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New Bus and Bike Lanes Established on Washington Street in Downtown Boston and Chinatown To Improve Silver Line and Traffic Safety

Posted on July 6, 2020

MBTA and City of Boston launch new bus lane, bike safety, and curbside management improvements on Washington Street between Herald Street and Temple Place to improve transportation reliability and safety for thousands of commuters.


Today the MBTA and the City of Boston announced the completion of nearly a mile of new bus lanes and other multimodal improvements along Washington Street in Downtown Boston and Chinatown. These facilities will be open all-day and will be in effect immediately.

“These improvements on Washington Street are a critical part of our commitment to making our city streets safer and more equitable for everyone,” said City of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Delivering on this project is a key part of Go Boston 2030, the City of Boston’s long-term, comprehensive transportation plan, and will help our residents more efficiently travel throughout our city.”

“Our partnership with Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston is critical for building a better T, and keeping our passengers, operators, and the region safe as Metro Boston recovers from the pandemic,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “These improvements mean that people riding buses and bikes from Roxbury can get to job opportunities and services faster, safer, and more reliably.” 

Go Boston 2030, the City of Boston’s comprehensive transportation plan, highlighted the reliability of public transit – and bus service in particular – as a top priority. Since the introduction of Go Boston 2030 in 2017, action has been taken on more than half of the 58 projects and policies identified in the plan.  

According to a Boston Transportation Department and MBTA analysis, the new Washington Street bus lane will save 24,000 weekday riders up to 12 minutes on trips from Nubian Square into downtown, offering commuters significantly more reliable transit service. 

These new facilities were planned through a partnership with the City of Boston and the MBTA. The Silver Line 4 and Silver Line 5 routes connect Nubian Square with Downtown Boston, Chinatown, and the South End. Bus lanes were implemented along Washington Street throughout the South End as part of the launch of the Silver Line in 2002. This project closes the gap between original facilities while bringing benefits to other road users, including bicycle users. 

Since 2018, the MBTA and the City of Boston have partnered to improve transit commutes for thousands of bus riders in Roslindale, Allston, and Downtown Boston. The City of Boston and the MBTA continue to work together on important initiatives to reduce crowding and improve reliability of bus service in the City, including additional bus lane projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transportation improvements along the corridor include: 

  • Bus Improvements: Between Herald Street and the intersection of Stuart and Kneeland Streets at Tufts, the right general traffic lane was replaced with a bus- and bike-only lane. All parking, pickup and drop-off, and current curb uses will remain. North of Tufts Medical Center, the right curbside lane was turned into a bus-only lane.
  • Bicycle Improvements: The shared bus and bike lane along Washington Street in Roxbury and the South End was extended to the intersection of Stuart and Kneeland Streets at Tufts. North of this intersection, a bike lane has been installed along the left curb with the installation of protective flex posts taking place soon. Bike-only facilities will extend to the entrance into the pedestrian area of Downtown Crossing.
  • Safer, Concentrated Loading Zones: Much of the congestion on Washington Street is caused by disorganized loading. A new, block-long designated loading zone was installed along Washington between Boylston Street and Avery Street. It also clarifies pickup and drop-off, valet, and commercial vehicle activity.

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