MeVa Rerouting Buses

Tuesday February 27, 2024

NEWBURYPORT – The Merrimack Valley Transit Authority (MEVA) and city leaders will hold a forum Thursday on proposed changes to the city’s bus routes designed to appease unhappy residents on two streets near Ana Jaques Hospital.
The proposed change will eliminate service to the hospital, at least until MeVa can work out a new bus stop in the hospital parking lot, and along Merrimac Street west of Rte. 1. It will also cut out service specifically to the Towle Building, a major medical office building.
Riders going to Ana Jaques will have to get off on High Street at Rawson Street or disembark on Toppans Lane at Highland Avenue and walk several blocks to the hospital.
MeVa offers door-to-door paratransit service, called miniMeVa, which can transport riders 60 years old and older to the front door of the hospital and the Towle Building, MeVa CEO Noah Berger said.
The changes will have the advantage of speeding up the trip for seniors living at Heritage House on Low Street who take the bus to the library, CVS Pharmacy on Pond Street and to Market Basket in Port Plaza. The trip to Port Plaza will now take only seven minutes, Berger said.
These proposed changes in bus routes will be discussed with MEVA senior executives and city officials at 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 29, in the auditorium at City Hall, 60 Pleasant St..
“We believe these new routes will enhance service to the Newburyport community and best meet the needs of transit riders,” the city’s announcement states.
MeVa adjusted routes previously on April 3, 2023, and included new names and routes for for the colorful buses. The route of the 19 bus was changed to serve the MBTA Commuter Rail Station and added service to the Towle Office Building while continuing to make stops at Anna Jaques Hospital, the Newburyport Senior Center, and Market Basket at Port Plaza.
Within six months, MEVA and the city were flooded with complaints from residents of Oakland and Highland about the buses that used their streets to serve Ana Jaques Hospital. Highland is a narrow street, but Oakland, which links High Street and Merrimac Avenue, is wide and often frequented by boaters hauling their boats to the river at the Cashman Park city boat landing.
Route #19, which carried 25,000 riders between last August and January, will travel from Amesbury to Newburyport along Story Avenue and High Street to Toppans Lane by the Newburyport High School.
The buses will turn east on Low Street, stop at Heritage House near the Bradley Fuller Field, then turn down Graf Road through the Industrial Park to the MBTA station. From there, the buses will make a circular route using State Street to downtown, turn on Water Street and pass the Tannery Marketplace before heading back along High Street and Story Avenue to Market Basket before returning to Amesbury.
The Route #20 bus, which was and remains one of the system’s least used with less than 12,000 riders between August and January, will also link the rail station and downtown before it crosses the river on Rte. 1 to downtown Salisbury and Salisbury Beach.
The system will also move from a flag system, where riders can hail the bus anywhere along its route, to defined stops marked by signage.
If approved by the MeVa Advisory Board, the new routes would take effect Monday, April 8.

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