By Seth Daniel
Nothing makes a situation more permanent than paint.
And so it is, Mayor Carlo DeMaria announced that the City would begin striping the dedicated bus lane on Broadway next week, making what has been a pilot program into something that is now permanent. At the same time, the administration announced that three bus priority traffic signal systems are in design and will become part of the lane configuration program in early winter.
“Since we have installed our bus lane, trips are now shorter by four to eight minutes for Broadway’s 10,000 daily bus riders and we have also saved car drivers time, because buses no longer block traffic,” said Mayor DeMaria. “State Transportation Commissioner Stephanie Pollack has called our bus lane, ‘a model for similar projects in traffic-snarled areas…’ Based on all of this positive feedback, we are now preparing to replace the cones on Broadway with painted bus lanes, turning our pop-up bus lane into something a little more permanent.”
State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said she applauded the move by Everett to make the lane permanent.
“We applaud Mayor Carlo DiMaria, City of Everett officials, members of the business community and the public for being willing to try the bus only lane and we are pleased that the dedicated lane has proven worthwhile and will become permanent for the approximately 10,000 bus customers along the Broadway corridor,” she said. “We will continue to partner with Everett and other cities and towns to make bus transit more efficient and are open to any other bold ideas which may make commutes faster or travel easier.”
For the past nine months, every morning cones have been places along the inbound parking lane of Broadway from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. The cones are then removed for the rest of the day. Now, the cones will be replaced by permanent paint striping to denote that the lane is reserved for buses.
Jay Monty, a City transportation planner, said the City had put the work out to bid, and has chosen Markings Inc. to do the work. He said they would begin next week and would work nights between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
The lane will run from Shute Library to Sweetser Circle.
“It is supposed to take a week or two weeks to get it all done, but it could happen a lot more quickly than that,” he said. “Obviously, the cones are a physical barrier and the lanes are not. We’ll see if the paint is as effective as the cones, but the goal is to not use cones anymore. We’ll have enforcement out there that will help.”
But there’s more to come for the speedy bus than just paint markings.
Monty said the City is currently designing bus priority systems for three traffic lights on Broadway – including Hosmer, Hancock and Everett Square.
The bus priority system can detect a bus coming in the dedicated lane and then change the light from red to green so that the bus never has to stop as it makes its way down Broadway.
Monty said this innovative system is used by the MBTA now on a limited basis, but only in Boston. For Everett to do it, he said, the City had to pay for it and design it with only the blessing of the MBTA.
So, that’s what they have done, and expect that once install, it will further reduce bus commute times on Broadway.
“We came up with the idea in Everett to create our own system for bus priority separate from the MBTA,” he said. “This is entirely Everett. The City has designed it and paid for it and will implement it. We’re the first to do that on our own.”
He said he expects the three intersections to be prioritized for buses by early winter.
Monty said the City also plans to consolidate several bus stops, closing two or three stops that are only a block or two away from one another. The existing stops will also be upgraded with shelters and handicap-accessibility features.