What we lack is vision, not funding or technology
Shirley Leung makes many valid points in her front-page commentary about Seaport District transportation (“In Seaport, a bus beats a gondola,” Nov. 1). However, I doubt that any shuttle bus system will relieve today’s persistent traffic tie-ups around the Seaport, let along accommodate a projected 26,000 additional workers by 2025. We need more ambitious solutions, including, among other things, converting the Silver Line to a rail system and utilizing abandoned Track 61 by the Convention Center for commuter travel. The latter should be less costly, less disruptive, and faster to implement.
Political leadership put a man on the moon in eight years and built the challenging Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam in five years. In our current transportation crisis, can we not repurpose Track 61 for Seaport commuters within two years? We lack neither funding nor technology, but rather a clear vision of what Boston is: a global brainpower magnet in tech, science, medicine, and education. Surely we will surrender that mantle by continuing to fumble the ball with mass transit improvements. Brains are very mobile.
The writer is president of the real estate company Global Office Link.
We’re going to need a bigger bus
Shirley Leung’s commentary about the proposed network of small buses circulating through the Seaport District and the scrapping of a proposal for a gondola leaves me questioning whether we are really serious about improving mass transit in the Seaport and Boston in general. Or are we just going to take whatever doesn’t cost anything?
Gondolas on the waterfront on a day with 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts would cause motion sickness, if they ran at all in such conditions. I estimate that the proposed minibuses could transport about 150 people per hour from South Station. That would hardly make a dent in the congestion in the Seaport. By simple math, the proposed private bus could only transport 600 people from South Station into the Seaport over a long morning rush hour.
What should be done is to have the MBTA run another bus route from South Station to augment the Number 7 bus. This new route would service only the Fort Point Channel and Seaport areas, and use the large articulated buses with 120-rider capacity. These could greatly alleviate the crowded Silver Line and, by attracting more riders, could ease traffic congestion.
Furthermore, transfer from subway to bus would be free, which is the current practice on the MBTA system using Charlie Cards. Certainly there would be a cost for the MBTA to add another bus route, but the Seaport is starving for decent, plentiful transit, as is the rest of the metropolitan area.
The writer is a professor of civil engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Instead of nodding to the well-off, invest in areas that are really struggling
There’s a clever new transit plan cooked up by the private sector for the state Transportation Department to pay for free supplemental busing in the Seaport District. And this is necessary because? The Silver Line’s SL1, SL2, and SL3 all run about every 10 minutes from South Station, serving a neighborhood where studio apartments go for over $3,000 per month. Do we really need additional busing so that yuppies can go to Sweetgreen?
Folks from East Boston and South Boston will still use the Silver Line. The people who will use these proposed buses are those working or living in the Seaport, and they don’t need taxpayer dollars to get around.
Why not put these funds toward supplementing parts of our transportation system that are actually struggling? The 93 bus to Sullivan Square is full after making two stops in rush hour. The 112 to Wellington runs only every 40 minutes. The 108 runs on schedule only half the time.
So why does Boston’s so-called hottest, fastest-growing real estate market deserve public funding for supplemental buses, while working-class commuters wait for hours every week? Because the city’s local businesses are flush enough to say so.