Cambridge Committee Looks to Improve Public Transit with Focus on Kendall

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Kynthia's picture

The Cambridge Transit Advisory Committee met Wednesday, Dec. 7 for a meeting to further discuss how Cambridge can make local public transit more accessible and efficient, with a special focus on the Kendall Square Transit Enhancement Program (KSTEP).

The Transit Advisory Committee, established in 2013, “guides Cambridge city positions and policies regarding long term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth, transit expansion, service planning for modification or expansion of bus routes, and service reliability and improvements including ways to better design our street network to prioritize bus transit,” according to the City of Cambridge’s website. This includes advising on bus shelter locations and queue jump placements for buses.

“There is no direct relationship to MassDOT and the MBTA as the Transit Advisory Committee is appointed by and advises the City Manager,” states Tegin Teich Bennett, Transportation Planner of the Cambridge Community Development Department. “However, representatives from the MBTA and MassDOT often attend the meetings to present, answer questions, and stay up to date on what the Transit Advisory Committee members are discussing.”

Meetings are monthly and attended by members who work and live in Cambridge, providing firsthand knowledge of the ongoing issues public transit has in Cambridge and viable suggestions for improvement.

Jason Zogg, Program Manager of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA), presented KSTEP as well as streetscape redesigns from CRA, outlining key elements to improving transit in the Kendall Square area. “The idea here is that instead of having the developer hire a consulting team and go through the a very lengthy process of working with multiple city departments in order to develop a complete streetscape design, the city takes on the leadership of redesigning an entire corridor of streetscape, and brings that all the way up to twenty-five percent construction drawings, has the complete buy-in and approval of all the city departments [...], and is able to, as development happens in this corridor, as it will be rapidly happening in the next 5-10 years, every time a development project comes up, we can very easily hand 25% of construction drawings to a developer [...]," Zogg explained.

The project will examine the current traffic (pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle) patterns to optimize safety and efficiency in Kendall. “We have looked at pedestrian-bicycles lanes in the area, done a summary of traffic ..., [and an] analysis of bus frequency and passenger loads [...],” stated Zogg. Project contributors are also discussing turning multi-lane traffic areas into single lanes, rerouting buses, and keeping trees in the square during redesign, according to Zogg.

"Other things that we are certainly looking at doing are whether priority signals could make sense. Queue jumps at certain intersections can certainly make a lot of sense,” Zogg added. “We are really are kind of trying to focus on technology solutions, and solutions we can have at intersections specifically."

The Transit Advisory Committee also presented the new real-time display in Porter Square. “We're working with Soofa, [a smart urban furniture company] to pilot a real-time display in Porter Square, which will be pretty much exactly the same as the one that's in Kendall,” Bennett stated.

For more information on KSTEP and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, visit http://www.cambridgeredevelopment.org/kendall-square-1/.