Massachusetts announces Tobin Bridge dedicated bus lane pilot

The one-year pilot will analyze the bus lane’s performance for travel time, operations, crowding, and ridership

December 09, 2020 / 2 minute read
Massachusetts announces Tobin Bridge dedicated bus lane pilot
Image: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts DOT (MassDOT) Highway Division announced that a 1.1-mile dedicated bus lane for southbound travel on the Tobin Bridge will open for use by public transit buses this month.

This 12-month southbound bus lane pilot, along with additional transit priority initiatives and improvements on Broadway Street in Chelsea and North Washington Street in Boston, makes the MBTA’s Route 111 bus route one of the most prioritized bus routes in the MBTA system.

“We are piloting the idea of a preferential lane for the MBTA’s 111 route, and the lane’s success will be evaluated after collecting data on bus travel times, crowding, and ridership, along with how safe the dedicated lane is for all travelers,” MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.

The MBTA’s Rapid Response Bus Lane program has identified corridors like the areas where Route 111 operates as these routes have seen some of the highest rates of bus ridership since March and experience above-average chronic delay. As of November 2020, Route 111’s current ridership is about 73% of its pre-COVID levels for the same time period, ranking Route 111 among one of the highest ridership routes in the MBTA bus system (third highest).

Extending 1.1 miles, the dedicated all-day bus lane exclusive to Bus Route 111 begins after the Everett Avenue on-ramp merge in Chelsea and extends across the Tobin Bridge, ending just before the City Square Tunnel in Charlestown. Dedicated bus lanes can reduce crowding on buses and also limit the amount of time riders spend in close proximity to others while on the bus. In some cases, bus lanes can improve service frequency to further mitigate crowded conditions. 

The pilot will be in place for one year with the bus lane’s performance analyzed for metrics that include travel time, operations, crowding, and ridership. Roadway and vehicle data analysis will also take place with roadway operations being monitored for vehicle volumes, travel time, and safety

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SOURCE: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

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