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MBTA and the Town of Arlington Announce Extension of Shared Bus/Bike Lane on Massachusetts Avenue Funded by MassDOT’s Shared Streets and Spaces Grant

Posted on May 20, 2024

Collaborative effort aims to improve transit for nearly 5,000 daily bus riders on Route 77 and enhance pedestrian safety.

Today, the MBTA and the Town of Arlington announced the extension of the shared bus/bike lane project on Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington made possible through funding received from the MassDOT Shared Streets and Spaces Grant. Installation of the extension of the shared bus/bike lane is scheduled to begin May 20 with completion anticipated in the next few days (weather depending). The project includes the addition of an outbound lane from Alewife Brook Parkway to the opposite side of Lafayette Street. This segment of road was identified by the MBTA in their Transit Priority Vision as a critical need for bus priority improvements and used design guidance from the MBTA’s Transit Priority Toolkit

“Anytime we are able to expand dedicated bus lanes, we are sending a message to the community that public transportation is a priority,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “Dedicated bus lanes, such as this one in Arlington, are part of our overall strategy to make bus priority improvements system-wide and to give our riders the efficient and reliable service they deserve.”

“This expanded bus and bike lane shows how the MBTA is collaborating with its municipal partners to implement efficient, effective, and meaningful improvements that will benefit thousands of existing bus riders and attract new riders,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “Thank you to the Town of Arlington for partnering with us on this project, to the MBTA’s Bus Transformation staff for their dedicated efforts, and to MassDOT for their funding support in improving public spaces through the Shared Streets and Spaces grant. We look forward to continuing to implement these kinds quick-build bus lane upgrades and improvements, which benefit so many.”

“With the expansion of these shared bus/bike lanes and the addition of a pedestrian beacon, we are pleased that the MBTA continues to make transportation investments in Arlington,” said Arlington Town Manager Jim Feeney. “We look forward to future collaborations with the MBTA to improve public transit and pedestrian safety.”

The expanded shared bus/bike lane will benefit approximately 5,000 daily bus riders using Route 77, based on Fall 2023 ridership. This segment of Massachusetts Avenue will also provide a link to existing inbound bus lanes in Arlington and Cambridge on either side of the new segment, which will span from Boulevard Road to Alewife Brook Parkway, facilitating smoother bus travel and enhancing the convenience of traveling from Arlington to Harvard Square. A study by the City of Cambridge found that buses traveling on Massachusetts Avenue were 31-40% faster on average after the installation of this bus lane in late 2021 between Dudley Street and Alewife Brook Parkway.  

In conjunction with the expansion of the shared bus/bike lanes, the installation of a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) at the Lafayette Street crosswalk is expected to yield safety enhancements, improving overall mobility and circulation for residents, employees, and visitors.

The MassDOT Shared Street and Spaces Grant funds quick-build projects to help transit authorities and municipalities quickly implement improvements to public spaces. These include sidewalks, curbs, streets, bus stops, and parking areas to support public health, safe mobility, and strengthening commerce. 

The MBTA Transit Priority Group is part of the Better Bus Project, which aims to transform bus service throughout the MBTA system. The group is responsible for designing and implementing transit priority infrastructure and working with municipal and fellow state agencies. To date, the group has delivered more than 40 miles of bus lanes and activated transit signal priority at more than 80 locations in 12 municipalities.

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