A Bridj to Southie

The neighborhood’s residents get to vote on which route the luxury bus service should run.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

The citizens of South Boston have been calling on the MBTA to offer up more bus services through the neighborhood to meet the demands of riders packing together at stops trying to get to work in the morning.

And although the transit authority has promised that at some point they will examine the issue, and try their best to address the impact it’s having on commuters, a reprieve from an outside vendor is in the works.

On Tuesday, Bridj, a “luxury bus” operation that’s said its services provide a more efficient commute than the MBTA, announced that it would be expanding to Southie and introducing one of two new routes to their operations.

“South Boston has been very vocal about not having enough reliable and efficient transit and the data supports this. It was the next logical choice for us and we hope to provide Southie residents one more reason to get rid of their cars,” said Ryan Kelly, Bridj’s marketing manager.

Kelly said Cambridge-based Bridj, which uses buses equipped with free WiFi and other amenities to cater to customers, has been monitoring Southie “very closely” in recent months, citing “a huge need” for alternative transit options.

The company said they have identified two potential routes and pick up points for customers hoping to try their services, but rather than drop them on the community, they want to hear from residents first.

In an email, Kelly said Bridj is letting Southie residents cast their vote for which route the company should start with. Voting ends Wednesday, September 10, and based on public input the new route will start just five days later, on September 15.

Bridj, which has operations up and running from Brookline to Cambridge, as well as Downtown Boston, Back Bay, and the Seaport District, recently got approval for a “jitney license” to run additional routes through the city.

They are hoping that the new Southie route will be an answer to at least some of the concerns people who rely on the MBTA have voiced this summer. In July, Southie resident Darren Smith, who runs a blog called SaveKStreet.com, started a petition asking the T to overhaul the public transportation system through the neighborhood. In his plea to the transit agency, Smith said residents’ needs for increased bus service have long been neglected, even as Southie has expanded and increased in population.

Kelly said Bridj has been in contact with Smith, who seemed excited about the new route.

“As a result of our transit petition and the resulting press, Bridj is well aware of our transit situation and is ready to act. I am hoping they can provide us with some much needed transit relief as an alternative to the very broken MBTA bus service currently in Southie,” Smith said in a recent blog post. “Their approach seems smart. Their strategy is quite simple. It is basically opposite that of the MBTA.”

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