Local Bus Service Plans Up for Public Review Thursday Morning

(File photograph.)

A public hearing on bus service recommendations takes place Thursday morning in Haverhill City Hall.

Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA), operator of local bus lines, will present regional public transit plans for the next three years. There are also hearings in Lawrence and Newburyport Thursday. Plans cover more frequent bus runs, later hours and expanded routes.

“When completed, the plan will give the MVRTA the opportunity to improve local fixed-route bus service, identify new markets and riders, address environmental concerns and meet the growing economic development needs of each region,” the transit authority said in a statement. “There have been opportunities throughout the planning process for public input and feedback with project updates on the authority’s website. Now that the draft Regional Transit Plan is in its final stages of editing, we will hold three public hearings to present the findings and service recommendations.”

The recommendations, known as chapter seven of an eight chapter draft “Regional Transit Plan” were prepared by the MVRTA as part of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Bill passed by legislators during June, 2013, according to the MVRTA. They include a first phase, beginning next fiscal year, to adjust Sunday service for all Lawrence and Amesbury based routes to the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and use a 60 minute “clock face” frequency for all Haverhill and Amesbury based routes.

Phase two, during fiscal year 2017, include extending weekday evening service to 9 p.m. and Saturday service to 7 p.m. The MVRTA would also improve weekend bus frequencies from 90 to every 60 minutes on all Haverhill based routes.

Phase three, during fiscal year 2018, would bring improved weekday frequencies for all Lawrence based routes to 30 minutes all day until 7 p.m., a 60-minute frequency between 7 and 9 p.m. and improve frequency on “high performing Saturday routes” to 30 minutes.

Other MVRTA service proposals, subject to “more refined review and analysis,” include providing “second and third shift employment transportation” and expanding bus service to West Newbury, the route 133 corridor in Andover and route 114 between Middleton and Salem.

The public hearing in Haverhill takes place at 11 a.m., Thursday, in room 301 at Haverhill City Hall. Hearings will also be held at 9 a.m. in the first floor auditorium at Lawrence Public Library, 51 Lawrence Street, Lawrence; and at 1:30 p.m. in the second floor auditorium at Newburyport City Hall, 60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport.

Comments can be submitted at the hearing, by email to [email protected]rta.com, or to MVRTA, 85 Railroad Avenue, Haverhill, MA 01835.