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T drops 4 Green Line stops after results of rider survey

The MBTA decided yesterday to permanently eliminate four stops on the traditionally slow B branch of the Green Line after a survey that some had hoped would save the stops backfired.

As of today, trolleys will no longer stop at Greycliff Road, Mount Hood Road, Summit Avenue, and Fordham Road, after almost 73 percent of the 1,142 riders surveyed indicated they wanted the stops gone.

Pop-up GLOBE GRAPHIC: Green Line closures

Trolleys on the B branch were averaging a 45-minute trip from Boston College to Government Center and had been making 22 stops in 3.94 miles, forcing riders to take the bus to speed their commute. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials say eliminating the four stops, which served 2,500 of the branch's 30,000 daily riders, could save between 3 and 4 minutes per trip.

By comparison, the D branch of the Green Line between Riverside and Fenway has 13 stops in 9.17 miles and takes an average of 57 minutes.

T officials started looking two years ago at eliminating five stops along Commonwealth Avenue, based on average trolley boardings and the proximity of stops nearby. The Summit Street stop, for example, is about a tenth of a mile from the Washington Street stop.

The study was part of a number of changes on the Green Line, including a ''Show-N-Go" program to allow pass holders to board through the rear doors after displaying their passes. The T also increased personnel along the line to monitor service and make schedule adjustments, and added more two-car trains on the busy line, which serves both Boston College and Boston University.

But doing away with a trolley stop, especially in Boston, is not an easy thing to do.

Shortly after the study was announced in late 2003, most of the 920 residents in the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly on Wallingford Road in Allston-Brighton rallied to save their local Chiswick stop. So with the help of some local politicians, Chiswick was saved.

Political pressure to keep the other stops forced T officials to hold off well past their eight-month deadline. ''That's why we introduced it as a trial program," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. ''Like the elected officials, the T must also answer to a constituency, the riding public."

When Councilor Jerry P. McDermott came to T officials in January asking to save the four remaining stops, the MBTA suggested a passenger survey. McDermott agreed, saying he saw the survey as an opportunity to help his constituents save the stops.

The survey results indicated that riders wanted efficiency in the old line.

While the majority who wanted the stops killed were daily riders of the branch, more than half were also monthly T pass holders, according to the survey.

''While the closures may be viewed as an inconvenience by some, many others consider this a positive step towards improving overall service on the B branch," Pesaturo said.

Mac Daniel can be reached at mdaniel@globe.com.


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