Stoneham workers depend on the T to get to work and they want more choices in how to commute using the bus and connecting to subway stations. The Stoneham Transportation Advisory Committee released findings of a survey conducted this past winter of 227 people from Stoneham and nearby communities. The report finds that most MBTA riders are using the MBTA to get to work Monday through Friday. “The majority of the survey respondents are middle aged full-time employed workers who have a choice about whether to ride or drive,” reports Chris Willard, a T rider himself who originated the survey. They want expanded hours and for buses to circulate more frequently on the existing 132 MBTA bus route. They also want more bus routes in Stoneham and for these routes to connect to Orange Line subway service at Oak Grove and Malden Station.
For those people who do not currently ride the T but want to, traveling to surrounding communities was the top concern. The new data supports what Stoneham Senior Center Director, Maureen Canova, has long observed. “There is a great unmet need for our seniors to get to medical appointments and run basic errands in the Stoneham and nearby communities. As we increasingly see a desire for baby boomers and their parents to want to age in place, more bus service will make this a safe and affordable choice that supports retirees and their families.”
Stoneham saw a major improvement in MBTA service this spring with the 132 bus now running from 6am until 11:30pm. In the past, the bus stopped running at 7pm, leaving many Stoneham employees and customers in the lurch. Says Weylin Symes, Producing Artistic Director of Stoneham Theatre, “We’re running shows for 30 weeks out of the year. The lack of bus choices has meant that we’ve had a challenging time recruiting professional actors and production staff. Worse, before the schedule expansion, our patrons could get to our shows, but they couldn’t get home after them.”
For the past several decades, Stoneham has been limited to a single bus line despite paying the same fees to the MBTA as neighboring towns. In recent years, the town has seen a resurgence of interest in expanded public transportation choice. This spring saw the introduction of 325 Express Bus service to Haymarket Station in Boston by way of a 7:05am pick up and a 5:20pm drop off at Redstone Plaza. On Stoneham’s horizon is the proposed addition of an MBTA bus stop at the Stone Zoo, connecting more patrons to this regional destination. The Town of Stoneham’s five year plan for the Stoneham Square recommends supporting transportation infrastructure to improve the way that the town serves residents, visitors and businesses.
The full survey report, “Stoneham Workers Rely on MBTA Service,” is available at the Stoneham Senior Center, StonehamBank, Stoneham Public Library and online at here at www.ExploreStoneham.com.
Stoneham Transportation Advisory Committee is a volunteer initiative that advocates for greater mobility and public transportation choices for people who live, work and visit Stoneham. If you would like more information about this topic, please contact STAC at 781-832-0195 or email at StonehamTAC@gmail.com.