Road Diet Recipe: Dedicated Bus Lane Shortens Morning Commute

A dedicated bus lane will bring MBTA buses like this one to Forest Hills station.
Image: Flickr

A Boston road diet on one busy boulevard revealed that a dedicated bus lane on weekday mornings reduces bus ridership times 20 to 25 percent — saving 26 hours of passenger time per day.

After a road diet tested a dedicated bus lane on a highly-trafficked thoroughfare, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) announced a permanent bus lane will be established on Washington Street, connecting Roslindale Village to the Forest Hills Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Station.

The dedicated bus lane will be active on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. for both MBTA and school buses. Vehicle parking will not be permitted during bus lane hours, but the lane will be open to bicycle traffic.

Improving public transit and bus service is a goal of Go Boston 2030, the City of Boston’s long-term, comprehensive transportation plan. “The Roslindale bus lane was singled out as an early action project in the Go Boston 2030 Action Plan and we are pleased to be implementing this important component of our transportation plan,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca.

Fiandaca told EfficientGov that this road diet actually began one day per week in December 2017. Then, in partnership with the MBTA, BTD implemented a four week pilot program in May to monitor a potential bus lane’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

According to the city’s announcement, the bus lane received strong support from Roslindale residents, bus riders and cyclists. In a survey of bus riders and bicyclists on the corridor, 94 percent supported a permanent bus and bicycle lane. Also:

  • 92 percent of bus passengers surveyed perceived the bus lane decreased their travel time
  • 89 percent of bicyclists surveyed reported feeling safer in the shared lane

MBTA data confirmed that the pilot benefited riders, reducing travel time while in the lane by 20 to 25 percent during the worst hour of congestion — 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. For the 1,100 bus riders traveling through the corridor during that hour, that equals 26 hours of passenger time saved on a typical day.

Access our previous coverage of road diets and bus lanes:

Road Diets Prove Divisive for Cities

New Revenue Tool: Private Usage of HOV Bus Lanes

USDOT Local Gov Safety Plan

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