The dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street has opened to buses, school buses and bicyclists this week, and estimates are that it could save those on the 92 and 93 buses up to three or four minutes per ride into Haymarket.
The bus lane was proposed by the new Transit Team that is overseen by the Boston Transportation Department’s Vineet Gupta, said Chris Osgood, chief of streets for Boston. After a great deal of coordination with the MBTA and other communities, the City began removing parking meters and painting the lane last week. Now, a large, red swath covers the northern curb lane of North Washington Street just beyond the Charlestown Bridge.
“It’s now open and open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, extending from the end of the North Washington Street Bridge to Valenti Way,” said Osgood. “The project comes out of two different things. One was a process that was called the North Station Area Mobility Action Plan that identified bus improvements…The other areas we identified to consider was with a region transportation planning session. They identified a number of corridors…One corridor identified as significant is the North Washington Street Bridge and the inbound portions.”
Already, school buses, MBTA buses – particularly the 92 and 93 that service Charlestown – have benefitted. Another group particularly happy with the change is bicyclists, who gave the thumbs up by the dozens this week.
That as traffic was gridlocked next to the lane with drivers stacked up end to end.
“That lane is there for bus riders, cyclists and school buses – all with the purpose of saving time for the 11,000 riders on MBTA buses traveling every day on that corridor,” said Osgood. “It also helps cyclists, and when school is up and running we believe it will help kids on school buses get to school without delays.” Gupta said they will collect data, and expect the lane to save riders time. So far, it’s been going well, he said.
“It’s really running very smoothly and we haven’t had any issues on the first two or three days,” he said. “We may see with this lane as much as two or three minutes of savings for buses trying to get to Haymarket Station.”
To achieve the new lane, BTD had to remove about 10 metered parking spaces on the inbound lane, and they had to remove a bus stop as well.
Osgood and Gupta said there would be heavy enforcement on the bus lane to keep people from stopping in the lane, or delivery drivers from standing there and blocking the clear path.
“If folks are stopping in that lane, our enforcement officers will ticket them if they don’t move on,” Osgood said.
This, along with a new bus lane in Brighton, were the first projects done by the Transit Team, and now they will begin to focus on other such projects around the city, Osgood said.