It has often been said that many in Everett don’t even yet know the gifts that the Encore Boston Harbor development will deliver.
That is exactly the case with the community shuttle that was required for them to institute and for which will be starting service next spring. As part of the licensing process, Encore was required to put together a shuttle service that would augment the existing transit system.
That program, with reported ultra-luxury and free shuttles, is only six months away, but City leaders already have bigger ideas for how the new system can work with other transportation options to give Everett the tools to become a nearly car-free community.
The idea is being worked out within the Encore and Everett Transportation Demand Management Plan, a technical term in the traffic planning world for making things like the Encore shuttle actually work. Everett is working with Encore, the non-profit A Better City and other partners to launch the community shuttle and then take it to the next level.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria spoke of the community shuttle as early as last January in his State of the City speech. There, he talked about having a shuttle service that augmented the MBTA’s seven bus routes in Everett – a city that is underserved by public transit.
“We want to augment existing transit services in the city,” said Jay Monty, transportation director. “The T doesn’t operate as much as we want and not with the coverage we want. At the same time, the T isn’t signaling they will expand services. We have thousands of jobs at the casino coming and we have to do something ourselves.”
The City and Encore, together with A Better City, will roll out 30 luxury passenger vans, described as “very high end,” and will loop around the city every 15 minutes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The community shuttles will be free to all, as well, making them one of the richest transportation resources the city might have ever seen.
“That’s coming six months from now, maybe seven,” said Monty. “The City has spent a few months with Encore and have jointly determined the route. It’s not a catch all, but will create a reliable and fast service to connect to other existing routes.”
Right now, the route will go from the casino on Lower Broadway and up to Main Street where it will stop at about Tileston Street. From there it will traverse to a major stop at Everett Square, connecting residents to major bus hubs there. The route will then go down Chelsea Street, and down Everett Avenue to the new Silver Line Station at the Market Basket in Chelsea. That will connect residents to places like the Seaport and South Station with a two-seat ride. From there, the shuttle will loop back through the Produce Center to Lower Broadway.
Rick Dimino of ABC said it is important to connect Everett in better ways, and he said he is very impressed with what the City is doing with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the new community shuttle.
“Everett is a significant community that is an important part of the urban core of Greater Boston,” he said. “It’s very critical that places like Everett, Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge start looking at themselves as connected to each other from an economic opportunity and mobility standpoint…The good news is the mayors of these cities are working together much more these days. There is a lot more collaboration.”
With that in mind, Dimino has helped the City identify several other private shuttles that already exist in Everett, and has presented them with the idea of pooling resources and developing a Transportation Management Association (TMA).
“We realized that we have a half-dozen private entities using shuttles that are a reflection of the lack of transit options they have,” said Monty. “We’d like to consolidate that through a TMA that will loop all of these in under the community shuttle. It will probably save them some money too…If we can provide a TMA quasi-public-private partnership, we can pool everyone’s resources to offer a better service to everyone in Everett.”
Such things have existed for many years in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area where all hospitals contribute to an Association that runs a private “Longwood Shuttle” to connect better to existing transit. The same model would possibly be used one day in Everett building off of the Encore community shuttle.
The Encore community shuttle will begin to be rolled out by the casino and its partners in the coming months. The service will be free to all who want to use it as part of the mitigation package given to Everett.