The Town of Arlington, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the MBTA, local officials, civic organizations, and Arlington residents celebrated the official launch of ArlBRT, a month-long bus priority pilot that will test elements of bus rapid transit (BRT) along three MBTA routes.
Featuring the work of five local artists at bus shelters along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor, the pilot aims to bring more efficient and reliable service while also enhancing the entire bus experience for more than 10,000 daily bus riders.
The ArlBRT pilot, funded by the Barr Foundation’s mobility initiative, aims to improve transportation through elements of BRT that will benefit bus riders, drivers, and bicyclists alike, including a dedicated bus lane will take buses out of the car congestion along Massachusetts Avenue from Varnum Street to Alewife Brook Parkway; an inbound “queue jump” that will give buses priority at the intersection of Lake Street and Alewife Brook Parkway; and Transit signal priority (TSP) at four key intersections that will give buses more green-light time at intersections while improving traffic flow overall.
"Piloting BRT in Arlington is truly about making human-scale improvements to the quality of life of our residents," said Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. "Through this pilot, we are working to improve the commute of many of our residents, while simultaneously infusing the streetscape with vibrancy via the installation of public art along the bus route.”
“Our hope is that collective efforts like this demonstrate that we can deliver an enhanced service in a more efficient and sustainable manner for our bus customers, who represent approximately 30 percent of the T’s ridership on a given day,” said MBTA GM Luis Manual Ramírez.
Five bus stops along the route will be decorated with designs from local artists, commissioned by Arlington Public Arts to enhance the experience of waiting for the bus and complement the BRT elements that improve the ride itself.
"Each shelter will be unique; some artists are choosing to celebrate nature, since public transportation is so critical to environmental sustainability. Others use colorful patterns, unexpected materials or playful interaction to engage riders. All seek to transform the ordinary experience of waiting for the bus into a moment of magic," said Cecily Miller, Curator for Arlington Public Art.
This is the second bus pilot in a series funded by the Barr Foundation. In July, the City of Everett built on its rush hour bus-only lane on Broadway by adding TSP and platform-level boarding at two bus stops in Everett Square. Later this month, the City of Cambridge and Town of Watertown will implement a dedicated bus lane along Mount Auburn Street.