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Mt. Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot

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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 latest flyer for the Mount Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot Project

Coming 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.
  • Signal upgrades with bus priority

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 final design plans and submit feedback go to the Description tab.

mt auburn street bus pilot graphic

View the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Fact Sheet

October 2018

Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot implementation begins the week of October 15th. The work will primarily occur on the south side (eastbound towards Harvard Square direction) of Mt. Auburn and Belmont Streets in the lane closest to the curb, except the section of Mt. Auburn Street between Ralph Piteri Terrace and Belmont Street, where work will be happening on both sides of the street.

Implementation Schedule:

  • Tuesday, October 16th - Overnight work
  • Wednesday, October 17th - 9:00 a.m. -- 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 28th, 9:00 a.m. -- 3:00 p.m.

Note: to complete this work, parking will be restricted at the following locations and times:

  • Mt. Auburn St. from Ralph Piteri Terrace to Belmont St on both sides, Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. through Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m.
  • Belmont St. from Brimmer St to Mt. Auburn Street on the south side only, Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. through Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m.


We also want to hear from you! Please fill out our Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot Project pre-installation survey at this link.

The City has created a two-page flyer with the latest information on the upcoming installation of the dedicated bus lane and how-to information for people driving, walking, and biking along the corridor.

Watch these brief videos, providing more information about the pilot and its impacts:

Design plans for the upcoming bus/bike-only lane installation can be found by clicking this link and in the project's "Description" tab.


Design Features

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.

Design Plans

Final design plans with signage and street striping for the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot Project in PDF format are found by clicking the bulleted items below.

Feedback Form

Go to the online comment form to provide feedback

September 2018

The City of Cambridge restriped Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge west of Fresh Pond Parkway in preparation for the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot. The new line striping reconfigured traffic lanes slightly, added clearer lane markings, added bicycle lanes, and reconfigured where Brattle Street merges with Mt. Auburn Street westbound. The bus priority elements will still be implemented in October.

August 2018

The City of Cambridge and the Town of Watertown are continuing to build momentum for the Cambridge-Watertown Mount Auburn Street Bus Priority project by implementing early action elements of the whole project, still scheduled for launch in October 2018.

  • In mid-August, the Town of Watertown debuted two “queue jump” lanes at School Street and Walnut Street. Queue jump lanes allow buses to move more quickly through intersections by “jumping” to the front of the line of cars stopped at a light. See attached press release.
  • Pending weather, Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge west of Fresh Pond Parkway will be restriped the week of August 27th in preparation for the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot. The work will happen overnight for about two nights. The new line striping will reconfigure traffic lanes slightly, add clearer lane markings, add bicycle lanes, and reconfigure where Brattle Street merges with Mt. Auburn Street westbound. The bus priority will still be implemented in October.
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.

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

Click here to receive email updates about the project