By Seth Daniel
The first week of the Everett dedicated bus lane on Broadway has produced data showing a tremendous amount of time saved by bus operations and by passengers, according to comments and statistics from State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
Pollack and a spokesman for the MBTA both said that the bus lane showed the greatest promise in the 7 a.m. hour, when passengers saved a total of 54.1 hours over the week. The lane started on Dec. 5 as a pilot program and has continued indefinitely while the state and the City continue to analyze data. The pilot program starts at 4 a.m. and concludes at 9 a.m. every weekday.
This week, however, preliminary data has shown state officials that the idea might be something to keep, and perhaps replicate elsewhere.
“Because the MBTA doesn’t control the roads, it is terrific to have a great partner like the city of Everett that’s willing to give the bus lane a try,” said Pollack. “This pilot is exciting and promising, and could provide a model for similar projects in areas with heavy traffic volume.”
The idea came about as one of the first and easiest recommendations of the Everett Transit Action Plan, which was an effort kicked off more than a year ago with the state and City partnering to look at ways to improve bus service.
The MBTA said they used Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) data from the Route 104 and Route 109 buses, two routes that operate on the full extent of the pilot from Glendale Square to Sweetser Circle. With the new data from the pilot program, the MBTA compared it to data from the same week in 2015 – when there was no bus lane.
They found that the 85th percentile travel time decreased by 21 percent, which translates to about two minutes, before 9 a.m.
According to the data, travel times also became more consistent, especially in the 7 a.m. hour where travel times decreased by 28 percent, or 3.8 minutes.
In summary, the comparison of AVL data with and without the bus lane shows substantial reductions in travel times and variability that are not demonstrated in the rest of the day,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
Additionally, the lane was quite popular with passengers as well.
The MBTA reported that 71 percent of passengers on the bus surveyed said they had a “somewhat” or greater satisfaction level with the program.
Some 95 percent of passengers surveyed said the MBTA should pursue other dedicated bus lanes.