It’s finally happening.
The MBTA has scheduled the opening of the completed Green Line Extension through Somerville and Medford for the start of service on Monday, Dec. 12.
“I’ll see you all at 4:45 a.m.,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak jokingly told the Board of Directors at its meeting Thursday, when he announced the completion of the $2.3 billion project and the opening of five new stations between Lechmere in Cambridge and Tufts University in Medford.
Decades in the planning stage and years in the construction stage, the project will culminate with a rapid transit option for the more than 130,000 residents of the Somerville and Medford communities.
Good news for transit users
It’s good news for commuters and for all residents who regularly rely on public transportation to get to work, school, shopping, medical appointments and even entertainment venues.
At the same meeting, the MBTA board voted to accept the Better Bus Project, a five-year, $9.6 billion project that was presented to the public in May.
Legislators, including state representatives and local mayors like Boston’s Michelle Wu, told the board in the public comment period that they hoped the plan would evolve further as communities changed and developed.
Rep. Michael Connolly, D-Cambridge, also urged the MBTA not to make assumptions about the impact of the Green Line Extension and how it will affect travel on area bus networks.
“I believe the ‘T’ should give us all the benefit of time to gather data and learn from new travel patterns relative to the service before considering any cuts or reductions to our local service,” Connolly said in a written statement presented to his constituents and the board.
Public comments prompted changes in the initial plan
The bus plan has changed considerably from its first iteration in May to the one presented to the public this month, based on public comment and feedback from transit users, legislators and advocates. Project supervisors read through some 20,000 comments in the six-month outreach period that preceded the Thursday meeting.
There were no additional changes made based on new comments from the two virtual public meetings the MBTA held this month.
Poftak, who has submitted his resignation effective Jan. 3, assured the Board, legislators and the public, that the agency will continue to accept and review public feedback.
Next step: equity review of the project Dec. 8
In presenting the plan, project manager Doug Johnson said the bus network redesign will increase overall service by 25%, double to 30 the number of high-frequency routes (meaning a bus every 15 minutes of better) as well as increase service on off-peak and weekend hours.
The redesign will increase service to Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Revere, Lynn, Waltham, and parts of Quincy, Roxbury and Dorchester. It will serve an additional 40,000 low-income households, and some 150,000 users who identify people as of color.
Next for the agency, is a virtual equity review scheduled for Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
Read More: MBTA Better Bus project approved; Green Line Extension opening set