The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced the launch of the Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit.
Through partnerships with communities and municipalities, bus priority allows the MBTA to make bus transit faster and more efficient through the creation of dedicated bus lanes, the implementation of transit signal priority, and the use of queue jumps.
The Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit are two new complementary resources that are designed to support the expansion of bus priority investments throughout the region over the next five to seven years. They provide guidance to municipal, state, and transit staff on planning and implementing bus priority treatments to encourage more regional transit use.
“Our long-term vision for regional bus priority investments is now available for the first time ever. We are showing how joint investments in street improvements with our municipal and state partners can create the changes we need to better serve our bus riders,” said MBTA GM/CEO Phillip Eng. “As part of this, ensuring robust public engagement is integral to the decision to rebuild and grow bus service for the Commonwealth. As congestion has increased across the region, it’s clear that investments in projects like bus lanes will keep people moving reliably, and these initiatives reaffirm the T’s commitment to making the bus better for more people. This Vision, along with the Network Redesign, is our plan to rebuild and grow bus service.”
MBTA's The Vision
The Vision is a regional network of 26 bus corridors with high ridership and frequency that will have significant benefits from bus priority treatments such as bus-only lanes, transit signal priority, and improved bus stops.
Implementing these measures will improve bus service reliability and reduce travel delays.
Improvements in these corridors will benefit around 220,000 daily bus riders, which accounts for 80% of bus riders.
The Vision is aligned with the MBTA's Bus Network Redesign, which was approved by the MBTA Board of Directors in late 2022.
The Redesign will update the bus network to better serve the region’s mobility needs and address changing travel patterns, traffic congestion, changing demographics, and access to housing and jobs.
MBTA's The Toolkit
The Toolkit is designed to provide a consistent approach to planning and implementing bus priority treatments that cater to local community needs within the MBTA region.
It draws from best practices at local and national levels, summarizes past project experiences, and outlines the benefits, tradeoffs, and considerations of effectively using limited road space.
“Bus prioritization improves the rider experience. We have worked closely with the MBTA to ensure that bus riders are able to move more quickly on high-delay corridors like Washington Street in Roslindale or Summer Street in the Seaport,” said Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the MBTA to create a regional transit system that is reliable, equitable, and accessible to everyone who lives, works, and visits Boston.”
Since 2018, approximately 50 miles of bus lanes have been constructed. The Vision identifies an additional 60 miles of roadway for targeted transit improvements.
Bus priority measures have been implemented or are currently being planned in coordination with the MBTA and municipal and state partners across 14 municipalities including Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, Lynn, Revere, and Somerville.
The Barr Foundation provided funding to develop the MBTA’s Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit.