T notes: Fairmount pilot likely to make cut

Four demonstration bus projects proposed

THE MBTA IS WINNOWING down the number of pilot projects it plans to launch next year, and a proposal for the Fairmount commuter rail line appears to have made the cut.

The proposal from the city of Boston would add four additional inbound and outbound trips at a total cost of $1.2 million. Officials estimate the new service would increase daily ridership on the line by 430 trips, with most, if not all, of the riders switching from existing bus service. The estimated per passenger subsidy is $21 during peak periods and $27 off-peak.

The Fairmount pilot would also test the use of fare validators at stations between Boston and Readville, allowing passengers with CharlieCards to tap the validator for a proof of payment slip that could be shown to the conductor on board.

A host of other pilot proposals involving ferry, commuter rail, and bus service may not make it across the finish line, but T officials said some of initiatives are likely to be considered as part of other programs.

A presentation to the Fiscal and Management Control Board by Laurel Paget-Seekins, the assistant general manager for policy, said “ferry service should be considered comprehensively as part of a larger regional conversation on governance and operation of ferries.”

Another proposal still being developed would expand service during the evening and on weekends on bus routes that are crowded. The cost of the bus pilot would be $2 million.

Demonstration bus projects

After culling more than 1,000 proposals, the MBTA Better Bus team on Monday outlined four demonstration projects that it wants to pursue.

One would provide new service between Mattapan and Kenmore Square via the Longwood Medical Area. A second would offer more frequent service on dedicated bus lanes on Broadway in Everett and Somerville. A third would offer more frequent service on the 112 bus running from East Boston through Chelsea to Everett. A fourth would run from North Station to South Station and then on through the Seaport District to City Point in South Boston. Officials said this north-south connection would operate only if dedicated bus lanes were provided by the city of Boston.

Officials said the combined cost of all four projects would be $12 million, split between operations ($8.5 million) and capital spending ($3.5 million).

Members of the control board made no commitment to push ahead with any of the projects.

Additional hybrid buses purchased

The Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a contract on Monday to buy an additional 60 diesel-electric hybrid buses from New Flyer Industries at a cost of $50.2 million.

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Bruce Mohl

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About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The buses would be identical to the 194 hybrids currently being delivered. Some advocates said it was time for the T to shift to electric buses, but members of the control board pushed ahead with the hybrid procurement because it could be executed quickly and relatively cheaply with no need for a complicated new procurement process. Delivery of the buses is expected to be completed by November 2020.

The addition of the new buses is expected to boost peak bus service by about 5 percent.