Everett's bus-only lane pilot deemed a success

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A bus-only lane pilot program on Broadway has been extended until further notice due to an overwhelmingly positive response, according to city officials. The project is the first of its kind for an MBTA bus line outside the city of Boston.
 
“The mayor was willing to take a chance,” said Communications Director Tom Philbin, “and it paid off.”
 
Everett launched the pilot period in early December.
 
Testing a bus-only lane was recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation as part of the Everett Transit Action Plan to improve accessibility and reliability for transit users in the area.
 
“It was the low-hanging fruit in the plan,” Philbin said. “There wasn’t a lot of expense involved, so it just made sense.”
 
The route along Broadway affects two bus lines that carry about 50 percent of the people traveling Broadway during the morning rush hour, Philbin said.
 
The MBTA conducted a rider survey during the pilot that collected feedback from 300 riders. The majority strongly endorsed the program and reported that their commute times were reduced significantly.
 
Philbin said the bus-only lane also helps vehicular traffic flow because cars are no longer blocked by pulled-over buses making stops, or being held up behind the slower buses.
 
“I and many people were surprised to see the dramatic and positive impact of the bus lane in expediting both vehicle and bus travel,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria said.
 
“Parking was an initial concern, but there is plenty of other parking available,” Philbin said. “The program only runs until 9 a.m. and the meters don’t kick in until then anyway.”
 
Mayor DeMaria said he hopes to use the “saved time” in the morning commute to add more bus trips during time periods that experience frequent overcrowding, Philbin said.
 
The city and MassDOT will continue to collect data, including feedback from bus riders, business owners along the route and residents, to help improve operations and explore the long-term viability of the lane change.
 
The dedicated lane runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 9 a.m. The lane would only be suspended in the event of a major storm.