Skip to main content

Better Bus Project

Updated on February 20, 2019

Better Bus Project: Making transit better together

About the Project

Timeline: 2018 – 2020
Status: Planning

The Better Bus Project is the first step in our efforts to improve bus service and the system as a whole. It is a key part of our $8 billion modernization work, which includes replacing subway fleets, upgrading tracks, signals, and switches, reinventing our bus system to reflect changing demographics, replacing our fare collection system, and bringing all of our assets to a state of good repair.

Too many of our bus routes still fail to live up to our own standards. Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that. Every day we’re finding new ways to improve the experiences of the people who use and ride our buses.

The Better Bus Project has several components: continuous change, analysis, proposed near-term changes, multi-year investment strategy, and the Bus Network Redesign.

A line of parked buses, with sunlight streaming into the garage

Continuous Change

Continuous change focuses on improvements that can be made when opportunities present themselves. This includes municipal partnerships, pilot projects, and the continuing practice of making regular, quarterly updates to scheduled service to better align schedules with rider demand.

The Better Bus Project team worked with municipalities throughout 2018 to improve the reliability and speed of bus service with bus priority projects in Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, and Everett. As the project continues, we will continue to engage with municipal partners to improve service in other areas.

Analysis

During our analysis period, we reached out to the communities most impacted by gaps in service and schedules. This included discussions at regional public meetings and meetings with community groups and stakeholders, through feedback submitted to our online survey, and by speaking with riders at bus stops and stations.

What We Learned

Riders want more frequent, more reliable service. They want more routes that run more often throughout the day—not just during peak service hours. And we learned from planners and operators that there are too many routes, too many complex routes, and too few routes with frequent, all-day service.

We invite you to review the following documents to learn more about our findings:

State of the Bus System

A review of existing bus service, ridership, and service gaps.

Learn about the bus system

Market Analysis

An evaluation of the underlying population, employment, and demand for transit in our service area.

Read the market analysis

Proposed Near-term Changes

Excerpt from a route proposal, showing a map with changes. Find all proposals at betterbus.mbta.com/proposals.
An excerpt from one of our 47 route proposals.

Before we can make substantial service changes, we have to make a few simple changes that will enable better service per dollar invested when it becomes time to to add more buses, drivers, and garages.

First, we need to:

  • Consolidate duplicate routes
  • Improve the space available at bus stops
  • Eliminate obsolete variants of some bus routes

We have 47 proposals to update and modernize existing routes. These are good, long-overdue changes. Taken together, they’re laying the foundation for a bus network with more frequent, reliable service that provides better connectivity in Greater Boston.

Share Your Feedback With Us

We need your feedback on these proposals, and invite you to review them.

We will also be hosting a series of open houses over the next several weeks, at Boston City Hall Plaza and different bus stations around the region. Feel free to stop by any time during our open house hours and talk to our staff about these proposals. We will also be at upcoming MBTA community meetings.

Whether you submit feedback online or in person, we will take it to the FMCB to share with them whether our proposals were not bold enough or if they went too far or if we missed something entirely. They will then decide if we move forward on a package of revised proposals. If approved, you’ll start to see these changes as early as fall 2019.

Multi-year Investment Strategy

During peak morning and afternoon service, the MBTA bus system runs at full capacity. There are no extra drivers, buses, or space to store extra buses—so we can’t add service somewhere without cutting it somewhere else.

This spring, we will engage the FMCB in a conversation about additional resources to improve the system. We heard from riders that they want additional resources spent on increasing frequency and reliability, and we will work with our board to understand how we could best spend any potential new resources.

Bus Network Redesign

We also started looking at redesigning the entire bus network. This Bus Network Redesign will analyze changes to the bus network that will better serve existing riders, and attract new riders, too.

Project Timeline

Time PeriodComponentActivities
Time PeriodOngoingComponentContinuous ChangeActivities
  • Ongoing quarterly changes
  • Pilot projects
  • Municipal partnerships
Time Period2018ComponentAnalysisActivities
Time PeriodWinter 2018 – 2019ComponentProposed Near-term ChangesActivities
  • Public engagement
  • Feedback on service proposals
Time PeriodEarly to Mid-2019ComponentMulti-year Investment StrategyActivities
  • Request additional resources from the MBTA's Fiscal & Management Control Board
Time Period2019 and BeyondComponentBus Network RedesignActivities
  • Analyze bus network
  • Produce recommendations to better serve riders

Get Involved

Members of the public browse inside a retrofitted bus with tables featuring informational posters and flyers about the Better Bus Project.

Meet With Us

Please join us at one of our open houses over the next several weeks, or at an upcoming MBTA community meeting.

Upcoming Better Bus Project Open Houses

LocationDateTime
LocationForest Hills StationDateWednesday, February 27Time3 PM – 5 PM
LocationMalden Center StationDateMonday, March 4Time4 PM – 6 PM

MBTA Community Meetings

Join us at community meetings to learn more about the Better Bus Project, our fare increase proposal, and our plans for a new fare payment system.

Stay Informed

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

Download Public Meeting Documents

Bus illustration

Winter 2019

August 2018

May/June 2018


Translate This Page

Español (Spanish)

Português (Portuguese)

Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole)

Français (French)

汉语 (Simplified Chinese)

漢語 (Traditional Chinese)

Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Updates

February 20, 2019

MBTA Community Meetings

Big changes are coming at the T, and we want to hear your feedback on them.

Contact Information

For all queries and comments related to Better Bus Project, please contact:

Better Bus Project

Upcoming Meetings

Past Meetings