Anyone living in Boston or its surrounding suburbs understands the importance of the mess of a public transportation system commonly known as the T. Although many residents complain about the T’s lack of stops in certain areas, unpredictable wait times and muddled infrastructure, the MBTA and the state of Massachusetts plan to address many of these issues in the near future.
Many Boston College students depend on the Green Line to get into popular stops like Fenway and Government Center, but in coming years the Green Line may take them to new locations. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone plans to spend $1.43 billion on extending the Green Line into his own city of Somerville. Although Massachusetts has raised $617 million for the project, federal funding to subsidize the remainder has not been obtained.
By 2017 the city plans to have a Union Square station at full operation, and by 2019 stops at Gilman Square, Lowell Street and Ball Square are expected to be functioning as well. Once they are completed, 85 percent of Somerville residents will be able to walk to the nearest T stop. In the more foreseeable future, the Orange Line will stop at Assembly Square this summer.
These upcoming changes offer a bright economic future for Somerville: An estimated 17,300 new jobs and 3,600 residential units will arise near the new Union Square and Washington Street stations by 2030. Somerville has already shown economic improvement with the $1.2 billion investment into high-rise apartments, retail and office space near Assembly Square. Curtatone is highly optimistic about these changes, claiming, “It’s the transformation we’ve all dreamed about.”
In addition to economic changes, the extension of the T also offers positive environmental impacts. Over 25,000 daily vehicle miles may be eliminated by 2030 as 45,000 daily riders are anticipated to use the Green Line extension in that time.
In keeping with the increased public transportation usage, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the creation of a condominium complex that provides no parking for residents. This structure will be the first of its kind in the city. Mayor Menino’s administration supports decisions to slacken requirements for residential buildings in an effort to reduce both traffic issues and pollution from motor vehicles.
Navigating the T may also be easier these days with the launch of the new smart phone app, ProximiT. Although many other apps ostensibly provide the same real-time data for subway schedules and notifications for upcoming trains, ProximiT has been rated highly among its over 5,000 users, receiving four out of five stars from reviewers.
The app also provides users with an exact distance from their current location to the nearest T stop, a useful feature for those who are unfamiliar with the area, and notifies users about reported delays at their “favorite” stations if they are within a one-block radius. Unfortunately for BC students, information for the Green Line is currently unavailable, but developers plan to address this issue in the near future.
Over the next few years, the T will see many major improvements, which will improve the lives of Boston residents and BC students alike.Featured photo courtesy of Anthony Golden/Gavel Media.