By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

BOSTON, October 20, 2021 (State House News Service) – Hoping to determine if the strategy offers a way to sneak public transit past crippling traffic, the state on Wednesday will begin running empty buses in the breakdown lane along a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 93 north of Boston.

MBTA, Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority and Logan Express buses will be deployed to drive along the I-93 shoulder from Somerville to the I-95 interchange, heading southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening, for the next three weeks.

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Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, who outlined the plan at a Department of Transportation Board of Directors meeting, said the tests will help the agency determine if using the shoulder as a de facto bus lane can help improve performance on public transit.

Using existing lanes of traffic, the MBTA’s Route 354 bus from Burlington to downtown Boston often grapples with 15 to 20 minutes of congestion, Tesler said.

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“If this works and the testing is successful, we’ll allow those buses during times of traffic and congestion to use the breakdown lane for certain bus routes,” Tesler said.

No passengers will ride the buses during the three-week test period, and no other vehicles will be permitted to travel in the breakdown lane.

Officials did not discuss breakdown lane use impacts for motorists who break down on the affected stretch.

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(© Copyright 2021 State House News Service)