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Better Bus Project

Better Bus Project: Making transit better together

The experience of taking an MBTA bus fails to live up to our own standards in too many ways. Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that.

The Better Bus Project is a major step in our efforts to improve bus service and the system as a whole. It is a key part of our systemwide $8 billion, 5-year capital investment program that began July 1, 2018.

Riders can see some of these efforts in action—like priority bus lanes and new early morning and late night service. Some of our work—like new garages and better software for supervisors—is behind the scenes, and it helps keep 1,000 buses operating to carry about 400,000 riders each day. All of this together is the Better Bus Project.

The Better Bus Project is the MBTA’s partnership with more than 50 municipalities and MassDOT, which operate the roads that our buses use.

Building a Better T

As part of our $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan, we're renovating stations, modernizing fare collection systems, upgrading services for our buses, subways, and ferries, and improving the accessibility of the entire system.

Learn more

Check out each initiative related to our bus routes and network, as well as improving bus service across the system, for more information.

Bus Network Redesign

A bus drives in traffic in Mattapan
  • Timeline: 2018 – 2021
  • Status: Planning

Greater Boston has experienced significant changes in recent years, while the bus network has stayed largely the same. New employment districts have emerged, demographics have shifted, travel patterns have changed, and traffic congestion has increased.

In order to respond to these changes, the Bus Network Redesign is taking a look at the bus system as a whole. We will recommend a new network that better serves the needs of the region.

Learn more about the Bus Network Redesign


2019 Route Changes: Rounds in Fall and Winter

Riders exit a Route 66 bus in Harvard Square

Timeline: January 2019 – December 22, 2019
Status: Complete

In 2019, we implemented 2 rounds of route changes to make our bus system more reliable, improve frequency, and make routes easier for riders to understand. The first round of service changes went into effect September 1, 2019, and the second round went into effect December 22, 2019.


Early Morning and Late Night Bus Service

A bus pulled up to a bus shelter late at night, with a rider walking away, and an ad for late night bus service on the shelter wall, which reads, "Late-night buses. If you

 Timeline: 2018 – 2019
 Status: Complete

As a result of our early morning and late night bus service pilots, we made about 140 more weekly late night trips permanent in 2019, in addition to previous existing late night service.

Learn more about our early morning and late night bus routes


Bus Transit Priority

An overhead shot of Broadway in Somerville, where a bus lane has been implemented
Photo courtesy of Radu Nan of Kittelson & Associates

Timeline: Ongoing
Status: In 2018, we developed 2.3 miles of bus lanes and priority treatments, and in 2019 we added 2.8 more miles. We have more than 7.5 additional miles planned for 2020.

We’re partnering with communities to develop more bus lanes to give riders faster, more reliable trips, and implement other transit priority features like queue jumps and signal priority.

Learn more about bus transit priority


Skate: Mobile Dispatching for Bus Officials

Route ladders in Skate. The buses are depicted as colored triangles—green is on time, blue is early, and red is late. The attached lines show where that bus should be in its schedule.
Route ladders in Skate. The buses are depicted as colored triangles—green is on time, red is early, and blue is late. The attached lines show where that bus should be in its schedule.

Timeline: April 2019 – August 2019
Status: Complete

In 2019, we developed Skate, a convenient, web-based dispatch tool. With Skate, bus inspectors are able to see when buses are running behind or ahead of schedule, and they can make adjustments on the fly (like dispatching the next bus earlier or later) to compensate for gaps in service, improving service for riders.

Learn more about Skate


Bus Stop Accessibility Improvements

wheeled mobility device user boarding with ramp

Timeline: 2019 – 2021
Status: In progress

While 100% of MBTA buses are accessible, not all our bus stops are. We're working to change that. Our Plan for Accessible Transit Infrastructure (PATI) is a roadmap to achieving full accessibility across the entire MBTA system. The database tracks and prioritizes MBTA locations that have significant accessibility barriers, including bus stops.

We identified 130 stops that exhibit critical barriers to accessibility and require complete reconstruction. We rebuilt 63 of these stops in 2019. The remaining stops are slated for improvements by mid-2020. We also identified over 600 additional bus stops that have significant barriers to access. We will start improvements on those in 2020.


Bus Facility Modernization

Buses parked in a garage, sunlight streaming in

 Timeline: Ongoing
 Status: Design and permitting work being initiated on a new Quincy bus maintenance facility

With the bus facility modernization program, we are working to improve our facilities and expand our capacity. The number of buses we can get on the street is limited by the space we have at our garages to store and maintain them, so expanding capacity will allow us to run more service more frequently during rush hours and other busy times.

These modern facilities will also be able to accommodate zero-emission battery electric buses, a goal of the T’s Focus40 investment plan.


Bus Stop E Ink Signs

An E Ink sign at the Broadway @ Norwood stop in Everett

Timeline: 2019 – 2020
Status: In progress

Real-time information dramatically improves the experience of taking public transit, but access to power at freestanding bus stops can be a challenge.

Through a pilot program, in February 2020 we activated solar-powered E Ink signs at 18 bus stops to display real-time information about bus arrivals and service alerts.

We’ll get feedback from riders about whether and how these new types of signs improve their trips.

Learn more about solar-powered E Ink signs


Stay Informed

Receive the latest project information and find out about public events.

For all other queries and comments related to Better Bus Project, please contact us at betterbusproject@mbta.com.

Past Events

View all events

Downloads

Presentations at Public Meetings

Presentations to the Board

We invite you to review the documents presented to the Fiscal Management and Control Board throughout the Better Bus Project process.

Recent Updates

View all project updates

Building a Better T

As part of our $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan, we're renovating stations, modernizing fare collection systems, upgrading services for our buses, subways, and ferries, and improving the accessibility of the entire system.

Learn more

Recent Updates

View all project updates