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MBTA Makes Cuts to Two Arlington Bus Routes

The MBTA's quarterly schedule changes may not have garnered quite the same attention as the authority's recent proposal, but for some Arlington residents, they hit closer to home.

Arlington’s bus routes may have avoided cuts , that aims to close the authority’s projected $159 million budget gap through a combination of service reductions and eliminations and fare hikes, among other measures.

However, two of the town’s routes, the 78 in particular, were hit by the MBTA’s routine, quarterly schedule changes, which went into effect last Saturday, March 24, with no prior public meetings (the proposal had 31) or .

The MBTA’s 78 bus, which runs through Arlington Heights and stops at Alewife and Harvard Square stations in Cambridge, saw about a 23.6 percent decrease in its number of daily weekday trips as a result of the recent changes. The bus went from having 46 inbound trips on weekdays down to 35 (a 23.9 percent decrease) and from 43 outbound trips down to 33 (a 23.3 percent decrease).

The MBTA’s 87 bus, which goes from Arlington Center (except in the early morning and at night) to Lechmere Station in East Cambridge, via Somerville, lost five outbound trips on weekdays, 50 to 45, a 10 percent decrease, due to the changes. The route’s number of inbound trips on weekdays remained even, although one less trip departs from Arlington Center.

Both routes' Saturday and Sunday schedules remained the same.

[See the attached PDFs to compare the former winter and now current spring schedules]

MBTA spokesman Joseph Pesaturo said the recent quarterly schedule changes are “unrelated” to the MBTA’s projected budget shortfall in fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.

“Minor changes are made to service timetables on a quarterly basis,” he wrote in an email Wednesday. “Such changes are made in an attempt to maximize resources and operate in the most efficient manner possible.”

The MBTA is not required to hold a public meeting on the quarterly schedule changes, unless the changes reflect a 25 percent cut in service to a particular route that quarter.

The MBTA does have a “Customer Support,” or feedback, section on its website. Arlington residents on the Arlington List, where news of the local service cuts first broke, have also been contacting their local legislators on Beacon Hill.

Here is what the recent changes mean for Arlington residents who use the 78 bus to commute into the city:

  • During morning rush hour (approximately 7 to 9 a.m.), the bus now leaves Arlington about once every 25 minutes, compared to about once every 17.3 minutes on average under the old schedule.
  • During evening rush hour (approximately 5 to 6:30 p.m.), the bus now departs from Harvard Square Station, again, about once every 25 minutes. Under the old schedule, the 78 left Harvard about once every 21.3 minutes on average.
  • During off-peak hours (in the middle of the day), the bus now runs about once every 35 minutes in both directions, compared to about once every 30 minutes previously.

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Got a news tip? Email John Waller at johndwaller@gmail.com. Or connect with us via ourTwitter handle (@ArlingtonPatch) or Facebook page.

John Waller March 29, 2012 at 09:00 PM
The 78 and 87 schedules should be fully uploaded shortly.
Jennifer March 30, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Thanks for covering this. Their reduction in rush-hour service resulted in the elimination of the 8:19 inbound bus on the 78 line, which was the bus that allowed people dropping kids of at elementary schools along the route (Peirce, Dallin, Brakett) to get into Harvard Square before the start of most people's regular work day (9 am). There is now no public transportation option in that area that gets me into work on time, which is causing a lot of difficulties for me. Very upset!
Wogga March 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I'd say complain to the MBTA - rush hour routes should be preserved first and foremost. Part of public transit's mission is to cut down on cars on the road during the busiest times!

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