Traffic Commission Approves Pilot Program for Bus Lane

Revere motorists who already are experiencing congestion on Broadway in the morning now will be sharing this roadway with a dedicated bus lane that will run from Revere Street to the Chelsea line starting on September 30. 

The Revere Traffic Commission approved the Pilot Program that will be in operation from September 30 through December 31, 2020, at their meeting last Thursday.

The bus lane will run along the southbound side of Broadway and will be in operation Monday through Friday from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.  There will be no parking allowed on this side of Broadway during these hours. Motorists who use the lane are subject to a $25.00 fine. 

The dedicated lane will not operate in the immediate vicinity of the Central Fire Station approaching Park Ave. because Broadway is not wide enough at that point to accommodate the dedicated bus lane.

The primary goal of the bus lane is to improve bus service for passengers who use the two bus routes that traverse Broadway.

According to Eric Burkman of the MBTA, these routes, the 116 and 117, carry a combined ridership of more than 2,700 passengers each weekday and are the third busiest routes in the entire MBTA system. School buses and emergency vehicles, as well as bicyclists, also possibly could take advantage of these dedicated lanes.

Jay Monty from Everett Transportation Planner told the commissioners of the experience with a dedicated lane in Everett. He mentioned that Everett’s dedicated bus lane was the first in the area and was started in 2016. Although there have been a few complaints, Monty overall termed the bus lane as “a home run.”

Commissioner Nicholas Rystrom asked if there had been any negative impacts with the bus lane in Everett.  

Monty noted that while it took some time for people to become accustomed to the bus lane, this is not a high speed bus lane and the buses seldom exceed 17 m.p.h.

Julie DeMauro, the On the Move Active Living Coordinator for Revere who has been doing the community outreach, informed the commission that the entire cost for lane marking and signage will be paid for by the MBTA.  She also noted that the red paint that will delineate the lane will wash off Broadway by the spring if the pilot program is rejected.

While most of the businesses in front of the bus lane are either closed or have off-street parking available for their customers, a few do not like  Community Market and Deli at 270 Broadway. Raj Patel, owner of Community Market  said his main concern is that most of his deliveries arrive during the proposed hours. However, City Planner Frank Stringi noted that for these few businesses, “The buses will work around early morning deliveries.”

Mayor Brian Arrigo commenting later on the designated bus lane said, “seating capacity restrictions forced by Covid-19 have forced the MBTA to add additional buses to their various routes, and to experiment with Bus Only lanes during high-traffic times in communities throughout their region.  Revere’s pilot program, which will be in effect from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. only on the southbound side of Broadway from Revere Street to Chelsea, will expedite travel for our residents who rely on the T to get to work.  Our role in this, in conjunction with the MBTA and surrounding communities, recognizes the importance of mass transit for our residents.  

We have studied the similar program that was implemented on Broadway in Everett several years ago, which has proven to be hugely successful despite initial skepticism.  The limited time frame preserves on-street parking during the normal business operating hours and maintains parking on the northbound side of Broadway. As we have observed in Everett, and in communities such as Arlington and Watertown as well, the dedicated bus lane not only reduces commuting time for passengers, it also expedites traffic because buses no longer have to pull in and out of vehicular traffic, an maneuver that causes consistent backups as buses pick up and drop off passengers.   

We will monitor the new program before making any determination whether to make it permanent in this or some revised format.”

Mary Gandolfo of Washington Ave. was opposed to the pilot program, stating that she believed it will create unsafe conditions.

However, Commissioner and Revere Fire Chief Chris Bright summed up the consensus of the other commissioners. “This is a good time to initiate this pilot program. If it does not work, then we just back out of it,” said Bright.

In another matter that drew some discussion, the commissioners spent a few minutes debating whether to place a handicapped parking sign outside of a home at 839 Winthrop Ave.  Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna spoke in favor of the request, noting that Winthrop Ave. is very congested and that the senior citizen who have handicap plates and live at this home have a very difficult time walking from the driveway.

However, Commissioner Ralph DeCiccio noted that the house has off-street parking with a very wide driveway for at least four cars and that there is only a slight slope to the driveway.

 “We have denied other requests that also have available off-street parking,” DeCiccio said.

“We have to be consistent, since we have denied other similar requests,” added Bright.

Stringi likewise urged that inasmuch as the building has a driveway, then the Commissioners should stick to their usual protocol.

The commissioners voted to deny the request.

In other business, the request from the Point of Pines Yacht Club to have additional parking along the front of their property on Rice Ave. was moved to a public hearing. 

The commissioners also moved to a public hearing a request by the Turkish Cultural Center for a new street sign on Ford St. that will allow for a maximum of two hours for parking on Mondaynthrough Friday from Revere St. to a point 60 feet northerly on Ford Street.

Handicapped signs for 20 Hauman Street, 22 Burnett Rd., 202 Constitution Ave., and 560 Revere Street also were moved to a public hearing.

A new truck route that will help make the Winthrop Ave. neighborhood safer  was sent to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. McKenna noted that 16-wheel trucks have driven on Winthrop Ave. until they hit Crescent Avenue, and then are stopped at the rotary. Police Sgt. Christopher Giannino will be recommending that trucks use the Revere Beach Parkway and then go to Winthrop Parkway. 

A new crosswalk and stop signs on Harris Street also will be headed for a public hearing.

City Councillor Jessica Giannino requested that a handicapped parking sign be placed at 25 Malden Street.  This request, which the commission previously denied, was tabled.

Another motion that was tabled was to have the following streets — Witherbee Ave., Bateman Ave., Fowler Ave., Whitin Ave., Lancaster Ave., Bickford Ave., Alden Ave., Delano Ave., Chamberlain Ave., Goodwin Ave., Harrington Ave., Pines Rd., and Wadsworth St. — be posted for 24-hour permit parking. 

Councillor John Powers noted that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, parking has become very difficult for residents on these streets and this could be the solution to providing more parking for the residents.

However, some commissioners noted that this could be problematic given that contractors and health care workers working in this area could be affected. The consensus was that it is better to wait until the overnight parking program that is scheduled to start on October 15 gets underway. 

The next meeting of the Traffic Commission is scheduled for October 29.

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