Eyes On the Street: Columbus Ave. Busway, Almost Ready to Ride

Newly painted, center-running bus lanes on Columbus Ave. near Jackson Square in Boston, pictured on Sept. 1, 2021. The new busway is expected to open later this month.
Newly painted, center-running bus lanes on Columbus Ave. near Jackson Square in Boston, pictured on Sept. 1, 2021. The new busway is expected to open later this month.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new Columbus Avenue center-running busway, which is expected to open for service later this month, according to MBTA officials.

Boston’s first center-running bus lanes will run between Walnut Avenue (at the northern edge of Franklin Park) and the Jackson Square Orange Line station, benefiting the MBTA’s 22 and 44 bus routes.

The T estimates that, by eliminating conflicts with other traffic and parked vehicles along the street’s curbs, the center-running busway will save riders 4 to 7 minutes on each trip along the corridor.

Under current bus schedules, Route 22 buses take 30 to 40 minutes to make the trip between Ashmont and Ruggles. T officials say that those schedules could eventually be adjusted to reflect time savings from the new bus lanes.

In addition to new red paving materials on the bus lanes themselves (pictured above), work on 8 new bus platforms along the corridor is nearly complete.

According to a presentation made earlier this week at a public meeting for the T’s “better bus” initiative, these new bus stops represent a new “gold standard” bus stop design that the MBTA plans to roll out along other dedicated bus corridors across the region.

One of the more prominent features of the new stops are these large screens, which will display real-time arrival and departure information for riders:

A close-up view of the large real-time information screen inside the Dimock Ave. bus stop.
A close-up view of the large real-time information screen inside the Dimock Ave. bus stop. The screens will reportedly include audio announcements for vision-impaired riders.

 

The new "gold standard" bus stop at Dimock Street in the Columbus Avenue busway includes fare vending machines (not yet installed), real-time information displays, and near-level boarding platforms.
The new “gold standard” bus stop at Dimock Street in the Columbus Avenue busway. The project’s 8 bus stops will include fare vending machines (not yet installed), real-time information displays, and near-level boarding platforms.

The City of Boston and MBTA are already planning a northward extension of the busway from Jackson Square to Ruggles.

That extension, which would continue north on Columbus Avenue and onto Tremont Street, is Boston’s highest-ridership bus corridor, with four of the most heavily-used, frequent-running bus lines in the MBTA system: the 15, the 22, the 23, and the 28.

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