Boston, MBTA to start working on dedicated bus lane on Washington Street in Roslindale

A MassDOT spokesperson reports the city told MBTA directors today it's ready to seriously map out how to get a dedicated bus lane on the narrow Washington Street between Forest Hills and Roslindale Square:

Public outreach for idea planned in the Spring.

In the past, city planners have looked at the idea of a reversible lane for both T buses and bicyclists that would run towards Forest Hills in the morning and towards Roslindale Square in the evening. The move would require the elimination of some parking on the street - but officials have said studies have shown most of the people who park on that stretch of Washington Street are commuters trying to get to Forest Hills from elsewhere, rather than residents of the street.

The stretch of Washington Street has become a chokehold for bus service to and from areas south of Forest Hills both because pretty much every bus line to Roslindale and West Roxbury uses it, often leading to conga lines of buses that sit in traffic, exacerbated of late by the Arborway and Forest Hills road and T-stop construction.

The Boston 2030 transportation plan, released in May, also calls for installing new traffic signals that would give priority to buses.

Using a reserved transit lane on Washington Street and bus signal priority, all existing bus service between Roslindale and Forest Hills would be able to operate clear of traffic congestion, greatly increasing transit speed, capacity, and reliability. The transit lane could be reversible, and flexible curb regulations would preserve vehicle capacity in the peak direction. With these bus service improvements, existing services could serve more riders in Roslindale and in points further south. In the long term, this route could utilize abandoned rail tracks that extend to Hyde Park, potentially bringing rapid bus to even more underserved residents.



Free tagging: 


No Tracks - Pipe Dream

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There are no abandoned tracks. Who ever suggested that is clueless.

The main line from Forest Hills to just short of Hyde Park Station used to have 4 tracks. Only 3 are there now with the space for the 4th now overgrown but reserved as maintenance space for track work for non-railed vehicles or for drop space for rail and ties when doing maintenance work.

At Hyde Park the former 4th track space is now the outbound platform.

The 3rd track now in use disappears just south of Readville where it merges with the primary outbound track.

There is insufficient space to turn any of that into a BRT right-of-way.

That said, the geniuses that are building the Silver Line extension in Chelsea have a narrowed space near the current commuter rail Chelsea station. They had to install traffic signals that will only allow buses to travel in one direction at a time because it is too narrow to allow 2 of them to share the same space and pass each other.

Most people don't know the MBTA has portals (rights fo way) on and off tracks in a number of areas. It is small parcels of land they own to use as access points for maintenance and emergency repairs.

For someone

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For someone who's scree name is "in the know".. you don't know.

That said, the geniuses that are building the Silver Line extension in Chelsea have a narrowed space near the current commuter rail Chelsea station. They had to install traffic signals that will only allow buses to travel in one direction at a time because it is too narrow to allow 2 of them to share the same space and pass each other.

First off all, the bridge near the current CR station has been replaced to allow two way traffic. This is the Washington Ave bridge reconstruction which was done at the same time as the SLG station.

You are referring to the Broadway bridge. This design was intentional to keep costs down. I sound like a broken record, but keeping costs low was one of the main goals of this project. The Broadway bridge was rebuilt in 1987 so it is far from time to be re-done. So MassDOT figured a signal was the best way to get around this. The signal will be sensor controlled and will turn as the buses approach and leave. It really isn't a big deal as you make it seem.

The use of a sensor signal is a good idea, actually. Beats coming to a complete stop for a stop sign, and waiting to see if a bus comes. This way the light changes as the buses approach so it won't slow them down.

It’s a great idea, but

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The main morning choke point is from Aldwin Road to Forest Hills. MASS DoT should really be looking into ways to deal with traffic in the Forest Hills area. If only there were some way to grade separate the traffic.

Outbound, in the PM rush, putting in bus lanes would help a lot. As long as they are enforced.

They Tried That Crazy Idea In Everett — Look How It Turned Out!

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I'd also like to add that this idea was 100% initiated by the City of Everett, and not the MBTA. Why is that important? Because, it took the strong will of a city to put in a bus lane.. a concept that is used elsewhere in the world, just not here in MA. I have little faith the T would have done this on its own.

Of course now, everyone sees the benefits of doing so. Hopefully we'll see alot more of these. It does speed up the ride down B'way in Everett. I can see this same principal applied in other corridors in the metro area.

The T CAN'T do something like

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The T CAN'T do something like this on it's own. The municipalities control the streets. The T just runs buses on them. The T can provide data as to where their buses get most bogged down in traffic, but ultimately it's up to the cities and towns to reallocate street space or put in signal priority for buses. Everett is a great example of how it doesn't need to be a long and drawn out process. Boston is an example of how you can say you're going to do something to make people think you actually are but then drag out the process for months and years because you don't actually want to do it, because, ya know, on-street parking.

You missed it

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The T CAN'T do something like this on it's own. The municipalities control the streets.

Well yeah duh. My point was it was the city who went to the T, not the other way around. I know the T can't force the cities to do it, but they certainly can suggest it to cities. Most are reception.

Case in point, MassDOT and the T came to the city of Chelsea for the SLG extension. Not the other way around. And one of the original options was city streets. The city was all for it to improve any bus service in the town.

Don't forget

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Brookline going to the MBTA to offer signal priority and the MBTA telling them to basically F-off. Nice that we are finally getting it now, though.

One little point

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No, I didn't watch the whole thing, at least yet, but I did "sample" the ride. It looks like a lot of the parking taken out is metered parking. Since the goal of said parking is turnover, that would be very different from Washington Street, where there are absolutely no meters, and time limited parking only from the Square proper (Adams Park would be my definition) to Murray Hill Road, basically a block's distance.

Now, you (and a lot of other people) could claim that it doesn't matter, but I am trying to get into the mind of those who park there. Since there are cars parked on Washington Street in the evening along this route in addition to during the day (and no, I don't park there and take a bus, but I know someone who does just that.)

Trust me, I'm not opposed to this in principle, but the devil is in the details.

If parking is important to

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If parking is important to them then they can pay for it. We shouldn't cripple our public transit system just so cheap people get to put their personal property on public land for free.

Oh, Kinopio

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Someday you may understand politics, but I doubt it. Go to the South End section of Washington Street and behold what happens when you make a busway on an existing road but don't have support of the abutters.

I don't know. The street's

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I don't know. The street's too narrow to begin. Make the street wider and re-do the lanes? Rush hour is a nightmare. Whether you drive OR take the bus, let alone ride a bike.

In a perfect world

Dedicated bus lanes would work out quite nice.

I see them as a wash, overall. In Manhattan they are a nuisance at night. I just avoid tangling with the bus lanes and their multitude of (sometimes insane or arbitrary) rules and drive a few extra blocks to avoid an undeserved ticket. I can't see a Washington St bus lane causing any major problems, but I am sure the system will find a way.....

In Manhattan they are a

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In Manhattan they are a blessing during the day--especially at rush hour, but even in early afternoon.

Undeserved ticket?

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If you break the rules and get a ticket, you deserve it.

Seriously. Stop driving.

Rule enforcement

If you break the rules and get a ticket, you deserve it.

If you follow the rules and get a ticket, it is undeserved. That is why they have magistrate hearings for traffic violations,

You can use the bus lanes for 200 feet to take a right into a private drive or a public street. I have never seen an officer with a tape measure during a stop.

Bus lanes?

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If you ask me, it's the perfect location for a monorail!

Lets be real

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I am all for improving traffic in the area. But having a bus lane that swaps side to side during the day is really not feasible. First, take a drive along that stretch and see how many cars are parked there in front of houses. Where will those cars go? Will there be a tow truck weep every AM and PM to clear the lane? Every day? Finally when it snows and the city doesn’t plow anywhere near the curb the whole thing gets blown up. Can we get a study to figure out a better traffic flow and pattern at Forest Hills and work our way back. As someone who travels that way everyday i am all for any improvement

Commenters after Elmer Posted The Video

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Did you even bother to watch how this works in Everett??

Obviously not, because you are WHAT-IFFING yourself into a tizzy over things that ARE NOT HAPPENING in the above system, which has been HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL.


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dupe, please delete.


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It works for Everett.

Why? One word: Enforcement.

There's clear signs on both sides of the street on when NOT to park there. The City of Everett tickets and tow's every day along the bus lanes because the city sees the benefits of actually doing some enforcing and towing.

It can happen in Boston, it just takes enforcement. And considering how well that's worked for the Silver Line Washington Street.. I kinda wonder how well it will be done for this. Sorry to be a cynic, but it's the truth. I just hope I am wrong.

As far as parking? Cars will go elsewhere.. they always do. And again, it works for Everett. And it's not like you are removing parking from both sides all day, it's just for 4 hours in the am and pm on one side. People will survive.


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Exactly why it will not work in Boston. Sorry the City cant enforce current no stopping zones and no parking in bus stops. Simple question Center st and Washington st are emergency no parking zones. When if ever do you see the city tow cars so that they can plow?> So fine they will ticket and enforce the bus lane for a week or month and then what. There is no will for teh current city administration to do anything like this.

They manage to tow a dozen or

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They manage to tow a dozen or so cars off of my street every single week for street cleaning. I think they can figure it out.

Study? You mean like the ones

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Study? You mean like the ones done by the T showin all the delay along this route, the parking study done by the MAPC that showed a large majority of the parked cars were not from rhe immediate neihhborhood or that BTD has been studying for about two tears now?
It's been studied to deatg, time to implement the damned trail! And then study the results to see if it made the street moe dangerous for people walking and buking, whether it improved transit times for a majority of people, not cars, using the street, if it delayed school buses.

Elated Elevated...

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Gee,don't dis here quandry just scream out for something like a railroad on stilts,umm like maybe an elevated heavy subway or light rail system with stations at major intersections.
Seems to me dat dis here sight might benefit from da hindsight of our foremuthers who like,umm maybe kind of sorta had such a system in place prior to the to the turn of the last century.
Yah,dats da ticket lets build us some railroads and even roads over da roads we gots now...
Lets deck over every single arterial road in da metropolis...
Can y'all say "Central Artery or even Boston Elevated Railway...


Finally convert the Needham line to orange line service. That should free up the need for so many buses....

The City suggested this as

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The City suggested this as part of their GoBoston 2030 plan but seemed to think that just a Roslindale extension would cost $500 million, when in fact there's room for at least one, and maybe two tracks (if the CR double track is cut back a bit) all the way from Forest Hills to the existing Roslindale Square station without even having to rebuild any bridges. This seems like a potential quick and cheap win, especially once we have more and more reliable trains to be able to actually run the service.

I agree the OLX is necessary

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I agree the OLX is necessary and criminally underlooked when people talk about major capital improvements. Hopefully after the GLX opens to packed ridership and the Amazon HQ2 forces the red-blue, we can look at OLX as a fairly low cost expansion (compared to blue-lynn, or urban ring, etc)

You'd still need to provide but service along the Washington Corridor.

And you'd still need busses that keep going down further along washington (as opposed to the belgrade path with the traintracks) and those busses have to come from somewhere.

So it's not a complete cure all but yes, it would help so many things.


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Turn the Needham line into a busway. Much cheaper and it would help those who take the Washington Street buses and route 51 riders.

I mean, it was suggested in the 80s. Why not now?


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Converting a dedicated, grade separated (functioning) rail ROW into a bus lane is stupid and shortsighted when it can be converted fairly easily to and ties directly into an existing subway/HRT line.

Converted Easily?

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Say, how's that Green Line expansion in Somerville going, anyway?

Converting the Needham Line to heavy rail only helps those who live by the current commuter rail line, so spending billions on that is, to use your words, stupid compared to spending less money to help both the Belgrade/Centre and Washington Street corridors.

But then again, I was just playing devil's advocate.

Apples and Oranges

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Converting the Needham ROW into Westie isn't comparable with the work needed for the GLX, which, btw, had an "experimental" procurement process forced on it by the legislature causing a lot of the delays and insanity we have seen. Funny once they went back tried and true methods, things are starting to move along.

Also, it helps more than just people on the corridor. Just getting the OL to Rozzie square would help all the Washington St and Belgrade bus lines to terminate there vs hauling up Washington between the square and forest hills where most of the traffic and delays are. Shit, extending it out further with say a terminus at rt 1/VFW/Spring st would help all of the dedham and beyond buses greatly. Furthermore, it takes pressure off of the (already very crowded) NEC allowing better Amtrak headways and better headways on other CR Lines. So, yeah, its actually a great bang for the buck project, and it would be incredibly shortsighted and moronic to turn it into a bus lane. BTW, how in your logic does that help the Washington St corridor if the entire ROW is up Belgrade and out Westie? You make no sense.

Not comparable

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Unless one posits the odd suggestion of extending the Orange Line only to Roslindale Square, in which case it would be much harder than GLX.

I just posited an alternative. You might not like it, but it is far from "moronic." All buses that go on Washington Street to Forest Hills could be rerouted through the square to the busway, thus benefiting riders of the 34, 34E, 40, and 50. You just hate buses (using your line of thinking.)


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Doing it only one stop isn't harder than the GLX, and would be a relatively cheap stop gap that would benefit all of Rozzie and every single bus on the corridor. Its even been officially proposed in the City's forward planning doc. And, yes, making bootleg BRT out of existing rail is moronic anyway you slice it - BRT is not a replacement for rail and never has been, and would still cost a ton of money - just look at the DOA asinine proposals to pave the Highspeed Line over and convert it to buses.

It’s MUCH harder

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To make the one mile extension. I’ve gone over this before. Even assuming the Roslindale Square commuter rail station is closed, now you are talking 3 tracks probably going over Walter Street, property takings for the station itself, and the attempt to run 3 to 4 lines on an embankment suited for 2 tracks. That’s a lot of engineering work and perhaps even more property taking.

And it won’t benefit all of Roslindale. Explain to me how this would benefit the Beech Street Projects or the area around the Conley School? In the end, extending the Orange Line to the Square would not help bus riders except for those who get on at the Square (which includes me, I should note.)

By the way, resorting to the type of language you have been using makes you look bad.

Huh? The Beech Street

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Huh? The Beech Street projects will literally have half the distance to go via bus to get on the Orange Line at the Square, eliminating the slowest portion of the Square -> Forest Hills, plus, the station in the square itself will now have the Orange line less than a mile away. Same with the Conley - faster to the Square, faster to the Orange Line transfer (vs having the bus what, cross the entire square and enter/exit a bus way that then still has to drive to Forest Hills to do the transfer, lol). You would probably be better off making your argument for people around Sacred Heart and the other side of Hyde Park Ave, but, then Hyde Park Ave isn't as terrible as Washington St, and they have a decent shot already up to Forest Hills, and Hyde Park Ave is wider lending itself better to bus lanes to begin with.

So, yes, anyone in Rozzie (and Westie, Dedham, Walpole, etc) who relies upon buses on Washington St/Belgrade Ave would benefit from this quite a bit by being able to cut out the worst part of it - cutting through the actual square and converging up Washington St to Forest Hills. It would also reduce traffic on that stretch for everyone else. Language? Sorry if I have offended your sensitive ears - maybe try growing up a bit kid.

So in short

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You think the T should essentially build Forest Hills station in Roslindale Square, and it won't cost that much, and building the track to Forest Hills will be cheap and easy. Boy are you a moron. Sure, I used to think that things like this would be easy, when I was 14, but then I grew up and figured out how the world works. But sure, the federal Department of Transportation will pony up their share for a project that will likely not add more transit riders based on the cost projections of a state agency that routinely makes up estimates just so your commute can be 10 minutes shorter.

And yes, the 32 is a much more crowded bus line than the lines that serve the Square, so were I a transportation planner, I'd be spending the transit dollars that are somehow sitting around for your pipe dream on solving the problem of getting better transit access for Hyde Park Avenue.

More of the same:

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Bullshit bullshit bullshit. You aren't building Forest Hills in the square - its a stub end with all of the main facilities still at Forest Hills including the layover yards for trains and buses, with everything deadheading back to Forest Hills as needed. Its literally a track extension (and the ROW is big enough, no land taking needed) with platforms added/a little ADA magic - again no land taking needed for the station as there is already a ton of land there. Probably very little parking lost, too. But, hey, don't take my word for it - just look at the City's own recommendations in the 2030 document. But, yeah, I bet that was a bunch of 14 year olds that should bow to your obviously superior 16 year old intellect. BTW - what does your BS busitition of the Needham Line proposal do for Hyde Park Ave? Your moving goal posts and mental gymnastics are fascinating.

You are speaking out the wrong side of your body

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So, 10 bus lines will terminate at Roslindale Square without a busway?

So, a bridge that is wide enough for 2 tracks can somehow carry 4?

Jeez, you shovel it well.

But hey, good job bringing up Hyde Park Ave then running from it. This article, the one that we are theoretically commenting on, concerns buses on Washington Street. Solve the problem for the 30, 34, 34E, 40, 50, and 51 bus lines without breaking the bank and we can talk.

Always shoveling

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How else can one get to actual truth and away from asinine ideas like paving over existing working rail? All 10 bus lines, btw, already stop at the square. No difference, there, and they deadhead back to Forest Hill if need be up Washington St (which is still much reduced traffic). So far you have brought pretty much nothing to the table as to why your inane idea of paving the Needham Line, and why it would be even equal to the utility of actual HRT expansion of the Orange Line. Bridges, btw, can be widened - there is 2 minimum there to do (Arch Dale, and I guess arboretum rd), its not that bad. Maybe Robert St, too, but that is actually provisioned in its footings for a 4 track run on abutment on the north side of it (south side was cut back), and the ROW itself can 4 rails. Believe it or not, MassDOT/the T is actually pretty good at small bridge replacements at this point.

I didn't run from Hyde Park Ave - I brought it up as an example you might have been able to use that maybe sort of would have supported your very shaky leg you were trying to stand on, and then showed how it was a non-issue - after trying to explain in shortish words how the Orange Line would help all those people out on Beach St or up by around the Conley. An Orange Line extension down the Needham path is the only logical choice for it, and it greatly benefits everyone in the area (and well beyond as I already pointed out). Bustitution is a pointless and short sighted band aide that will never scale or move as many people as HRT will in one of the transit-heaviest corridors in the city.

So you’re in favor of

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All the buses going down Washington Street? After looping the Square? And that will help how?

As for the rest, if you depart from reality, nothing I can say will change your mind.

Its not a hard concept

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Loop the square and back out on their routes - they are already doing the square at this point anyways. If needed, they can deadhead to/from Forest Hills. Its really not that hard of a concept to comprehend.

Be more condescending?

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I probably know much more than you do and the fact that you can easily adapt the bus schedules to terminate to/from the Square with minimal disruption. Anyways, this is pretty tiring to have to continue to stoop to this level of discussion. I will leave you with this: Your big idea of a converting the Needham Line to a bus way instead of rail, and your rallying cry for it instead of actual rail expansion (on an existing rail ROW), is cost, especially bridges. You do realize for your magic bus way you will need to widen all said bridge even more for two bus lanes than two tracks, right? Are you planning in this magical way to keep the Needham Line running, too, or is it going all the way out to Needham? Good luck on ever getting it through environmental review to add two bus lanes on the ROW through Dedham/the Charles. Or are you just terminating Needham service for this bus ROW screwing all of those commuters, too? Are you taking land to get out of of the ROW at Forest Hills to turn around, or doing some sort of crazy flyovers (right after we took down the last elevated structure there, lol) to get buses back to street level to the station for boarding/turning around? Or are you thinking of making an entire new sub level of the station (yay tunneling!) and not using the brand new upper level bus stop? A lower level, btw, which would probably require land taking to get enough space for a turn around, would require a bunch of ADA work, costly ventilation, etc - talk about mega boondoogles.

But, yeah, magic bus way! Totally awesome and better/cheaper than a rail extension (◔_◔).


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You found the glaring flaw in my plan, which took you way too long.

My main point was and is that extending the Orange Line would not rectify the problem discussed in this article. If the original poster cared about the issue at hand, they would not have offered the suggestion. I just gave a counterpoint.

Great arguing with you.

but officials have said

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but officials have said studies have shown most of the people who park on that stretch of Washington Street are commuters trying to get to Forest Hills from elsewhere, rather than residents of the street.

Does anyone have a link to these studies?

As a resident of Washington Street I find it really hard to believe that all of the cars parked along the street are commuters. The street is incredibly full at night and eliminating parking on one side will create a nightmare. Many of the side streets off of Washington are small dead ends that won't be able to accommodate the huge amount of cars that park on the main street.

Possible Reverse Commuter Parking At Night

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Suppose you work someplace beyond Forest Hills, in an area not served by any practical public transportation. Your only way to get there is by car— but you live in a neighborhood where parking is difficult or impossible.

Particularly if you lived close to the Orange Line, your solution may be to find an overnight parking spot near Forest Hills and take the home from there. It's hard to imagine there aren't at least some people who do that.

People who are just visiting someone overnight in Boston might also go this route, rather than deal with parking and traffic in the city. Parking near most terminal, rapid-transit stations is transiently sought by many people at all times, and for various purposes.

Like all the other parkers on Washington Street, they'll just have to find some less valuable piece of real estate to store their vehicles when not in use. The manifold benefits of reserving a lane for busses only, far outweighs inconveniencing a few people who own private motorcars.

There's also a lot of

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There's also a lot of driveways along Washington that are empty while cars are parked out front.