To support COVID-19 recovery, Boston's government is offering preloaded MBTA and Bluebikes passes to employees in five Main Street Districts, including Three Squares Main Street in Jamaica Plain. The first 1,000 employees who sign up for the program from Three Squares, Mission Hill, Nubian Square, East Boston, and Fields Corner, will receive the passes. This is a pilot program being phased in during the next two months. Some applicants will be selected to receive an MBTA pass with a full $60 right away, and others will get two cards after four weeks values that add up to $60, according to the city's website. Bluebikes pass-holders will be able to take as many trips as they want during the two-month period.
Due to the pandemic the MBTA is experiencing a huge decrease in riders this year. That puts a huge dent into their budget, and thus they are proposing service cuts across the board. Last year, MBTA riders took 1.26 million daily trips, and in October 2020, riders took 330,000 daily trips. That's 26 percent of daily ridership compared to 2019, according to the MBTA. Yet, the MBTA has continued to operate at 2019 service levels despite a decrease in ridership.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) pitched three proposals targeted at improving the Arborway at a recent public meeting. Currently there are two traffic rotaries: Kelley Circle by Jamaica Pond and Murray Circle on Centre Street by the Arnold Arboretum. One proposal would keep both circles, one would remove Kelley Circle, and one would remove both circles. "While each alternative has a set of unique design features, they are all designed to improve safety and accessibility for all users along the Arborway, better balance the various demands placed on the roadway, and create a welcoming environment with enhanced public access that reflects the natural and cultural history of the site," said the DCR. Each proposal includes:
Safety improvements for all modes on all roadway segments
Improved visibility and safety at all crosswalks
New wayfinding signage to guide cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians
Entrances and exits from side streets promote slower speeds
New bicycle and pedestrian connections and networks
Vehicle through-traffic is directed to Mainline
Carriage ways are reduced to one travel lane while maintaining access to abutters
Overall increases in recreational green space
New and replacement tree plantings for lost trees due to disease, normal decline, urban hazards, or proposed improvements
Opportunities for historical markers and informational stations
DCR's website says that a proposal will be selected this winter, and construction is expected to begin in 2021 and last two years.
DCR will be hosting a virtual public meeting to discuss the Arborway Parkway Improvements Project on Oct. 21. During the meeting, slides showing the three proposed design alternatives for the Arborway Parkway Improvement Project. The public may ask questions using the “chat” function during and after the presentations. The presentation will be viewable after the public meeting on DCR’s website, and available by clicking here.
While the Department of Conservation and Recreation work on a longterm plan to improve the Arborway, some short-term changes, including buffered bike lanes are coming as early as this fall.
"We are proposing to remove travel lanes in three locations. Before making this
proposal, we carefully reviewed pre-pandemic traffic volumes (on which we have collected data on several occasions over many years) for the corridor," wrote Jeffrey Parenti, Deputy Chief Engineer for DCR. The short-term improvements could also begin in spring 2021. Parenti provided a list of short-term improvements and the intended goals of the changes. The changes include: