The One-Way Broadway, which includes one lane of vehicular traffic and a shared bus and bike lane on Broadway between Fifth Street and Everett Avenue, will continue for now.
Prior to the City Council’s summer recess, Council President Roy Avellaneda introduced two competing orders – one to end One-Way Broadway and one to make the changes permanent – as a way to further discussion and have the council make a decision on the program.
Monday night, the council held a subcommittee meeting to discuss the program with City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and Housing and Community Development Director Alex Train.
During the regular council meeting, the council put both motions on the table. According to Avellandeda, if the council wants to make One-Way Broadway permanent at a future date, a councilor can ask to have it taken off the table for a vote.
During the public speaking portion of Monday’s meeting, the majority of residents who addressed the council spoke in favor of continuing the bus/bike lane and one lane of vehicular traffic along the stretch of Broadway.
“Living in this community, I have seen a lot of change over the last 10 years, and I had a lot of doubts when the bike lane was put in … as someone who does not use a bicycle or ride the buses,” said Marnie MacAlpine. “But I can tell you that it has actually eased the congestion downton. I drive through downtown now without a problem, and before, it was constant gridlock from all of the double parked cars.”
With the bus lane, drivers can now more easily maneuver around double parked cars and drivers can pull onto Broadway more safely, said MacAlpine.
“Anyone who says that bus lane causes congestion, I can tell you they do not regularly drive down Broadway,” she added.
Jacqueline Fuentes said she takes the 111 bus to work, and since the bus lane was put in, she gets to work on time every day.
Fuentes said she took the 117 bus to City Hall Monday night, and she asked the driver what he thought of the bus lane on Broadway.
“He said, ‘I think it is very important, a lot of the community, they don’t have time, they have to get somewhere,’” Fuentes said. “They take that bus just to get to Boston, and then take another bus, and then take a train, and maybe take a taxi, just to get to where they need to be.”
Sara Arman has a Master’s in urban planning, and she said over the past few years she has studied transportation and urban housing and community development.
“I know some people are talking about their personal experiences with the buses and why it is important, and I value that, but there are also two main reasons why a bus lane is important in a community like Chelsea,” said Arman. “The first one is that it helps standardize your commute time, so you know what time you will be able to get to work, you can coordinate your class schedule, childcare for your kids, it helps to standardize that even if it’s not reducing the time.”
The second reason why a bus lane is important is because it helps with business development.
“Broadway is a really important business corridor in Chelsea,” Arman said. “Having a bus lane allows people to get on and off the bus a lot more easily, and they are walking up and down Broadway more easily and spending money at the local businesses.”
School Committee member Roberto Jimenez-Rivera also said he supported extending the bus lane on Broadway.
“Over the past five months, I have spoken to so many people in our city, and public transit is one of those issues that regularly came up, especially after the fire on the Orange Line and the subsequent shutdown of that line,” he said. “Many of the people in our city don’t have the luxury of owning a car, and many others may have a car, but are unable to afford parking in Boston so they rely on our buses to get to work, to doctor’s appointments, and to anywhere else they might need. In a world that is so car-centric, it has been a breath of fresh air to see the city commit to put our bus riders at the same level of priority as our drivers.”
Not everyone spoke in favor of the bus lane. One Congress Street resident said he has to go in and out of Boston several times a day for business and that the bus lane slows down vehicle traffic.