Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Church Street Chargers?

The Vineyard Transit Authority wants to install charging pads in the street at its Church Street stop as part of the plan to go all-electric. This project involves cutting down several shade trees, widening the street to accommodate the new, wider electric buses. The area surrounding the visitors' center will be paved over with hard-scape, and the shade trees will be replaced with roofed-in waiting areas. The plan also includes two large electric service boxes.

Following the Vineyard Gazette's initial reporting of the story (a story that garnered 46 mostly negative reactions in the comments section) it published a follow-up piece, on January 9, 2020, entitled Bus Sense. The following are excerpts:

...Taking down shade trees to make way for an electric bus charging station is an obvious environmental contradiction in itself. And while the VTA will build a pergola at the site to make up for the loss of tree canopy, it’s hard not to cringe at the image of the leafy, sun-dappled area around the visitor center, right in the heart of the downtown historic district, transformed to an urban-like setting with more hardscape.

But there are even larger issues to consider as downtown Edgartown with its narrow streets, most of them laid out in the days when horse and buggy were the main mode of transportation, becomes increasingly congested with summer traffic, including bus traffic. Today the downtown village is a main hub for the VTA, including the well-traveled number 13 bus that runs between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown all year long, the South Beach bus that runs in the summer, buses that run routes to the airport and many others.

Will the electric bus charging station add more stress on downtown infrastructure? And is Church street really the best place for it? These are valid concerns, and it’s not clear whether alternatives were considered...
From Bus Sense, ©2020, Vineyard Gazette.

These are my concerns, as well. I live on Main Street, in my childhood home on the corner of Green Avenue, and have been watching and have been troubled by the VTA buses for years - their size: way out of character for downtown Edgartown, and perhaps the whole island - not to mention they are simply too big for our small narrow streets; their frequency: as many as thirty buses an hour travel past my house during July and August; their speed: way too fast for a residential/historic neighborhood that is filled with bicyclists of all ages and experience and pedestrians during the summer; and the noise level, which can best be described as conversation-stopping. The presence of these huge VTA buses has created an ambiance that is more like being in a city rather than a historic village. The size, and speed, of the existing diesel buses is already a serious safety issue. Come sit on my porch sometime and watch how these monster buses speed past cyclists, especially on the corner of Green Avenue, where there is often a margin of only a few inches between the buses and people on bikes, and where the buses, because of their size and length, often ride right up onto the sidewalk itself at this blind corner.

This was my response to the above, Bus Sense piece:

Thank you, Gazette, for picking up on the importance of this story. And you are correct - this goes beyond the issues of shade trees. Yes, we need to reconsider this plan, and, as I have said elsewhere, it is time to rethink the Church Street terminal altogether. What started as a bus stop that accommodated much smaller buses has become a destination hub for buses from Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, South Beach, and the West Tisbury Rd./airport routes. If you look at the schedule you'll see that during the summer months, there are fifteen buses per hour that utilize the Church Street station, which adds up to approximately thirty buses per hour that travel in up and down Upper Main Street, a street that is a combination historic and residential district and is filled with pedestrians, bicyclists, and normal people just trying to live. Not only are there thirty buses per hour, but also, during the busiest times, when the queue on Church Street is full, some of the buses have to circle around the block again to find a place to park (and it’s no easy feat, maneuvering those buses on the left hand turn onto Main from Pease’s Point Way) - so how many buses is that, now? Certainly more than we bargained for, which is already too many. The buses are too loud, too big, and too fast for downtown Edgartown, and have, quite honestly, ruined the character of the town. Friends who sit on my porch on Upper Main Street are not just amazed by the frequency and size of the buses - they are shocked and appalled. Thirty an hour. All too big, too loud – belching, hissing, and roaring - and too fast. Come and sit on my porch for an hour on any day or night during July and August and you will see what I mean. And it's not just about me - these two blocks are filled with pedestrians and bicyclists, all who must be wondering how, when they thought they were visiting a quaint village, ended up on a runway at Logan Airport. It’s also a serious safety issue. From my porch you will also see bicyclists precariously close to being taken out by these behemoths. A few months ago, when the bus drivers were on strike and the service was cut way back, the absence of the monster buses on Main Street was heavenly - it felt as though Old Edgartown had returned. And while I appreciate how much quieter the electric buses are - please consider that they are even bigger than the regular diesel buses. Have you seen them, with giant painted-over windows and splashy artwork that make them look as if they belong in a big city? I recognize that there needs to be public transportation here, but at what cost? Our historic village? Our sanity? We can do better than this. Yes, the VTA’s new plan does need careful reconsideration, and this would also be an opportune time to reconsider Church Street altogether. Thank you.

I don't have a problem with electric buses, per se, and would welcome a quieter fleet, but chopping down shade trees, paving over the visitor's center, all to accommodate a fleet of even bigger buses, with technology that could be soon outdated - I have a big problem with this.

And why must every bus coming to Edgartown end up at Church Street? Many of which are empty all day long. Studies show that empty buses are not energy-efficient (see chart below). Why couldn't half of them stop at the Triangle - as only some buses on Route#1 enter Woodside Village and Hillside Village - why not give people a choice of either going all the way to Church Street, or getting off at the Triangle? I'll bet the up-town businesses would welcome the foot traffic - why does downtown Edgartown get them all? Same for West Tisbury Road?
As per my original response from the Gazette's first article, VTA to Remove Shade Trees at Edgartown Bus Terminal, dated January 2, 2020:

It is time to rethink Church Street as a VTA bus terminal. The buses are too big for the village of Edgartown, and there are too many of them. A total of 30 buses per hour travel past my house on main Street every hour during July and August. They are too big, too fast, and too loud. Come sit on my porch for an hour on any summer day or night and then tell me that you think that every route that comes to Edgartown needs to terminate on Church Street. You will be appalled by the way these monster buses have destroyed the character of our town. It is time to rethink Church Street as the main terminus for the VTA in Edgartown. At the very least, consider a terminal for the VH and OB routes at the Triangle, and one for the up Island buses near the school/library. Travelers would then have the choice to either walk a few blocks the rest of the way or board a small van to get into town if necessary. Or, bringing only half of the buses into Church Street would be a big improvement. And while the electric buses are a noble idea, they are much wider than the regular buses. Ask the drivers how they enjoy navigating Edgartown streets in the new electric buses. The answer is, they do not. It is time to rethink the VTA and the way they have taken over the island with their monster buses that are out of place here. Fewer buses mean more cars is a canard because many of the buses are empty. I am not anti public transportation but I am totally against the style of public transportation that the VTA has created, and I definitely say no to any more development of the Church Street station.



In summary, I am in favor of leaving the shade trees, beautifying the visitors' center, introducing a fleet of smaller electric buses, taking a serious look at how many buses actually have to come in to downtown Edgartown, vis-a-vis taking a closer look at the bus routes and schedules and making some creative changes that would best serve our visitors and our community.



VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
Corner of Main and Green.  The outgoing lane, between the yellow line and the sidewalk is 10'4". Even this older diesel bus is too wide to navigate this corner safely. They have to either cross the yellow line or go onto/too hear the sidewalk. I've seen heart-stopping near-misses between the buses and bicyclists here. The bigger buses will be more of a problem.

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
One of the existing electric buses, rounding the corner coming out of Pease's Point Way. In-coming traffic has to stop to give the buses room to come around, sometimes holding up a line of traffic, for what? Sometimes 1 passenger? Sometimes none? This alleviates traffic jams? The size of this bus is totally out of character for downtown Edgartown. Just ask John and Pat Hayes, whose fence on the corner gets smashed by VTA buses at least once a summer, the most recently last week by #13 that didn't even stop to check the damages. 

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
An older diesel bus on Church Street. Too big for the street. After Church Street is widened to accommodate the bigger electric buses, how many other narrow downtown streets will also go on the chopping block, in the name of progress?

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
An electric bus, rounding the corner from Main onto Church. Too big! Too many!

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
The view of Main Street from my back yard. The buses fill almost the entire width of my large yard. They are totally out of scale for downtown Edgartown and this historic and residential district. Bus #1 to Vineyard Haven.

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
Church Street, July 2020.

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
Church Street visitors' center beneath a cool green leafy canopy.

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
This tree is slated for removal. It has some battle scars but it is far from lifeless.

VTA, public transportation, Main Street, Church Street
The same tree from the opposite angle. The shade from this old maple would be sorely missed if it were to be removed. 
This short video is representative of three days' worth of recording from my front porch at 117 Upper Main Street, February 2020. All of the buses, shot for at least an hour three times a day, were empty. At most, there were one or two people. Yes, it's winter, but why run these massive buses all day every day with nobody in them?  


Below: Clips gleaned from one hour's worth of video, depicting VTA bus and street activity on Main Street, Edgartown. Recorded on August 16, 2019, mid-day and is but a wee taste of what goes on here.



Below: random clips from July and August 2019. Watch the giant buses speeding through the night.






Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sunday at the Beach, Co-what?

We've enjoyed a fairly long string of hot and steamy Vineyard summer days (following a freezing cold and wet spring that made it seem that summer would never arrive), and my lack of schedule has facilitated being able to bike up to the beach almost every day. My routine for the past ten or more years has been to work hard all day, getting as dirty as possible with some yard or house project, then hop on my bike and ride 1 3/4 miles to Bend in the Road, swim 1/4 mile, walk back to my bike while lollygagging with people I might know (or not) along the way, and hop back on my bike and ride home for shower and evening refreshments and fiddle on the porch. Today, one of the hottest of these days, and being a Sunday, the beach was packed. I didn't see too many familiar faces, but everyone sure seemed happy to be on the Vineyard and at the beach.


Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Bend in the Road, Sunday in July, covid

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday Morning Free Form

An early morning roam-about on the bike, toting the new TG6 and the Lumix (for learning and comparison purposes); foggy beginnings with hints that the sun would be breaking through (and it did, turning out sunny and hot).


boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

boats, fog, edgartown, flowers, town wharf, tg6, lumix

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Big Bridge

So I rode my bike to the beach to meet my family who had located themselves just beyond the Big Bridge, and of course I had to stop and take a few quick snaps of the lively bridge scene. What fun! (shot with my little Olympus Tough TG4 beach camera, not a bad little camera at all)

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

big bridge, jaws bridge, bridge culture

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Independence Day 2020

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Edgartown is doing its best, though, admittedly, it's not quite the same. We'll just call it a sabbatical, take a deep breath and regroup next year . The weather's not that great, anyway. Meantime, here are a few vignettes from around town. [updated to say the weather broke into a crystal clear late afternoon and evening after all]

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown
This is the only parade we're gonna get this year - Edgartown selectmen Mike Donaroma, Margaret Serpa, and Art Smadbeck stepped off from the school at 7am sharp, making the loop down Main Street, out to the Harborview and back again, in honor and memory of Ted Morgan. All they needed was Chief McNamee with his bagpipes (but they told me they did sing a song when they got to the Harborview).
independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown
No porch music today but we'll be back, bigger and better than ever, next year.
independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown
A flag garden.
independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown
Starbuck Neck
independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown

independence day, fourth of july, edgartown