Imagine saving two weeks on your commute every year. Dedicated bus lanes, signal priority, and other techniques that prioritize people on buses are essential ingredients for Complete Streets, and help to anchor a world-class transportation network. Download our Better Buses Quick Facts (Español).
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Read our reports about Better Buses:
What We're Hearing From Riders
Columbus Ave Center-Running Bus Lanes + Stops
In December 2021, Street Ambassadors spoke with people waiting for buses at the new stops on the center-running bus lanes on Columbus Ave in Boston. We heard:
- 81% of people felt safer and more comfortable crossing the street, including when they weren’t on their way to take the bus.
- 78% of riders are satisfied with the bus lanes that have already improved travel times.
- Riders told us that their trips became faster and more consistent, with almost 75% of people experiencing improvements in these areas.
- The new bus lanes (along with the new bus stops) made people riding the bus feel valued, with one rider sharing, “I feel like I’m the mayor getting an escort”
- What’s the favorite feature of the new bus stops? Overwhelmingly, people loved the real-time arrival signs. These signs make it much easier to know when the next bus will be arriving and how crowded it is, allowing people to better plan their trips and expectations.
See more of our results on the City of Boston’s website page
People’s experience is critical for understanding how new infrastructure is working. However, the actual numbers also matter. Our partners at TransitMatters created a data dashboard where we can see the actual time saved for people riding the bus on the new center-running bus lanes.
- During the morning peak, heading towards Jackson Sq: travel times went from an average of 15 min to <11 minutes, a 20-30% improvement.
- In the evening peak, heading towards Walnut Ave: travel times decreased from 12 minutes to just 7 minutes, a 40% improvement in travel times.
These bus lanes are so important because these minutes add up! Saving 4 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening means 45 minutes each week, 3 hours over a month, 36 hours every year! That’s a day and half saved for riders who take the bus 5 days per week.
Why Better Buses?
- Today, approximately seven miles of Boston streets are holding back more than one-fifth of all MBTA bus riders.
- According to MAPC’s State of Equity Report, Black riders spend 64 hours more per year on MBTA buses relative to White riders.
- 36% of motorists surveyed in the Longwood Area wanted to switch to another mode, with public transit being the leading alternative. Finding a Cure: Transportation in the Longwood Area
- Go Boston 2030's goals to increase bus ridership and lower greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved with changes that prioritize streets and signals for buses.
- Without improvements, existing and would-be transit riders in Metro Boston will continue to turn to less sustainable transportation options like rideshare and personal cars, resulting in more congestion, more emissions, and less mobility for all in the region.
Evidence for Better Buses
Following the completion of the bus/bike lane on Brighton Ave in Allston, Street Ambassadors conducted a survey of bus and bike riders to learn how they feel about the new bus/bike lane. Here is some of what we learned:
- 90% of bus riders and 98% of bike riders want to see a dedicated lane in the outbound direction.
- 94% of bus riders ranged between neutral and very satisfied with the lane, while 93% of bike riders were at least somewhat satisfied with the lane.
- 93% of bike riders feeling safer in the shared bus-bike lane compared to before.
- The survey responses also highlighted the importance of keeping cars out of the lane in order for it to work as intended.
- When bus lanes are introduced bus ridership goes up. Examples of this improvement across corridors include Broadway in Somerville, where ridership increased by 36%-69% and Brighton Ave in Boston where ridership increased by 5%-8%.
- Bus Lanes lead to faster bus trips. Adding the bus-bike lane on Washington st in Roslindale led to buses having 25% faster run times.
- In the MA Vision Zero Coalition’s 2019 Candidate Questionnaire, many elected officials in Boston have expressed support for restriction of on-street parking during rush hour in order to create dedicated bus lanes on certain major thoroughfares where bus riders experience significant delays due to traffic congestion.
Watch Better Buses in Action
What You Can Do
Volunteer: Join us in spreading the word about the importance of safe and livable streets. Our volunteers are actively involved in tracking projects, tabling at events, and serving as Street Ambassadors.
Contact: [email protected]