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

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