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HOV lane on I-93 southbound in Medford and Somerville to resume on Monday

MassDOT announced today it's re-opening the HOV lane on I-93 southbound to help deal with the congestion that's been returning to local highways since the spring - after the Conservation Law foundation threatened a lawsuit.

Covid-19 is still out there, obviously, so MassDOT wishes to have a word with people who use the lane:

the public is reminded that due to the State of Emergency and health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all persons not living in the same household and carpooling, must wear a face covering when riding in a vehicle together.

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So we learned nothing from the last eight months and we just went right back to sucking on purpose?

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If left to their own devices, people will choose what benefits themselves in the short term, even if it's bad for society (and even themselves!) overall.

Hmm...I wonder if there's anything we can learn from this about our political philosophies?

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And 25% of the country thinks the earth is flat, jesus rode a dinosaur, amd Trump won the election.

We're an immensley dumb species.

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But we're Boston. We're supposed to be the smart adults here.

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A few clarifications:
- The HOV lane wasn’t closed. It was open to all traffic.
- The HOV restriction wasn’t lifted due to COVID. It was an attempt to reduce congestion from construction on the Tobin Bridge. (I’m not sure why that would work, unless the HOV configuration was inefficient to begin with.)

Now there’s also a plan to let buses use the shoulder of 93 between Woburn and Somerville. You have to start somewhere, but there’s so little bus service on 93 that this bus lane won’t make much difference to overall travel patterns.

I’ve been arguing for a while that there should be express buses from all over the place to job centers like Kendall Square, and maybe even the denser job clusters along 128. The Commuter Rail isn’t much help for many commuters, since it goes to where the jobs were in 1880.

Meanwhile Boston is gradually chipping away at downtown commuter coach stops other than the bus terminal. The terminal is an inconvenient haul from much of downtown, so it’s too bad we’re moving in the wrong direction.

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The goal of this "closure" was to reduce traffic on the Tobin Bridge by 15% when it went down to two lanes. It only went down by 2%. Turns out the Tobin only needs two lanes, since 90% of the traffic is feeding onto 93/Leverett Connector which is two lanes anyway.

During normal times, as many as 50 buses per hour use the 93 lane (including T buses, Logan Express, and buses from NH). These 50 buses carry as many people as an entire lane of highway traffic. This is basically a bus lane that also allows carpoolers.

The ramp from the Tobin to Charlestown handles only about 4000 vehicles per day, and about 2/3 of the passengers on that ramp are in buses. It is basically never congested, and buses only sit in traffic on the Tobin because the rest of the traffic queues and then merges into the two through lanes. Basically, making the right lane a bus lane would just serve to move the merge elsewhere, not to reduce capacity significantly.

Also, a lot of jobs are still where they were in 1880, believe it or not!

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How do you figure 50 buses per hour?

Looking at pre-COVID schedules, I see:
325, 326, 352, 354, Logan Express each about every 30 min, 10 buses per hour combined
Boston Express I-93 about 5 buses per hour peak
Boston Express Route 3 about 2 buses per hour peak (unless they take 95 south to the Pike)
Total: 15-17 buses per hour

Yes, some jobs are where they were in 1880. That's why the Commuter Rail still exists.

But a lot of jobs aren't. That's why there's so much traffic. How long would it take to get from Reading or Woburn to Kendall Square on public transit, versus driving?

What about to Longwood? North Station to Longwood on the Green Line is an ordeal in itself.

A Tobin bus lane, or bus+carpool lane depending on volume, would make a lot of sense. (So would frequent rail to Chelsea.) I don't have personal experience, but I suspect the 111 got a lot worse after the Big Dig eliminated its direct 93 access at Haymarket and required taking the North Washington Street bridge to the Tobin.

A 93 bus lane would make a lot of sense if we took the additional step of running a decent bus network on it.

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Looking back at some data it's 24, including:

325/326: 7
352/354: 4
ConcordCoach: 1
Dartmouth: 1
Boston Express I-93: 5
Boston Express Rt 3: 2

With a better bus lane, there is also the possibility that buses using Route 1 would instead use I-93, which would add another half dozen (from Portland, Portsmouth and Newburyport) which is where I probably thought 30 was from.

It's true that Commuter Rail doesn't go to all of the near-Boston job centers. That's why a transit network exists. That's why the Orange and Green Line goes from North Station to Back Bay and the LMA (they could be better, but it's not like the drive from Longwood to North Station is peachy; plenty of times where I've jogged along the Esplanade faster than the traffic on Storrow). That's why EZRide makes the trip from North Station to Kendall. Woburn to Kendall pre-pandemic was at least 45 minutes, if not an hour or more, driving in traffic. A lot of that wasn't the first 9 miles on I-93, but the last two sitting in gridlock on the Leverett Connector, or sneaking off early at Rutherford and trying to get in from there. And pity the poor person trying to get across Downtown at rush hour.

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A real highway bus lane would carry closer to 24 buses every 2 minutes.

Look at places like Seattle. There’s a great express bus network, including to suburban office parks.

What’s it like depending on E-ZRide? I’d be nervous about missing the infrequent train while the bus sat in traffic by the Museum of Science. Same goes for the Green Line.

The Red Line from Kendall to South Station is a little better. But it’s only scheduled every 4.5 minutes, and often runs late with bunches and gaps. This would be unheard of on a properly run subway like NYC, Paris, or Budapest.

So I’d want to leave extra time. It’s stuff like this that makes transit take forever even compared to driving on congested roads.

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Just in time for lock down again..

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One of the first things the MBTA cancelled was the 325 & 326 express busses from Medford. These were great and often were packed. The loss of the HOV lanes infuriated us riders as it delayed the buses by another 10 minutes at least.

I'm glad the lanes are returning (although car pooling isn't COVID safe) but it's just another fuck you to T riders.

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The MBTA has been trying to kill off these buses for over a decade - not sure why. I swear the HOV lane fucktydumpup was part of that plan - they became unreliable because some shithead at DOT didn't feel special sitting in traffic in his or her solo vehicle.

I'm glad the HOV lane is back in service, though - getting rid of it made it difficult to carpool anymore. Before they fucktydumped it up, we had some good carpooling from our neighborhood going on for a few years.

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