BOSTON—Massachusetts residents took their transportation complaints 'on the record' at last night's MBTA public hearing. Of the eight citizen speakers, five voiced concerns about poor handicap access.

Like Somerville resident, Tom Gilbert , who spoke about his hazards of waiting at the bus stop. According to Gilbert, the buses in his area are unable to pull up to the curb because illegally parked cars block the bus stop. The cars are seldom penalized, if at all, said Gilbert, and the state has done little to prevent it. These illegally parked cars force Gilbert to stand further into the road in order to flag down bus drivers.

Standing on the street rather than safely on the curb is a different experience for Gilbert because he is legally blind. He said that improving the condition of curbside stops is a small change that can improve the overall rider experience.

"When services get better and better for persons with disabilities," said Gilbert, "it should get better for everybody else too." He went on to list illegally parked cars, deteriorating bus stops and filthy trains as a few of the things that may be making mass transportation unappealing for potential customers.

"More people would get out of their cars and use the buses and trains more often if they knew that they weren't going to get on a train that smelt like urine," said Gilbert.

Another speaker, Roxbury resident Robert Palmer, claimed he represented over 100 other residents from his housing complex at 125 Amory Street. The building is managed by the Boston Housing Authority and rented to “low-and-moderate income elderly and disabled persons,” according to the BHA website.

The 48 bus that stops immediately outside of 125 Amory St. is one of the four routes that are will no longer run during the weekdays due to low ridership. In addition, route 48 is the only one that will also have its Saturday trip cut, thus running only on Sundays.

When Palmer spoke at the podium, he held up a stack of petitions with his left hand and forcefully said that the MBTA would be bombarded with complaint calls by every resident at 125 Amory St. if the 48 bus schedule is appended as planned. Palmer went on to explain that the bus is the main source of transportation for him and his neighbors who need it to go to work and grocery shopping.

Due to the nature of the hearing, neither Gilbert‘s nor Palmer’s issues were formally addressed by the MBTA Service Plan members. Instead, both got a chance to talk with the Service Plan Manager Melissa Dullea, and other MBTA employees after the meeting. In an aside interview, however, Dullea mentioned that the issues brought up in last night's meeting will probably not be added to the list of scheduled changes.
"We'll only withdraw proposals," said Dullea, following the meeting. She went on to explain that the process is only a filtering process that her team uses to retract extremely controversial proposals.

While Dullea said that it was still likely that route 48 would be cut, an example of a saved route – the 8:30 p.m. boat from Boston to Hingham, route F2/F2H – was announced at the beginning of the hearing.

“After the completion of [the Service Plan], we’ll be getting back to our interest groups,” said Dullea. “If we are moving forward with a proposal, we’ll get back to them.”

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