Green Line
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Somerville celebrates the Green Line!

Somerville High School was full of joy and gratitude yesterday as the community celebrated the opening of the full Green Line Extension! Click on any photo in the gallery to enlarge.

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Green Line
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Video of the Green Line opening ceremony

If you missed Monday’s festivities, you can watch above. Below are clips from Ball Square the same morning.

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Green Line
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Somerville with the Green Line!

Here is how Arlington author and illustrator A.J.B. Lane commemorated the Green Line Extension opening in the Ideas section of the Boston Sunday Globe.

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Green Line
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The full Green Line Extension is open!

Hundreds rode the first trains, music was played, mayors (current and former) danced, speeches were given, and Somerville became an even better place to live on this fine December day! Keep reading for more photos from Karen Molloy.

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Green Line
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The rest of the Green Line opens Monday! Here’s where to celebrate

December 12 is the first day of service of the Medford branch of the Green Line Extension. It’s been a long journey and Somerville is ready to celebrate. Here are upcoming events:

Monday, Dec 12
4:30 am: Meet the MBTA General Manager at the new Medford/Tufts station.
4:45 am: Ride the first train from the same station.
7-8 am: Celebrate with Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne (and live music) at the Ball Square station.
10 am: Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Medford/Tufts station, followed by a ceremony at Tufts Joyce Cummings Center (177 College Ave). Space is limited, masks encouraged.

Saturday, Dec 17
2-4 pm: Community celebration at Somerville High School (81 Highland Ave), with a kid’s choo-choo train, live music, food, GLX oral history project, crafts, and more.

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Buses
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STEP letter to the MBTA about the Revised Bus Network Redesign

Hello MBTA BNR team,

We in Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) greatly appreciate the improved proposed bus changes in Somerville in the second draft of the Bus Network Redesign. It’s obvious from the revisions to proposed routes in this draft that you all took the time to listen to and incorporate much of the community feedback on the first draft, and for that we thank you for your efforts.

Like many Somervillians, we are pleased to see additional bus connections to the forthcoming GLX stops, as well as reinstating the critical routes 87 and 89, the Medford and west Somerville portion of the 80 route, new (and one-seat) connections to Union Sq, new connections to appreciate how Somerville will benefit from the new high-frequency routes.

In noting the new connections to Assembly Square, we are glad to see how the new 85 route will also connect with the East Somerville and Union Sq GLX stops. It could potentially help some workers and residents travel in and out of the Assembly Square area, at least on weekdays. And for residents in Chelsea and Everett, the new 113 route opens up employment opportunities for them at Assembly Sq. 

Although we are generally satisfied with the revised changes to bus service in the Somerville BNR map, we have a few comments/questions:

  • Frequency of some routes which are assigned in this draft of the BNR have some outmoded suburban-type “rush hour” and/or weekday only frequency, when their destinations don’t fit that kind of commuter profile. The most extreme example is the new 85 route, which is a fabulous route, but according to the BNR it will run weekdays only, mostly with a 90 minute headway except for 30 minute headways 6-9am and 4-7pm. To us, this coupled with the limited weekday and no night time or weekend service actually sabotages the very reasons we in Somerville need more connections to/from Assembly seven days a week.
  • We wonder why no routes in the BNR make use of Alewife Brook Parkway or McGrath Highway (soon to become a nice wide boulevard, perfect for north-south bus-only lanes). As we mentioned in our comments last summer, Somerville has long suffered from insufficient north-south connections between the major bus routes (and now the GLX). Although many north-south streets in the city are not busable due to the hill grades, we recommend that the BNR team explore possible routes on Washington St. and Medford St., incorporating Cedar St. in a route that connects with Ball Square, and adding one or more routes on McGrath Highway. Regarding Alewife Brook Parkway, as we also recommended last summer, buses traveling directly to Dilboy could save hundreds of car trips every week and deliver children and adults safely to the Stadium, turf and grass fields, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pool, and to the Mystic River paths there. In addition to carrying riders to Dilboy stadium and pool, Alewife Brook Parkway could provide a link between the future Route 16 Green Line station and Alewife Red Line station and the neighborhoods of West Somerville, East Arlington, and Medford.
  • The Mystic Ave EJ community is still pretty isolated from the rest of Somerville in this revised plan. The 95 bus, the only route in that neighborhood, runs from Arlington Ctr to Sullivan Sq. Please consider some crosstown routes to connect it to Davis and Union Sq in a one-seat trip.
  • We urge the MBTA to commit to revisit these bus route decisions within 5 years, due to the quick pace of development in Somerville. The lack of any bus routes on Washington St. and McGrath, two streets that will see massive redevelopment in the coming years warrants this. We should not have to wait another 50 years to get buses on those streets.
  • Finally, we agree with the sentiments Rep. Mike Connolly expressed during the November 2nd MBTA public meeting on the latest BNR regarding slowing down the approval process for this new draft so that communities can spend some time examining the changes and their impacts. We also agree with Rep. Connolly’s request to provide at least 90 days public notice before eliminating or changing an existing route.

Thanks again for your hard, thoughtful work on the redesign of the bus network in Somerville.

Best regards,

Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP)

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Green Line
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Green Line Medford branch opens Dec 12!

“The Green Line’s Medford extension has an opening date at long last” (Boston.com)

“We’re really pleased to be able to share this news,” [T General Manager Steve Poftak] told the MBTA Board of Directors, noting that T leadership has been “eagerly awaiting” the announcement for years. 

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Buses
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New bus route redesign proposal

Bus routes are going to change in Somerville (and beyond), and the MBTA shared an updated proposal of what that might look like. Since the initial proposal in May, they made lots of changes based on public input. But there’s still room for your input! Join their online meeting Nov 2.

Here’s the new proposal compared to the previous proposal and current conditions so you can see them all together.

New proposal:

May proposal:

Current bus routes:

There are many more details on the project website. What do you think of the changes?

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Green Line
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Green Line Extension closing for four weeks, Medford branch opening delayed again

It hasn’t been a good summer for the MBTA — and certainly not for its riders. The T announced two pieces of bad news:

Starting Aug 22, the Green Line will close between Government Center and Union Square for four weeks. They say the closure is necessary to complete the Medford branch work, as well as work on the Government Center Garage. Very disappointing. There will be shuttle buses offered.

Phase 2 of the Green Line Extension, originally supposed to open last December, then May, then late summer, is now planned for late November. Reasons include work and re-testing of the power systems and availability of Safety and Operational support crews. Also very disappointing.

MBTA Press Release

“MBTA to close Green Line north of Government Center for 4 weeks” (Boston Globe)

“MBTA will shut down Green Line service from downtown Boston to Somerville for nearly a month” (WBUR)

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Buses
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STEP letter to the MBTA about the proposed Bus Network Redesign

View STEP’s comments on the big proposed changes to MBTA bus routes in Somerville.

We support the MBTA’s intent to modernize the bus network for the first time in many decades and its stated goal of creating a more equitable network with more frequent service, better connections, and more all-day service.

But we’re also disappointed with some aspects of this first BNR draft and encourage the BNR team to act on the concerns we’ve heard from Somerville’s residents, outlined below. STEP’s take is that Somerville residents and businesses lose more than we gain from this proposal.

Read the complete letter.

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