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MBTA trying to spruce up ‘sorry’ bus stops

After this stop in Allston made it to the “Final Four” in a cheeky nationwide competition for “sorriest bus stop,” the T is reminding riders that upgrades are on the way for many of the worst spots. Officials have already fixed the sign seen here. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Officials from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority knew long before the agency was cast into the spotlight in a contest for the “sorriest bus stop” in the country that some of its locations to grab a ride were subpar.

But after the MBTA’s 64 bus stop in Allston made it to the “Final Four” in the cheeky competition hosted by StreetsBlog USA, an online transit publication, this month, they’re reminding riders that upgrades are on the way for many of the worst spots.

“We’re aware that there are a lot of barriers to being able to use some of our bus stops for a number of our customers, including seniors, people with disabilities, and others,” said Laura Brelsford, the T’s assistant general manager for system-wide accessibility. “We have made a choice to go in and make some ... upgrades because we realize that these issues really deter our customers from using our service.”

Brelsford said in a telephone interview that the T is using a $1 million federal grant toward improving crosswalk access to, widening sidewalks at, and in some cases removing literal concrete barriers from 50 stops, a process that began a year ago.


The T recently audited 150 bus stops in the MBTA service area, which is mainly the Greater Boston area, as part of the Bus Stop Accessibility Improvements project. They then identified the 50 within that area that “contained really significant” obstacles for riders, Brelsford said.

“What we are doing now is, we’re looking at those 50 stops and coming up with design solutions for them,” she added.

The project is currently at the 30 percent design stage, said Erik Scheier, project manager in the MBTA’s design and construction department.

He said the transit agency is working with municipalities, which in most cases own the sidewalks and parcels where the T’s bus stops stand, to get their comments on the project proposals. From there, they plan to finalize the designs in the fall, and then hire a contractor by winter. Transportation officials hope to get the improvements underway, simultaneously, by next spring.


“We would set up milestones [for the project] so that they would complete all the work by next year,” Scheier said.

The bus stop knocked out of StreetsBlog’s contest earlier this month is not on the project list, but Scheier said the T is looking into maybe moving the bus stop off of the desolate island where it’s currently located, to make it easier to get to.

“But it has very low passenger boarding, when we look at our overall system,” he said, adding that the T has about 8,000 bus stops systemwide. He said the T is prioritizing some of the busiest stops as part of the project.

The improvements represent a small part of a larger initiative being spearheaded by the transit agency to overhaul bus stop accessibility. The T plans to conduct a survey of all 8,000 stops across the system in the coming months, and use $6 million set aside in the Capital Improvement Plan to fix those that need it most.

“It’s part of a major MBTA effort for accessible transit infrastructure,” said Brelsford. “In the coming years, we will see some major improvements to our MBTA bus stops.”

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.