Though long-awaited, the study to examine an extension of the Silver Line from Chelsea to Everett – and on into Charlestown, Somerville and Cambridge – has kicked off and will make final recommendations within 18 months.
“We’re excited to collaborate with MassDOT on this analysis of Silver Line service,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Studying the extension of the Silver Line to Everett and beyond is a key objective of Focus40 and an important step in improving service to essential workers and transit-critical populations that live far from the Orange and Blue Lines and rely on bus service to get to work and other destinations.”
It is one of the few major expansion projects at the MBTA that has moved forward recently as the T and MassDOT are starved for revenues and actually making cuts to much of its service program. The fact that this project went ahead with a study as promised many years ago was seen as a major win for Everett and the region.
“This study builds off years of work and collaboration between the City and the MBTA to improve bus services in Everett,” said City of Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “Extending the Silver Line to Everett will transform our city by unlocking economic opportunity in the Commercial Triangle and along the Broadway corridor and give residents more direct access to jobs, health care, and services in Boston and Cambridge. We are extremely excited to continue to work with the MBTA and MassDOT to determine the best way to implement rapid bus service in Everett.”
The MBTA and the MassDOT announced on Monday the launch of the Silver Line Extension Alternatives Analysis to assess the feasibility, utility, and cost of various alignment and service frequency options for extending Silver Line service to Everett and neighboring communities.
The potential extension opens up areas to Everett residents that were not available easily before, including South Boston, Chelsea, Logan Airport, South Station and Cambridge.
“It’s a good and logical project, and it’s also an understanding we have with MassDOT,” said City Transportation Director Jay Monty. “The Transit Action Plan did recommend this. Now, we’ve held up our commitments, and they’re holding up their commitments.
“It put us as kind of a hub for transit, which we have never been,” he added. “The connections it would create open up at least five new communities. It can create a great change for the access we have to jobs, amenities and other transportation.”
The expansion would likely also create a new transit ring around parts of the City that were not connected before, circling from South Station to the Seaport to East Boston to Chelsea and into Everett. From Everett, it would connect Lower Broadway, Charlestown, Somerville and then Kendall Square. Of course the Red Line subway would then connect one back to South Station to complete the loop.
“Many residents of Chelsea are the essential workers who have reliably kept the Commonwealth running during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said City of Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino. “As an environmental justice community, Chelsea residents deserve fast, dependable transit service. Extending Silver Line service presents an opportunity to enhance transit service for our residents and combat the growing impacts of climate change.”
Said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, “It’s more important than ever to invest in public transit and ensure that residents of Boston have reliable, safe, and convenient options for traveling throughout the city and the region. We’re excited to work with MassDOT and the MBTA on this study and to improve transit for Boston residents traveling to jobs, schools, and other destinations throughout the region.”
The study follows recent recommendations by the Lower Mystic Regional Working Group and the Everett Transit Action Plan to extend Silver Line service to Everett and neighboring communities in order to provide service at near rapid-transit levels for those living just beyond the reach of the Orange and Blue Lines.
Existing bus routes serving Chelsea and Everett have maintained some of the highest ridership levels in the system during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week of January 4, 2021, six of the top 10 bus routes in the MBTA system in terms of ridership recovery served Everett and/or Chelsea, according to MBTA statistics.
Recent recommendations by the Kendall Square Mobility Task Force have also called for improving transit services and connections within the area in order to accommodate new growth in housing and jobs in East Cambridge.
The MBTA and MassDOT are working in partnership with the cities of Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston to determine the potential alternatives and benefits of a Silver Line extension. In addition to convening a Stakeholder Working Group comprised of municipal staff, community members, and elected officials, the project team will conduct an extensive public engagement process throughout the course of the study to gather input from residents, MBTA customers, and other stakeholders. The study is anticipated to be completed in spring 2022.