In a move that could dramatically reduce the commute times for Charlestown bus riders, the City announced this week that they are planning on installing a dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street from Causeway to Haymarket.
It would be a move that would accommodate the #92 and #93 bus routes that bring in Charlestown riders, and City officials said the new lane could reduce travel times by as much as 25 percent.
“We are planning on building an exclusive bus lane on North Washington Street from the intersection at Causeway Street after the bridge to Haymarket,” said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). “It would be a dedicated bus lane 24/7 on the inbound side. Right now, we’re working with the MBTA to install that bus lane.”
BTD Director Gina Fiandaca said they have been working closely with Mayor Martin Walsh and the MBTA on the North Washington Street bus lane, and hope that they can get it done as early in 2019 as possible. She said that stretch of the bus route is often the most congested, and riders often find themselves waiting longer on the bus for the last leg than it would take them to walk.
“This inbound bus lane will have the opportunity to move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the traffic,” she said. “Another good part of this is in the future when the North Washington Street Bridge is completed, it will have a bus lane as well. That will provide a connection with this new lane to have one unbroken exclusive bus lane from Charlestown when the Bridge is done.”
In order to accomplish the new lane, the City will have to remove some metered parking spaces and a commercial parking space, but a large chunk of the stretch is a large bus stop and ‘no parking’ zones.
Gupta said they have no clear data yet on the time it could save commuters going inbound – though they will begin keeping that data very soon. However, in Roslindale where they installed a bus lane last year, commutes were shortened by 25 percent. The same data also presented itself in Everett two years ago when they put a dedicated bus lane on Broadway Everett.
The announcement was one of several made by Mayor Martin Walsh at the Greater Boston Municipal Research Bureau meeting on March 7.
“We’re working hard for our hard-working city – and doing things differently in Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s our work that defines our vision for Boston, and from transportation, to the environment, to education, we’ll continue to take on the tough challenges, and create a stronger Boston with more opportunities for the next generation to come.”
Another bus lane was also announced for Allston-Brighton, but like the Roslindale lane, it is only for certain times of the day.
The North Washington Street bus lane would be the first one in effect 24 hours a day.
Fiandaca said the bus lane is one of the first efforts of the new BTD Transit Team, which was first funded in the current City Budget.
“The timing here is good for us,” she said. “We have hired a Transit Team and a Transit Director and identified areas where they want more dedicated bus lands and how we can work to get those.”