SAUGUS — The town is encouraging residents affected by the proposed MBTA bus route changes to send the agency feedback in the next two weeks.
“They believe in the changes because they say there’s a three-minute shorter wait time for 96 percent of the riders between Saugus Center and Malden and a six-minute shorter travel time between Saugus Center and the Square One Mall, but the tradeoffs are that people in Cliftondale have to wait longer, there’s an 11-minute walk time for people going to Main Street, Essex Street, and Central Street, and they’re not going to be providing service anymore to the Iron Works,” said Debra Panetta, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen.
Panetta said she opposes any elimination of bus service because of the expenses and traffic associated with driving to Boston.
“We, certainly, especially in today’s time, don’t want to be eliminating bus routes,” said Panetta. “So I think it’s important that if (residents) are going to be impacted by this change, that (they) write to the MBTA.”
The agency has proposed changes to more than five dozen bus routes that promise to increase regularity and improve dependability.
Dubbed the Better Bus Project, the T has outlined 47 no-cost proposals to update and modernize 63 bus routes, including many on the North Shore.
It’s been a decade since the transit agency initiated major changes to its service plan. In the last few years, T management has shown a renewed interest in how to better move bus passengers.
The most significant change to Saugus would be the elimination of service to Cliftondale Square and Saugus Iron Works from the 430 bus. Rather than looping from Vine Street to Central Street, onto Essex Street and back to Vine Street, the bus would travel from Vine Street to Main Street. This should result in a three-minute shorter wait time for 96 percent of riders.
The 429, 428, and 426 bus routes will still service Cliftondale Square, with 426 making the most frequent stops about every 30 minutes, said Melissa Dullea, the senior director of service planning for the MBTA.
Mike Serino, the MBTA representative for the town, said in a letter to the agency that “considering the fact that there are no other bus routes in Saugus which provide service to Malden Station, I would be against the elimination of Main Street, Central Street, Cliftondale Square, and Essex Street routes for riders who travel on this bus route.
“Having served as the MBTA representative for the town of Saugus for 20 years, I honestly do not believe that the three- to five-minute shorter wait time, according to your proposal for riders between Saugus Center and Malden Station, is worth the inconvenience for the 81 riders who currently take the 430 bus in the town of Saugus,” wrote Serino.
The proposals can be found at mbta.com/betterbus. They include a description of each proposed change by route number, a map of the change, and the data supporting the change along with the tradeoffs.