MassDOT To Allow Buses To Drive On Highway Shoulders During Pilot Program

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) – A new pilot program will allow Massachusetts bus drivers to drive on the shoulders of certain highways.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is starting a two-year Bus-on-Shoulder service pilot on Monday. MassDOT said the pilot will evaluate bus service’s effectiveness on reducing travel times, increasing transit ridership and increasing the reliability of service and schedule adherence.

While the pilot takes place on weekdays, authorized bus drivers using I-93, between I-95 in Woburn and the HOV lane entrance in Somerville, will be allowed to drive at 35 miles per hour on the shoulders. The Bus-on-Shoulder travel area is estimated to be seven miles long in each direction.

“This collaborative effort has made it possible to improve the efficiency of bus travel along this corridor,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “We are pleased to see this pilot implemented ahead of the holiday travel season, which should encourage more people to consider public transportation as an efficient way to reach destinations.”

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The Logan Express will use the lane starting this week. Buses will be able to use the shoulders from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on I-93 southbound and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on I-93 northbound. In addition, the MBTA believes the new route will help buses bypass frequent highway traffic.

“A critically important service for riders traveling between Boston and Burlington, Woburn and Medford, Route 354 buses are frequently stuck in traffic for up to 20 minutes on I-93,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “This pilot will improve the commute for our current riders by allowing Route 354 buses to bypass this congestion completely.”

MBTA, Regional Transit Authority, and Logan Express buses will be allowed to use the shoulders. No other motor vehicles will be allowed in the breakdown lanes during the pilot.

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