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Arlington makes morning bus lane permanent

Arlington plans to establish a permanent bus lane during morning rush hour along a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue after a pilot project showed that it improved service.

The Select Board at a recent meeting unanimously voted to institute the bus lane, which is expected to begin this summer. The dedicated lane will be set aside weekday mornings from 6 to 9 a.m. for eastbound buses serving MBTA routes 77 and 79, extending along Massachusetts Avenue from Varnum Street to Alewife Brook Parkway.

The lane occupies the area that is ordinarily used for parking. Signage and pavement markings will be used to alert motorists to avoid parking in the lane during designated hours. The Police Department plans to dedicate a traffic officer to the area for the first 30 days to enforce the parking restrictions.


The dedicated bus lane was one of several features of the monthlong pilot project last fall to improve bus service along a portion of Massachusetts Avenue. The other measures, all of which were made permanent at the end of the 30-day period, consisted of relocating a bus stop beyond the Lake Street intersection and providing buses with traffic signal priority at that intersection; and traffic signal and lane changes at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and Alewife Brook Parkway.

Town officials said an analysis of MBTA data showed that buses ran faster through the pilot area than they did before, and service was more reliable. Arlington last year joined with Cambridge, Everett, and Watertown to secure a Barr Foundation grant to implement “bus rapid transit” measures, which are initiatives to improve bus service.

The Massachusetts Avenue pilot is Arlington’s first rapid transit project.

John Laidler can be reached at