Last fall, we thought we were making progress.
A colleague of mine got a response from Keenan’s office, quoted here:
In a message dated 2/1/2010 10:22:55 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Lynne Montague writes:
I wanted to get back to you with the latest information provided by the MBTA on the Highland Ave Bus Stop. John Matthew at RMD , Hawthorne Square Mgmt has withdrawn its proposal to build a new bus shelter as the company stated it could no longer justify the expense. The company further noted that the path for the bus, that the MBTA had agreed to, was objected to by the neighboring shopping plaza.
Mr. Matthew said he would contact the MBTA if he learned anything new or if the management company wanted to make a new proposal. The city of Salem has instructed RMD, Hawthorne Square Mgmt that the bus stop must be cleared of snow.
I will let you know if there is any additional information on this proposal.
Firstly, I’m uncertain as to what kind of expense is involved. We never heard any kind of dollar figure; was this to be an actual physical shelter? I’d understood this would be just a bus stop in the vicinity of Market Basket.
Since I first drafted this post back in February, I've gotten some more information that puts a little light on this story. The Commission got a copy of a letter to the Mayor's office from the MBTA, specifically from a senior planner/analyst:
The layout of this shopping center does not support a regular bus service. This facility is designed with a large parking lot, few walking paths, and multiple storefronts that would create conflicts between buses, autos, and pedestrians. With the present layout, there is no appropriate place for passengers to board, exit, or wait for the bus. We would be interested in discussing this situation with the management, owners, and/or tenants of Hawthorne Square to see if there are possibilities for making changes or additions inside the center which might create an appropriate bus waiting area area and safe path for the bus to drive through Hawthorne Square.
The Service Planning group is also concerned with the additional trip time a rerouting would impose on existing customers. We estimate that each customer trip would be lengthened by 4 minutes or mour if routed via the shopping center. Extending selected trips during weekday midday hours or on weekends could minimize the additional passenger-travel time, since there are fewer peak-period commuters who would be negatively affected by such an extension and delays from traffic are less severe.
Snow removal is a serious issue that affects the quality of a bus customer’s trip; ordinances vary by municipality. In general, snow removal on sidewalks or at bus stops is the responsibility of the abutting property owner.
The Route 107 corridor has never been quiet, except perhaps before I was born, but it is true that it has gotten more congested. In fact, the T has had to run fewer buses with increased headways (80 minutes on weekdays) on the 450 and 456 routes due to heavy traffic on Highland Ave.
Ms. McCoy is also correct in asserting that the Hawthorne Square parking lot is not really laid out for pedestrians--there are no reserved pedestrian paths between stores.
This problem is much more than just one elderly person trying to get to the grocery store from the bus.
It's about how we have emphasized the personal car above everything and arranged our city planning around the car and its needs for parking at peak periods.
The only answer we seem to have is "more development". While I (personally, not the Commission) cautiously favor the new Wal-Mart proposed on Highland Ave. (and disfavor Lowes), I'm not sure how this will help.
As it is, the Commission has de facto "adopted" Rt. 107, 1A, 114 and all the other entrance corridors in the city where pedestrians and people with disabilities travel.
MassHighway has control over many of these corridors, so city councilors cannot do a lot. Jean Pelletier and Jerry Ryan are the nominal councilors over Rt. 107's path; I have not spoken to Jean but Jerry knows my thinking on this and we have spoken numerous times.
I recently had to contact MassHighway to fix one of the new audible signals (ironically near Market Basket). After two months it's resolved, but someone needs to go out there to adjust its volume.
A call here, an email there, a tweak. Until the next issue.
Now, the talk of my state rep and my mayor is on casinos and pledges to improve 1A and 107, which will certainly serve the proposed resort at Suffolk Downs.
A tweak here, a tweak there.
People won't like this solution, but the community leaders in the region will have to push for the Blue Line to Lynn. Just stand on the Lynnway near Wal-Mart or on Western Ave. past the bus depot and count how many buses with passengers go by. It's more than you think.
With due respect to my colleague Rich, who never fails to give me a word against the city on this issue, it's a tough one.
And the Commission seems to be alone in fighting for this.