full, and it could not pick up additional passengers for several stops beyond that.)

    2) On the ride home in the evening, waiting for the #73 bus in Harvard Station is somewhat chaotic now that the bus stop has moved to the upper level to accommodate diesel buses during construction. This is a minor hassle for me, but a major hassle for elderly people and those with disabilities. Here is the problem: the designated #73 bus stop is one of the last ones in the queue, and this is where the #73 riders are waiting. However, when an incoming #73 bus drives into the tunnel, it usually lets off its current passengers at one of the first stops (about 3 stops ahead) because there are buses from other routes stopped in front of it. Because of this, hoards (literally hundreds) of people will then rush to the 73 bus. For someone with a wheelchair or walker (and there are always a few), it’s impossible for them to cut through the crowd before the bus fills up. Ultimately the disabled or elderly are not able to get on, and have to wait for another bus, and if this situation repeats itself they may have to wait for another 2 or 3 buses.

    A VERY SIMPLE SOLUTION would be for the bus drivers to NOT LET OFF PASSENGERS UNTIL THE BUS GETS TO ITS DESIGNATED STOP. The passengers would have to wait an additional 2 minutes in most cases.

    3) This is more of an observation than a concern: I have not noticed any significant delays thus far due to construction. In fact, I have not noticed any real construction along the Belmont St./Trapelo Road corridor at all. Just want to throw this out there in case the MBTA uses construction as an excuse for delays, etc., because nothing has really started yet despite the diesel buses being used for the past three or four months or so.

    I am very much in favor of repairs being made to the truly horrible Trapelo Road/Belmont Street corridor, because it’s confusing and riddled with an unbelievable amount of pot holes. But I actually think none of my #73 bus concerns have anything to do with construction.

    Again, thank you very much for reading my comments. I truly appreciate it.

    Dan O’Brien

  16. Frequency seems to have gone down since the arrival of the diesel buses.
    I agree with Dan that there are not enough buses to accommodate the number of commuters. That is the main problem. The current situation is going to lead to everyone who has the option of commuting by car doing so, making traffic even worse.

    I think that running every other inbound bus express to Cushing Square or School St. during the morning rush would speed up the commute immensely, for those who board later in the route as well as those who get on early. I just wish the T would try it.

    The evening outbound service is horrendous. The intervals between buses are far too long.

  17. Several times the bus has been so packed the driver has opened both doors at the stops and not bothered to collect payment. When the bus became emptier along the route the driver (in fairness I guess) continued to wave the passengers off without collecting fares.

    While this is a generous gesture on the part of the driver, the MBTA may be missing the true count of ridership.

    John C Goodman

  18. Thank you fro giving the 73 riders a place to vent about the issues with the bus. I have written MBTA customer service with no response or changes.

    I do not believe they are running enough 73 buses for the amount of riders, especially during the rush hours of morning and evenings. There are often very overcrowded buses and several times busses are too full and pass you by.

    You will see buses either back to back or not see one for 20 minutes. Very rarely are the buses on schedule.

    This week has been particularly problematic. Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th of this week at around 7:40am I waited over 20 minutes for a bus at rush hour only to have the first two buses that show up pass me before one stopped. They were all so packed it was not comfortable or safe.

    I have noticed these issues have gotten worse with the switch to the diesel buses.

  19. I have ridden regularly for the past 3 years. The most noticeable changes since the electric buses came off-line is the noise and stench of the diesel buses – I avoid the back 1/3 of the bus from the heat and air quality. I also consider it fortunate to board early on the route because folks after School St. headed inbound are often passed by. The other day, our driver was random about – passing a lone elderly lady by Moozy’s then stopping near Payson for a group of 5.

    I have noticed some very rude drivers of late – one drove #0261 last week and is consistently rude without cause.

    It seems morning rush always has some bad spells during the year, but I can’t say (at the early end of Trapelo) that it is all that different – crowded and too hot, just as before. And, yes, the standing room is much more difficult in the buses with the narrow aisles.

  20. This morning (Jan. 17) I got to Waverley Square at 8:30 a.m. and just missed a bus. The next bus left at 8:44, after we waited for the bus driver to get back from Dunkin’ Donuts. It was bus #0340. The ride wasn’t bad, but of course the bus was jam-packed by about School St. The fare box didn’t work so the driver had to wave everyone on.

  21. Here are some additional comments that came in by email:

    == COMMENT 1 ==

    Bus issue good one—– You are right construction is impacting. The buses bundle up top of Trapello. There is I think and ALWAYS has been a wink wink self policing by drivers. They stay by dunkin donuts until next one shows up- then sometimes there are two buses but usually when 3rd one shows then one leaves. The other self policing is they sometime set off in groups of two due to overcrowding of buses. This is okay but then we all know the time to next bus is impacted.

    We all know it is not easy driving back and forth 400 times a day for these folks and all types of weather/traffic conditions and people trashing the bus MOST of these buses are so beat. I have heard MBTA pulled these mostly old things and plan to toss most out when road rebuilt.

    What Belmont could do is more than complaining to MBTA- partners with the drivers— create a drivers appreciation day once a month with passes to dunkin donuts or other thank you’s. ONCE we have their trust they will talk OFF the record how they see it, THEN you can go to MBTA with special recommendations with care to not have drivers directly involved we will all get to where – parden the up- the rubber meets .the road//// THIS type of tool I used at DCR. With training classes across the state I had managers to reg employees “for a day or more” During that time YOU could learn so much of what was working and not working.

    == COMMENT 2 ==

    It occurred to me that mbta has no real financial incentive to provide good high capacity service on a line (like #73) on which most of the riders purchase and use monthly passes, because the T is not missing out on any fares or revenue when they pass waiting riders at busstops with an overfilled bus. The T has still gotten their revenue (in advance) from sale of the monthly pass, whereas if these were individual fare paying riders, the T would be foregoing receipt of fare revenue by passing up waiting riders, and thus one might think the T would have a financial incentive to not pass by waiting riders with busses already filled to capacity. It might be useful to think about how to create a financial or funding incentive for the T by monitoring service quality (with measures of average wait times at bus stops, timeliness of adherence to bus schedules, capacity utilization (but not overcapacity),etc.) and incorporating some measures that tie their taxpayer funding by the legislature to some specific measures of service quality. Not sure exactly how to monitor and quantify such problems as those reported by commenters in this forum (no seats and no admission to busses because filled to capacity) but I think that there should be some mechanism better than asking people to report to your blog about their specific service dissatisfactions on particular dates and times. If some devices could be installed on T vehicles (based on breaking of entry/exit tally laser beams) that would give an accurate measure of capacity/overcapacity, along with GPS analysis of busses revealing when they pass by a stop because the bus is already too full of riders) , or some T sponsored smartphone app that enabled riders to report such problems in real time to a central database, and then some compilation of those statistics and reports be required to be analyzed and provided in periodic reports to the legislative funding committees who could then raise or cut funding based on compliance with specific performance measures/targets. (Obviously, a good system would also enable the T dispatch management to reallocate equipment in real time to alleviate surges and clogs in ridership on particular lines at particular times, but I’m not really expecting that level of dedication to rider satisfaction to magically appear in the T-management culture without private competition) There should be some way to incentivize the T as private businesses would be incentivized to actually realize all the revenue they can by timely picking up every prospective rider, and “impute” some fare to the T based on individual rides even for the riders on monthly passes . Anyway Will, feel free to cut and paste and post this on the forum or just consider it yourself.

    Or maybe just open it up to gypsy private bus companies who could race to pass the other buses so they get to the next stop first and pick up those waiting riders — that’s a model that is utilized on central american “chicken busses” and it does provide for good service to riders (although it also contributes heavily to deaths amongst ridership as the hyper-competitive drivers engage in unsafe passing maneuvers to get ahead of the drivers on the competing private bus lines. Just a thought. Or apply the “Governor Christie” model to clog up some other bus lines and free their busses to be used on the #73 line

    == COMMENT 3 ==

    I appreciate your interest in dealing with concerns surrounding MBTA service to Belmont and other neighboring towns. While I am not familiar with the specific circumstances surrounding the 73 bus in recent days, I would urge you not to limit your attention to a single route.

    As a regular rider of the 78 bus during evening commuter hours (6:05 pm), it is extremely frustrating to see four or more 73 buses pull in to Harvard Station during my typical 15 to 25 min wait on the platform. The 78 bus is consistently late by 10 or more minutes, which is noticeably worse than it was before you queried the MBTA about the reduced frequency of service on this route outside of the two scenarios for eliminating or cutting back service on this route a year and a half ago. I can look for the response you received from the MBTA if it is helpful, but as I recall you were told that they make “periodic adjustments to schedules to improve service”. In my experience the opposite has been true. On Tuesday this week, for example, the 6:05pm bus showed up at approximately 6:17pm, and there have been several occasions in the last year and a half where the bus has simply not shown up at all, leaving dozens of people waiting on the platform while the 73 and 77 buses pass by one after another. Lodging a complaint on the MBTA website sometimes results in a canned response, but that is about it.

    Sporadic disruptions in service are understandable when traffic conditions are bad, but my sense is that the dismal reliability of service goes well beyond this. I would also ask if the earlier proposal to eliminate service entirely on certain routes was based on reliable data collected during commuter hours or simply a random sampling skewed towards off-peak use.

    == COMMENT 4 ==

    I ride the outbound 73 bus every day between 4pm and 6pm. It used to run every 4 minutes during this rush hour window. Although it is usually crowded, the electric bus seemed to hold standees more comfortably than the diesel replacements. I don’t understand why the diesel bus makes a tour through Harvard Square instead of going out the tunnel to Mt. Auburn St the way the electric bus did. [There are other diesel buses that go through the tunnel, so I don’t think it is a physical limitation.] Because of this change I switched to waiting for the bus outside the Post Office on Mt. Auburn St. That allows me to skip the 4 minute detour through the Square and also gives me an option to take the 71 bus if it comes first, even though that gives me a 12 minute longer walk to get home. Even with options for two buses, I find I now often have to wait much longer than 4 minutes. A typical sad story was Tuesday, January 14. I waited about 20 minutes in the rain along with about 30 other people before being picked up. This was partly because 3 full buses (two 73s and one 71) went by the Post Office without stopping. Then traffic was bad. The net result was that the full trip took about 45 minutes which is just about how long it takes to walk. Surely the bus should be faster than walking.

    Summary: service is much worse than it used to be. It is bad enough that even though I am very committed to using public transportation, I find myself seriously considering switching to driving.

    == COMMENT 5 ==

    As a daily rider, I haven’t noticed much change other than inferior equipment. The switchover from electric to gas was tough, some delays, but it’s settled down.

    == COMMENT 6 ==

    If the MBTA is saying that the service is the same their record keeping must be off. It has declined since they started diesel bus service, and not just because of the (presumably necessary) additional circumnavigation of Harvard Square that adds 5-7 minutes at the beginning of each outbound trip. In particular:

    The early inbound service seems relatively unaffected, but once you get past 7:10 a.m. or so the intervals are quite erratic. This is a real problem because once the gap get much beyond 10 minutes the buses fill up by the time they get to the Payson Road stop. On several occasions over the past few weeks the bus has driven by without stopping because it has no more room. The gaps are sometimes so large that every few days two buses go by within a couple of hundred yards of each other (and once both were full). This sort of thing used to happen once every four or so months. Now it is once every couple of weeks. It used to be that I could count on getting from Belmont to South Station in about 40-45 minutes, usually with a seat. Now getting a seat is a 50/50 proposition, and twice in the past two weeks it took about 90 minutes, with the delay on the bus part of the trip. Is this New Jersey?

    The outbound service around 5:45 or so p.m. is also more erratic at Harvard Square. You can stand for 10-15 minutes without a bus (longer than it generally used to be), and then two or three 73 buses will arrive within a minute. This bunching used to be unusual; it is now routine.

    My guess is that the T is increasing the riders on each bus by reducing the number of buses. I think the solution for both the inbound and outbound problems is simply to have the buses run at tighter intervals. I can’t see why diesel should make a difference, and the heavy construction has not started. The erratic service will drive people who need to get to work by a deadline to drive.

    == COMMENT 7 ==

    I have a question: why can’t the LNG and diesel buses pick up on the lower level at Harvard Station like the electric buses did? If they could, the trip would be much faster, since the buses could exit the tunnel straight onto Mount Auburn Street instead of having to twist through Harvard Square. I recognize that the non-electric buses don’t have doors on the left side, but the buses that come from the north (74, 75, 77, 96, etc.) drop off on the lower level every day, so I don’t see why the 73 can’t pick up there.

  22. And some more comments . . .

    == COMMENT 8 ==

    I have found the outbound service from Harvard Square seriously degraded. I used to catch the 73 bus at the second stop outside the Post Office on Mt Auburn Street – but it got so that it was completely full on nearly every bus between about 6 pm and 6:45 pm. so I now go to the underground stop at the Harvard Station and, at least much of the time, I can get on the bus and get a seat.

    so yes – I agree – things are definitely worse on the outbound service (and I take the bus nearly every day) with less frequent service which leads to greater bus crowding.

    == COMMENT 9 ==

    Thank you for taking on this important issue. I’ve been a semi-regular commuter on the 73 from the Carver Rd stop to Harvard Sq and back (when not biking) for about six years. My impression is that the service problems predate the initiation of diesel bus service and are the result of insufficient capacity on the line relative to rising demand. My wife and I have given up riding the bus as of around June/July 2013 and have been driving to work instead.

    Even before the diesel transition, the incidence of longer-than-scheduled intervals, followed by a full bus going by, followed by another full bus going by, resulting in half-hour or longer wait times (sometimes 1hr +) became at least a weekly occurrence last winter (’12-’13). It got so bad that we have turned into car commuters, which breaks my European-born environmentalist heart.

    I know your question was about specific incidents, but I mention this because I think there’s a bigger problem underlying this, of which the recent disruptions are just a superficial symptom. The 73 line simply needs higher capacity (shorter intervals) during rush hour. I’m sure you are aware that it is one of the busiest lines on the T system, but throughout the surge in T ridership over the past years, service has not expanded to keep pace.

    I think it’s important to keep the underlying capacity issue in mind as you follow up this issue, because any data you are able to extract from the T about buses taken from the route, service outages, or even ridership numbers will not tell you anything about the demand that the 73 is failing to meet.

    What’s much worse, I believe there are *many* thousands of residents of the Belmont-Trapelo corridor who could take the 73 to work, but—like myself—are forced by persistently poor experiences to become car commuters (yuck!). It’s a shame, because there is clearly a tremendous transportation need along this arterial road which could be so much more efficiently met with improved mass transit (witness the rush hour traffic, snarled by rows of cars with 1 person in them).

    The Belmont-Trapelo construction corridor represents and colossal and tragically missed opportunity to turn the 73 line into a Bus Rapid Transit route with dedicated bus lanes. It has all the ingredients to make this possible—huge existing unmet (and apparently unrecognized) demand from relatively dense residential areas in walking distance, vast expanses of roadway, and projected growth with all the development down the road to the West. Anyway, I only have myself to blame for not getting involved sooner and pushing for this, and I understand that this ship has sailed.

    I bring up these points to highlight that this is the broader perspective within which the recent disruptions should be understood. Whatever their proximate cause (diesel buses diverted from the line, irregularities in the intervals, bus bunching), the real issue is the systemic undercapacity of the 73 to serve the population that lives along it—not just those who wait at the corner in frustration, but the many thousands who have long since given up and are now contributing to the environmental and social disaster of Boston traffic.

    == COMMENT 10 ==

    Thank you for this opportunity. Given the busy-ness of life, you’ll forgive us if we don’t have the time here to specifically document each and every new failure and disappointment of the current Waverly bus line #73. But simply to add our comments to your growing list:

    Yes, Yes, and YES – the #73 Waverly bus, which in our opinion used to be among the very best in the whole MBTA network has gone from bad to worst in these last few months. And it cannot be because of construction, because they haven’t particularly started yet! (It scares us then to think how much worse it can get!) The bus is perpetually late, doesn’t run regularly, is crammed full, for some reason takes longer to run the route, sometimes two will come at once and then none for ½ an hour, and on and on. They also are now loud and smelly diesel buses which just adds to the unpleasantness of the whole situation.

    This is a real shame because one reason why we have always lived over here (first in Watertown off of School St and then up from Cushing Sq off of Common St in Belmont) is because of the reliability and good service of that bus line! We are a family that uses the bus and MBTA a lot – my husband would always prefer to commute to Boston that way – both for convenience and also because we are trying to do our part to reduce car usage into the city. However, that is becoming untenable and now we’re forced to drive more. The bus has become an inconvenient and last-resort option. It’s really too bad. It’s in the best long-term interest of the city and Metro area to provide and encourage excellent public transportation – we can all agree!

    == COMMENT 11 ==

    Most of us do not like change, and this #73 change is no exception. True the buses are smaller and more crowded, but the MBTA had to find enough buses to cover the route- that’s a lot of extra buses. We should be glad they didn’t just reduce the schedule. Service has much improved in the last few years; we are impressed it hasn’t much declined now in view of the construction.

    == COMMENT 12 ==

    First of all, thank you so much for doing this. I have complained to the MBTA at least 4 times and don’t see any improvement in the service.

    Since the switch to diesel buses, I’ve been shocked how bad the service is. The bus drivers are frustrated, as well as the passengers. One driver in particular has a tendency to yell at the passengers.

    I get on at Waverly. The other day at 7:30 a.m. I had to wait at least 10-15 minutes for a bus. Please note the schedule states that during rush hour, the buses run every 3-5 minutes. (With the electric buses, they were usually lined up at Waverly, waiting for passengers.) Finally a bus pulls in and shuts down with “out of service.” Another bus pulls in and at the first stop, the bus was approximately 90% full. This has happened a number of times. By the 3rd stop the bus could no longer pick up passengers. And I cannot tell you how often I get off the subway only to wait at least 15 minutes for a bus back to Waverly during rush hour. Sometimes there may be upwards of 50 people waiting. On one bitter morning there was no heat, and I’ve been on 2 buses that have broken down and had to walk almost 2 miles home. And I’ve never understood why it takes between 30-45 minutes to get to Harvard Square.

    I’ve asked several bus drivers why there are so many delays. The response: not enough buses. This has NOTHING to do with any construction.

    I wish I could provide you with dates but will be sure to monitor going forward.

    Again, thank you for your concern. I think if enough people complained, they may listen. I’ve even considered starting my own petition.

    == COMMENT 13 ==

    We haven’t noticed anything with regard to 73 bus service that is deficient recently.

    In years past, however, I have waited for buses in the bitter cold only to see three buses in a row show up at once. Many people have observed this phenomenon and it is truly lacking in performance.

    == COMMENT 14 ==

    Oh, my yes! Both the evening and morning commutes are so much more problematic than a year ago.

    I take the 73 bus from Woodleigh St at approximately 7:30 in the morning. I often wait 20-30 mins for a bus. Sometimes two go by too full to stop but sometimes there can be over 20 minutes between buses. The buses that do stop are usually so full that people are smashed together in the aisles all the way from the very back of the bus to the windshield. And of course we gave warm winter coats on because we must stand in the cold so long but almost every bus has the heat blaring and the driver does not have on a coat.

    It is basically the same going home between 4:30 and 6:30. The platform is often packed solid with people. Tonight it was a 24 minute wait for a bus. There were so many people waiting that not everyone could fit on the bus when it came. Two 73 buses followed right behind but neither was picking up passengers and went right by us after dropping off passengers. Not uncommon.

    It does appear that we need more buses on this line during rush hour.

  23. Hi Will:

    We all thought that once the diesel buses began to run that the morning commute would be easier and timelier. Not so! I board the bus on Hawthorne Street (the 2nd stop from Waverley Square) and more often than not the bus is half full. There are probably several factors for this including passengers boarding from the Purple Line to people from nearby towns parking closer to Waverley to make sure they can get on the bus, and of course the ongoing problems with the MBTA. There are a couple of passengers I know who ride the bus into Waverley just to make sure they can get on the bus and not be late for work.

    I don’t need to pick specific times because the issue of lack of buses, buses breaking down. the MBTA pulling buses is a chronic issue. I really do feel for those people further down the bus line who have to wait and wait for buses only to have crowded ones drive right by them in the freezing cold…and being late for work.

    We have been told by diesel bus drivers that the buses on the 73 are old buses bought from other U.S. cities. The MBTA purchased them at a discount. No wonder they break down. We have also been told by drivers that buses are pulled from the 73 randomly. The schedule is a joke. Ask any passenger and they will tell you that there are less buses running since the diesel buses have been put on the route, despite what that MBTA professes. I receive T alerts via e-mail which grossly understate the delay situation. They are always “minor delays”, either due to traffic or accident.

    I have watched 4 buses pull into Waverley and still wait 10-15 minutes for one of them to pull out, sometimes it is 2, sometimes 3. While I realize that they have a (laughable) schedule, if there is a delay because of traffic, accident or construction, would not common sense dictate to the drivers to move out in a timelier fashion and deviate from the schedule by moving out every 5 minutes instead of 2-3 of them at time. WHAT!!! What happens after that? The same scenario starts all over again. Passengers further down the line not being able to board.

    The above situations are inbound. My experience with boarding from Harvard has been explained by Matt MacDonald (see above), so I won’t repeat his words.

    Thanks for letting the 73 passengers have a voice. I dare to hope that the service will improve if the MBTA listens to these complaints and works on them.


  24. Hi Will:

    I am a frequent commuter on the 73 bus, especially in the evening. What used to be a very efficient service has become slow, crowded and very frustrating. As you probably know, the 73 bus route is one of the top ten busiest bus routes in the MBTA system, and so the every-5-minute rush hour schedules is very important. That schedule is no longer being followed, it seems, since the diesel buses replaced the electric buses. I was told it is because the T doesn’t have enough diesel buses to make up for the missing electric buses. If that’s the case, then it seems unlikely we’ll see an improvement in service while the electric buses are offline, but if you can do anything to remedy this situation in the meantime, I’m sure it will be very appreciated by thousands of us 73 riders.

  25. We own one car, and commute on 73 to Harvard for about 10 years. Service has never been stellar, but lately is even worse. There is a population growth, but same old number of unreliable buses, so most are very overcrowded. More are needed to serve people in the rush hours. Often instead of steady intervals, bus drivers come by in twos or threes, convoy like procession, leaving other people stranded and waiting 20-30 minutes for the next available bus or new “convoy”. Posted schedule is for the most part complete joke. I have yet to see it being respected by the bus drivers.
    Many times I have chosen to try to walk from Harvard Station back home, because around 5:30 pm most buses are so overcrowded, you just can not get in. It can be maddening.
    Many bus drivers try their best, but still lack in customer service and basic professionalism. Some drive very fast and dangerously, do not pull into designated stop areas, have no regard for elderly, sick, or parents trying to board with young kids and strollers in tow.

    To sum it up, just like the rest of MBTA, 73 trolley/bus line not very well managed, is not very civilized, nor very pleasant or reliable. It is sad to have such poor service in 21 century.
    Thank you for listening.

  26. Hi Will,

    I really hate that the diesel buses leave their engines idling at Waverley Sq. while waiting; sometimes it’s for 10 minutes or longer. The diesel service is even worse than before (which wasn’t great). The outbound trip from Harvard adds an extra 2-3 minutes to the trip as they have never cut back on stops as was promised to improve efficiency and time. Meanwhile, it’s common to wait during rush hour for 20-30 minutes for a bus. Frequently, I arrive at Harvard at 5:50pm and wait until 6:10pm for a bus, while three 71 buses pass us by. By that time, there are so many people waiting not all of the people can even board the bus. This past Friday, 1/17/14, I arrived at Harvard Sq. station at 5:45pm and there were 2 Waverley Sq. buses, (with one other bus sandwiched between the two). I boarded the second bus with fewer than 20 people and our bus ended up bypassing the first bus since we had fewer people and thus fewer stops. It made me wonder if this is why there is often a 20-minute wait at 5:50pm because the bus is early.

    I board at Waverley Sq. and notice that frequently, buses will pull out within 2 minutes of each other, after the first bus in the line waits 15-20 minutes before leaving (usually because the bus driver has gone to the Dunkin Donuts and is delayed in leaving). When this occurs, the first bus is already half full, even before leaving Waverley Sq. and is completely filled with no standing room after it arrives at Cushing Sq. Sometimes, we wait for 20 minutes for a bus. A bus driver told me that the MBTA instituted a new policy that if a driver is sick or on vacation, they no longer replace that person so the bus drops out of the line. This could be one reason why during rush hour buses seem to be backed up. Frequently, by the time we arrive at Benton Square, the bus is completely full and does not stop to pick up anyone else until we reach Harvard Sq. unless someone rings the bell to get off.

    In the morning, I typically board between 6:45am and 7am. Between this and delays on the red line about 2 or 3 times a week due to a disabled train, it is truly not a pleasant experience taking public transportation, especially if you’re stuck waiting out in temps. that are below 20 degrees.

  27. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my concerns regarding service on the 73 bus which I have been riding daily for the past five years. I used to sing the praises of the reliability of 73, especially with the gps apps which help one plan one’s life more than one would ever think. It was a great testament for using public transportation.
    However, of late, it has been a totally frustrating experience. Many of the previous riders expressed the problems aptly.
    What I cannot figure out is why the gps apps are so inaccurate. They will indicate a bus is coming in a few minutes, and another in a few more minutes. As often as not these days, those buses do not come. What happens to them? I have waited in the cold for a half hour more than once in the past two weeks.
    For me, I can deal with buses not coming so frequently, if that is what needs to happen. But, I rely on those apps, which in the past were so great. No more.
    I work at a school and in the past weeks students have been late day after day. These students commute quite some distance and try hard to make it on time but it just isn’t working these days.

  28. As many others have said, my main complaint is the endless wait to have 3 buses show up at the same time. However, this happened before the diesel buses had to be used. But, for them to say the service is the same as before is not correct. The schedule now has a wait time of 25 between buses for a number of times in the evening. The longest we had to wait before was 20 minutes. It is only 5 minutes, but 5 minutes on the 73 bus can add an additional 15+ people to an already crowded bus. I’ve also noticed since switching to the diesel buses, the bus tracker ( is nearly useless. I’m not sure if it is the website on MBTA’s end, but many times it has been far off..I did not experience this problem so frequently until the change in bus service.

    One concern I do have which doesn’t have to do with the service problems is the bus stop on Mount Auburn Street inbound to Harvard before the Cambridge Homes stop. It is a terrible intersection to begin with, and where the bus stop is designated, it forces the bus drives to cut two lanes when continuing on Mount Auburn St. This almost causes accidents, and angers the other drivers on the road because the bus really is in the lane to turn right, not left. Not all, but some bus drivers assume that the cars are going to stop for them and assume the drivers know that they are turning left even though they are in the lane to turn right. The stops are not that far apart. I would suggest removing that bus stop for the 73 & 71 bus.

  29. I live off of School Street. I left my home this morning at 7:25 a.m. I saw a bus heading toward Cambridge just as I was nearing Belmont Street. I take the bus at the corner of Carver and Belmont Streets. I counted 5 buses heading towards Waverley while waiting for another bus to take me to Harvard Square. When a bus finally came by around 7:55 it was full and drove right by the bus stop. Another bus came shortly after and I was able to get on although the bus was close to full at the time and made no further pick ups. The 73 bus has been just as bad in the evening coming home. I arrived at Harvard Square at 5:25 p.m. And waited on the platform until around 6 p.m. before a 73 bus finally arrived. The platform was packed by that time. Many nights I have to wait for 2?or 3 buses before I can get on one heading to Waverley Square. My usual 45 minute commute by bus and then train to South Station is now taking me anywhere from 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours each way.

  30. In response to your feedback Senator Brownsberger sent a letter to the MBTA GM Dr. Beverly Scott to address the concerns that have been raised in this forum.

    January 21, 2014

    General Manager Beverly A. Scott
    Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910
    Boston, MA 02116

    Dear Dr. Scott,

    I am writing to share with you some of the complaints that my office has received regarding the diesel replacement service on the 73 bus line.  We have heard from many constituents who believe that service has deteriorated significantly since the removal of the trackless trolleys as part of the Trapelo Road rebuild project.

    My office first brought these concerns to the Trish Foley, the MBTA legislative liaison, who assured us that service was running on a normal schedule and that delays were likely due to construction.  She suggested that if we were able to provide her with dates and times of specific incidents, the MBTA would be able to pinpoint the problems.

    We solicited rider feedback via email and our website.  We received dozens of responses from riders that were eager to have the opportunity to voice their concerns.  The bulk of the feedback was impressionistic with a few specific incidents mixed in.  From the overall response, it seems clear that service has deteriorated.

    You can view the feedback that we received here:

    Here are some areas that we would like to better understand:

    • As it stands the route is over capacity at peak hours.  How do the replacement diesel buses affect the capacity of the route?  What is the capacity difference between the trackless trolleys and the buses that are being used for replacement service?   Are buses sometimes diverted to other routes?
    • Has the schedule stayed the same?  Have the trip times increased?  How has the switch to diesel affected pick-up and drop-off procedures at the ends of the route?
    • What are the dispatch procedures?  What is the frequency of departures throughout the day?  What can be done to combat gaps and bunching of buses?

    I would like to be able to respond to these concerns on my legislative website:

    Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.


    Senator William N. Brownsberger
    Second Suffolk and Middlesex

    The original can be viewed in the “open office” area of our website here.

    Andrew Bettinelli
    Legislative Aide
    Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

  31. I recently read that the MBTA has zero spare buses during rush hours. Therefore, the diesel buses used for the 73 during construction must have come from other routes and likely they don’t have enough of them to provide adequate service.

    The T needs more buses in their fleet but even in the latest Capital Investment Plan there is no funding allocated for them. If you want to make bus service better, please attend one of the public meetings this month about the Capital Investment Plan and urge MassDOT to properly fund our buses!

  32. The MBTA has an API for developers to use for applications like NextBus (

    This means the MBTA knows how many buses run, when they depart and (at least roughly) when arrive at each stop. They should have historical data and should be able to compare data from different time frames. They may not be able to, but they ought to be able to.

    With that data, one could compare the current diesel replacements against the normal electric service to answer these questions, among others:
    (1) Are the same number of buses running?
    (2) Has the average trip time for the route changed?
    (3) Has there been a change in the tendency of the buses running on the route to arrive at stops in “bunches”?

    This seems like the kind of data the MBTA should be using in their daily operations, so I *hope* they have it handy.

  33. the same day you posted this (the 16th), two 73 buses wouldn’t take passengers at harvard square because they had to “make schedule”.

    so…it’s more important to be at stops on time then to pick up all the people waiting and actually transport people?

    if the bus is in the harvard square station, and it’s not going out of service, then it should pick people up. period.

  34. Service is horrible on both the 71 and the 73! Weekends, and the middle of the afternoon are even worse than other times – often the buses don’t even show up. Obviously, traffic at those times cannot be the source of the problem, being light or even nonexistent.

    Since I’m a senior who is also disabled, I had to adjust what I do to avoid standing in the freezing cold or snow – or both – just because I can depend on them not showing up. This is so frustrating, especially since I can compare this horrible service with what was previously excellent when I moved to my new apartment in July.

    The other problem I am having is the addition of the old buses with stairs. These are difficult for me (and others who are disabled) and impossible for many.

    Is there any way we can find out exactly how much the executives in the MBTA are paid? I am frustrated when I hear about their financial difficulties, and we are not told anything about this.


  35. I think that bus supply is definitely a real issue. That was part of the challenge in getting the road project started — securing the commitment of buses. We do need to understand just how much of the problem it constitutes now. And yes, the GPS data may help analyze the situation.

  36. Yes, but again I ask – is there anyway we can find out exactly how much the MBTA executives are getting for their pay? I would really like to know, especially since their (lack of) finances are consistently being brought up.


  37. Lynn, sorry I missed your question.

    This is an entirely public number. According to this announcement on the MBTA’s website Beverly Scott, the director of the MBTA is paid $220,000 per year.

    This compensation is very reasonable for an executive with her responsibilities. I think we are lucky to have her on board — she is an extremely capable manager.

    You can also view a list of the compensation of other employees at the MBTA on their website.

  38. Additional Comments Received by Email.
    On Friday 1/24/14 at 6:45 p.m., temperature 16 degrees, I arrived at Mt. Auburn and Story Street, the first outbound stop. At 6:52, bus 0261 drove by without stopping, even though there was ample space in the rear of the bus and drivers on this route are supposed to permit rear door boarding. The next bus (#0601) came at 7:12 p.m. We were passed by bus #0603 just before reaching Benton Square. The published schedule shows departures from Harvard at 6:45, 6:52, 6:59, and 7:06 — at least two of these did not run as scheduled. The T website listed minor delays due to a disabled bus, but the alert was posted at 4:11 p.m. and had not been updated.

  39. Additional Comments received by email.
    === COMMENT ONE ======
    Thank you for seeking constituents’ views on the MBTA in general and the 73 bus in particular. Marthe and I have been riding that bus for 43 years. We’ll be interested in the MBTA’s response to your letter. I realize we’re late in commenting, but here are a few thoughts nevertheless:

    ? You asked General Manager Scott some good questions, but to get the most out of this exercise, you might think about how to air the commenters’ views on reasons and solutions, as well as their specific experiences. This is a well informed crowd, and they’ve given you are some pretty good ideas. But to me, most of those commenters sound like they’ll be skeptical of any response at all from the MBTA. Perhaps you can find a way to hear the views of the drivers, and to get some of those who proposed solutions (e.g., #1 and #2 at the end) in a small focus group with Ms. Scott’s people, so that the riders and the T aren’t just talking past each other.

    ? As you know, Boston’s public transit system serves about one-third of commuters, almost exactly the same as San Francisco’s. We lived in Pacific Heights for a few years 10-15 years ago. Our experience with the SF Muni is therefore dated; but when we lived there, it was on a par with the MBTA, so good that we didn’t really need a car. Today, as you know, San Francisco riders are no happier with the Muni than your constituents are with the 73 bus. Someone in Massachusetts might be looking at the private alternatives that have sprung up in the City–Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, and Leap Transit–because the folks in Belmont and Watertown who sent you comments are just as bright and entrepreneurial as those in San Francisco. I suspect the Senate will soon be discussing how to regulate private carriers and how to deal with the inevitable loss of public ridership to them. Even with all its resource constraints, the MBTA might find it more appealing to throw a few more buses on the busy routes, than to deal with serious private competition.

    ? In San Francisco the riders queue up, one by one, at each bus stop. That sort of civility might improve the environment at 6 o’clock in Harvard Square station; but I’ll leave it to the MBTA to introduce queues when people are used to something else.

    ? I’m frequently in Seattle and have a senior pass. The transit seems well funded and is first rate both during the commute and at other times. I’ve experienced nothing like the recent 73 bus there.

    ? But in perspective, even the rush hour service on the 73 bus doesn’t seem as bad to me as it was in the late 70s and early 80s when they were extending the red line. Although I’ve retired from PwC, and work at home for myself, I frequently attend client meetings in Cambridge and Boston at various times during the work day. Outside the rush hour, the service, even with the diesels, is reliable and comfortable. I don’t find the drivers abusive at all. For all the reasons you’ve heard, things are different during the rush hours. I’m happy I’m no longer commuting every day.
    === COMMENT TWO ======
    On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, I was walking up to Belmont Ave. to wait for the 73 Bus & to my dismay a bus went by before I made it to the street & stop (the stop before Grove & Arlington Street because the drivers will stop there more often than at the light) it was ~ 7:32 AM. My dismay grew. The next bus was ~ 15 minutes later, full & with the message “No Stops”. In all 5 full buses with the message “No stops” passed our stop (and all the subsequent stops) without stopping until 8:15 when 2 buses went by and took turns picking us up & ALL the passengers in the stops after us. One of my friends from the stop just before turning on to Mt. Auburn said she had been at her stop as long as I had. This was the day before the snow storm. When I’m picked up @ ~ 7:35 I make it to my office near Alewife well before my 8:30 AM starting time. Tuesday, January 21, I arrived @ 9:15AM – almost 2 hours after leaving my house!! I did call the MBTA that morning & complained, but did not give my name. (I also called and complained the month before, when a similar situation occurred.) I was out earlier on Wed. & Thurs. (at the stop by 7:22 AM) Wed was fine – pick up @ ~ 7:32, but on Thursday, January 23, neither of the 2 buses @ ~ 7:35 & 7:37 picked us up (there were already 3 people @ the stop prior to my 7:22 arrival) I had visions of a repeat of Tuesday, so I walked to the 71 Bus (~ 10 minutes away) and just barely made it in by 8:30. I was picked up with no problem this morning, but it is a Friday.

    Most evenings when I arrive at the Harvard 73 stop, there is a large crowd hoping one or more #73 buses will come by in a timely manner, but there is often a long wait between buses & many times I’ve taken a #71 or #72 and walked 10 to 15 minutes after being dropped at their stops.

    In the past, a bus every 6 minutes or so would ensure everyone being picked up – problems arose when the time between buses was later than that. The electric buses allow 2 rows of standees the length of the bus – the diesel & gas powered buses usually have one row of standees & there is a large ridership for the #73. Buses less often, taking on fewer people is a blueprint of disaster!!

    I can’t begin to tell you how utterly frustrated I am by the #73!!!!!!!

    === COMMENT THREE ============
    On Friday 1/24/14 at 6:45 p.m., temperature 16 degrees, I arrived at Mt. Auburn and Story Street, the first outbound stop. At 6:52, bus 0261 drove by without stopping, even though there was ample space in the rear of the bus and drivers on this route are supposed to permit rear door boarding. The next bus (#0601) came at 7:12 p.m. We were passed by bus #0603 just before reaching Benton Square. The published schedule shows departures from Harvard at 6:45, 6:52, 6:59, and 7:06 — at least two of these did not run as scheduled. The T website listed minor delays due to a disabled bus, but the alert was posted at 4:11 p.m. and had not been updated.

  40. Maybe the MBTA could start some of the buses at the turn around near Brigham’s/Oakley CC. I never see them use that turn around. That would help all the people from Oakley to Mt Auburn st. who are left standing in the cold because the buses from Waverley Square are full. There are a lot of out of towners that park along the CC , sit in their cars and jump out when the buses come. This creates even more people at these bus stops.

  41. Additional Comments received by email and in person

    == email comment ==
    On Wednesday, January 29, I was at my #73 stop on Belmont & Grove @ 7:25 AM. There was already a woman there (so I didn’t “just missed a bus!”). At ~ 7:30, a #73 stopped at the stop before ours & picked up all but one person (my hope was that that person saw the next bus & waited for a roomier option – no such luck!). That bus did not stop & pick us up at my stop, nor the stop after. (Needless to say – these buses are “full” but to cold #73 riders that is no excuse!) At ~7:35, a #73 passed the stop before ours without picking anyone up & then stopped a few yards from our “official” stop, let out a gentleman, stopped at the light where we were waiting & did not open his door for us (Bus # 0227). At 7:40 (fearing a repeat of Tues Jan. 21 – see previous email) I told my fellow potential #73 riders that I was heading to the #71 (~ 8 minutes away) & that I’d want to know when they got picked up – one gentleman said the next #73 was expected in 10 minutes. With the help of the #71 I (and two other riders from the next two stops who bailed on the #73 with me) was able to make it to work with a few minutes to spare!! I saw my friends on Thur. Jan 30 (the #73 @ ~ 7:30 picked us up with no problem) and they said they got picked up @ ~ 8:00 – there was one horrible day in December, 2013 that we weren’t picked up by a #73 until 8:00 & that day I was late!! (But not anywhere as late as Jan. 21’s 8:15 AM pick up!!) I appreciate any help you can give us in solving this problem!! Have a great weekend!

    == Comment received in person ==
    This morning, Friday, January 31, I arrived at the inbound bus stop at Harriet Avenue a little before 7:25AM. No bus came in our direction until 7:51AM. By the time a bus arrived, there were approximately 40 people waiting — there were seats available on the bus when it arrived, but by the time we all got on, there was no standing room left.

  42. Additional comment — new issue received by email.

    ================= Incident on the Evening of Wednesday, March 5 =====

    I know that you have received a great deal of input regarding service issues on the 73 bus line and have already been in touch with the MBTA. I am not sure whether it would be of any use to you to get yet another complaint, but I thought I would pass along my experience with the bus service tonight.

    I work between Harvard Square and Porter Square, so in the past I caught the 73 bus at the Waterhouse Street stop at Cambridge Common. That stop has been discontinued with the switch to diesel buses so now I either walk down to the tunnel or, if a 71 bus is waiting at Waterhouse, catch the 71 bus there and get off at Star Market to switch to the 73. Because the 73 buses are often so full that they do not pick up new passengers even at Star Market, I will also walk along Belmont Street if a 73 bus is not coming immediately.

    Tonight, I had walked to Sullivan Road when a bus turned onto Belmont Street. I saw it stop at the Cushing Street stop. It then left that stop and approached the stop where I was waiting. Instead of being labeled as a 73 bus, the front of the bus read “NO STOPS.” Despite seeing me, the driver did not stop. The bus had many passengers on it, but clearly had room for more.

    I continued walking along Belmont Street. As I did so, I could see the bus stop at the following stops, letting off passengers. I eventually walked all the way to Slade Street before another bus came along.

    This deliberate refusal to pick me up when (1) the bus was not full and (2) there was no other bus even remotely close behind this bus is, in my 5+ years of taking the 73 bus, completely unprecedented.

    I have in the past experienced many of the service problems that others have reported to you, but this was a new one for me.

    Thanks again for your help with this issue.

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