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MBTA in Partnership with Boston, Somerville, Malden, Brookline, Revere, Lynn To Construct Nearly Five Miles of Bus Lanes and Other Transit Upgrades This Summer To Aid Pandemic Recovery Efforts and Support Economic Growth

Posted on June 28, 2021

The MBTA and its municipal partners will build new bus lanes on critical transit corridors along roadways in Boston, Somerville, Malden, Brookline, Revere, and Lynn as part of the MBTA’s Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program and MassDOT’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Program.


MassDOT, the MBTA, the City of Boston, the City of Somerville, the City of Malden, the Town of Brookline, the City of Revere, and the City of Lynn today announced a series of bus priority projects that will construct up to 4.8 miles of bus lanes and other pro-transit infrastructure upgrades across Metro Boston this summer to improve bus speed and reliability as the region re-opens from COVID-19-related regulations. These quick-build projects aim to address transit delay on some of the region’s most congested roadways in order to improve bus travel time and reliability, and move more people more efficiently to support economic recovery and public health.

These projects are a part of the MBTA’s Better Bus Project and Transit Priority effort, a major initiative to improve bus service and the system as a whole. Several of the projects received funding through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces grant program, which aims to improve traffic and transit conditions in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce across the Commonwealth.

“These are precisely the kinds of projects the Baker-Polito Administration had in mind in awarding municipalities Shared Winter Streets and Spaces funding for public transportation needs as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey L. Tesler. “We are grateful to municipal leaders in Boston, Somerville, Malden, Brookline, Revere, and Lynn for collaborating with the MBTA to install infrastructure, including dedicated bus lanes, and having the vision to see that ‘shared streets’ are streets which are truly vital to helping residents move around safely and to encouraging people to get around in ways other than in a personal motor vehicle.”

“Throughout the pandemic, the bus system has been a lifeline for riders accessing jobs, healthcare, and services,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Since spring 2020, we have worked with our municipal partners to deliver an additional nearly five miles of bus lanes, benefiting over 57,000 riders in some of the region’s hardest-hit communities. These projects are testimonies to our shared commitments to advancing equitable mobility, and why we want to deliver another nearly five miles of infrastructure this year. These projects would not have been possible without the tireless work of our municipal partners.”

Two Route 111 buses travel along a congested stretch of North Washington Street near Causeway Street in Boston before construction of a northbound bus lane. 
Two Route 111 buses travel along a congested stretch of North Washington Street near Causeway Street in Boston before construction of a northbound bus lane. 

“These projects are vital to connecting our residents and our neighborhoods. So many essential workers across Boston have depended on these MBTA bus routes to travel to work and keep our healthcare systems and critical services running throughout the pandemic, and long before,” said City of Boston Mayor Kim Janey. “We need to do all that we can to support these riders through public investments like these to ensure an equitable recovery.”

These projects are another important step that contributes to the regional effort to advance bus priority on local streets. Bus lanes in the Town of Brookline and the City of Revere will be the first bus priority facilities to be constructed in those municipalities, bringing the total number of metropolitan area communities with bus lanes on local streets to nine.

A Route 116 bus travels along a congested stretch of Broadway in Revere before construction of a southbound, peak bus lane.
A Route 116 bus travels along a congested stretch of Broadway in Revere before construction of a southbound, peak bus lane.

“Our bus lane on Broadway is a part of our city’s commitment to improve mobility, especially for local residents who depend on public transit to get to work, school, and essential services,” said City of Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo. “The way we rebuild our region in the wake of this crisis is by recommitting to the public goods that serve our residents every day.”

Bus Route 66 has been the highest ridership route in recent weeks. Improvements in the Gateway East project area in Brookline aim to improve reliability for Bus Routes 66, 65, 60 riders. 
Bus Route 66 has been the highest ridership route in recent weeks. Improvements in the Gateway East project area in Brookline aim to improve reliability for Bus Routes 66, 65, 60 riders. 

“A strong transit system is essential to Brookline’s future. Our community understands that buses are a vital service for residents, workers, and visitors, and help make transportation more sustainable and less polluting,” said Chris Dempsey, Chair of the Town of Brookline Transportation Board. “We’re excited for our community’s first bus lane, and grateful for support from the Baker Administration and the MBTA to make it happen.”

Other projects in cities including Lynn, Malden, and Somerville will build on recently completed, adjacent projects, further building a network of bus priority facilities in communities that have seen durable transit ridership throughout the pandemic.

Western Ave in Lynn was identified as a major source of bus delay through MassDOT’s Lynn Transit Action Plan process. 
Western Ave in Lynn was identified as a major source of bus delay through MassDOT’s Lynn Transit Action Plan process. 

“The bus lanes coming to Western Ave., in tandem with the recent bus and bike improvements added to North Common, South Common, and Market Street, will greatly aid Lynn residents’ ability to travel around their city while providing them better access to opportunities around the region,” said City of Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee. “We appreciate our close partnership with the MBTA and MassDOT to move this project forward to implementation, and are thankful the support of our local partners at GE.”

 

Centre Street near Malden Center Station is the area of highest transit delay within the City of Malden. Quick-build bus and bike lanes aim to improve transit reliability and road safety. 
Centre Street near Malden Center Station is the area of highest transit delay within the City of Malden. Quick-build bus and bike lanes aim to improve transit reliability and road safety. 

“Malden Center is the heart of our city,” said City of Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “The quick-build improvements coming to Centre Street, Main Street, and Eastern Ave., in addition to those made last fall on Florence Street, will make it easier and more reliable for our residents to travel by bus, bike, or walking to essential businesses, services, and connections there.”

“The last year has made clear to all of us the deep inequities that threaten our region’s well-being,” said City of Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “These bus lanes will greatly benefit some of our city’s most at-need residents living in environmental justice communities like East Somerville while enhancing access to safe transit, reducing commute travel times, and improving air quality for all.”

A complete overview of projects to be constructed during spring and summer 2021 include the below. 

MunicipalityApproximate Project AreaDescription of Improvements
MunicipalityBostonApproximate Project AreaNorth Washington Street, outbound between Cross Street and Causeway StreetDescription of ImprovementsInstalling a dedicated bus lane on the northbound side of Cross Street/North Washington Street in the North End neighborhood from Sudbury Street to Causeway Street. The bus stop at Thatcher Street will move to a safer, improved location, closer to crosswalks and away from vehicles. The existing dedicated bicycle lanes will be maintained. The bus lane will improve speed and reliability for Bus Routes 92, 93, and 111 on a roadway with high transit delay.
MunicipalityWashington Street in Roslindale, outbound between Ukraine Way and Poplar StreetApproximate Project AreaEnhancing existing morning and afternoon peak bus/bike lanes in the Roslindale neighborhood, while adding bus shelters and two curb-extended bus stops to allow for a more comfortable and accessible transit experience for riders. Bus lane will improve speed and reliability for Bus Routes 30, 34, 34E, 35, 36, 37, 40, 50, and 51 on a roadway that experiences high transit delay.Description of Improvements
MunicipalityLynnApproximate Project AreaWestern Ave. between Ida Street and the Belden Bly BridgeDescription of ImprovementsConstructing inbound and outbound shared bus/bike lanes, improving speed and reliability for Bus Routes 424, 426, 441, 442, 450, and 455, connecting Lynn with destinations in Revere, Chelsea, and Boston. In addition to improving passenger service on a roadway that experiences considerable transit delay, the bus lanes will greatly benefit MBTA bus operations at the Lynn Garage, located on Western Ave. by enabling better reliability for any routes starting from the garage.
MunicipalityBrooklineApproximate Project AreaWashington Street between High Street and River Road (aka Gateway East)Description of ImprovementsImplementing inbound and outbound bus lanes and transit signal priority (TSP), improving service for Bus Routes 60, 65, and 66 in an area of chronic delay.
MunicipalityMaldenApproximate Project AreaCentre Street between the Malden Center West Busway and Main StreetDescription of ImprovementsImplementing inbound and outbound bus lanes and traffic signal adjustments, improving service for Bus Routes 99, 104, 105, 106, 108, 131, 137, 411, and 430, traveling to and from the Orange Line and Haverhill Commuter Rail Line at Malden Center Station. Bus lanes will improve MBTA speed and reliability on a roadway that experiences high transit delay.
MunicipalityRevereApproximate Project AreaBroadway, inbound between Revere Street to Revere Beach Parkway in RevereDescription of ImprovementsImplementing a morning peak shared bus/bike lane along Broadway for the Bus Routes 116, 117, 119, and 411, along a corridor with considerable transit delay.
MunicipalitySomervilleApproximate Project AreaWashington Street, between Rossmore Street and Inner Belt RoadDescription of ImprovementsInstalling a series of bus queue jumps and signal improvements on Washington Street near McGrath Highway and Inner Belt Road to benefit people riding the bus, biking, and walking near the future Green Line station. Bus queue jumps will improve speed and reliability for Bus Routes 86, 91, and CT2 on a roadway with considerable transit delay.

Building on the success of the Shared Streets and Spaces Municipal Grant Program first launched during the summer of 2020 – and later extended to address the particular challenges of winter – MassDOT is now announcing a new phase of the program. The new phase will operate similarly to previous iterations of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program by supporting municipalities and transit authorities to improve plazas, sidewalks, curbs, streets, bus stops, parking areas, and other public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce. In light of recent increases in speeding-related crashes and fatalities, this new phase of the program will have an additional emphasis on safety, and aims to fund projects that improve safety for all road users through interventions that achieve safer conditions and safer speeds.

The MBTA Transit Priority Group was created in 2019 with support from the Barr Foundation to further bus priority projects around the region. The group has worked closely with municipal partners and MassDOT to deliver over 13 miles of bus lanes and activate TSP at 64 locations in six cities, doubling the MBTA service area’s bus priority network in the last two years.

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