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MBTA to Construct Silver Line Tunnels

By Pallavi Naresh

The City of Boston is currently designing the “Silver Line,” a series of buses which will link key residential areas to important employment nodes in Boston.

The construction of the Silver Line will be split into two phases. Part A of Phase I will link Dudley Station to downtown Boston in its own dedicated lane. Part B of Phase I, which is currently under construction, will consist of a tunnel from South Station to the South Boston Piers area.

Finally, Phase II of the project will extend the tunnel of the Green Line into the downtown area and will connect Parts A and B of Phase I.

Service includes new technology

The Silver Line project will integrate a new technology, called Intelligent Transportation Systems, into its buses. “This technology will allow for, among other things, on-board announcements of stops, real time bus stop information via the web, and advanced notices and public service notices at stops,” said Howard Hayward, chief of design and construction for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

“We will be one of the first in the country to have such a system online,” said Hayward.

Buses offer environmental benefits

The buses on the Silver Line will run on environmentally friendly alternative fuels. “We think the Silver Line will help reduce pollution,” Hayward said. “The buses run on electricity underground and compressed natural gas above ground. New maintenance facilities will be built and old facilities that use diesel buses will be closed.”

The Boston City Council, however, is concerned that the Silver Line will not be able to meet growing transportation demands. The Silver Line will be providing long needed access to the Waterfront area in Boston, whose development has been restricted by environmental law.

However, a Municipal Harbor Plan is being proposed, which if approved, will allow for the curbing of existing laws and thus increased construction in the Waterfront district.

“We question the Silver Line’s effectiveness,” said Councillor Vincent LaBelle. “A bus system is less expensive to implement than a rail system. But, according to projections by the Boston Transportation Department, by 2025 the Silver Line Bus Transit Project will not be able to meet the growth capacity in the Waterfront.”

Hayward agreed. “The Silver Line is meant to meet transportation demand until 2025. If overdevelopment in the Waterfront is allowed, then transportation will not meet demand. There will have to be other mass transit improvements to meet demand before and after that date.”

Bus Shuttle to Kendall

The MBTA has also added bus service from Sullivan Station to Kendall Square in its Crosstown 2 route. This bus will link the Orange and Red Lines of the MBTA subway system.

The bus operates Monday through Friday, every 20 minutes during peak usage hours, and every 30 to 35 minutes at other times. This service is part of an effort to provide transfers between different public transportation routes from outside of the center of Boston.