Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reimagining Public Transit in Worcester - Route 2633

Today we take a look at reimagining the WRTA's existing bus routes Route 26 - Great Brook Valley via Lincoln St. and Route 33 - Downtown Worcester - Spencer/Brookfield via Main. St. - Route 9.

Current Bus Routes 26 and 33 (Purple) Reimagined and Overlaid on the proposed AIRLINE BRT System
The combined Routes 26 and 33 run pretty much along the same routes as they do today. Note that the lines stay on Main St. through downtown and thus do not directly connect to the proposed new hub at Union Station:

Downtown Detail of Proposed Bus Route 2633 (Purple)
Instead, the line crosses the AIRLINE BRT at two key points - Lincoln Square on the north side of downtown and Webster Square south of downtown where riders can change to the AIRLINE to access the hub at Union Station.

Webster Square, with its confluence of a number of major roads, is a natural place for a transit hub. Looking around the square for potential sites for a bus hub, the Cambridge St. Price Chopper parking lot seems like a real nice fit:

Webster Square Detail of Proposed Bus Route 2633 (Purple)
I can't speak for what Price Chopper might think of this proposal, but if I were running a supermarket and you told me you were going to be dropping off and picking up hundreds of passengers a day at my front door, 99.99% of whom regularly shop at supermarkets, my ears would certainly perk up! The most important feature of the Cambridge St. Price Chopper parking lot is the connection to the AIRLINE, the existing CSX ROW (a portion of which would be used for the AIRLINE BRT system) presently abuts the lot on the southeast corner of the property. Vehicle access to the property is already tight at Cambridge St., so I would propose exploring a direct access road connection from the lot to Webster St./Route 12 through a presently undeveloped lot to west of the Price Chopper and then through an undeveloped strip of land that appears to be owned by National Grid. This new entrance would be designated for bus, Price Chopper delivery, bike and pedestrian traffic use only (it seems to me that allowing autos would create more problems then it would solve as it would likely be a too tempting cut through to avoid Webster Square congestion). This connection, together with the existing loop road in place around the parking lot (this is key as it allows buses to avoid having to travel the heavily pedestrian used road directly in front of Price Chopper) sets up nice as a bus hub. Other pluses include potential use of some of the Price Chopper parking lot for bus commuters - the mostly unused spaces furthest (east) from the Price Chopper are adjacent to the proposed bus hub. 

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