Massachusetts state officials are looking to the future of public transit, with the DoT and MBTA publishing a draft 25-year investment plan positioning the region to meet the needs of the population by 2040 titled Focus40. The report "reflects what the region will need to be sustainable, livable, equitable, and economically competitive," and is meant to be a framework for changes that will help the agency adapt to a more technological era and withstand the worsening New England winters.
Currently the MBTA is improving transit in the region by replacing current Red Line trains by 2025 with ones built in China, investing in a new bus fleet and mulling a complete replacement of Green Line vehicles. It is also building a new system to collect fares and extending the Green Line to Medford and Somerville.
The document builds on the Go Boston 2030 plan from 2015, which first introduced ideas like including platform barriers, to connect the Blue and Red lines and expand both bus service and the Silver Line fleet.
However, the plan doesn't include proposals already on the books, including the extension of the Silver Line to the Seaport District and the new West Station commuter rail stop in Allston.
And, he adds, he is disappointed that the Focus40 plan doesn't mention proposals already on the books, like extending the Silver Line to the Seaport District and the future of the West Station commuter rail stop in Allston.
Transit officials admit there are no cost estimates or plans for funding these projects in the draft plan, but, they say, deciding whether they are worth investing in is the first step. And to do that, the MBTA is looking for riders' feedback by September 21.
Building more rail transit
The MBTA will begin rolling out new Green Line vehicles this September, which though are in anticipation of the line's extension through Somerville and into Medford, will allow older cars to be cycled out for repairs. The new trains will have the same number of seats as the existing ones but will have additional standing room and will be lower to the ground than the current ones and as such, will be wheelchair accessible.
In addition to extending the network, the Orange Line will get 152 new cars beginning in 2018 and the Red Line will see 252 new ones starting in 2019, complete with digital information screens and wider isles.
Adding onto bus service
Included in the budget, Boston will launch a "Transit Team," working with the MBTA to improve public transit with a focus on bus service. This team will work with the agency to identify key bus corridors and to add transit priority measures such as dedicated lanes and queue jumps at intersections.
There will be an addition of 282 bus trips per week in an effort to boost late-night trips for people who are stuck working late, but involves merging routes including Silver Line branches to Logan Airport and Dudley Square. Eventually if everything goes well, the city might see the introduction of 24/7 bus service on key routes.
Creating more walkable streets
The city is also proposing an increase to funding for building safer streets for pedestrians, including an additional $750,000 for the Walkable Streets program, $300,000 more for the strategic bike network program and two additional planners and two new engineers to focus on implementing the Vision Zero program.
Focus on congestion and parking
Requests to 311 for parking enforcement have increased significantly over the last few years and to enforce parking rules and respond to the population's requests in a timely manner, the city will update fines for 11 of the 36 parking violations available to give, focusing on those which are complained about most frequently. It will also add a new Parking Enforcement Senior Supervisor so that the parking enforcement crew can address complaints 24/7.
An updated fine structure should produce positive influences on driving behavior and reduce congestion and date collected by the city under the Performance Parking Pilot showed that driver behavior can be changed as a result of adjusted parking meter rates.