Menino says 28X bus needed to get people to jobs

Mayor Thomas Menino on Thursday said he supports the controversial "Route 28X" bus line proposed by state transportation officials, saying bus service is needed to get people to their jobs.

"I think we have to have better transportation," he said in a half-hour appearance on TOUCH 106.1 FM this morning.

The project has drawn criticism from the community, with residents along the bus route saying questions remain over traffic, noise, safety, and local jobs, and its effect on local businesses.

In voicing his support for the Route 28X bus line, which would create dedicated lanes for buses along parts of Blue Hill Ave. in order to create faster and more reliable support, Menino appeared to make an error: One caller complained that some parking spaces would be eliminated through the creation of the bus lane. "That's not going to take any of the parking spaces," Menino responded. "That's going to relieve some of the traffic congestion we have."

That's not completely accurate: State transportation officials have acknowledged that while they'll work to minimize parking loss, some parking spaces, including those among the median would have to be removed to make room for the buses.

Menino expressed frustration with past transportation proposals, noting that he signed an agreement for an "Urban Ring" project to get people from Dorchester and Roxbury out to jobs near Route 128. "That was twelve years ago," he said. "We're still waiting for them to implement that."

Menino also said he supports a return of the MBTA's "Night Owl" service, in which buses ran until 2:30 a.m. in some areas. The service was canceled in 2005, with the transit agency citing its staggering debt load and lack of cash to keep it operational.

"If you work at a say, restaurant or hotel"¦how do you get home if you don't have a car?" he said. "We have to have a more user-friendly transportation system."

The Executive Office of Transportation has "open houses" planned on the Route 28X project next week, including one on Monday, July 27 at the Mattapan Library and Wednesday, July 29, at the Grove Hall Community Center. Both events begin at 6 p.m.