MBTA Bus & BRT

Arlington

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Can school buses (of any size) and shuttle buses with 13* or more seats use the red Bus lanes? They should.

On Winter Hill in Somerville, I see School Buses (sometimes small vans with the sign, sometimes mini Yellow school buses) sitting in the general traffic lanes as I’m biking in the bus-and-bike lanes

* or whatever the size is that requires a CDL P
 

donkeybutlers

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Bus-On-Shoulder is used in places nationwide without trouble. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop15023/apa.htm I've seen it in action and it seems to work well. Usually only used when traffic is at a standstill basically. It was part of the CLF settlement:
  • A pilot bus-only lane beginning in the southbound direction on the Tobin Bridge with the aim to implement permanent bus priority on the bridge.
  • A pilot allowing buses traveling on I-93 between Woburn and Somerville to use the right-hand shoulder, effectively creating a bus-only lane.
  • A study of future locations within the I-495 area for bus lanes, HOV lanes, and roadway pricing, with input from environmental justice communities.
  • Maintaining HOV lanes and only making changes to those lanes following the legally required process that includes seeking public input.
Its also used nationwide in the UK as part of the larger smart motorways strategy.
Seems like most of those have a noticeably lower speed limit in the shoulder than MA though and that will inherently make this more dangerous as any added speed increases the likelihood of injury and death. The use of breakdown lanes by personal vehicles is already deadly here. Those kinds of accidents would be even worse with busses (both in terms of the car hit and in terms of the bus passengers). I think Bus lanes should be bus lanes and I am more than fine with taking more travel lanes for busses and HOV, the breakdown lane should be a breakdown lane though.
 

millerm277

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Seems like most of those have a noticeably lower speed limit in the shoulder than MA though
Generally those bus on shoulder lanes are only used when traffic is moving slowly and the bus doesn't drive 70mph past the lanes of stop & go traffic.

Being slightly familiar with Colorado's US-36 (Denver-Boulder) bus on shoulder operations, the bus only uses it when the general purpose lanes are moving <35mph, and the bus is not supposed to be going more than 15mph faster than the general purpose lanes. If you've got stopped traffic in the general purpose lanes, the bus is certainly going under 30mph on the shoulder.

I don't think there's any particularly significant risk.

I will point out that "fatal accident(s) have occurred at some point in the breakdown lane", does not prove that they are substantially more dangerous than the general purpose lanes (which have obviously also had fatal accidents).

I'm not saying I find your hypothesis unbelievable, but this isn't evidence.
 

The EGE

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Can school buses (of any size) and shuttle buses with 13* or more seats use the red Bus lanes? They should.

On Winter Hill in Somerville, I see School Buses (sometimes small vans with the sign, sometimes mini Yellow school buses) sitting in the general traffic lanes as I’m biking in the bus-and-bike lanes

* or whatever the size is that requires a CDL P
Here in SF, there's a legal distinction between "Muni only" (only SFMTA vehicles and emergency vehicles can use) and "bus only" (open to buses by all operators). The former is for specific locations where outside operators should not be allowed, such as lanes leading to Muni-only signal phases or on separated trackways; the latter is used for ordinary transit lanes. We do get occasional complaints about tech shuttles and casino buses using the lanes, but a study showed that delays from those were basically inconsequential compared to other sources. The MBTA appears to use "bus only".
 

Arlington

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I made a point of riding the US 36 DEN-Boulder bus-on-shoulder a month ago (Aug 2021) and it worked brilliantly and I didn’t see any particular safety flaws
 

chmeeee

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Brattle Loop

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I'm not arguing for or against breakdown lane travel here, but none of the links in that google search lead to reports of fatalities related to legal breakdown lane travel. It's crashes involving cars drifting into the shoulder on roads where it's never legal to travel there (Rt 2, I-90) and links to ambulance chaser lawyers.
What's more, while you're entirely correct, even if the Google search did lead to reports of fatalities related to legal breakdown lane travel, anecdotal reports are not sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion on whether such is inherently excessively dangerous. (Not unlike how a quick search can bring up numerous examples of plane crashes, yet it's widely understood that commercial aviation is extremely safe.)
 

donkeybutlers

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I made a point of riding the US 36 DEN-Boulder bus-on-shoulder a month ago (Aug 2021) and it worked brilliantly and I didn’t see any particular safety flaws
I've seen it in action and it seems to work well.
These are just as anecdotal as anything I said. We'll see how it goes. I hope it works well and there aren't any horrific accidents.

I do assume bus drivers will be less likely to be absolutely callous to the lives of others than individual car drivers might be flying in the breakdown lane. I hope it is a step to taking more space from highways for transit and not justification to half ass transit expansion. We'll have to see about that too.
It would be safer if it was the median shoulder and not the right hand one.
This has the advantage of not being used for emergency purposes in the same way but it would require cutting across every lane to exit.

Just give busses their own lanes then expand/add rail lines.
 
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Arlington

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Our rider experiences of the Boulder-Denver service are anecdotal, but its success and safety represent accumulated data.
 
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HelloBostonHi

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What do we suppose bus lane testing consists of... Driving a bus up and down it and the pavement not collapsing? I'm mostly joking but I really want to know how much "testing" a painted red lane and some concrete sidewalks need
 

Wash

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What do we suppose bus lane testing consists of... Driving a bus up and down it and the pavement not collapsing? I'm mostly joking but I really want to know how much "testing" a painted red lane and some concrete sidewalks need
Maybe they're getting baseline numbers for potential travel times over the busway that they'll then factor in to route schedules and from there into driver and vehicle availability tables.
 

lainpimicaja

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What do we suppose bus lane testing consists of... Driving a bus up and down it and the pavement not collapsing? I'm mostly joking but I really want to know how much "testing" a painted red lane and some concrete sidewalks need
probably since it's the first time they've done this kind of median configuration (excluding busways like the SL3 in chelsea), they need to just make sure everything it's ship-shape, try it out with different models of buses that are in service in this area, get operators familiar with it and trained, etc. also, the new and expanded bus stops are a new thing - that update said that they're near platform level. when everett put those rubber stops in over on b'way, they had a bit of a learning curve based on using it w/ the deployable ramps, etc.
 

The EGE

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Slides are up for the September 28 SLX meeting. Most relevant is this one:
1633585624360.png


The routes to Wellington and Sullivan, and the extensions to Kendall, both look promising. I certainly agree that some may make sense as Chelsea or Airport turns rather than dealing with some very long routes. Adding the connections from the Orange Line and from Lechmere to Kendall will be very valuable as well. The Malden Center corridor looks promising as well, though it might be more effective as a BRT-ized 104 rather than a Malden-Chelsea route.

The one corridor I'm not convinced about is the Sullivan-downtown leg. It directly parallels the OL and the 92, and there's not any useful local stops to add that the OL doesn't serve other than City Square. The only way I can really see it making sense is with a dedicated busway on Rutherford, a lot of infill development on Rutherford to justify a stop at Essex Street, and use of a Congress Street BRT to get to South Station.
 

Riverside

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My hot take is that the circumferential nature of SL3 makes an eastward extension to Kendall via Wellington or Sullivan a better fit; the Malden Center alignment seems very sensible, but should be part of a separate radial service that leverages that Rutherford Ave corridor to head downtown. (Which is an idea I've been beating the drum on for close to a year now.)

Given that I think a radial service is also warranted, I think that tips the scale toward a Kendall via Sullivan alignment, as the radial route can share a bus lane with the circumferential route over the Mystic River. Sullivan also has a stronger gravitational pull in terms of bus transfers -- Wellington gets you a few routes into Medford, but that's basically it, as the other Wellington routes could be transferred to at an "Everett Square" station on a Sullivan alignment.

Sullivan is also preferable because it begins to lay the long-term groundwork for LRT conversion of the NE quadrant, which will almost certainly travel via Sullivan, rather than Wellington. Good to start building those ridership patterns now.
 

RandomWalk

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I’d like see the Kendall alignment use Hampshire and Prospect to get to East Somerville Station on the Green Line, rather than First St. It would get the alignment out of the McGrath mess and serve the Port neighborhood more directly.
 

real_EthanHunt

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The one corridor I'm not convinced about is the Sullivan-downtown leg. It directly parallels the OL and the 92, and there's not any useful local stops to add that the OL doesn't serve other than City Square.
please tell the BRT advocates this!
BRT on the current 8 lane highway? absolutely!
BRT in favor of a linear park along the redesigned Rutherford Ave? Absolutely not!

that leverages that Rutherford Ave corridor to head downtown. (Which is an idea I've been beating the drum on for close to a year now.)
please stop beating that drum. redundant BRT adjacent and parallel to the orange line is not more important than open space. its the latest of special interests delaying what is the best overall plan for the redesign of Rutherford and Sullivan.
 

Riverside

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please stop beating that drum. redundant BRT adjacent and parallel to the orange line is not more important than open space. its the latest of special interests delaying what is the best overall plan for the redesign of Rutherford and Sullivan.
I don't know much, if anything, about the redesign of Rutherford. Am happy to learn more. For now, I do know that Rutherford offers the best opportunity for a one-seat ride from Everett to Downtown, and possibly the best opportunity for a one-seat ride from Chelsea to Downtown (depending on whether they can ever get bus lanes going on the Tobin) -- the only two communities within 3 miles of downtown that lack one-seat rapid transit access.

I have to think that a linear park is not incompatible with a pair of bus lanes. If it is, then fine -- either short-turn the service at Sullivan, or run it down either Main or Bunker Hill St. But for the moment, as you say, it's an 8-lane highway that could see a soft conversion into bus-only express lanes tomorrow with the deployment off some traffic cones.
 

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