The MBTA unveiled its Bus Network Redesign Proposal yesterday. Among the proposed changes is the elimination of the #4 bus service whose inbound route ran along Commercial Street on weekday mornings - stopping at Hanover and Hull Streets.
The route only saw six buses a day - all in the morning and only on weekdays. The destination for all of the busses was North Station. Paradoxically, the lack of more bus service probably contributed to the decision eliminate all of it. Bus ridership goes up when service is frequent, consistent, and predictable. Gridlock traffic on Commercial Street (to which infrequent bus service is a contributor) leads to unpredictable, inconsistent service.
Ultimately, this led to abysmal ridership on the route with most busses averaging less than one passenger boarding per Commercial Street stop.
The centerpiece of the proposed redesign is a network of 30 high-frequency routes. StreetsBlog Mass has details on the rest of the proposed changes. The MBTA is holding two virtual meetings on the proposal, one whose scope is system-wide, and one which will focus on Boston.
Register for the meetings here:
- System-wide Bus Network Redesign Meeting registration:
- Boston Bus Network Redesign Meeting registration:
Commercial Street first saw public transportation run along it when the Atlantic Avenue Loop of the Boston Elevated Railway Company opened it 1901.
The construction of the Sumner Tunnel in 1934 hurt the ferry services which left from the North End wharfs. This in turn led to declining ridership on the El (which riders used to get to the ferries). The Atlatic Ave portion of the Elevated Railway was shut down in 1938 and dismantled in the 1940s.
There has apparently been at least one other period since 1901 during which Commercial Street had no public transit running down its corridor as this 1979 MBTA Service Map seems to show.
The agency launched an interactive trip comparison service to see how your current usage will change. The best part are the 12-hour tips it suggests to get from the the previous bus stops on Commercial Street to South Station ...via Hull and Hignham.