Buses Will Get A New Bypass Around I-93 Traffic Jams North of Boston

New signage presages faster buses on I-93 northbound lanes of I-93 north of Boston. Photo by Ari Ofsevit, used with permission.
New signage presages faster buses on I-93 northbound lanes of I-93 north of Boston. Photo by Ari Ofsevit, used with permission.

The autumn winds have unwrapped some new signage on Interstate 93 north of Boston, revealing MassDOT’s plans to allow buses to run in the breakdown lane on one of the region’s most congested highways.

On Tuesday morning, an MBTA spokesperson confirmed that the T had collaborating with MassDOT to allow buses to run on the shoulders of I-93 during periods of peak congestion, giving transit a faster bypass route around stop-and-go traffic.

The spokesperson said that MBTA buses, MVRTA buses, and Massport’s Logan Express buses would be able to use the shoulder.

Though it appears to be a first for the Boston region, several other states allow buses to run in the breakdown lane to avoid heavy traffic, including C-TRAN in Vancouver, Washington. Here’s a video that explains how it works there:

The bus-on-shoulder operation is one of the concessions that MassDOT promised when it settled a 2019 lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation over the agency’s decision to eliminate a carpool lane on I-93 through Medford and Somerville.

The 2020 settlement of that lawsuit restored that carpool lane, and also gave the region a new bus-only lane on the Tobin Bridge.


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