This Boston Suburb Is Vastly Improving Bus Rapid Transit

The city of Everett, Massachusetts is pioneering bus rapid transit in the Boston area.

JFK/UMass MBTA Station
Boston Globe—Boston Globe via Getty Images

"We’re ranked number one quality of life, but something like 45th in transportation for the nation and that’s just embarrassing," Julia Wallerce, the Boston program manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, told WBZ4. Given the incident of an MBTA subway that "basically exploded" Wednesday, this likely comes as a surprise to no one in the Boston area. But the nearby suburb of Everett is taking steps to streamline its public transportation system and become the gold standard in bus rapid transit for the area.

In December 2016, Everett eliminated street parking on Broadway to create a bus-only lane during rush hour. While Broadway traffic is jammed up, buses keep moving, saving riders up to eight minutes of travel time.

“It’s just a bus but it’s prioritized. It has its own tracks, basically the streets and that’s what we’re doing. Rather than tunneling and putting up a train station that’s billions of dollars,” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria told WBZ4.

But Everett doesn't want to stop there. To receive a gold rating from bus rapid transit committee Boston BRT, Everett wants not only dedicated bus lanes, but also traffic lights that turn green for buses, pre-paid fare collection, and platform level boarding to make loading and unloading strollers and wheelchairs faster.

The program's success in Everett has inspired other Boston area communities to give bus rapid transit a try. State Representative Russel Holmes told WBZ4, "Bring me my BRT because it was something we should have had 8-10 years ago and then when I think about what we’ve done in Everett [...] it’s proven." Later this year additional pilot programs will begin in Cambridge, Watertown, and Arlington.