Boston Identified Its Most Dangerous, Degrading Bus Stops. Now What?

The MBTA is doing something about its sorry bus stops, but is it doing enough?
The MBTA is doing something about its sorry bus stops, but is it doing enough?

A Boston bus stop that left riders on an awkward sidewalk island surrounded by speeding traffic nearly won Streetsblog’s “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” competition last year.

Now Boston’s MBTA is in the midst of a systematic review of its bus stops to identify dangerous conditions.

The agency told state officials yesterday that it sent two-person crews to evaluate conditions at each of its 7,600 bus stops [PDF]. The MBTA is looking at the safety of pedestrian crossings, the quality of shelters and seating amenities, and the presence of physical barriers like guardrails.

With all but about 100 evaluations completed, the MBTA has identified 209 stops of immediate concern because they lack safe walking access or require bus riders to board in the street. The agency will either eliminate or modify those stops to address the problem.

The agency says it may eliminate 133 stops, according to the Statehouse News Service, but only bus stops within 750 feet of another stop will be removed. Service will not be affected.

A 2016 survey by TransitCenter [PDF] found that most frequent transit riders walk to access the bus or train, and that they value bus shelters highly.

Only about 8 percent of MBTA’s bus stops have shelters, the agency’s review found. Another 7 percent have benches but no cover from the elements.

TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt says the MBTA deserves credit for taking the initiative but that the process so far is more of a “minimum first step.”

“Transit riders would be best served by a bus stop program that plans and provides for safe, inviting walking access to stops and well-designed, functional shelters,” he said.

The MBTA says it will work with the municipalities where the stops are located to get them fixed or removed.

Here’s a look at two of the stops the MBTA deemed to be unacceptable.

Photo: MBTA
Photo: MBTA
Photo: MBTA
Photo: MBTA
  • Jason

    That last one…wow. No safe way to walk there and nowhere to stand if you manage to make it unscathed.

  • Patrick

    Wonder what else they plan to eliminate. Gotta pay for that Green Line Extension somehow, 4 bil of debt on top of 24 bil in Big Dig debt. Insanity

  • Jess

    My family and a slew of neighbors contacted the MBTA about that Saugus stop (the last one). It took them forever to get back with anyone. They’re getting too much credit for delayed action

  • Jess

    You never know with Stephanie Pollack, aka, the Betsy DeVos of transportation. Our local ferry service was cut without warning or reason. It feels as though Uber runs the MBTA in 2016-17

  • Josh Ostroff

    The report (linked in the 3rd paragraph of this article) that identified these bus stops is an initiative of the Plan for Accessible Transit Infrastructure, which the MBTA has initiated to systematically evaluate and improve service for people with disabilities. It’s 180 degrees from the MBTA’s approach in years past. The effort is led by the MBTA’s Office for System Wide Accessibility. I serve on the PATI external stakeholders committee. I think there are plenty of things to criticize the MBTA for, but this is a worthy effort. It will take sustained effort and more transportation revenue, plus coordination with municipalities, to deliver a truly accessible MBTA.

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