Boston teen demands bus improvements after extensive research
Life-long rider Stuart Spina presents report to MBTA Board of Directors, requests service changes and meeting with bus riders
March 6, 2008
ROXBURY, MA—In the face of the MBTA’s rapidly declining ridership, $8.2 billion debt, and recent revelations of lying to bus riders, 17-year old T Riders Union (TRU) member Stuart Spina has compiled a list of recommendations to make the bus system more efficient and effective.
Over the last nine months, Spina has studied 12 of the T’s most notorious bus routes. Common problems include chronically late buses, overcrowding and bunching—buses that travel in packs regardless of schedule. He will be presenting his findings at the March MBTA Board of Directors meeting. Recommendations include more frequent service, schedules that reflect actual traffic conditions and back door boarding for the most heavily ridden routes.
“I’ve lived in Dorchester and had to deal with substandard bus service. Why has the T invested $513 million in the commuter rail but virtually ignored the bus system?” asked Spina, a student at the Commonwealth School. “My goal in working with TRU is to get better service, especially bus service, for people in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. I want to make sure they get the most of their $1.50.”
Transportation has been a lifelong interest for Spina. As a child, he collected bus schedules and memorized routes, gradually learning about the technical aspects of the system as he grew older. “Before working on this report, I looked at service issues from a rider’s perspective. But what really surprised me is that drivers are subject to poor conditions and have little control over their routes as well,” said Spina. “My recommendations are about improving the overall system, for riders, drivers and the MBTA as a whole.”
The report focuses on bus routes #1, 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 32, 39, 44, 45, 66 and the Washington Street Silver Line bus (between Dudley Square and Temple Place). Many of these routes operate in communities of color where buses are the primary mode of transportation, as subway service may not be easily accessible.
“Bus riders make up one-third of MBTA ridership, yet we are treated as second-class customers,” said TRU Program Director Lee Matsueda. “The recommendations in Stuart's report provide a way to make lasting changes to correct the inequities in our public transit system.”
“Transportation should be fair to all communities,” continued TRU Chairperson Lisa Edwards. “We are requesting to meet with the MBTA to learn what they are going to do for bus service in light of this report.”
To download a .pdf copy of Stuart's report, click here.