Massachusetts DOT Helps Launch New Bus Lane Program

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority are crafting a series of new bus lanes around Sweetser Circle in the city of Everett as part of the MBTA’s Rapid Response Bus Lane Program.

[Above photo by the MBTA.]

The Sweetser Circle project – part of a statewide MBTA-municipal collaborative program that aims to boost service reliability in order to improve COVID-19 social distancing measures for riders and operators on busy routes – is expected to cost $270,000, with the new lanes ready for use by mid-October 2020, the agencies said.

Stephanie Pollack

“Improving transit reliability and supporting the commuting needs of essential workers is a key component of Governor Baker’s Reopening Massachusetts plan,” explained Stephanie Pollack, Massachusetts DOT Secretary and CEO, in a statement. “Implementing these changes demonstrates MassDOT’s commitment to an equitable recovery from COVID-19 in addition to creating safer and more reliable bus facilities.”

“In the last few months, as riders have returned to MBTA services, it was clear that many routes … faced challenges around crowding that were greater than most other routes,” added Steve Poftak, MBTA’s general manager.

Steve Poftak

“We launched our Rapid Response Bus Lane Program with our state and local partners to take these challenges head on,” he added. “This ensures that we were doing everything we could to immediately improve service reliability and minimize the chances of overcrowding. Giving buses their own lane is the best way to do that.”

The project will provide the city of Everett with an all-day dedicated bus lane as well as two outbound evening rush hour bus lanes that match up with inbound rush hour bus lanes established in 2016.

As is the case with other bus lanes throughout the region, areas with wide skips in red paint and directional turn arrows are shared space for turning general purpose traffic and bus lanes. Areas with narrower skips in red paint without directional turn arrows indicates they are dedicated bus passing lanes.

The MBTA’s Rapid Response Bus Lane Program – based on close partnerships with state and municipal roadway owners – is also working other projects slated for completion this fall, including portions of Broadway in Chelsea, Broadway in Revere, North Washington Street in Boston, and Washington Street in Somerville.

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