Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 73-year-old Gilli Parker had a 40-minute commute: She took the Route 55 bus from Fenway to Park Street and then the Red Line to MIT, where she is an administrative assistant.
But when the pandemic struck, the MBTA suspended service on the route. Since T restored it in June, it took her an hour to get to work because the route’s schedule changed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the last stop was Park It is on Copley Square instead of Street. , He said.
“Many elderly and disabled people can’t walk the roughly 15-minute walk I have to take to Kenmore Square to catch the Green Line to Park Street and then the Red Line to MIT,” she said. “For those who are working, the new schedule is not feasible at all.”
From 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Parker and other Fenway residents and advocates will rally at bus stops on Jersey and Queensberry Streets to demand that the T55 be returned to its pre-pandemic schedule and route.
“As T has built back service levels, the immediate priority is to restore bus service in areas where there are no other transit options,” Tee spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email. “There are transit options (Green Line, other bus routes) within mile in the areas provided by Route 55.”
As Parker noted, many seniors and people with disabilities are unable to walk that distance. But they are not the only ones who are deprived of the current program and route, said Boston City Councilor Kenji Bock.
“The 55 has always been this great combination of the community bus and the commuter bus,” said Bock, who represents the area. “It’s part of attracting young professionals and their families to the neighborhood, and what’s keeping the elderly here. I can understand[t curtailing service]when city offices were closed during the pandemic. But things are starting to open back up. “
Alex Soczyneck, who is on the board of the Fenway Civic Association, said there are 17 developments in the neighborhood that will bring “thousands” more people to Fenway, and with the current schedule and route of 55 bus, many of them will take cars instead, leading to more It gets jammed.
Pesaturo said that “staff challenges make it difficult to add more service at this time.”
“MBTA is working hard to hire and train bus operators to fill the vacancies created during the public health crisis,” he said. “MBTA will continue to closely monitor commuting trends as it reviews and adjusts bus schedules on a quarterly basis.”
“Although bus ridership numbers are well below pre-pandemic levels,” Pesaturo said, “MBTA continues to offer increased levels of service on routes where demand is highest.”
This has worried Socczyneck, which says that the ridership on the 55 bus will clearly be less than the number of riders on many other routes, given its current 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. schedule.
“It’s almost as if they were setting the 55 up to fail,” he said.