Getting onto the New Grid in Greater Boston

Next City by Meg Wilcox

Maria Belén Power had never heard of a microgrid when the idea was proposed as a climate resiliency initiative for her city, Chelsea, a predominantly Hispanic community bordering the heavily industrialized Chelsea Creek, just outside of Boston.

The technical details were overwhelming at first for Power, who is associate executive director at the community-based organization, GreenRoots. As she grew to understand its alignment with GreenRoots’ environmental justice mission, she became more interested — and now she’s spearheading the creation of a microgrid in Chelsea.

Ultimately what convinced her, she says, was “the fact that it’s not a helicopter-in, telling people what to do project. We’re doing it from the ground up.”

If the initiative comes to fruition, Chelsea will be the first city to build a community-led, community-owned microgrid, designed to meet the needs of its population, 21 percent of whom live below the poverty line. The microgrid would be powered largely by solar energy and battery-stored power, and its design is uniquely cloud-based, which doesn’t require customers to be physically connected as with a conventional microgrid, like those found on some college campuses.

“Our model is different because we want to serve low-income communities and customers who aren’t necessarily near each other, so we combine them through a cloud-based system,” says David Dayton, an engineer and the founder of Clean Energy Solutions, which was brought in for the project.

Microgrids are small networks of electricity users with a local energy source that functions independently from the main grid. Using them as a climate resiliency solution is gaining steam across the country (Next City recently covered a microgrid on the South Side of Chicago). To date, however, most microgrids are still powered by dirty fuels, such as backup diesel generators — and most are owned by private entities.

GreenRoots believes such distributed energy is the best path for ensuring affordable energy, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protecting its community, which is vulnerable to coastal flooding due to rising sea level and severe storms. The microgrid could, in fact, obviate the need for a new electric substation planned for East Boston, a flood-prone area on the opposite side of Chelsea Creek, according to John Walkey who also works at GreenRoots.

GreenRoots is fighting that substation’s construction, as it charts a more sustainable and resilient energy future. That’s part of what motivates Power. “We can’t just fight the bad without putting out new alternatives,” she says.

Power first learned about microgrids around two years ago, at a meeting of the Green Justice Coalition, a partnership of community-based, environmental and labor groups. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center had just issued a request for proposal for 14 community microgrid feasibility studies across the state. GreenRoots and the Chinese Progressive Association were the only coalition members who chose to move forward.

Green Justice Coalition teamed up with Resilient Urban Neighborhoods (RUN), a group of energy consultants interested in developing microgrids for low- and middle-income communities, and together they supported GreenRoots and the Chinese Progressive Association in securing funding from the state to carry out microgrid feasibility studies.

Each partner brings strengths to the table. “We’ve been doing organizing work for almost 25 years, so there are a lot of relationships we’ve developed,” Power says. That made it easy for GreenRoots to bring the institutions on board it felt were key in the event of an emergency, including Chelsea Public Schools, the New England Produce Center, City Hall, the police and fire departments, Chelsea Housing Authority, and two hospitals.

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Local Environmentalists Want a Sit Down With Walsh over Chelsea Creek Substation

EB Times Eversource Press Conference.jpg

On Wednesday morning local environmentalists from East Boston and Chelsea gathered at Boston City Hall to

Local environmentalist John Walkey talking about the proposed Eversource Substation. Walkey works with Chelsea-based Green Roots–an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek.

deliver 700 postcards to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh asking for the mayor to meet with residents on both sides of the Chelsea Creek to discuss alternatives to placing Eversource’s proposed substation along the creek.

For two years local environmentalists on the East Boston and Chelsea sides of the Chelsea Creek have launched a visual, media and talking campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation on a City of Boston-owned parcel at the City Yards in East Eagle Square.

Last year the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) ruled in favor of placing the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some provisos. According to the state board the EFSB vote to approve the substations and 115 kV underground cables in Eastie, Chelsea and Everett came with some conditions. The EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation and the related cable on the Chelsea Creek site.

“We are here to deliver more than 700 postcards to Mayor Martin Walsh from local residents and environmental organization,” said local environmentalist John Walkey, who works with Chelsea-based Green Roots. Green Roots is an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek. “The residents and organizations are all asking for the same thing–to meet with the residents from East Boston and Chelsea hear our concerns about the substation project.”

Walkey argues that the project represents an increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.

“It’s not really clear if this project is really needed given the current electricity demand data we received from ISO New England (an independent, non-profit Regional Transmission Organization that coordinates, controls, and monitors a multi-state electric grid),” said Walkey. “We feel it is not a wise use of the coastal zone given what we know about climate change and coastal flooding. This project precludes any other more appropriate use of the waterfront that could be more climate resilient and provide a better benefit to the community.”

Walkey added that Mayor Walsh has been very receptive to the group’s concerns but while they have met with Walsh Administration staffers they have not met directly with the mayor.

“We are here to bring home this idea that we just want to sit down and talk,” said Walkey. “We are not demanding anything ridiculous. We just want to voice our concerns and have the mayor hear them.”

Another local environmentalist, Sandra Nijjar, said she is concerned about the location proposed because it is adjacent to the American Legion Playground where children play as well as jet fuel storage tanks and the Chelsea Creek.

Resident Paul Shoaf Kozak echoed Nijjar’s concerns. Shoaf Kozak lives across from the proposed substation and said from an environmental standpoint it makes no sense.

“I can testify that this past winter the streets around the substation flooded twice,” he said. “Condor Street, which runs perpendicular to the proposed substation, flooded two times during last winter’s blizzards. The elevation of the proposed substation is only 11 feet above sea level so it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out this could cause a potentially hazardous and very dangerous situation during a flooding event. We are requesting that the mayor simply hear our concerns and include the community in the decision of where to place the substation.”

As part of its decision the EFSB also directed Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions between the community and city before construction on the substation commences. This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation.

Walsh has maintained that the city is in the process of working with Eversource to ensure the substation is in the best possible location for the residents and businesses in Eastie and those along the Chelsea Creek.

The substation was initially slated to be built on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late Mayor Thomas Menino Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource have the City of Boston the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the new East Boston Branch Library in return for a city-owned parcel in East Eagle Square.

Cutlines,

Local environmentalist John Walkey talking about the proposed Eversource Substation. Walkey works with Chelsea-based Green Roots–an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek.

Resident Paul Shoaf Kozak said from an environmental standpoint it makes no sense placing a Eversource Substation on the Chelsea Creek.

Environmentalists from East Boston and Chelsea gathered at Boston City Hall to deliver 700 postcards to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh asking for the mayor to meet with residents on both sides of the Chelsea Creek to discuss the Eversource Substation.

Local environmentalists outside Boston City Hall Wednesday protesting the proposed Eversource Substation along the Chelsea Creek.

BOSTON FIDDLES WHILE THE WORLD BURNS

DigBoston by Jason Pramas

City government continues issuing reports while UN calls for immediate action

When writing about human-induced global warming on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to pace oneself. Because it’s such a relentlessly depressing topic that highlighting it too often can backfire. Faced with an existential threat of such magnitude that human civilization—and perhaps the human race itself—may well be doomed, people have a tendency to just tune out. Figuring that “we may indeed be doomed, but not just yet.” Which reflects a serious misunderstanding of how doom works. And more importantly, neglects to factor in how the avoidance of thinking about approaching doom makes its swift arrival all the more certain. By cultivating inaction, when immediate and militant action is called for.

Be that as it may, there are times when journalists like myself cannot just let a notable happening pass without comment. And Mayor Marty Walsh’s global warming-related press conference of last week was certainly such a one.

In keeping with previous junkets on the same theme, Walsh rehearsed yet another version of the same report he’s been trotting out for the last couple of years. This time entitled “Resilient Boston Harbor.” Where the fashionable foundation buzzword “resilient” stands in for “doing the cheapest, least effective thing possible.” Since like previous versions the report:

1) doesn’t propose binding regulation to force the corporations responsible for the lion’s share of carbon emissions in Boston to do what is necessary to make the city carbon neutral by its target date of 2050

2) continues to use lower estimates for threats like sea level rise and ever-increasing air temperature rather than higher credible estimates when planning city responses, and

3) doesn’t set hard timetables for actually building the limited defensive measures it does call for… measures that basically assume that efforts to make Boston—and every significant polity on the planet—carbon-neutral will fail.

Most everything the city might do to achieve carbon neutrality and adapt to the negative effects of global warming—beyond generating more reports—is conveniently pushed off to a time well after the Walsh administration is likely to be out of office.

Worse still, the new Boston paper got released just days after a devastating new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was published by the United Nations—which says if governments worldwide haven’t made their nations carbon-neutral by 2040, then humanity has no hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. Meaning that we’re on track for the far worse scenarios of 2 degrees celsius of warming and above… that IPCC report authors say will be much more destructive to multiple planetary systems than previously anticipated. Making Boston’s current plans even more inadequate than they already are.

In fact, the only mention of completed (or nearly completed) climate remediation efforts in the press release for the “Resilient Boston Harbor” report is a brief passage indicating that “a deployable floodwall system has been installed across the East Boston Greenway, and a section of Main Street in Charlestown is being elevated.” And most every proposed initiative in the report itself is still in the planning stages. Lots of nice drawings of all the stuff that hasn’t been built yet, though.

However, according to the Boston Herald, there was one bright spot the day of the mayor’s presser when “a group of East Boston residents stormed City Hall Plaza, demanding that he hear their concerns about Eversource’s proposal to put a substation near Chelsea Creek.”

It seems that the local environmental justice group GreenRoots has been trying to meet with Walsh for about a year to attempt to stop regional power utility Eversource Energy from building the structure. To no avail.

A petition to Walsh being circulated by the group on Change.org on the matter makes it clear why: The high-voltage substation is slated to be built in an area around Chelsea Creek (a.k.a. Chelsea River) that’s flooding more and more frequently because of global warming-induced sea level rise. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, a similar station was flooded—causing it to explode and burn. A bad enough outcome in the best of circumstances.

But the Chelsea Creek substation will be located very close to storage tanks holding over eight million gallons of jet fuel for nearby Logan Airport. Should those be ignited by such an explosion, the effect on surrounding neighborhoods would be catastrophic. In both human and environmental terms.

The GreenRoots petition concludes: “We find it odd that your office has pushed for many sustainability initiatives concerning the Creek when this project isn’t compatible with this vision.” The initiatives include measures meant to reduce flooding from sea level rise on Chelsea Creek by “connecting high points near Boardman Street and Eagle Street,” according to the city’s 2016 Climate Ready Boston report. Although that is not mentioned in the latest report.

The Herald reported that Walsh’s office responded with a brief statement: “‘The substation in East Boston will better support East Boston’s growing population and facilities, including the city’s investments in a new police station, ambulance bay and a public works facility,’ adding that the city worked with Eversource to choose the site.”

The mayor has not yet agreed to meet with GreenRoots. Yet he really should. Because how is the public supposed to take any of his administration’s global warming remediation initiatives seriously when he’s still playing politics as usual with a major energy distribution corporation for a project that could have profound negative environmental effects?

“The city worked with Eversource to choose the site,” the city statement says. Lovely. But how much did it work with the East Boston community? And the grassroots environmental advocacy group working there and in neighboring Chelsea? Beyond the dog-and-pony shows necessary to put the barest sheen of democracy on the “Climate Ready Boston” process of which the “Resilient Boston Harbor” report is part? Not much at all, apparently. Basically Eversource wants the substation at Chelsea Creek. And it’s going to get what it wants in the current corporate-dominated political moment.

If Walsh is willing to kowtow to that big company on an issue of such serious environmental import, then why should anyone expect him to put the kind of political pressure necessary on other major Boston-area corporations that will be needed to make the city carbon-neutral and better prepared for global warming-induced disaster by 2050? Let alone 2040.

This is the guy who never saw a huge city government giveaway to major companies like General Electric during his tenure in office that he wouldn’t support. What could possibly make him change his modus operandi for conducting business as usual? Which is “give the corporations whatever they ask for—big tax breaks, free services, and public funds—and try to get a few crumbs for working families around the edges of any ‘deals’ thus cut.”

The obvious answer is that concerted grassroots political action will be required to pressure Walsh and politicians like him the world over to do the right thing consistently on the global warming front. Which is a herculean task, if attempted in one go.

But rather than take on the world’s global warming emergency all at once, Boston-area readers can send a message to Walsh that the old politics will not stand if he wants to remain in the mayor’s office—by signing the GreenRoots petition and getting involved in the fight to stop the Eversource substation from being built in environmentally sensitive Chelsea Creek.

Then folks can plug into the growing number of local battles to bring environmentally destructive natural gas utilities like National Grid and Columbia Gas to heel.

And along the way, a political movement may coalesce that can force Boston city government to take stronger long-term action to stop all activities that add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere—while saving the city from global warming-induced sea level rise and the many other deleterious effects of climate change that have already begun at our current 1 degree celsius average air temperature increase planetwide since the dawn of the industrial era.

But human society had best not take too long with such activist baby steps. Because the IPCC report is quite clear: If we have not taken giant leaps toward global carbon neutrality by 2030—only 12 years from now—then there will be no hope of stopping warming at the Paris Climate Agreement’s “aspirational target” of 1.5 degrees celsius by 2040.

If we can’t do that, then cities like Boston will have bigger crises to worry about than “just” accelerating sea level rise and ever-higher average air temperature. We will have stepped off the ecological precipice… and our doom will be upon us.

Eastie group: Unplug Eversource’s plan

Boston Herald by Brooks Sutherland

On the same day that Mayor Martin J. Walsh rolled out extensive plans to protect the city’s waterfront and shoreline from rising sea levels, a group of East Boston residents stormed City Hall Plaza, demanding that he  hear their concerns about Eversource’s proposal to put a substation near Chelsea Creek. 

John Walkey, the waterfront initiative coordinator for the community-based organization GreenRoots, said his group has been trying to meet with the mayor “for about a year,” to voice their opposition due to the proposed electrical substation. Walkey gave credit to Walsh for some of the work that has been done as part of the Climate Ready East Boston Plan, but said allowing a substation would counter its progress. 

“It doesn’t fit into that plan,” Walkey said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying tomorrow, I’m going on a diet, I’m going to lose 20 pounds, but first, I’m going to eat this entire box of Kane’s doughnuts.”

The mayor’s office said in a statement, “The substation in East Boston will better support East Boston’s growing population and facilities, including the city’s investments in a new police station, ambulance bay and a public works facility,” adding that the city worked with Eversource to choose the site.   

The statement didn’t say whether the mayor plans to meet with the group. 

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents East Boston, told the Herald that even though it appears the substation will be built, compromises can be made between the organization, mayor and Eversource.  

“I would encourage the mayor and Eversource to sit down with GreenRoots,” Edwards said. “There are some ways in which we can make sure everybody is on the same page. I would love a commitment from Eversource that if uses go down, they re-consider decommissioning the substation.”

New technology could radically reshape MBTA fare policies

The Boston Globe by Adam Vaccaro

Should you pay a higher fare if your subway ride is longer than other commuters’ trips? Or more for a bus or train ticket during rush hour, and less during off-peak times?

The MBTA has long relied on a set of fixed fares for most transit lines, but a pending shift to an all-electronic payment system could allow the agency to adopt a staggered fare structure, already used in some other cities, in which prices could be based on time of day, distance, or even income.

“We want to be able to have that flexibility in the future, depending on ridership changes or service changes,” said Laurel Paget-Seekins, director of fare policy and analytics for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “Nobody’s saying we want to do this one exact thing. We want to be able to think through these questions and then have the flexibility to implement whatever we come to.”

The T is already planning for a fare increase in 2019, the fourth since 2012. But the changes the agency is considering now would go far beyond just raising or lowering the cost of certain trips, and instead would set new rules.

In public meetings, agency officials have mentioned time-of-day pricing, to encourage ridership during off-peak hours, and distance-based fares, which are already used on the commuter rail, as examples of possible new fare systems.

Other ideas include reducing prices on trains with low ridership, such as those during the middle of the day or that travel against rush-hour traffic. The new fare system would also make it easier to offer low-income riders reduced fares, which transportation officials have discussed for years but currently only offer to young adults.

Already some transit advocates are concerned by some of the ideas; for example, they see charging more based on distance as unfair to low-income workers — especially those who’ve been pushed by high housing prices to live in further-out communities.

“People who are making less money [and] are living further away from their place of employment would now have to pay more to get to their jobs,” said Leilani Mroczkowski, a community engagement coordinator with the Chelsea-based nonprofit group GreenRoots.

Mroczkowski, who is on a working group to help the T develop policies, also opposes higher prices during rush hour, because service-industry workers with set hours have less flexibility about their commuting hours.

Mroczkowski suggested a system of consistent fares throughout the day, with rewards to riders who travel off-peak such as an occasional free ride. That too, would be possible with the new technology, MBTA officials said.

Paget-Seekins stressed the T is only considering its options, not leaning in any direction, and won’t make any decisions until after the new system is installed. The T will soon build a model to test changes in ridership and revenue based on different fare structures, which will help guide any future decisions, as will a lengthy public input process.

Officials have ticked off many benefits from the new all-electronic fare collection system, coming by 2021. Riders will be able to pay with a smartphone or credit card in addition to a plastic Charlie Card, and board buses and trolleys at all doors. And the MBTA could integrate its own system with other forms of transportation, allowing transfers between the train and the Blue Bikes system, for example.

The electronic system would make it much easier and faster to program in different prices, a big change from today’s system, which requires each individual fare reader to be reprogrammed.

“It moves it from a horrible hardware problem to a much simpler software problem,” said MBTA chief technology officer David Block-Schachter.

The T has largely modeled the new fare collection system on London, which charges higher fares during rush hour, and has subway costs that fluctuate based on distance. Distance-based fares require riders to tap their payment card to a fare reader both when they enter and exit the system. The concept is not fully foreign: Washington, D.C., also uses differentiated pricing.

Jon Orcutt, director of advocacy for the national group Transit Center, said several US transit agencies are also considering different pricing as they develop new fare collection technology. Some are just now considering a system the T has had in place for years, allowing riders to transfer between bus and subway for one fare. The MBTA expanded that policy in 2016 to allow bus-to-subway-to-bus transfers at the cost of one subway ride, $2.25.

Orcutt encouraged the T to focus on fares that encourage more ridership, rather than something like distance-based fares that would make the system more complex.

“Simple fares are better,” he said.

That was the thinking in the Seattle area, where the King County Metro bus system recently shifted to one flat fare for all trips, eliminating distance-based and rush-hour premiums. Chris O’Claire, an assistant general manager for the King County system, said the goal was to make the fare system easier to understand both for riders and the drivers who often had to answer their questions. Previously, off-peak trips cost $2.50 and commutes during rush hour cost $2.75, with additional charges for longer trips. Now, all trips cost $2.75.

“We are hearing anecdotal information from our customers that the complexity of how you enter the system has been reduced, and it’s easier to access the system,” O’Claire said. “And that was a true goal of ours.”

In contrast to riders who only use the subway or bus, commuter rail riders in Boston are already familiar with complexity, with 21 different fares ranging from $2.25 to $12.50 based on distance. Some advocates have pushed the T to simplify the structure, especially by lowering fares on some stations closer to Boston. In the past, T officials have argued that the existing fare system is reasonable because even if longer rides are more expensive, they are cheaper for riders on a per-mile basis.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature ordered transportation officials to review fare rates on the commuter rail, including lower prices from certain stations, and different prices during off-peak hours.

The commuter rail is in for some of the biggest changes when the new fare system comes online. Until now, train conductors have visually checked riders’ tickets and monthly passes, or accepted payment on-board. With the new system, riders will pay by tapping their fare card or phone to a reader as they enter the train, and again as they exit, to determine how much they owe.

Some commuter rail stations may also get fare gates similar to those on the subway. Meanwhile, for the first time, the T will develop policies about combined fares for transfers from the bus or subway to the commuter rail.

Paget-Seekins said the T needs to get through these big changes first before considering a major overhaul of fares on the commuter rail or any other mode.

“It’s the last piece of the project,” she said. “There’s a lot of other stuff that has to happen first.”

Developer shares vision for Suffolk Downs

The Bay State Banner by Emily Carson

Plans call for creation of new neighborhood over 161 acres

….

Resiliency

Other concepts put forth in the meeting included resiliency, such as planning for storm surges caused by climate change and rising sea levels. Areas around the neighborhood, such as lower-level garages and a sunken park amphitheater, will function as water basins and drainage sites during heavy flooding periods. HYM is also aiming to reduce emissions in the building process and make the buildings sustainable: 50 percent of the buildings will be LEED Gold certified or better and 50 percent will be LEED Silver. 

The meeting took place on the day the Draft Environmental Impact Report and Draft Project Impact Report had been filed by HYM and released by the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The impact report includes studies of how aspects of the project, such as infrastructure building and traffic, will affect the environment around the site, including wetlands, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

“Redevelopment of the project site provides a unique opportunity to create additional housing, spur economic development, mitigate climate change in the area and improve connections between several adjoining neighborhoods,” the report states.

John Walkey, a waterfront initiative coordinator with the Chelsea-based environmental justice organization GreenRoots, said he has been following the development of the project and remains unswayed by the presentation’s promises of affordable housing. He is concerned by both the environmental and social impacts of the plan, and echoes Berninger’s sentiments.

“Housing should be a human right, and treating it like supply and demand is just underselling the issue,” Walkey said at the meeting. “It’s really going to change the fabric of the neighborhood and hasten the demise of an immigrant neighborhood.”

Though HYM has held more than 300 meetings in the community with different neighborhood groups, and even one-on-one meetings, this is the first unveiling of the plan at a public neighborhood meeting. Councilor Edwards said she is pleased the meeting took place.

“It’s an opportunity to start off a positive conversation about where we want to go, but also to make sure that we’re developing a really good, open, transparent relationship with HYM, as this is a long-term project,” said Edwards.

HYM’s O’Brien expressed satisfaction with the meeting overall.

“I thought the meeting went really well,” he said. “People listened to our proposal, they listened to the details. There weren’t that many questions, so hopefully that means we’ve answered people’s questions for the most part.”

The process is currently under review by the BPDA. The public comment period concludes Dec. 17. The next meeting for the project is on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Suffolk Downs Clubhouse.

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T officials promise Chelsea service improvements

Commonwealth Magazine by Bruce Mohl

Agency to explore bus lanes, but fare reductions not considered

STATE TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS said on Monday they would explore ways to address delays on the MBTA’s third-busiest bus route, but they refused to even consider what many residents of Chelsea say they want – fare reductions.

What to do about the Route 111 bus that carries more than 12,000 passengers a day came to a head a week ago when Brian Lang, a director of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, demanded to know what the T was doing to address chronic delays that are likely to worsen as construction accelerates on bridges used by the bus. Lang said he was worried that the problems with Route 111 were not getting the agency’s attention because most of the riders are poor, working-class immigrants.

At Monday’s meeting of the control board, a number of Chelsea residents showed up to complain about the service and the refusal of T officials to listen to their concerns. The residents, most of them from an organization called GreenRoots, said the 111 buses are regularly overcrowded and often delayed. They acknowledged fare mitigation wouldn’t solve those problems, but they said lower fares would at least be an acknowledgment that Chelsea residents shouldn’t be treated like cattle.

“Why are we paying the exact same fares for the worst service in the state?” asked Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots.

The T unveiled what it called the Chelsea Plan in May to improve service on the 111 bus route and divert as many of its passengers as possible to alternative modes of transportation, including commuter rail, the Chelsea Silver Line service to South Station via the Seaport District, and buses linking to the Blue Line. The Chelsea Plan estimated travel times on the 111 route would be up to 45 minutes longer during the peak bridge construction period in July 2019 and 20 minutes longer at other times.

The 111 bus runs from Everett through Revere and into Chelsea, where it picks up most of its passengers. It continues over the Tobin Bridge into Charlestown and then into Haymarket in Boston via the North Washington Street Bridge. The Tobin Bridge is currently undergoing repairs and the North Washington Street Bridge is slated to be rebuilt over a five-year period. The 111 bus often runs late because of traffic congestion along the route. Its performance has also suffered in the past because the T frequently diverted 111 buses and drivers to plug holes in the schedule of other, less frequent routes.

T General Manager Luis Ramirez said he and other transit officials have been meeting with Chelsea officials to resolve the problems. “We are working hard to deliver a better service,” he said.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the deputy general manager, acknowledged the route has suffered from overcrowding and cancelled trips, but he said a number of operational changes and the addition of five bus drivers to the route have led to improvements. He said there were 280 canceled trips on the 111 route last year during the week of Labor Day; this year there were 26, he said.

Lang adopted a milder tone on Monday than he did a week ago, saying there is no “silver bullet” to address the problems with the 111 route. He urged the T and the control board to take the lead in forming a task force of all interested parties to address delays on the 111 bus and improve alternative ways of getting back and forth between Boston and Chelsea.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said her office would explore ways to ease the impact of the North Washington Street Bridge reconstruction and work with the Coast Guard to reduce delays caused by the raising and lowering of the Chelsea Street Bridge, which affects travel times on the Chelsea Silver Line and other buses connecting to the Blue Line.

Chris Dempsey, the director of Transportation for Massachusetts, urged the state Department of Transportation to address concerns about the 111 bus by testing a dedicated bus lane on the Tobin Bridge or imposing higher tolls at peak periods to reduce congestion.

Pollack said her agency would explore options with the Tobin Bridge, but she sounded skeptical that a dedicated bus lane would make much difference unless it was matched with a similar lane along the rest of the route. T officials said they would reach out to Chelsea officials to explore their receptivity.

T officials said they would form a task force, begin exploring possible service improvements, and report back to the control board in 60 days.

Asked her reaction, Bongiovanni of GreenRoots said: “Complete bullshit.”

That was her general reaction, but she was particularly incensed that Ramirez said he had been meeting with Chelsea officials. She said he had reached out to City Council President Damali Vidot on Monday morning.