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For immediate release:

October 20, 2021

MassDOT Alerts Drivers to Bus-on-Shoulder Testing on Section of I-93 

Intermittent field testing with empty MBTA, Massport and MVRTA buses to occur on shoulder of I-93 between I-95 and Somerville beginning Wednesday, October 20th 

Testing to continue about three weeks

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Photograph shows view from inside an MBTA bus during a test run on I-93 shoulder lane. 

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is alerting drivers to the October 20, 2021, start of additional field testing for the viability of allowing buses to travel in the breakdown lane of I-93, between I-95 and Somerville.

This testing will last approximately three weeks, occurring on weekdays only, and will involve Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA), and Massport’s Logan Express buses. Motorists on I-93 may observe empty MBTA, MVRTA and Logan Express buses traveling in the breakdown lane during the morning on I-93 southbound and in the afternoon on I-93 northbound. The bus on shoulder travel area is 7 miles long in each direction and the MBTA estimates the MBTA Route 354 bus currently gets in traffic congestion for 15 to 20 minutes on I-93. The Bus-on-shoulder route would allow buses to bypass this congestion. No motor vehicle travel is permitted in breakdown lanes with the exception of buses involved in the field testing.

MassDOT is advising drivers to be aware of buses traveling in the breakdown lane — digital message boards and signage will also alert drivers to testing. Driver should continue to use the lane in case of emergency or a roadway incident. Should bus operators involved in field testing encounter obstructions in the breakdown lane, they will safely maneuver to return to the mainline, pass the obstruction, and return to breakdown lane use.

Following several weeks of field testing, information will be evaluated to determine longer-term viability and potential next steps.

MassDOT and the MBTA have been increasingly taking steps to improve the efficiency of traveling on buses. For example, this past June, MassDOT and the Cities of Medford and Somerville announced the implementation of a municipal dedicated bus lane pilot between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Mystic Avenue. In summer 2020, the Cities of Medford and Somerville were awarded a grant from the Baker-Polito Administration’s Shared Streets and Spaces Program to implement a “quick-build” morning peak hour inbound dedicated bus lane, as a trial, on Mystic Avenue.

Other steps taken by MassDOT and the MBTA include the installation of a dedicated bus lane on the Tobin Bridge for southbound buses and a partnership with the City of Boston and the MBTA to install dedicated bus lanes on major routes of travel including a section of Washington Street in Roslindale.

Dedicated bus lanes are effective in increasing the efficiency and reliability of public transportation, decreasing delays, and improving access to regional jobs and other essential services.

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