Transportation Advocates South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan Comments

Transportation Advocates South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan Comments

April 1, 2022
Jascha Franklin-Hodge
Boston Chief of Streets

Jim Fitzgerald
BPDA, Interim Deputy Director of Transportation & Infrastructure Planning

Re:  South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan

Dear Jascha and Jim:

Our collective organizations offer joint comments on the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan. Our comments build on the many verbal and written comments we’ve offered over the last few years, both about this plan, and specific projects within the project area. 

While our organizations are eager to see the City tackle the very significant transit needs of this burgeoning part of the City, we continue to worry that this plan lacks the level of City leadership and cohesive vision needed to allow the neighborhood’s residents, businesses and workers to thrive in the years ahead. We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss our comments and our thoughts about how the project could be more effectively advanced.

Our specific concerns are outlined below: 

Coordination + Cohesion: It remains unclear what the big picture goal and overall time frame is for the plan. As presented at the most recent public meeting, the “plan” was offered mostly as a laundry list of current and potent projects and lacked details about the timeline for implementation. It also lacked an appropriate level of coordination with the bike plan and offered no clear plan for improving accessibility for the area. Any successful transit plan must take these interconnected needs into account. 

  • As a first step, we recommend  putting  all of the recommendations into one description and map color coded by timing of implementation (or perhaps overlays by year). The public needs to understand what is happening when and where.
    • A tremendous amount of development is in various stages of planning and permitting, each of which is documenting their anticipated transit, walking, biking, parking and delivery operations. Please provide a consolidated look at all of these proposals and then describe how the plan for transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and roadways can accommodate the anticipated number of people and vehicles. 
    • Distinguish between the projects for which designs and funding are known (with some degree of certainty) and those which are still only ideas.
    • Identify which entity (or entities) will be responsible for paying for, leading on designs and decision-making, and implementing the projects.
    • Multi-agency complications exist on the roads in the neighborhood as well as in transit operations. Please clarify the ownership of the roads among MassDOT, MassPort and City BTD & BPDA.

Much is still unknown or unclear about the actual transit components of this transit plan. While there are proposed high level connections, there is very little detail about how those connections will be achieved. 

Better bus connections are needed: (1) to/from North Station – and not just connecting to South station; (2) along Summer Street; (3) A Street; (4) Silver Line improvements (5) D Street service to Nubian Square (6) Express bus route changes. In order to provide clarity about what this plan will achieve to improve transit, we recommend: 

  • Including information about the schedules of future service – we understand that precise information is not possible, but a vague description of “increased” service is not adequate.
  • Provide information about where funding will come from for both capital and operational investment
  • Provide a description of the current overall capacity of bus service for the district and what the future capacity goals are.
  • Distinguish between public (MBTA) and private shuttle service. Describe how private shuttles are being considered in the process and whether these services will be opened to the public.
  • Provide details about where buses will layover. Should there be a central point they all serve? Convention Center and Silver Line Way are the only remaining locations owned by the State with sufficient land area. 
  • Outline how this process interacts and is coordinated with the MBTA Bus Network Redesign process. 

MBTA Station improvements are critical to the plan

  • Improve bus circulation around Broadway station with vastly improved pedestrian crossings at West Broadway.
  • Build a new headhouse at Broadway Station to get last mile access from the northern side of West Broadway

Accessibility for people with disabilities must be definitively addressed, especially from South Station to A Street (via Congress Street is not an acceptable answer) and Broadway to the whole district.

  • Schedule a meeting with advocates and Boston Disabilities Commission in Spring 2022.
  • Focus on the network and connectivity, not just piecemeal, but rather a full concept of developed routes to serve as many needs as possible.

This plan must also compliment and contribute to better and safer bike conditions, especially on  Summer Street, Congress Street and  A Street.

  • Clarify the intended network and the timing of each piece of the network.
  • Clarify the goals, location and design of the South Bay Harbor Trail, including a discussion of the proposed width of the trail and whether it will be adequate to serve people walking and biking as a commuter route.
  • Prioritize separated bike lanes because bikes must be a core piece of the transportation system. They must be built into the network not just planned on a development-by-development basis.
  • Additionally, we want to see robust bike parking being considered as critical bike infrastructure – not only indoor bike rooms and bike parking that is accessible to residents and workers in new buildings, but on-street (or street-accessible), high-capacity bike parking, and want to ensure it is accounted for with all transportation planning in the area.

Make a final determination that there will be no vehicles, other than emergency access, on Northern Avenue Bridge. There has not been a public meeting about the Northern Avenue Bridge project since April of 2020. At that meeting there was overwhelming opposition to both the proposed design and the proposed allowance of vehicles on the bridge. It is concerning that several of the proposed routes in the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan assumed some access over the Northern Avenue bridge, when there are still many outstanding concerns about that project. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the plan. We look forward to working with you in the months ahead.


Tom Ready, FPNA

Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets 

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director, WalkBoston

Wendy Landman, Senior Policy Advisor, WalkBoston

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union

Galen Mook, Executive Director, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

Jarred Johnson, Executive Director, TransitMatters

Cc Mayor Michelle Wu
Ed Flynn, District 2 City Councilor
Michael Flaherty, At Large City Councilor
Julia Mejia – At Large City Councilor
Ruthzee Louijeune – At Large City Councilor
MassDOT Secretary Jamey Tesler
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak

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