Letter to the Editor

#55 Bus Route

Coalition Letter Responding to Revised BNRD Proposal

We are writing to inform you of the MBTA’s release of final changes to the Bus Network Redesign (BNRD), including the Route 55 bus. We are pleased to report good news as well as the ongoing challenges and opportunities ahead! We are excited to continue to push for improvements on the #55 so it can properly serve the Fenway community alongside the collaborative power of the #55 Bus Coalition.

Good news:

Thanks to overwhelming advocacy from Fenway residents and the committed support of our elected representatives, the #55 bus route will continue to Copley Square, with hours that run from 6 AM to 7 PM daily, at a frequency of 50 minutes. For a look at the proposed changes to the #55, visit: tinyurl.com/TBS-55bus1. For more information on the MBTA’s BNRD announcement, visit: www.mbta.com/projects/bus-network-redesign/update/revised-bus-network-map. This announcement represents a significant victory for the Fenway community. As previously proposed, the 55 bus would have traveled from the LMA/Fenway to Kendall Sq. in Cambridge, denying f West Fenway residents of direct, no-transfer access to Copley Square and Downtown Boston. We would not have been able to secure this change without the ongoing work of Fenway residents, stakeholders, and representatives. Much thanks and gratitude to Mayor Wu, Councilor Bok, Kennedy Avery, Representatives Livingstone, Representative Ryan and Santiago, and Senator Brownsberger for advocating for the needs of the community. We would love to extend special recognition to the MGM Music Hall community engagement process which led to a study on the #55 bus by Fink Consulting (https://tinyurl.com/TBS-fink55busstudy), providing data and action items the MBTA can make. This study helped our efforts to advocate for continued enhanced service to the #55.

Ongoing challenges:

While we have kept our bus and secured an increase of service in the mornings and evenings, the #55 remains on a limited schedule with evening termination of service at 7 PM. The #55 Service Route will continue to terminate service at Copley Square instead of its prior termination at Park Street while the frequency of service will decrease from every 40 minutes to every 50 minutes. Lastly, because the route remains with no extension (to the Longwood Medical Area, for example) its ability to secure increased ridership for long-term stability remains in question.

The Coalition acknowledges that low ridership has historically been the justification for the MBTA’s refusal to restore service to the #55 bus route. However, we believe that the MBTA is not doing enough to advocate for an increase in ridership through messaging and engagement with the Fenway community. The Coalition also desires increased transparency surrounding the implementation of the proposed changes as low ridership can be due to inaccessible service hours. As a result, the Coalition requests a more immediate expansion of the #55’s service hours.

Opportunities ahead:

The MBTA will be hosting a virtual public meeting on November 2nd to discuss their changes to the BNRD and to collect public input. We encourage all residents to attend to thank the MBTA and your elected representatives for listening to the community. We also encourage you to voice your thoughts on the new #55 schedule, route, and frequency of service, and to continue to advocate for the #55 bus to extend service in a manner that builds sustainable ridership across the Fenway and the surrounding community.

Please keep an eye out for an invitation to a community celebration so that we can come together to recognize all the hard work of residents and stakeholders. Finally, we invite those of you who are interested to join the #55 Coalition with its work moving forward. If you are passionate about the #55 and wish to help our efforts, please contact LeoRuiz Sanchez at [email protected].

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