Friday, August 1, 2014

MA's Secret Plan to Make Regional Bus Commuting More Awesome

Given the "Plus" AND +, how do you say this
out loud? Bus Plus Plus?
I say "secret" because it seems like it's gotten virtually no news coverage - it's been ignored by the statewide standard-bearer Boston Globe and my local New Bedford Standard Times.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is making it much more fun, productive and comfy to ride longer-distance regional commuter buses with a program called BusPlus+:
The initial BusPlus+ regional bus purchase will provide thirty one of the new buses to carriers that currently or previously operated an IBCAP regional bus, including Peter Pan Bus Lines, Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Company, DATTCO, The Coach Company, Bloom Bus Lines, and Yankee Line. In addition, MassDOT is proud to welcome Greyhound as its newest private sector partner.

Customers will experience a more comfortable and convenient service, with new buses that include the latest advances in safety and equipped with fully outfitted restrooms, increased leg room, new comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and 110V power outlets at every seat.

Through the BusPlus+ program, MassDOT will also work toward the goal of providing a universal smart phone ticketing application to all riders.
I'd noticed the Dattco buses between New Bedford and Boston were newer, roomy enough to fully open my laptop, and with much more reliable WiFi, but had no idea why until I noticed the BusPlus+ sticker on the side of the bus as I was boarding the other day.

At first I wondered about giving taxpayer-purchased buses to private companies. But then again, no one expects public transit to turn a profit, so this may actually be the more fiscally conservative move - instead of taxpayers having to fund a whole new route, they get the benefit of increased service for a relatively small one-time cost.

In the long term, SouthCoast Rail is still the best solution, but until then, small steps to promote bus service make sense.
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