Six Months Later: Revisiting Roxbury's Bus-Only Center Lane

Six months after New England’s first center running bus lanes opened in Roxbury, NBC10 Boston went back to find out how it’s working and if riders and neighbors are getting used to it. Some said it is faster.

“Yeah, yeah it is. Very much so,” one rider said.

The center running lanes go from Jackson Square to Walnut Avenue. There are no cars, no trucks -- just buses.  

“We’re certainly seeing an improvement in travel time,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said. “We’re seeing an improvement in reliability.”

Kristiana Lachiusa is with the advocacy group LivableStreets.

“So we spoke with a couple hundred riders back in December and overwhelmingly everyone we spoke to was like this is the greatest thing the MBTA has done,” Lachiusa said.

In that survey conducted with the City of Boston, 74% of riders said they had a faster trip since the lanes were installed. The most popular features, according to the MBTA, are the electronic boards at the bus stops. 

A first-of-its kind bus lane that runs right through the middle of a busy street is now open on Columbus Avenue in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood.

“This is something we rolled out during the pandemic,” Poftak said. “They’re telling you how crowded the bus is.”

There are plans to expand the center running bus lanes on Columbus Avenue to Ruggles Station. There’s also a similar project in the works for Blue Hills Avenue.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In the city’s survey, cars and trucks were spotted driving and parking in bus lanes. Neighbor Maria Depeiza said it’s taken some getting used to.

“There’s less parking, the traffic is heavier because everything is down to one lane,” Depeiza said.

 The MBTA said they are continuing to evaluate traffic patterns.

“People are in some cases adjusting their travel patterns or they just understand how the bus lane works more,” Poftak said.