Do you love or hate your commute?
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s advisory board wants to know.
The independent panel recently completed a beta testing round for a website that asks riders for regular feedback on their experiences aboard the system’s subways, buses, boats, and trains.
Paul Regan, the advisory board’s executive director, said he looks forward to analyzing the data, which will provide a sense of the average travel time for riders and their overall experience on the oft-maligned T. The website asked users to complete about two weeks of feedback, but Regan said many participants continued logging in even after that time elapsed.
“We wanted to capture the experience of a typical user,” he said. “Did they wait a long time? Was their experience a pleasant one? Did they feel safe?”
The board’s “Transit Diary” program, which cost about $50,000 to develop, received feedback from 1,022 people, Regan said.
The advisory board hopes to launch the website on Jan. 20.
Regan said the advisory panel, which has a representative from each of the T’s member communities, wants to capture a larger demographic of riders. Those who completed the beta testing round weren’t too diverse: about 80 percent were white, and nearly 70 percent used the Red Line at least once.
The results of the beta test, which went from Sept. 16 to Dec. 21, showed crowding was a major issue. Out of 7,504 trips, users reported a crowded vehicle 45 percent of the time.
The service fared better in terms of system cleanliness: Users felt the stations smelled slightly bad to really bad only about 8 percent of the time, and reported that the stations smelled great about 1 percent of the time.
Regan said the advisory board would like to release the data monthly, but the timetable is uncertain.
“I think the raw data is going to show some real recommendations about how people should be funding the T and what the priorities of the T should be,” he said.
Advocates push for cycle track on Summer Street
Bicyclists are pushing the city to commit to a cycle track, a travel lane with a physical separation between bike and car traffic, on a stretch of Summer Street in the South Boston Waterfront.
The nonprofit A Better City is leading the effort to develop recommendations for infrastructure improvements in the fast-developing area. The group’s South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan is slated to be released this month.
When cycling advocates attended a public meeting on the evolving plan last month, they noticed a change from previous drafts: A stretch of Summer Street had previously been marked as a cycle track, but officials said they were also considering other types of bike lanes as an option.
At the meeting, bikers loudly called for the committee to recommend a cycle track, considered the “gold standard” of bike lanes, for the street, since so many find the area intimidating for cyclists.
Mike Blackwell, an avid cyclist who works at Fort Point-based Digital Lumens Inc., said that having well-designed bike facilities is crucial to recruiting the kinds of workers who could help the Innovation District flourish.
“It’s a shame that the Seaport, which is trying to be the next forefront of innovation, is maybe lagging behind on that,” he said. “It should be the other way around.”
Officials have been quick to say the cycle track isn’t off the table. Terence Burke, a spokesman for A Better City, said the steering committee wants to recommend some sort of bike infrastructure on Summer Street, but what form it will take is still being determined.
“Everything is being considered,” he said. “They’re looking at the best possible solution.”
He also noted that the transportation plan is simply a recommendation, and the final say ultimately lies with the city.
Tracey Ganiatsos, spokeswoman for the city’s Transportation Department, said one area will definitely have a cycle track: the stretch of Summer Street between the Fort Point Channel and West Service Road.
But for the part of Summer Street that extends past West Service Road, the debate will continue. “This piece will need to be designed under its own public process, and a continuation of the bike track in this section remains a viable option,” she said.