MBTA Plans Modernizing Arborway Yard for Zero Emissions Bus Fleet, Transfer Land for Affordable Housing

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The MBTA is planning to update the modernize the Arborway Bus Yard to create a multi-level facility to accommodate more buses, and convert its entire fleet to electric buses.

Currently, two MBTA-owned properties comprise the Arborway Bus Yard site (3600 Washington St. and 500 Arborway) with a total 18.85 acres. Part of the MBTA Bus Facility Modernization Program also includes transferring eight acres of land (Pole Yard) on the site to the city to create affordable housing, according to MBTA documents.

Arborway Bus Yard site

The plan is just in the beginning phases, as the MBTA's timeline calls for a public process from next year through 2024, with targeted construction in 2024, and being completed in 2027.

There are nine MBTA bus maintenance facilities, and most were made 40 years ago, but the Arborway Bus Yard CNG bus fueling facility is a mere 18 years old. In 2003, the Arborway Yard was opened as a temporary facility to replace the Bartlett Street facility in Roxbury. In 2010, the MBTA proposed a permanent facility design for the Arborway, but lacked the funding to implement it. The MBTA's plan highlights that the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative and Plan JP Rox support modernizing the facility as those plans focus on housing, particularly affordable housing, equity, and more.

Unlike the current facility, the proposed one would be fully enclosed and could accommodate 200 battery 60-foot electric buses. The new bus fleet would utilize zero emissions technology. Going electric and inside would create quieter buses and be more environmentally friendly. The current facility stores and maintains 118 40-foot compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

The MBTA's bus modernization plan has goals to focus on equity, service, reliability, and sustainability. That means upgrading facilities with routes serving high percentages of households of color and low-income households, and find opportunities to design new facilities that can absorb proximate transit critical routes where operationally feasible.

The Arborway ranks third among the MBTA’s bus facilities for the percentage of populations served who are low income or minority with routes serving 13% of MBTA's total bus ridership with 10% of the fleet. According to the MBTA, 55% of the ridership served by the Arborway Bus Yard are people of color.

The plan was presented to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council in September. There will be a virtual public meeting on Dec. 9 from 6-7:30 pm. Click here to register for the meeting.