T notes: Bus lanes do save time

Big changes may be coming on the Green Line

MBTA OFFICIALS ON MONDAY said initial results from two experiments in Boston and Somerville showed dedicated bus lanes could dramatically cut route times.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, said a one-day test on December 12 of a dedicated bus lane on Washington Street between Roslindale Square and the Forest Hills T station showed travel time could be cut by an average of four minutes. He said another week-long test along Prospect Street in Somerville cut travel times by an average of 10 minutes on the C2 Line and six minutes for all other bus routes using the street.

Gonneville said Boston plans to test the dedicated bus lane on Washington Street again on Tuesday and then begin to evaluate the cost and benefits. He said he expects Somerville to implement the dedicated bus lane on Prospect Street permanently.

T officials, concerned that traffic congestion is hurting bus reliability, said dedicated bus lanes appear to be at least a partial answer to the problem.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said she was heartened by the growing municipal interest in providing the T with dedicated bus lanes. At the beginning of the year, she said, the T had no municipal partners; now it has cooperation from Boston, Somerville, and Everett and other communities are also showing interest.

Bigger than the Red Line

The MBTA’s deputy general manager said he plans to unveil what could be a fairly radical plan next month to speed up service on the Green Line.

Three branches of the Green Line converge heading into Boston at the Kenmore stop and a fourth branch joins at Copley. The merger of the lines creates traffic congestion that often slows Green Line trains to a crawl. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the congestion means it’s often quicker to get off and walk.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, said he and his staff have spent close to six months examining ways to speed up travel on the Green Line. He offered few details during Monday’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting, but said afterward that his team is exploring a number of options, including eliminating the sharp turn at Park Street that forces Green Line trains to slow to a crawl.

Gonneville acknowleged the initiatives his team is exploring would require some significant infrastructure improvements, but he said the initiatives could be worth it. “This is bigger than the Red Line,” he said.

More West Station numbers

A consultant working for a downtown business group told the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday that its ridership projections for the proposed West Station in Allston don’t add up.

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