System Alert: Hubway has reopened (all stations in Cambridge)

SYSTEM ALERT: Hubway has re-opened as of Wednesday, January 28th, at 4PM. Thank you for your patience during the inclement weather and ongoing station cleanup. Please review our winter-weather riding tips, and ride safely.

If you have any questions, please call to speak with a Member Service Representative at 1-855-9HUBWAY (948-2929). The Hubway Severe Weather Closure Policy can be found here.

System Alert: Hubway will temporarily shut down on Monday, January 26th, at 7:00PM

SYSTEM ALERT: Due to a Blizzard Warning from the National Weather Service (NWS), Hubway will temporarily close all stations at 7:00PM on Monday, January 26th, to protect the safety of our members and staff. No bikes can be rented after the temporary closure has begun. Any bikes in use at the time of closure can be returned to any Hubway station with an available dock.

Please note: throughout the day, Hubway field staff will be applying covers to some of the docking points at many stations to protect them from snow accumulation. This will reduce the actual number of docks available in the system and will impact the accuracy of dock availability numbers displayed on Spotcycle and other Hubway-related apps.

We expect Hubway to remain closed for the duration of the NWS Blizzard Warning and thereafter until conditions have improved. Annual and monthly members will be informed of re-opening plans via email. Closure and re-opening information will also be posted here on the Hubway website, Facebook, and Twitter. We will also email riders to inform them of closures and re-openings. Register for Hubway’s email list by clicking here

If you have any questions, please call to speak with a Member Service Representative at 1-855-9HUBWAY (948-2929). The Hubway Severe Weather Closure Policy can be found here.

[Boston Globe] Wheels of Change in Motion on Waterfront

The following article by Nicole Dungca was originally published in the Boston Globe on January 22nd, 2015.

To relieve traffic congestion in the quickly growing South Boston Waterfront, the state and city should improve the Silver Line, give drivers access to a restricted service road, and place new Hubway stations in the neighborhood, according to a report released this week.

The South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan was put together by a coalition of city and state agencies whose members say they will work toward adopting those suggestions and others to address the rapid growth and increasing congestion in the neighborhood.

“This is laying out a blueprint and identifying strategies so we don’t see that economic opportunity stall, and we find a way to address those mobility issues,” said Rick Dimino, the executive director of A Better City, the nonprofit that managed the study.

The South Boston Waterfront has been one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the state, adding more than 4,100 new residents, 7,700 jobs, and 10 million square feet of development from 2000 to 2013, according to the report. Another 17 million square feet of development is underway or planned for the next two decades.

The intense growth has become a challenge for the area, known for heavy traffic congestion during peak hours, a headache for drivers, and a deterrent for some cyclists. The report says the transportation challenges are expected to get worse, with trips to and from the waterfront projected to increase by 63 percent by 2035.

The report points out several issues, including packed Silver Line buses that often frustrate commuters who cannot board. Currently, the MBTA has the capacity to shuttle about 3,900 passengers through the South Boston Waterfront during the peak hours of the morning commute, and about half of those seats are on the Silver Line, according to the report.

The report makes the following immediate recommendations:

■ Consolidate private shuttles used by businesses in the neighborhood;
■ Improve signals for the Silver Line at D Street;
■ Provide real-time arrival information for the Silver Line;
■ Install more Hubway stations near major company offices, including Thomson Place, the Procter & Gamble offices at Gillette Park, and Channel Center;
■ Open the South Boston Bypass Road to cars for a trial period of six months.

During the trial period, drivers would have 24-hour access in both directions of the bypass road between Richards Street and West Service Road. The eastbound stretch of the road, between West Service Road and Interstate 93, would be open to traffic during peak morning hours.

The six-month trial would also give all vehicles access to the northbound HOV lane on Interstate 93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel.

The report also includes longer-term recommendations and infrastructure investments, including expanding ferry service to North Station and reopening or replacing the Northern Avenue Bridge, which was closed in December.

The report also suggests the MBTA acquire a minimum of 60 new Silver Line buses to help meet demand.

A Better City, a nonprofit backed by business and civic institutions, led the yearlong effort to compile the report. Officials from MassPort, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority pitched in $250,000 each for the study, with private companies adding about $110,000.

Vivien Li, president of the Boston Harbor Association, praised the report, saying it rightfully focuses on more than just cars.

“It’s unusual that it’s not only road-oriented,” she said.

Jon Ramos, the head of advocacy group Southie Bikes, said the report excels at outlining what is wrong with bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhood: The report noted that restaurant-related delivery activity creates conflict between drivers and cyclists along Seaport Boulevard at night, for example.

But Ramos said some of the language in the report is too vague. Instead of specifically recommending a cycle track, which would separate car and bike traffic on a portion of Summer Street, for example, the report asks for the “highest level of bike accommodation.”

“The advocates will just have to continue to apply pressure for these things,” Ramos said.

Dimino said he understands those concerns but promises officials from the agencies involved in the report will continue to listen to policy and infrastructure suggestions.

“One of the things we want to make perfectly clear is that this is not a static document,” he said. “It’s a living document, and we’re looking forward to working with stakeholders in the area to make sure we help improve access to the economy and a better quality of life.”

[Newsmax] Travel Tips for Boston Nature Lovers: 7 Places to Visit on Next Outdoor Adventure

The following is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Newsmax on January 20th, 2015.

Nature lovers looking for Boston travel tips can still find ways to enjoy the outdoors in this busy city.

Here are seven places to enjoy in and around Boston.

2. Biking throughout Boston is great for sightseeing, including a view of city and bits of nature, such as parks and tree-lined streets.

The Minuteman Bikeway stretches 11 miles and allows bikers, roller bladers, joggers, and walkers. Pass by Spy Pond and Arlington’s Great Meadows. Or take advantage of the Hubway, the city’s bike-sharing network that allows you to arrange pickup and dropoff of bikes in the city.

Read the full article here.

[Wicked Local Brookline] Committee would look at making Hubway system self-sustaining, convenient

The following article by Ignacio Laguarda was originally published in the Brookline Tab on January 15th, 2015.

Selectman Neil Wishinsky thinks the Hubway bike-sharing system has been a success in Brookline, but he wants to make it better.

That’s why he recently asked the Board of Selectmen to create an ad-hoc committee to look at ways to add more stations in town. The board agreed.

With only four stations — Coolidge Corner, Washington Square, Brookline Village and JFK Crossing — Brookline has the fewest number of any of the four communities who participate in the program. The other communities are Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, and both Boston and Cambridge have stations in the double digits.

Like the other communities in the Boston-area system, Brookline owns its stations and the bicycles. Each station costs about $40,000, and the town also has to pay for the bikes and operating costs.

At a meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee in February 2014, Wishinksy told the committee that the town incurs a deficit of between $20,000 and $30,000 annually to run the Hubway system. That has been paid with the help of grants, but with money running out, the town is hoping to find a way to make the system self-sustaining.

With an override looming, it is unlikely the town will spend its money on new stations.

“I don’t think there will be any funds available from the town’s general fund, especially going into an override,” said Wishinsky.

One of the biggest tasks for the committee will be to look at ways to increase revenue to help pay for the system, and ultimately help pay for more stations.

Users of the system can buy a short-term pass of 24 hours for $6, or 72 hours for $12, or a $20 month-long pass, or a yearly membership for $85. Usage fees still apply for all models if you ride one of the bikes for longer than 30 minutes.

A portion of those fees go to the town, said Wishinsky.

Another source of revenue for Brookline comes in the form of sponsorships on the bicycles. Currently, New Balance is the sponsor of Hubway in Brookline, Somerville and Boston.

Wishinsky expects the committee to look at public/private partnerships and opportunities for increasing membership, as well as ideas for changing the operating model so it costs less to run the system.

“As we expand, and as the stations in Brookline become more connected, we can get more members within Brookline,” said Wishinsky.

Wishinsky suggested filling the board with a member of the Transportation Board, one from the Bicycle Advisory Committee, a member of the Advisory Committee, one to three citizens including a user of Hubway, and a selectman.

“That would help us in our goal to keep Hubway sustaining and growing and be a full participant in the Hubway regional concept,” said Wishinsky, at the Selectmen meeting. He said the bikes in the Brookline Hubway system are “very heavily used.”

Joe Viola of Brookline’s Planning Department was reached for comment on this story but did not respond. Viola is the Brookline official who has worked closely with the Hubway system.

Cambridge is currently the only city with Hubway bikes, since the other communities have taken down their stations for the winter. One of the reasons the stations are taken down, at least in Brookline, is the cost of running them, Wishinsky said.

Wishinsky said the most problematic station has been Washington Square, because it’s at the end of the system and is sometimes out of bikes. Each station has 15 bikes. Users can rent the bikes at the automated stations, either paying for a long-term or short-term plan.

Because users are not required to return the bike to the station where they found it, the bikes end up in different locations. Some people may ride a bike into the city and return it to the same station, but that doesn’t happen every time.

Scott Englander, a member of the Transportation Board who also uses the Hubway bikes occasionally, said more stations could only make the system better.

He said he’s heard reports from people who told him they can’t count on the Hubway system, because they can’t be sure there will be a bicycle available at a certain station, and conversely, if they plan on dropping off a bike, they don’t know if the station is at capacity and they won’t be able to drop it off.

“In Brookline, what few stations means is if one station that you’re counting on doesn’t have bikes or docks, then there’s not one nearby that you could use an alternative,” he said.