Cambridge Secures Grant to Test Bus Rapid Transit Features


12/7/2017

71 bus

The City of Cambridge announced earlier this week that the Barr Foundation, as part of its BostonBRT initiative, has awarded the community a grant to conduct a pilot project testing bus rapid transit (BRT) features in collaboration with Watertown and the MBTA. The pilot, affecting routes 71 and 73, will include inbound bus “queue jump” lanes to give buses priority in lane segments on Belmont Street at Mt. Auburn and Mt. Auburn St. at Fresh Pond Parkway and transit signal priority where feasible. 

The pilot will seek to create a faster and more reliable commute for over 12,000 daily bus riders, representing about 50% of rush hour travelers in the corridor. The bus priority lanes could save bus riders an average of 3 minutes per trip. The pilot will be carried out in conjunction with the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s improvements to the Fresh Pond Parkway / Mt. Auburn Intersection planned for late spring/early summer 2018. 

The pilot is a temporary demonstration. Following a robust public engagement strategy, Cambridge, Watertown, and the MBTA will work with community members to evaluate the pilot and determine if any of the elements should be permanently implemented or explored further.

“Encouraging and improving public transit options improves mobility for everyone. The Bus Rapid Transit pilot aligns with Cambridge’s Vision Zero efforts to make our streets safer for people of all ages and abilities to travel between work, school, shops, and other destinations, whether they choose to walk, bicycle, drive, or take transit,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for their support in helping us implement the pilot, and we look forward to collaborating with our neighbors in Watertown to make it a success.” 

The grant in Cambridge was one of three awarded as part of a competitive request for proposals from BostonBRT, which invited municipalities to partner with the MBTA to demonstrate the potential of BRT in high-ridership, high-traffic areas, with the goal of improving the transit experience for the most people. The Cambridge-Watertown project was selected along with projects in Arlington and Everett. Cambridge will work closely with Arlington to support their transit signal priority implementation for bus route 77 along North Mass Ave.  

“We are thrilled to receive funding from the Barr Foundation to pilot Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “The grant will contribute to our citywide goal of creating a comprehensive, sustainable transportation network. We look forward to collaborating across departments and city lines to make bus transit safer and more reliable for all riders.”

“These pilot projects will show BRT’s potential to transform how people in Greater Boston get to where they need to go, and how BRT can fit within the region’s transportation system,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director for climate at the Barr Foundation. “For BRT to be successful, local and state governments, communities, and transit experts need to work together. These winning proposals demonstrated their readiness to do so. And we hope their commitment to collaboration during this pilot testing periods is just the beginning. Massachusetts residents deserve flexible, environmentally-sustainable transportation options they can count on, like BRT.”

All pilot grants were selected by a committee comprised of Massachusetts transportation leaders convened by the Barr Foundation and BostonBRT technical consultants that reviewed criteria such as the number of BRT elements included within proposals, proof of concept, potential impact (including density of population and employment), municipal and community support, and willingness to partner with state agencies to create a successful pilot.