T Proposing New Bus Route Running From Waverley Square To Arlington Via Belmont Center

Photo: A new proposed MBTA bus route could be up and running in Belmont one year from now

The MBTA is proposing a new bus route for Belmont – dubbed the 54 – that bisects the town from Waverley Square via Belmont Center as it heads to Arlington as part of its long-awaited Bus Network Redesign project.

With greater Boston undergoing shifts in demographics, changing employment districts, and increased traffic congestion, “the Bus Network Redesign completely reimagines the MBTA’s bus network to reflect these changes and create a better experience for current and future bus riders,” according to the website announcing the initiative on Monday, May 16.

The proposed Route 54 – which replaces parts of the existing 67, 505, 554 and 558 routes – will run from Arlington Center via Belmont and Waltham Center to the MBTA’s Green Line D Riverside Station in Newton. The bus will enter Belmont at Lexington Street, travel to Waverley Square then head up Trapelo Road onto Waverley Street. It will turn onto Common Street and travel under the commuter rail bridge into Belmont Center on Leonard Street. It will make a right on Pleasant Street and proceed to Arlington Center.

It will run on the half-hour “or better” from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. If the demand is there, service could begin as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 1 a.m.

The changes will also include the elimination of the 74 line that runs from Belmont Center to Harvard Square via Fresh Pond. To compensate for the loss of the route, the 75 line – which also runs from Belmont Center to Harvard Square but on a more elongated path – will see more late-night and Sunday service.

The popular 73 line – which the MBTA calls one of 30 “high-frequency” bus routes in the new system – from Waverley to Harvard Square will remain unchanged. The 78 line, which travels on Blanchard Road and Brighton Street, will see trips reduced from one every 30 minutes to once an hour. And the 78 and 62 lines will no longer travel on Hinkley Way and Frontage Road while the 76 line will continue on its familiar route to Alewife.

At Monday’s announcement, Kat Benesh, the T’s Chief of Operations Strategy, Policy & Oversight, said the initial route changes from the new bus network would begin “no sooner than spring or summer 2023.”

Commuter Rail Late Night, Weekend Service Ending As T Reduce Service

Photo: Commuter rail service will see cuts in 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic essentially keeping workers at home and away from crowded public transportation, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority announced it will be making significant reductions to the level of service in the next year.

For Belmont residents, the reduction will be felt by those who travel on the commuter rail out of Waverley and Belmont stations, while those who take buses are being spared at this time.

There will be a virtual meeting on service cuts for the region Belmont is in on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m.

“In order to protect essential service for those who depend upon it, we need to reduce service where there are fewer riders,” said the MBTA in a press release on Monday, Nov. 9.

Commuter rail

The cut in service will impact the Fitchburg line of the MBTA’s commuter rail service. Currently, the commuter rail trains are running at 10 percent of pre-COVID-19 ridership levels, according to the T.

Starting sometime near May 1, 2021, the commuter rail will:

  • Suspend weekend service.
  • Halt service after 9 p.m.
  • Reduce the number of trains during the weekday peak by more than 10 percent.

While Belmont two stations have some of the smallest ridership numbers, they were not on the list of six stations that will be closed due to passenger reductions.


While bus ridership has seen a reduction of 40 percent since March, the MBTA will continue all bus lines running in Belmont with only the 554 (from Newton Center to Waverley) will be “shortened.”

All other routes that travel throught Belmont – 67, 73, 74, 75, 78, – could see possible reduction of service levels if ridership continues “below baseline.”

Starting in summer 2021, the T is planning systemwide changes to buses:

  • Stop all service after midnight althought early service will continue on “essential” bus routes.
  • Reduce frequency on essential routes by system-wide average of 5 percent – will vary by route, high ridership will not be changed.
  • Reduce frequency on non-essential routes system-wide by 20 percent; will vary by route based on ridership.


For Belmontians who use the Alewife and Harvard Square subway stations, the subway system will see all service ending at midnight and a reduction of overall service by 20 percent.