Friday, March 18, 2011

Get off my Common!

After reading Jeremy Shulkin's article (03/16/11) on the planned relocation of the City Hall WRTA hub to Union Station, I'm baffled. It's not because of Jeremy's always excellent reporting, it's because of the claims by our city officials that:
"It’s been no secret the current hub outside City Hall did little for drivers and the WRTA. The current location drew complaints about teenagers loitering and caused traffic congestion."
"City officials say this will lead to short bus routes, more direct connections and would fold bus, train and taxi services all into one area. The increase in people at the bus hub may also finally attract retail to move into the empty first floor of the Union Station parking garage.  “It’s certainly another building block for the critical mass that makes retail successful,” offers City Manager Michael O’Brien, who adds that increased commuter rail and housing developments will provide “the feet on the street that breathes life into those storefronts.”
People have been complaining for years about the 'scary teenage hoodlums' in our downtown. That perception is largely overstated, hyperbolic and ignorant. But the critics of the current City Hall WRTA transfer point out that the presence of these hoodlums has had a negative effect on businesses around City Hall. If that is true, why would our city officials want to move the riff raff to Union Station, and right across from the new CitySquare? Won't the businesses in Union Station suffer, and complain? Don't attempt to sell me this crap about teenage feet on the street that will save the empty Union Station garage.

I also question the need to split stops between City Hall and the new hub next to Union Station?  If riders want to transfer, will they have to walk around the current empty mall or through the future CitySquare to transfer? That is highly impractical and difficult for the elderly and disabled who rely on the WRTA for transportation.

On a positive note, I really like these ideas:
"Along with wayside message boards that will show riders how long until their bus shows up, riders will be able to upload cash directly onto a fare card that will double as a Charlie Card for those heading into or coming from Boston."
"City Councilor Mike Germain brought forward one idea last week, asking that the city look into working with Direct Air to provide a shuttle between Union Station and Worcester Regional Airport."
Perhaps they can also develop a smart phone app that shows schedules and route delays.


Nicole said...

What you said is all true. The teenagers, the transfers, it all doesn't quite make sense.

I love teaming up with the Charlie Card, and I also think that (if we wanted to) we could find plenty of open-source/already-created solutions to the smart phone app question.

Sean Dacey said...

The smart phone app makes more sense to attract college age riders than the free giveaway they had at the beginning of the college year. Why give away rides for free and not disclose where/when they can catch a bus?

I can download the schedules to my phone, but it's a bit clunky and a battery killer.

The app/open source world is about above my pay grade, but it is intriguing, and sometimes DIY is better and more efficient!

Tracy Novick said...

I always wonder to what extent these decisions are made by people who actually ride the bus...or at least in consultation with them.
As someone who regularly took the 19 (when it was the 19) down Main Street to City Hall to go to the library with a toddler in tow, I'll tell you that having the bus stop instead at Union Station would NOT have been helpful.
And I didn't have to transfer to do what I needed to do. That's a LONG walk when it's cold or rainy or (as you say) you're not an excellent walker.

Anonymous said...

the train to Boston does not accept the ChaRLIE CaRD, it has its poor relative, the Charlie Ticket. Its paper, no value gets drawn off the card as the ChaRLIE CaRD works on Boston's busses and subways