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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. 

Recently installed 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 uses temporary materials, like paint and signs, that will remain in place during project evaluation; it is also the first step towards implementing a long-term plan for the 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 increase capacity on Mount Auburn Street and improve safety and convenience for cyclists and pedestrians in the intersection.

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

View the Design Questions and Answers document for the Mount Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot Project

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

Project partners have implemented lane painting, line striping, signage, signal installation, and signal timings by Friday 10/26. Cambridge, Watertown, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, MBTA, MassDOT, and the Barr Foundation participated in the launch event on Friday 10/26.

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.

We want to hear how things are going on Mount Auburn Street! Project staff have launched a post-implementation survey for all people who use Mount Auburn Street. To access the survey, click here. Look out for our street teams in the coming weeks, they'll be asking folks who use Mount Auburn Street questions about their trips on the corridor.


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

October 2018

Mt. Auburn Bus Priority Pilot implementation began the week of October 15th. Most of the painting, line striping, and signage installation has been completed as of Friday, 10/19. Additional work includes DCR signal installation and timing changes at Coolidge Avenue, which are critical to managing the queues on Mt. Auburn Street. This work occurred over the weekend of 10/20-21 and was completed the week of 10/22. Additional monitoring and calibration continued through the week.

    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.

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

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

    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