The Codcast: Bus lane: Everett just did it

Everett wanted to launch a dedicated bus lane, so Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. just did it in December 2016. No community meetings or endless analysis. DeMaria gave residents four days notice that the parking lane on a 1.5-mile stretch of Broadway was going to be eliminated during the early morning hours and then put up orange cones.

Jay Monty, the city’s transportation planner, said everyone expected complaints. But bus riders and drivers alike said the dedicated bus lane improved their commute, so the one-week experiment turned into two weeks and then three weeks and it eventually became permanent in 2017.

“It was a lot easier than we thought,” Monty told Josh Fairchild and Jim Aloisi of TransitMatters on the Codcast.

Monty said it would have taken a lot longer in a community like Cambridge or Somerville. “I think Everett was coming from a different place,” he said. “Folks were a little more open to change, a little more willing to take a risk.”

The loss of parking turned out to be a non-event. Monty said Everett has about 600 to 700 public and private parking spots downtown, and the dedicated bus lane cost only only a small fraction of those spots. Monty said the challenge is to alert drivers that there is plenty of parking off the main drag. “On-street parking from a capacity standpoint is insignificant,” he said.

Everett followed up the dedicated bus lane last year with two other improvements, traffic signal priority for the buses at intersections and something called level boarding — raising the sidewalk level using modular blocks so passengers with strollers or in wheelchairs could board buses as they would a subway.

Monty said the level boarding experiment has been hindered by the fact that MBTA buses vary in height. “It’s been a little challenging, but [the test] demonstrated the point very well,” he said.

All of the experimentation so far has been on the morning inbound commute to Boston, and now Everett is starting to think about doing the same for the evening northbound return. But this time the city is moving more cautiously.

“The mayor is very interested in doing this wherever we can do it,” Monty said. “I don’t think we’ll roll it out quite as quickly as we did with the first one, and that’s more out of respect to our residents and businesses. We know the first time around we took a risk. We did it hard and fast. But we did it right, I think, and we got folks at least on board with the concept. We proved the concept. Folks are more open to expansion and with that [word unclear] trust we want to be respectful and do a little more work on the parking. In the afternoon, parking utilization is a little higher.”

Don’t expect a long wait, Monty says. “We’re not going to do it in some drawn-out, multi-year fashion, but I think we are going to make sure we study the issues brought up by our residents and make some effort to resolve them before we move forward.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Springfield Republican’s Shira Schoenberg reports, based on email exchanges obtained through a public records request, on the uncertainty over cost estimates that plagued House and Senate negotiators as they tried, but failed, to reach agreement on an update to the state’s education funding formula as the formal legislative session expired at the end of July. (The Republican)

The Lottery sold $5.29 billion in tickets during the last fiscal year and returned $997 million to cities and towns. (Gloucester Times)

A Salem News editorial calls for an overhaul of the state’s Public Records Law to bring the governor’s office and the Legislature under its purview.

A Globe editorial urges the Legislature to pass a tax on short-term home rentals during the informal session and not wait until January, decrying the fact that lawmakers are leaving on the table millions of dollars in revenue for the state while they argue over small details in the bill.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Joe Hamrock, the CEO of the parent company of Columbia Gas, apologized to Merrimack Valley residents for the explosions and fires and said the company would replace all the gas pipes in the area before turning the gas back on. (Eagle-Tribune) That will mean weeks without hot water and cooking gas for those in the affected area. (Boston Globe)

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch sits down with CommonWealth to talk about how the city is rapidly changing — with the help of the Red Line and some new green space. (CommonWealth) An added bonus: a new video about the Quincy transformation CommonWealth is calling The Reel Deal.

Carter Wilkie reviews the book Our Towns, by James and Deborah Fallows, which looks at the comeback efforts of nearly three dozen smaller cities across the country whose stories are akin to Massachusetts Gateway Cities. (CommonWealth)

Worcester is throwing a party today at 5 p.m., complete with closed-off streets and Red Sox legends, to celebrate the Worcester Red Sox coming to town. (Telegram & Gazette)

A new report on Brewster’s financial woes, which have plagued the town for nearly a year, found basic accounting procedures were ignored and cost controls that would have signaled overspending in departments were turned off by the town’s finance director. (Cape Cod Times)

More than 20 families were left homeless in Middleton after police shut down a series of illegal apartments owned by the same owner. (Salem News) More than 120 people were left homeless after a massive fire at a Revere apartment building. (Daily Item)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The woman who wrote the confidential letter claiming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a friend sexually assaulted her in high school has come forward and given her account on the record, saying the attack has traumatized her for decades. (Washington Post) GOP leaders are still planning on holding a Senate committee vote this week to move the nomination forward but several Republican senators have opened the door for a delay, saying they want more information. (New York Times) A Herald editorial on Saturday, the day before the woman came forward publicly, called the issue “a new low” by Democrats and “an attempt to smear a man who had an impeccable reputation in high school.”

ELECTIONS

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez rally Dems in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)

Chris Lovett of the Boston Neighborhood Network examines Boston’s change election. (CommonWealth)

No matter who prevails in the Third Congressional District recount, he or she will win with about 20 percent of the vote, which is prompting many to push for ranked-choice voting. (Associated Press)

Rick Green, the GOP candidate for the Third Congressional District and founder of the conservative Mass Fiscal Alliance, says his main goal is repairing the state’s infrastructure but he said he wouldn’t support raising taxes to do it. (Keller@Large)

The powerful trio of Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo may have been outspoken in opposing the legalization of marijuana, but they’ve all now taken campaign contributions from the weed industry. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Veteran business executive Jack Stoddard has been hired as COO of the new health care venture launched by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase. (STAT)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George and teacher Michael Maguire say e-cigarettes are a big threat to teenagers. (CommonWealth)

The Globe rolls out a series on the largely unregulated world of home health aides, starting with this piece on Sunday on how vulnerable clients are to theft and worse, and today’s installment on how difficult the job is for the many honest, hard-working health aides, many of whom in Boston region hail from Ghana.

A new study claims low-dose aspirin has no benefits for healthy older adults and could increase the risk of bleeding in the digestive tract and brain. (Washington Post)

Tufts professor James Jennings says Gov. Charlie Baker and his challenger Jay Gonzalez should go on record in opposition to the health care duopoly envisioned by the mega merger of Beth Israel Deaconess and Lahey Health. (CommonWealth)

A Needham-based nonprofit is set to launch a state-funded needle exchange program in Framingham, the first one for drug users in the MetroWest area. (MetroWest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

The cost to repair the MBTA’s Alewife garage is likely to rise to more than $30 million. (WCVB)

What is the MBTA’s Chelsea Plan and why are so many people saying it isn’t working? (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A 26-year-old Revere man was attacked and killed by a shark while boogie boarding off a Wellfleet beach, the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936 and only the fourth recorded attack in the state’s history. (Cape Cod Times) The man’s aunt said she begged him not to go out in the Cape’s waters because of the shark danger. (Boston Herald) Officials are grappling with what to do to address the growing shark danger, but easy answers are not evident. (Boston Herald)

The Sierra Club fires back on Quebec hydro. (CommonWealth)

A hotel guest in Braintree was bitten by a venomous copperhead snake, the second snake encounter in the area bordering Blue Hill Reservation in the last two weeks. (Patriot Ledger)

RELIGION

The longtime director of youth and family ministries at a Catholic church in Winchester, St. Mary’s, has been put on leave and may lose his job. Church officials aren’t saying why, but his lawyer and supporters at the church say it’s because he raised questions about an investigation of money disappearing from the church collection plate. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Fairhaven selectmen gave their support to a planning board proposal to allow as many as three retail marijuana stores and turned down a push by some residents to put a referendum to ban adult use sales before voters. (Standard-Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Haverhill man is due in court today to answer to a charge of indecent assault in connection with an alleged assault at yesterday’s Red Sox game on a female elevator operator at Fenway Park. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Beat The Press panel wonders why the Boston Herald does not put a disclaimer on Howie Carr’s columns that he has been raising money for Republican Senate candidate Geoff Diehl while writing about the race against US Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Mark Benioff, CEO and co-founder of software company SalesForce, and his wife Lynne Benioff are the latest billionaires to enter the media industry, purchasing Time magazine for $190 million. (Wall Street Journal)