Several months after rallying for restoration of the 55 bus after it was suspended, Fenway residents, organizations, and businesses are calling for complete restoration of service on the bus line, which has been running on a summer schedule since the spring.
The first rally was held on June 27 at the Jersey and Queensberry St. bus stop, where residents and organizations gathered with signs to express their desire for the service to return, as well as to extend the bus route to Park Street from Copley Station, where it currently terminates.
“As a matter of transit equity, we demand that the MBTA restore the 55 bus to full service and extend its route to Park Street. Many Fenway elders rely on the 55 for grocery shopping, appointments, and other activities; and without the 55 route, there is a gap in public transit for residents who rely on it the most,” the Fenway CDC said in a press release.
Cassie White, a Community Organizer with the Fenway CDC, told the Sun that “this is a really key issue for Fenway CDC because it’s a key issue for the community.”
She said that a lot of older residents have expressed their concern for the lack of bus service, because it’s the only way they can travel around the neighborhood and the city. She said for “folks who have mobility challenges” and “folks who are low income,” not having the 55 bus is detrimental to the neighborhood’s equitable access to public transit.
She said that the funds received from the federal government for COVID relief should be helping to “restore service to pre-pandemic levels. To receive that amount of money and not be able to restore the 55 bus…feels very unfair and it isn’t serving the community in the way it needs to.”
Additionally, with the continually increasing amount of construction going on in the neighborhood, public transit is especially necessary, White said. She said that with new housing and office/lab space going up, more people are working in and moving to the neighborhood.
“In some of the development proposals,” she said, “they talk about reliance on the 55 bus. Even developers recognize the importance of the bus route.”
Marie Fukuda of the Fenway Civic Association told the Sun in an email that “…we’re happy to join neighbors and organizations in advocating for fair service for the Fenway and that we’ll continue working towards the return of bus routing and scheduling with our community.”
She continued, “for a neighborhood of over 40,000 people that faces ongoing barriers to use of available transit (e.g. pressure from ballpark traffic and other events), having a local bus service that is reliable and that connects seniors and other vulnerable populations to the downtown is vital.
“With more than 2 million s.f. of development that recently included the #55 in its traffic planning and another 2 million s.f. with the recent Fenway Park/WS project proposal combined with residents who will be returning to offices in the fall, the need to provide sustained and sufficient service is more important than ever. We want fair treatment from the MBTA and hope our representatives will advocate along with us.”
White also thanked those who were a part of organizing the rally, including Councilor Kenzie Bok, Operation PEACE, the Peterborough Senior Center, and the Fenway Civic Association, along with the Fenway CDC Organizing Committee.
“We’re just really happy to be part of this community effort to make sure the 55 is fully restored,” she said.