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Bus Transit Priority

Bus-only lane on Washington Street in Roslindale, with traffic in adjacent lanes and an MBTA bus with a clear path in its own lane.

As regional congestion continues to worsen, how cities and towns manage the streets and signals used by MBTA buses has a lot to do with how fast or slow our buses run.

To have the greatest and most immediate benefits for riders, the MBTA has identified high-delay and high-ridership corridors for focused investment in bus priority infrastructure.

In conjunction with the Better Bus Project, the T is partnering with communities to make investments in bus priority tools in these and other potential corridors.

See the impact these pilots have made so far

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

Bus transit priority features include:

  • Creating bus lanes or shared bus/bike lanes during rush hours, giving buses a clear path past traffic 
  • Working on transit signal priority, which gives preference to buses at traffic lights
  • Implementing queue jumps, short stretches of priority lanes that let buses bypass waiting traffic with early green signals

Rider benefits include more efficient bus service, with:

  • Fewer delays
  • Faster bus trips
  • More reliable and frequent service

Transit Priority Projects

Projects are underway in several municipalities. This work will help improve bus service and mitigate congestion in high-traffic neighborhoods throughout Greater Boston. 

Allston

The 57 bus travels in a dedicated bus and bike lane on Brighton Ave in Allston. (July 2019)

Arlington

A closeup of a bus approaching in the new bus lane on Mass Ave in Arlington

Downtown Boston

The new dedicated bus lane on Summer Street outside of South Station

Cambridge

Bus lane on Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, near Central Square (November 2018)

Cambridge and Boston

An aerial view of the dedicated bus lane on Charles River Dam Road

Cambridge and Watertown

Bus lane on Mt Auburn St in Cambridge and Watertown (November 2018)

Everett

Bus lane on Broadway in Everett

Roslindale

Bus-only lane on Washington Street in Roslindale, with traffic in adjacent lanes and an MBTA bus with a clear path in its own lane.

Somerville

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

Transit Signal Priority

We’re implementing Transit Signal Priority (TSP), which gives preference to transit vehicles at certain intersections, on the Green Line and on bus routes throughout Greater Boston.

The Benefits of TSP and How it Works

TSP uses technology to automatically detect transit vehicles and predict their arrival times. Based on this information, TSP tools can change the timing of traffic lights to accommodate oncoming public transit vehicles. For example, if a bus is running late, the system can switch on an early green signal or extend a green signal as the bus approaches so riders don't have to wait in traffic. This helps public transit vehicles stay on schedule, resulting in improved travel times and reliability for people using transit.

There are several ways of using TSP to mitigate traffic impacts:

  • Automatically switching signals for all arriving transit
  • Strategically switching signals to only allow buses that are running late to take priority
  • Coordinating signals to switch based on average bus speed rather than the average vehicle speed

Upcoming Projects

Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program

View of Columbus Avenue on a clear summer day during rush hour traffic.

Timeline: Fall 2020 – spring 2021

The Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program is an unprecedented effort to implement up to 14 miles of bus lanes throughout Boston, Chelsea, Somerville, and Everett. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, these improvements will support public health recovery, improve bus speed, increase reliability, and reduce crowding.

Boston

Aerial view of red bus lanes running down the center of Columbus Avenue in Boston. Clear sky and normal traffic conditions.

Chelsea

View of Broadway Ave in Chelsea on a cloudless summer day. The 116 bus is in light traffic.

Everett

View of Sweester Circle from Main Street. Partially cloudy summer day with light traffic conditions.

Somerville

View of Washington Street in Somerville on a partially cloudy September day. Moderate traffic conditions, no pedestrians.

Contact Information

For all queries and comments related to Bus Priority Lanes, please contact the Better Bus Project at betterbusproject@mbta.com

Related Projects

Better Bus Project: Making transit better together

Too many of our bus routes still fail to live up to our own standards. Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that.

Learn about the Better Bus Project

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

Related Projects

Better Bus Project: Making transit better together

Too many of our bus routes still fail to live up to our own standards. Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that.

Learn about the Better Bus Project