MBTA unveils bus priority vision and toolkit to enhance regional transit

Posted: 2 November 2023 | | No comments yet

MBTA’s Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit will see 26 high-ridership corridors benefitting from dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority, reducing travel delays and enhancing the experience for thousands of daily bus riders.

MBTA unveils bus priority vision and toolkit to enhance regional transit

Credit: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has announced the launch of its Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit. Through strategic collaborations with communities and municipalities, this initiative seeks to streamline and expedite bus transit by introducing dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority and queue jumps. The Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit, represent pivotal resources designed to support the expansion of bus priority investments throughout the region over the next five-to-seven years.

“Our long-term vision for regional bus priority investments is now available for the first time ever,” said MBTA General Manager and 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 re-affirm the T’s commitment to making the bus better for more people.”

This approach aligns seamlessly with MBTA’s Bus Network Redesign, which had been given the green light by the MBTA Board of Directors in late 2022. The Redesign aims to update the bus network to better cater to the evolving mobility needs of the region, while simultaneously addressing issues such as changing travel patterns, traffic congestion, demographic shifts and improved access to housing and employment opportunities.

In conjunction with the Vision, MBTA is releasing the Bus Priority Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to facilitate a consistent approach to planning and implementing bus priority treatments tailored to the unique requirements of local communities within the MBTA region. Drawing from best practices at local and national levels, the toolkit compiles lessons from past project experiences and outlines the benefits, trade-offs and considerations associated with making efficient use of limited road space. 

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Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said: “Bus prioritisation 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.”

Since 2018, approximately 50 miles of bus lanes have been constructed, and the vision now identifies an additional 60 miles of roadway for targeted transit improvements. Bus priority measures have been implemented or are currently being planned in co-ordination with MBTA and municipal and state partners across 14 municipalities.

The development of MBTA’s Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit has been made possible through funding provided by the Barr Foundation. These initiatives play an integral role in MBTA’s Better Bus Project, which seeks to enhance, expand and electrify bus services.