Barr funds 3 bus rapid transit pilots

Barr funds 3 bus rapid transit pilots

Dedicated bus lanes, synchronized signals part of effort

THE BARR FOUNDATION awarded three $100,000 grants for pilot bus rapid transit projects scheduled to run next year in Arlington, Everett, and Cambridge and Watertown.

In Arlington, the MBTA and the municipality plan to run a one-month pilot on the busy No. 77 bus route along Massachusetts Avenue that would test a dedicated lane for buses and traffic signals synchronized to give priority to buses. A similar pilot is planned for bus routes along Mount Auburn Street west of Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge and Watertown.

The third pilot will upgrade the existing dedicated bus lane along Broadway in Everett with traffic signal prioritization and platform-level boarding platforms at three stops so riders in wheelchairs and strollers can board more quickly and easily.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The pilot projects come as the MBTA is launching a concerted effort to upgrade the appeal of its bus system, which on average is currently reliable only 65 percent of the time. The T believes the best way to improve reliability is to move buses through traffic congestion more quickly, either by synchronizing traffic signals or providing dedicated lanes.

All of the T’s initiatives require cooperation from the municipal officials in the 50 communities in which the MBTA provides bus service. Communities have been slow to embrace the concept, but T officials think they may be starting to turn the corner with the Barr pilot projects and Boston’s plan to launch a dedicated bus lane between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills Station sometime next year. The T has hired an outreach coordinator to work with municipalities; he starts work later this month.

“These pilot projects will show bus rapid transit’s potential to transform how people in Greater Boston get to where they need to go, and how bus rapid transit can fit within the region’s transportation system,” said Barr’s Mary Skelton Roberts in a statement.