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Mt. Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot

A bus in a bus priority lane.

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. The goal was to improve travel for MBTA Route 71 and 73 bus riders who make 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. 

The pilot included:

  • 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 used temporary materials, like paint and signs, that remained in place during project evaluation; it was also the first step towards implementing a long-term plan for the corridor. The pilot was implemented in conjunction with Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) improvements to intersections at Coolidge Ave and Fresh Pond Parkway including a transit queue jump signal.

As of August 2019, the City of Cambridge and Town of Watertown considered the pilot process to be complete. Through the fall of 2019, the City of Cambridge and Town of Watertown will make the pilot changes permanent by installing more visible, longer-lasting materials in bus lanes. The municipalities may return to make minor changes to lane markings or signal timings as issues are identified.

Click below to:

View a summary of the project evaluation

Receive email updates about the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot

Fill out the project's online comment form

mt auburn street bus pilot graphic

View the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Fact Sheet

August 2019

Based on the results of the evaluation and the extensive feedback we have received, the City of Cambridge and the Town of Watertown will make the changes to Mount Auburn Street more permanent in the next few months by installing a more visible, longer-lasting red material in the bus lanes. In addition, we will explore ways to make improvements to the way the street works with some signage changes and modest capital investments. These efforts will help address comments heard at the June 2019 open house.

This completes our “pilot” process. The City of Cambridge and Town of Watertown will continue to monitor how Mount Auburn Street is working for everybody who uses the street and may return to adjust lane markings or signal timings as issues are identified. 

If you have further questions for Cambridge, contact Tegin Teich, tteich@cambridgema.gov, (617) 349-4615. Questions for Watertown should be directed to Laura Wiener, lwiener@watertown-ma.gov, (617) 972-6417.

Design Features

Bus priority features in this pilot included:
  • Dedicated lanes to take bus riders out of car congestion for significant segments of Mount Auburn Street between Belmont Street and Fresh Pond Parkway.
  • 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.

Informational "User's Guide" for New Traffic Patterns

The City of Cambridge created some new informational graphics to share with people on how to use the new dedicated lanes on Mount Auburn Street. Find the info-graphic below.

Graphic showing how people driving, parking, walking, bicycling should use a street with a bus and bicycle-only lane. Shows a lane for through traffic, a shared bus and bike only lane, a parking lane, and a sidewalk. Reminders include the following: "After yielding to buses and bikes, drivers may enter the bus/bike lane to make a right turn."; "The bus/bike lane cannot be used as a driving lane."; "Cyclists should 'take the lane' and ride at a comfortable speed."; "No pickup/dropoff in the bus/bike lane."; "After yielding to buses and bikes, drivers may enter the bus/bike lane to parallel park."

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

June 2019

June 12 Cambridge & Watertown hosted an open house with information about the evaluation of this project at the BB&N Administration building.
Click here to see the display boards.
Click here for summary factsheet. 

Staff for other projects related to the bus priority pilot also attended to share information, including: 

April 2019

We have closed the post-implementation survey. Thank you for your feedback on how Mount Auburn Street works now.

January 2019

Continued outreach for post-implementation survey.

December 2018

Early December, post-pilot evaluation begins with post-implementation survey.

Ongoing evaluation and monitoring of the traffic operations on the corridor.

StreetFilms created a video highlighting the Cambridge-Watertown bus priority pilot and other the #BostonBRT projects in the region. Click here to watch this video.

November 2018

November 15, signal timing and coordination on Mt. Auburn at Coolidge Ave and Fresh Pond Parkway has been corrected and is functioning as intended.

November 5 to 14, City of Cambridge and DCR staff together made extensive observations and fixed the signal timing and coordination issues.

October 2018

October 26, Cambridge, Watertown, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, MBTA, MassDOT, and the Barr Foundation participated in the launch event.

October 25, Cambridge staff finished implementing bus priority lane markings, signage, and transit priority signals. DCR finished first calibrations.

Mid-October, Check out this new document with questions and answers on the design of the new bus and bike-only lanes, transit signal priority, and queue jump features.

October 15, project staff began implementing features of the Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot project. DCR also worked signal installation and timing changes at Coolidge Avenue. Additional monitoring and calibration continued through the week.

Early October, The City 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.

In addition, the city created these brief videos, providing more information about the pilot and its impacts:

August 2018

Week of August 27, Cambridge staff restriped Mount Auburn St. to reconfigure traffic lanes, add clearer lane markings, add bicycle lanes, and reconfigure where Brattle Street merges with Mt. Auburn Street westbound.

Early August, Watertown implemented shared bus queue jump/right-turn-on-red lanes at School and Walnut Streets. View updated plans here.

July 2018

Cambridge high school students working with the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program did outreach on the corridor.

June 2018

Project staff adjusted implementation timeline to the fall to stay coordinated with needed DCR intersection work.

May 2018

May 1, Staff from Cambridge and Watertown hosted a joint community meeting See 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

March 27, Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Meeting  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, received 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