Give Washington Street Bus Lane Feedback

Washington Street Bus Lane

Washington Street Bus Lane (Image Courtesy Universal Hub)

We’re now a couple weeks into the Washington Street Dedicated Bus Lane pilot run and all reports are that it is going swimmingly for bus riders, bicyclists, and car drivers alike. The bus commute time from Rozzie Square to Forest Hills has been shortened for many from as long as half an hour or more to just a few minutes, making the bus a much more practical alternative to the commuter rail (which is infrequent and too expensive for many) or individual driving (we’ve already heard several anecdotes about people who have switched to save time and avoid traffic angst).

It’s now time to make sure the City hears feedback from the community about the pilot–if we don’t speak up, there is no guarantee that they will be able to justify continued investment in the resources necessary to keep the morning rush hour bus lane in place permanently, and ultimately to expand to an evening rush hour bus lane as well (when peak outbound traffic is even worse than in the morning).

So please drop a note right now to the Boston Transportation Department at BTD@nullboston.gov with your thoughts about the bus lane. It need not be lengthy–a sentence or two will do–but just let them know what you think. Lots of people are watching and this could be the start of big pro-walking/bike/transit changes in Roslindale and around the City of Boston, and it’s critical we seize the momentum.

Some press coverage below:

7 thoughts on “Give Washington Street Bus Lane Feedback

  1. This is great news that the designated bus lane is working out so well. I have ridden my bike on it on several of the mornings and, indeed, it’s a joy. It’s great to read that it’s also a marked improvement for bus riders, and even more so that the improved bus service is luring people out of their cars!

    Nonetheless, I have become aware of one real downside of the change, which I would be derelict not to mention. Around 7 am on the first morning of the trial I was out on Washington St., on foot, needing to purchase milk. I ended up at Sam’s Food Store (right across the street from Dunkin Donuts on Washington) because the other little shops either weren’t open yet, or were out of milk (I tried two). While paying for the milk at Sam’s Food Store, I asked the store owner how things were going and he told me that, because there was no parking in front of his shop that morning, his business was down from a usual $300 for the first two hours he was open, to just $80. The reason: people usually park in front of his shop, cross the street to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and then come into his shop for cigarettes before continuing on the way. All that traffic was lost, because people could no longer park in front of his shop. From all appearances the guy who owns the shop is a recent immigrant, trying to make ends meet (and not some corporate entity). A couple of days later, I needed milk again (and wanted to know how things were working out) so I went to Sam’s again. Same story: business way down. I’m not saying that the whole project should be scrapped because the benefits are not universal. And I’m certainly not saying I think more people should stop in to buy cigarettes. But I am saying that, the guy does deserve some kind of compensation. So if you’re in need of a snack and happen to be passing by there in the morning (or any other time) and you can stop, you’d be helping someone out who could use the help: someone for whom the new arrangement (from which we all benefit) presents a difficulty which he had no way of foreseeing when he decided to go into business in his particular location.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Another important aspect to this solution is to better manage the rest of the parking around Roslindale Village. Although there may be no way to keep a parking space immediately in front of this business available while the bus lane is operational, it should be possible to keep short-term spaces quite close by open so that a customer need not walk far. Too many parking spaces in and near Roslindale Square are currently used as “free” all-day commuter parking; taking steps such as imposing a nominal charge (e.g. 25 cents/hour) and establishing more short term (15 minutes, 1 hour, etc) spaces, will insure that spaces are always available for people who want to park and frequent our small businesses.

    • Thanks for addressing this. The fact that people in the know are cognizant of the challenges changes of this sort present for all concerned puts my mind at ease about encouraging folks at City Hall to make the changes permanent.

  3. This has been a huge plus for my morning commutes, I only wish it were the same idea going the other direction for the evening commute.

    This easily shaves 5 minutes off my total commute time, and as a cyclist, makes me feel infinitely safer than the painted markings that existed before. A very narrow lane with parked cars spilling out next to an already tight traffic lane, full of traffic, I would never consider riding Washington street prior to, or without this lane. Previously I’d ride through the arboretum, much hillier and a less direct route.

    One important note I’d make is, until this morning, the buses had been giving the correct, ample amount of space behind me should they approach from behind. This morning, a bus came up the lane behind me and drove VERY close off my back wheel. And it was genuinely terrifying. Having a city bus drive a foot off your back wheel constantly letting out its air brakes on you isn’t the picture of a stress free situation. Please educate the bus drivers on correct, safe driving practices

    I really hope this is a permanent feature, I’m sure all commuters of any type would agree

    • I was worried about bus drivers following too closely behind cyclists. It is extremely important for the drivers to be educated on the proper distance to leave. To avoid disaster the distance has to be maintained all the time, every time. Cyclists have nowhere to go to get out of the way.

  4. I used the Roslindale bus lane during the first of week of the trial. Even though our bus was behind another bus it still took less time than usual to make that trip at 7:15 am. I think I timed it at 4.5 min from Roslindale Square.

    Great idea–keep it up!!

  5. The lane is a resounding success as far as I’m concerned. I think it MUST become permanent and then a template for other areas of the city and region. For Washington St, the residential part after Healy Field, I think the city should consider resident parking there on the side streets for daytime hours (8am-6 pm) like around the commuter rail stations to keep commuters out. On Washington St itself, outside of the bus lane times, doing 2-hour parking on Washington St (but you can stay beyond that with a resident sticker) seems like the way to go. I am planning to provide this feedback to the city. For biking it, it’s gone pretty well for me so far. I know some others have concerns about the buses bunching or speeding, we need the MBTA to address that but that’s doable to correct. Overall, big success!

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