By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
Everett planning department officials confirmed this week that Mayor Carlo DeMaria has authorized the continuation of the Broadway bus lane pilot program into the spring, when more permanent accomodation can be made for the four-hour morning program along Everett’s inbound side of Broadway.
According to Everett transportation planner Jay Monty of the Planning and Development Department, the first week of the pilot program in early December was so successful, that Mayor DeMaria authorized the program to continue into the spring.
“We worked with the T to conduct a ridership survey and basically 97-percent were pleased with the results,” explained Monty, who added that the dedicated bus lane, in what are normally metered parking spaces during the rest of the day, has cut between 2 and 7 minutes from the normal bus trip down Broadway to Sullivan Station.
Additionally, the city has only received six negative responses to the program, including two from breakfast businesses on that side of the road.
“The bus lane has impacted the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, because cars used to be able to wait in the parking lane to turn in to the drive-thru and Dempsey’s Diner has noticed some impact to their morning business, because of the loss of several parking spots right in front of their location in the morning,” said Monty.
Aside from those complaints, however, the city has largely heard praise for the program, which came out of the city’s Transit Action Plan last year.
“We had done a study of parking spots along Everett Square in the morning and found that we were only getting about 20 to 40-percent parking utilization during the morning rush hour, so we figured we could make this kind f change and people could still park along the other (northbound) side,” he explained.
In the spring, Monty the city hopes to replace the bright orange parking cones and temporary signs that currently activate the lane as a bus only lane each weekday morning at 4 a.m. and replace them with a properly painted bus lane and permanent parking signs.
The bus lane program will continue to operate between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays, and revert to parking during other hours. Monty also said the city hopes to explore continuing the bus lane along the lower Broadway portion and near to the future Wynne Boston Harbor, but must first get the approval of the state Gaming Commission and continue working with the Mystic Regional Working group at MassDOT, before such a lane can be created along that southern leg of Route 99.
“That process would be much more capital intensive, because we would have to either take a vehicle lane or create a new lane on the side of the road,” said Monty. “It will need more study and funding.”
The city will be applying for a $150,000 grant from Massachusetts Gaming Commission to look into that extension.