Opinion: Invest the Money to Keep Waverley Station Accessible

Photo: Waverley MBTA Commuter Rail Station 

By Jim Williams

In September, MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola made a presentation at an open Board of Selectmen meeting concerning handicap accessibility at the Waverley Commuter Rail station. Public comments opposed closing the station and Sami Bagdadhy, chair of the board, stated the Selectmen’s position was that our existing stations should remain open and be handicap accessible. 

Subsequently, a proposed MBTA design charrette was expanded to an open public meeting now scheduled for Nov. 16 at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. Then, in late October,  the MBTA informed the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board of three possible outcomes including making Waverley accessible; closing Waverley; or leaving Waverley open and investing the $30 million estimated to make Waverley compliant with applicable State and Federal accessibility regulations into a system-wide project that would impact a significantly  larger number of customers with disabilities. 

I am standing to support alternative three above for the following reasons:

  1. The proposal of a third alternative defeats the logical fallacy (bifurcation) that only making the Waverley handicap accessible or closing it are the possible remedies when, in fact, there is in reality a range of options.
  2. The previous strategy of building a third station in Belmont and closing the existing two has objectively and overwhelmingly the least favorable cost/benefits profile of any possible solution.
  3. The Fitchburg line has been in existence for more than 125 years and was and still is integral to the economic development and well-being of Belmont.

So what can be done? First, get informed and write letters to the elected, appointed, or employed officials responsible starting with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. This can make a difference. 

Second, attend the Nov. 16 meeting and let your voice be heard loud and clear. For the MBTA, I recommend working with Belmont’s Economic Development Committee and  Community Path Implementation Committee in addition to the Belmont Disability Access Commission in developing responsible solutions for this important initiative. For the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board,  I recommend exploring with the MBTA the acceptable alternatives that will impact the largest number customers with disabilities. 

In closing, I want to remind everyone listening: The railroad belongs to us; The State and Federal funding involved is our money; We get the government we deserve.  

Jim Williams, Selectman

Glenn Road

This communication is compliant with the State’s Open Access laws as I have not discussed its contents with either Baghdady or fellow Selectman Mark Paolillo.

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  1. Jonathan Birge says

    So, for lack of expensive upgrades to make the station accessible, we are going to possibly lose the station to everybody, including any potential disabled people? Given the low ridership, a disabled person needing to use the Purple Line from Waverly is a very low probability occurrence. It would likely be cheaper to just pay for car service for any disabled folks who need to ride. Of course, this is far too rational. Instead, I’m guessing what will happen is we’ll either throw out the baby with the bathwater or pay a ridiculous amount of money we don’t have to upgrade a station with accessibility features that will almost never be used.

  2. Azra Nelson says

    Please, leave Waverly alone, is perfect where it is.

    It is far less costly to invest in inevitable upgrades, than to simply kill the stop. Who does that in 2015?

    This would be huge disservice to Belmont.residents, especially in light of recent Trapelo Rd../Belmont St. reconstruction, and traffic slowing measures, Buses are getting ever slower and overwhelmed. But train ridership is well positioned to grow in the future.

    These last few years MBTA was doing many upgrades that made service not as good or frequent, But very soon we will be finally reaping benefits of much faster and more frequent Fichburg line.

    It is economically insane to kill train station in this moment of time. One can never have enough of public transportation options, Many residents depend on it.

  3. Kate Bowen says

    MBTA has been strangling ridership at Waverley Station for some time now. There have been no trains on the weekends for almost a year. They’ve cut the stops that get made at Waverley – 9 out of 17 potential on a weekday inbound. Many times I would have taken a train but CAN”T get one. Same for many of my family members. MBTA is fulfilling its own wishes here, not Belmont’s. To get to work by 9 a.m. your choices are 7:15 or 8:30 from Waverley. Improve physical accessibility and improve ridership accessibility to this Belmont asset.

  4. John Bowe says

    Given the small ridership (2014 stats snapshot from the MBTA itself says 117 boardings per weekday), lets do some math:
    If the $30M station is good for 50 years (with zero spent for maint for that long), each round trip is subsidized with $19.72 – just for this station!
    In my mind, that is not a “favorable cost/benefits profile”.
    Is that amount of foot traffic (some fraction of 117 people) really “integral to the economic development and well-being of Belmont”.

  5. Dave O"Brien says

    Take away Waverly Station? Give me a break. Dumbest idea ever and a slap in the face to the residents and property owners in the Waquossette area.

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