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Everett Hopes To Be First Eastern City With Gold Transportation Rating

EVERETT (CBS) - The city of Everett would like to make everyone's morning commute golden.

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In December of 2016 they became the first local community to take away parking on Broadway and replace it with a bus-only lane during the morning commute. State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack has since called the move a "model for similar projects in traffic-snarled areas."

So far, the bus-only lane has been saving commuters up to eight minutes every morning.

Everett Bus Only Lane

"During rush hour commute this street is packed, the traffic is not moving but the bus is just zipping along," one Everett resident told WBZ-TV.

A bus-only lane is a core element of transportation called Bus Rapid Transit, more commonly known as BRT.

Boston has its own committee, Boston BRT, that helps identify areas where the city can improve. The group rates Bus Rapid Transit systems by bronze, silver or gold.

This year Everett is going for the gold.

"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 WBZ.

Everett Bus Only Lane

"It's faster, it's more pleasant and it's more affordable, quite frankly. It goes where you need it to go when you need it to go there. That's quality of life right there," said Julia Wallerce, the Boston program manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

"We're ranked number one quality of life, but something like 45th in transportation for the nation and that's just embarrassing. So it's very important. The results were astounding. Not only did the people taking the bus love it but the motorists love it too because you don't have buses weaving in and out of traffic," she said.

In order to receive the Gold Standard rating, buses must have a separate dedicated lane, traffic lights that turn green when they sense a bus approaching, pre-paid fare collection and platform level boarding which speeds up boarding for people with strollers or wheelchairs.

Everett Bus Only Lane

Thanks to a grant from the Barr Foundation, Everett will be making the necessary upgrades. It's inspired State Representative Russel Holmes to do the same in Mattapan.

"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, what we've done in Roslindale Square, to Forest Hills, it's proven," Holmes told WBZ.

When completed, Everett will be the first East Coast city to achieve the Gold Standard and only the second in the country behind Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"Everett was the first in the Boston area to take that risk and try it. It's certainly a lot more affordable than rail and happens at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time," says Wallerce.

Everett is set to begin making upgrades in the spring. The Barr Foundation is funding upcoming pilots this summer in Cambridge and Watertown and another in Arlington this fall.

Boston is currently experimenting with a bus-only lane in Roslindale as part of the GoBoston 2030 initiative.

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