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Mt. Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot

71 Bus

Cambridge, in partnership with Watertown, received a community grant from the Barr Foundation to work with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) to pilot bus priority improvements on Mt. Auburn Street, west of Fresh Pond Parkway. This pilot will improve travel for more than MBTA Route 71 and 73 bus riders making more than 12,000 daily trips, as well as for riders of Mount Auburn Hospital and athenahealth shuttles, while improving the flow of traffic and safety for everyone on the road. In the morning commute, near Fresh Pond Parkway, more than half of the people on Mt. Auburn Street are on MBTA Buses. 

Click here to receive email updates about the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot

View the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Fact Sheet

Proposed improvements include:

  • An eastbound shared bus-bike lane on Mount Auburn St from Belmont St to Aberdeen St
  • An eastbound shared bus-bike lane on Belmont St from Sullivan St to Mount Auburn St
  • In both directions, a shared bus-bike lane on Mount Auburn St. from Cottage St. to Mt. Auburn St.
  • Joint queue-jump and right-turn lanes east bound approaching Walnut St and School St in Watertown
  • Signal upgrades with bus priority
  • Segments of westbound bicycle lanes in Cambridge

The pilot will use temporary materials like paint and signs, which will remain in place during the evaluation, and is the first step towards implementing a long-term plan for the Mt. Auburn corridor. The pilot will take place in conjunction with planned Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) improvements to intersections at Coolidge Ave and Fresh Pond Parkway that will improve throughput on Mount Auburn St. and improve safety and convenience for cyclists and pedestrians in the intersection.

To view plans and submit feedback go to the Description tab.

Recent Updates

The Watertown queue jump lanes at Walnut Street and School Street are now live! The queue jump lane is a right-turn only lane, permitting straight-through movements for buses only. The idea behind a queue-jump lane is to allow buses to by-pass waiting traffic by a few seconds to keep their routes on schedule and to avoid delays in service. Click here to read more about the queue jump.

The timeline for the Mt. Auburn St. Bus Priority Pilot work on Mount Auburn and Belmont Streets has shifted to the fall to remain aligned with the needed DCR intersection work. In Cambridge, city planners are finalizing the pilot design and continuing to conduct community outreach and education about the pilot.

mt auburn street bus pilot graphic

View the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Fact Sheet

August 2018

The Watertown queue jump lanes at Walnut Street and School Street are now live! The queue jump lane is a right-turn only lane, permitting straight-through movements for buses only. The idea behind a queue-jump lane is to allow buses to by-pass waiting traffic by a few seconds to keep their routes on schedule and to avoid delays in service.

July 2018

The Watertown queue jump lanes at Walnut Street and School Street are going live at the end of July! The queue jump lane is a right-turn only lane, permitting straight-through movements for buses only. The idea behind a queue-jump lane is to allow buses to by-pass waiting traffic by a few seconds to keep their routes on schedule and to avoid delays in service. View updated plans here.

High school students working with the Cambridge's Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program will be on the Mount Auburn St. corridor in July. The MSYEP participants will be doing outreach work at bus stops, on the bus, and to businesses in advance of the bus priority pilot project installation work in the fall. Be on the lookout for the MSYEP participants in mid-to-late July.

June 2018

The timeline for the Mt. Auburn St. Bus Priority Pilot has shifted to the fall to remain aligned with the needed DCR intersection work. In the meantime, local momentum continues around the pilot: Watertown expects to implement on-street bus improvements at School Street and Walnut Street on Mt. Auburn Street this summer, including a bus queue jump / right-turn-on-red lane, allowing buses to get through the intersection faster. In Cambridge, city planners are finalizing the pilot design and continuing to conduct community outreach and education about the pilot.

May 2018

Staff from Cambridge and Watertown hosted a joint community meeting on May 1, 2018, 6:00 - 7:30 PM at the Tufts Health Plan Morton A. Madoff Center, 705 Mt. Auburn Street, in Watertown to present the Bus Priority project, and took questions and feedback from the public. Other partners, like BostonBRT, ITDP, the MBTA, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, also attended.

Meeting Presentation (PDF)

Draft Plans of the Mount Auburn St Bus Priority Pilot Project (PDF) in 3 files:

Factsheet about the Bus Priority Pilot Project

March 2018

A Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Meeting was held on Tuesday, March 27 to discuss the next steps for projects on Mt. Auburn and Belmont Streets. View the meeting presentation. The City has also released a Mt. Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot Q&A for Strawberry Hill residents.

December 2017

Cambridge, in partnership with Watertown, was awarded a community grant from the Barr Foundation to work with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) to pilot bus priority improvements for routes 71 and 73 along Mt. Auburn St., between Belmont St. and Fresh Pond Parkway. Read the press release announcement.

Bus priority features in this pilot include:

  • Dedicated lanes to take bus riders out of car congestion for significant segments of Mount Auburn Street between Belmont Street and Fresh Pond Parkway. Other cities that have tested dedicated lanes have found that they result in faster trips for people riding the bus – as well as overall improved traffic flow for people in cars and on bikes because buses no longer pull in and out of traffic.
  • Inbound “queue jump” lanes to give buses and shuttles priority in intersections on Mount Auburn Street and Belmont Street near where they meet .
  • Re-timed traffic signals and transit signal priority to be implemented where feasible so that buses get more green light time when needed but also to improve traffic flow overall.

Draft Plans & Feedback Form

In May 2018, Cambridge and Watertown hosted a joint community meeting. After an overview presentation, meeting participants viewed draft plans, provided comments and asked questions. The draft plans are available below for additional comments, questions, and feedback.

May 2018 Cambridge-Watertown Joint Meeting Presentation in PDF format.

Draft plans for the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot Project in PDF format

Go to the online comment form to provide feedback

For more information, please contact Tegin Teich at 617/349-4615 or tteich@cambridgema.gov.

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