MBTA offers ad discount to Somerville businesses
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 02:12
During a meeting yesterday with the Somerville Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) agreed to offer Somerville businesses significant advertising discounts in order to prevent the Red Line shutdowns from negatively impacting local businesses, according to Chairman of the Somerville Chamber of Commerce Ronald Bonney.
"The MBTA is offering an extremely aggressive advertisement discount to the members of the Greater Somerville business community," Bonney said.
The Red Line of the T has been closed on weekends between Alewife and Harvard since the beginning of November for repairs that are scheduled to continue until March 2012. MBTA has operated a free bus shuttle between Alewife and Harvard that makes stops at Davis and Porter Squares in order to accommodate travelers.
The negotiations come on the heels of a Nov. 22 resolution passed by the Somerville Board of Aldermen that MBTA contribute to its "Shop in Somerville" ad campaign.
"The resolution just wanted to make sure that the T isn't negatively impacting the business and commerce activity in Davis Square," Alderman at−Large John Connolly told the Daily.
The Chamber of Commerce will meet with the MBTA again in the coming weeks to discuss a proposal to solicit local businesses to advertise on rail and buses, according to Bonney.
Somerville businesses fear as much as a 20 percent decrease in profits as a result of the closures, Bonney explained. The campaign is designed to draw more customers in order to prevent businesses from having to lay off workers, Bonney said.
President and CEO of the Somerville Chamber of Commerce Stephen Mackey noted that local businesses in the retail and dining sectors have already experienced negative impacts due to the closures.
Somerville's routine weekend visitors have been most affected by the shutdowns, Connolly explained.
"From talking to most of the local merchants, it really hasn't been a problem for regular business consumers as it has been more of an inconvenience for people who are used to travel[ing] on Red Lines on weekends," he said.
Aldermen worry that there will not be an adequate number of shuttle buses between Harvard and Alewife to accommodate travelers during the colder winter months and that consumers may not want to take the shuttle as the weather worsens, according to Alderman at−Large Bruce Desmond.
"My concern is that people would get discouraged and let go of Davis Square and all that area," he said.
Bonney also created ShopInSomerville.com, a website designed to encourage the consumption of local services and goods, he said. The website's search engine helps users locate various businesses in Somerville.
Aldermen expressed hope that the new campaign will continue to benefit local business beyond the T closures.
"It's a new project and one that the impetus of it was the shutdowns, but I think it will remain as a campaign to keep people shopping in the city," Bonney said.