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Like in surrounding communities, Bus-Only Lane could go permanent

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  The city is taking steps to make a morning bus-only lane on Broadway permanent. Last week, the Traffic Commission voted to hold a public hearing on proposed traffic ordinance changes that would pave the way to making the pilot program permanent. The pilot program was approved in 2020, but because of the Covid pandemic, it was not implemented until this year. The MBTA bus-only lane was okayed for the southerly side of Broadway from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays.

  “This is a request for the public hearing to transfer the bus-only lane pilot to a permanent program on the southern side of Broadway,” said city Transportation Manager Julie DeMauro. “In addition to that, if this is a permanent program [the traffic ordinance] would need to be revised to include the language for bus lanes and then the parking penalties that would accompany it. We are open to working with the commission to tweak some of this language that may not be sufficient or if there is more language that needs to be added, we would do that as well.”

  Eric Burkman, the MBTA’s director of transit priority, who oversees the bus lane programs, said the Revere pilot program has been fairly successful. With the bus-only lane in place during peak hours, he said, the travel time has improved by about two minutes from Revere Street down to Revere Beach Parkway. “Two minutes – you might think that’s not too much, but it’s a total of three minutes travel time, so that is about half as long to travel that stretch of road as it was before,” said Burkman.

  There has also been an increase in reliability, with less of a discrepancy between the longest and shortest trips down the corridor during the pilot program as well, he said.

  Burkman also noted that there have been healthy ridership levels along the Broadway corridor. Ridership along the 116 and 117 lines currently stands at about 82 percent of pre-Covid levels, which is higher than on most bus routes. “One of the reasons we selected this corridor is because these routes have a lot of ridership; even with Covid there were a lot of riders,” said Burkman.

  Parking Director Zachary Babo said that any parking issues along the route usually occurred between 8 and 9 a.m., when people were dropping their kids off at school or pulling over to run into a coffee shop. “Three months into the program, there were 62 violations, and more than three-quarters of them were warnings during the first few months,” Babo said.

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