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Two-Year Bus-on-Shoulder Travel Pilot Begins Monday, December 20th

 

Pilot on I-93 Northbound and Southbound between I-95 in Woburn and the HOV lane entrance in Somerville

 

 

 MBTA, Regional Transit Authority, and Logan Express buses allowed to use shoulder from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on I-93 southbound and

from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. on I-93 northbound when motor vehicle travel in lanes is below 35 miles per hour

 

BOSTON The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising travelers a two-year Bus-on-Shoulder service pilot will begin on Monday, December 20. This pilot is a collaborative effort between MassDOT, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA), Massport, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). During the pilot on weekdays, authorized bus drivers using I-93, between I-95 in Woburn and the HOV lane entrance in Somerville, may drive on highway shoulders during specific times and conditions. The buses may use the shoulders from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on I-93 southbound and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on I-93 northbound when motor vehicle traffic speeds in regular lanes are below 35 miles per hour. Variable message boards will be utilized along the bus lane corridor to notify the traveling public of the hours of operation of the pilot.

 

“This collaborative effort has made it possible to improve the efficiency of bus travel along this corridor,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “We are pleased to see this pilot implemented ahead of the holiday travel season which should encourage more people to consider public transportation as an efficient way to reach destinations, especially those members of the public flying in and out of Logan Airport.”

 

The pilot will evaluate the effectiveness of how Bus-on-Shoulder service can reduce travel times for bus passengers, increase reliability of service and schedule adherence, and increase transit ridership. The Bus-on-Shoulder travel area is approximately seven miles long in each direction and the MBTA estimates that its Route 354 bus currently gets in traffic congestion for 15 to 20 minutes on I-93. The bus-on-shoulder route allows buses to bypass this congestion. No motor vehicle travel is permitted in breakdown lanes with the exception of buses involved in the pilot.

 

Logan Express will use the lane beginning the week of December 20, in time for holiday travel this year. The MBTA is actively training MBTA bus drivers and plans to begin operating buses with passengers onboard using the shoulder travel lane in the coming weeks. MVRTA buses will begin to use the shoulder travel lane for passenger service in early January.

“MassDOT engineers are constantly looking for sustainable improvements, and with great coordination with the MBTA, we can deliver this first in New England bus-on-shoulder service,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “By allowing bus drivers to travel in the shoulder of the roadway, buses will avoid the peak-hour congestion, capacity will be added to the roadway, and more importantly, a greater amount of individuals can be transported through a congested corridor faster.”

 

“HOV is a key part of our strategy for getting passengers to and from Logan Airport so we’re grateful to MassDOT for its collaboration,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland. “This pilot will make the Woburn Logan Express an even more attractive option for passengers.”

 

MassDOT and the MBTA have been increasingly taking steps to improve the efficiency of traveling on buses. In June 2021, 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. The grant funding for the pilot was made available in Summer 2020 through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Shared Streets and Spaces Program to facilitate the implementation of a “quick-build” morning peak hour inbound dedicated bus lane as a trial on Mystic Avenue.

 

“A critically important service for riders traveling between Boston and Burlington, Woburn and Medford, Route 354 buses are frequently stuck in traffic for up to 20 minutes on I-93,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “This pilot will improve the commute for our current riders by allowing Route 354 buses to bypass this congestion completely. We thank our partners at MassDOT for their leadership and collaboration in implementing creative solutions for faster transit like this bus-on-shoulder pilot.”

 

“This is terrific initiative that efficiently utilizes an existing capacity to greatly improve the speed, reliability and attractiveness of MVRTA’s Boston Commuter Bus,” said Merrimack Valley Transit Authority Administrator Noah Berger.  “Plus,” he added, “There is no better marketing promotion for transit than seeing our bus sail past you in its own lane, while you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway!”

 

Other steps taken by MassDOT and the MBTA include the installation of a dedicated bus lane on the Tobin Bridge for southbound buses, a partnership with the City of Boston and the MBTA to open a center-running bus lane on Columbus Avenue from Jackson Square to Walnut Avenue, and dedicated bus lanes on major routes 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.

 

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.

 

For information about Logan Express, please visit: https://www.massport.com/logan-airport/to-from-logan/transportation-options/logan-express/.

 

For Merrimac Valley Regional Transit Authority travel information, please visit: http://www.mvrta.com/.

 

MassDOT notified the public about testing for the bus-on-shoulder pilot on October 20, 2021. The information can be found be visiting the following blog posting at https://blog.mass.gov/transportation/uncategorized/massdot-alerts-drivers-to-bus-on-shoulder-testing-on-section-of-i-93/.

 

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