Opinion

T bus route changes hardly token

Passengers board a bus at Central Square station in Lynn. (Spenser R. Hasak)

We strongly urge MBTA bus riders to attend Thursday’s 6 p.m. public hearing at North Shore Community College focused on updates and modernizations to 63 bus routes, including ones serving Lynn, Saugus, Swampscott, and Marblehead.

Billed as part of the agency’s Better Bus Project, the proposed changes impose a walk to bus stops for some riders and changes in final stops on routes for other rides.

The route changes, according to MBTA Assistant General Manager Wes Edwards, are to ” …improve the reliability and frequency of our bus service.”

Those are important objectives that, at a glance, are sure to be embraced by people who depend on bus service in all weather, at all times of the day and night, to get to jobs and other destinations.

The MBTA has shown a demonstrable commitment in the last several years to understand and appreciate that its transit and bus passengers are also its customers.

In business, at least, the customer always has the last word and that credo underscores the importance of riders converging on the 300 Broad St. college campus to hear detailed explanations of the route changes from MBTA officials and voice their views on the changes.

Those changes include a proposed shift in the pickup location for the 435 bus serving Lynn from Pine Hill to Euclid Avenue. The MBTA has a plan to reduce wait times for the 435 by 10 minutes. But the changes mean a half-mile walk for some riders and a reduction in service for others.

The MBTA wants to change the final stop for the 459 bus from Downtown Crossing to Wonderland station under a plan to double trips on the 455 route.

Under another change, all 424 bus service would end at Wonderland — not just the morning trips.

The MBTA is also looking at eliminating the 448 and 449 buses traveling from Marblehead through Swampscott and Lynn to Wonderland and into Boston. Service on the 441 and 442 buses would be increased.

Service to Saugus’ Cliftondale Square and the Iron Works on the 430 bus would be eliminated, with the 426, 428 and 429 continuing to service Cliftondale Square.

Improved efficiency and delay reduction are some of the goals behind the route proposals. City and town officials’ reactions to the proposals range from guarded to disappointed and now it’s time to hear from bus riders.

They are the MBTA’s customers and they deserve detailed answers to tough questions on Thursday night.

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