The Codcast: Time to talk about buses

We spend a lot of time talking about gondolas and autonomous vehicles, but not enough time talking about buses. Yeah, buses.

report issued this month by the Livable Streets Alliance said the MBTA bus system is being stifled by congestion on Boston streets. It noted congestion along just seven miles of the city’s roadways is causing delays for more than one-fifth of all MBTA bus riders, delays that contributed to an 8 percent drop in bus ridership in 2016.

The report put much of the blame on the city of Boston. “The MBTA may own and operate its bus fleet, but, increasingly, riders are being underserved by streets, traffic signals, and bus stops managed by the city of Boston,” the report said.

On this week’s Codcast, Josh Fairchild of TransitMatters chats with Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager at the Livable Streets Alliance, and Kathryn Carlson, director of transportation for the business-backed group A Better City.

McFarland called the situation a “transit crisis” and said too many riders view buses as unreliable and  inconvenient. There is also a social equity angle to the issue, as statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council indicate black bus riders spend 64 more hours per year on buses than their white counterparts.

Key thoroughfares where congestion is a major problem are Washington Street running between Roslindale and the Forest Hills Orange Line station, Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay and South End, Warren Street in Roxbury, Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury and Mattapan, and Brighton Avenue in Allston.

McFarland said there’s no mystery about the steps that need to be taken to improve bus service, including more dedicated bus lanes. But it’s not getting done. “There is a lot more the city can be doing to prioritize these projects,” McFarland said.

Carlson said she went on a trip to Seattle last year and discovered that bus ridership is going up there because the city has made a commitment to moving buses through traffic faster.

Fairchild remarked on the “aggressive language” the report uses about lack of effort by Boston, which prompted Carlson to say no one is blaming the city. She said the business community and the city are partners in the effort to improve bus service.

“We think this is an amazing leadership opportunity for the mayor,” she said.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gun control advocates prod lawmakers to pass legislation requiring state and municipal pension funds to see off investments in the weapons industry. (Salem News)

A compromise House-Senate criminal justice bill emerges from a conference committee. (State House News) A Globe editorial says the Legislature should enact the bill promptly and Gov. Charlie Baker should sign it.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Quincy officials, facing increasing problems with parking because of construction at T stations and out-of-town commuters, are considering a plan to issue resident-only parking permits for neighborhood streets. (Patriot Ledger)

The perennially cash-strapped city of Fall River has an $8 million “rainy day” fund, up from $500,000 when Mayor Jasiel Correia took office three years ago, thanks in large part to more aggressive efforts to collect delinquent taxes and sell off properties taken in tax titles. (Herald News)

The New England Farm Council prepares to launch a $41 million redevelopment of the Paramount Theatre and the Massasoit building in downtown Springfield. (MassLive)

Citizens cry foul on municipal violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law.(Salem News)

The Fall River Redevelopment Authority is considering selling off the city’s parking garages. (Herald News)

Colette Phillips and Willie Bodrick II offer different takes on the Yawkey Way controversy, with unusual proposed solutions. (CommonWealth)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In her highly anticipated 60 Minutes interview, porn actress Stephanie Clifford, more commonly known as Stormy Daniels, said she was threatened in 2011 by a man she’d never seen before or since to stop talking about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. (New York Times) Joe Fitzgerald says it’s all much ado about something that’s part of lots of presidents’ biographies. (Boston Herald)

President Trump late Friday issued new restrictions on transgender members in the military which could effectively exclude all future transgender enlistees and could require those already active to serve according to their gender at birth. (New York Times)

Two lawyers just announced to represent Trump in the special counsel’s Russia election investigation will not be joining his legal team after all. (Washington Post)

US Rep. Michael Capuano said he voted no on Congress’ $1.3 trillion spending plan because it was 2,200 pages that was put out in such a rush that no one had a chance to read it. (Keller@Large)

A Pennsylvania school district is arming teachers and students with rocks to defend themselves against armed intruders, placing a five-gallon bucket of stones in every classroom. (Associated Press)

Lawrence S. DiCara and Patrick Reynolds, a Democrat and a Republican, side with the kids: ban assault rifles. (CommonWealth) The NRA has helped hold the line against gun control through heavy lobbying to prevent federal research on the public health impact of guns and to prevent disclosure of data on guns sales by dealers. (Boston Globe)

Carol Rose of the ACLU explains why it’s so important that free speech be protected. (CommonWealth)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a Globe op-ed as she heads this week to Asia, lays out the challenges facing US foreign policy there.

ELECTIONS

A Democratic political organization doing research on Beth Lindstrom, one of three Republicans vying for the Senate nomination to take on incumbent Elizabeth Warren, was told last year that it would cost $245,000 to receive all records of communications she was involved in as consumer affairs secretary under Gov. Mitt Romney. (Boston Globe)

Several leading Massachusetts Democrats want their national party to get rid of “superdelegates,” slots at the presidential nominating convention reserved for party poohbahs that became a sore subject during the 2016 race. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The NCAA hockey tournament was an economic boon to Worcester over the weekend. (Telegram & Gazette)

WalletHub ranked the states on dependence on the gun industry. Massachusetts comes in 43d; Idaho ranked No. 1. (Governing) Remington Outdoor, one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the country, filed for bankruptcy amid slumping sales. (New York Times) Yet the Sun-Chronicle reports the Bay State’s gun manufacturers are thriving.

We may have put the Olympics and IndyCar in the rearview mirror, but Boston could vie to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026 if Bob Kraft has his way. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

With the spring schedule set to start for high school sports teams and snow still blanketing fields around the state, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has pushed back the end of the season for all sports to accommodate expected postponements and the need to share practice indoor facilities. (MetroWest Daily News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Cape Ann residents press state officials for guarantees that essential services will remain at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester after a mega hospital merger is approved. (Salem News)

TRANSPORTATION

Ari Ofsevit of TransitMatters says the gondola idea for the Seaport should be shelved because there’s no room for it. (CommonWealth)

Keolis hopes to tap reverse commuters and leisure travelers on the Worcester commuter rail line. (Telegram & Gazette)

Congestion in Boston is getting worse, as evidence by comparison of historic and current schedules for various bus routes that show a dramatic increase in travel time. (Boston Globe)

Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia appear near on an agreement to provide long-term, stable funding for the Metro transit system. (Governing)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Worcester recycling companies are struggling with new Chinese rules on imports of recycled materials. (Telegram & Gazette) CommonWealth reported on the problem back in January.

Mashpee officials and leaders of the Mashpee Wampanoag disagree over whether tribal fishermen are subject to state and local shellfish regulations. (Cape Cod Times)

Renee Loth says we need more than ad hoc planning to deal with climate change and the flooding risks it brings. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Voters in Freetown, who approved the statewide ballot question to legalize marijuana, passed a ban on retail pot in town in a special election Saturday that saw just a 7 percent turnout. (Standard-Times)

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, who voted against the 2016 statewide referendum, said the city could reap “millions of dollars” by allowing the sale of marijuana while surrounding communities institute bans. (The Enterprise)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Raynham police and the Bristol District Attorney successfully convinced a judge to overrule the Secretary of State’s public records office and block the release of a video of a high-speed police chase that ended in a crash and injured six people. The video reportedly included the chief who allegedly took part in the chase using his SUV, but officials have refused to confirm that. The Enterprise, which has been pursuing the tape, was also told by area business officials that police warned them not to show their private surveillance videos to media. (The Enterprise)

Judge Thomas Estes admits “serious misconduct” by having sex with a clinician working at the Pittsfield drug court, and said the error in judgment will likely cost him his marriage, But he doesn’t think it should cost him his job. (Berkshire Eagle) Gov. Charlie Baker supports removing the judge. (MassLive) Howie Carr has a thing or two to say about it all. (Boston Herald)

Payroll records for the division of the problem-plagued State Police that patrols Logan Airport were not filed with the state comptroller for several years, shielding from public view huge overtime earnings by many officers in the unit. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial says the force has become “an embarrassment.”

Convicted murderer Whitey Bulger’s prison commissary ID card was sold last week through an online auction for more than $11,000. (Boston Herald)