MBTA: Keeping the Bus Lanes Clear

Abhinaya Muthukrishan, Ilia Xheblati, & Grace Heming

Title: MBTA: Keeping the Bus Lanes Clear

Subject Area: Encourage desired social behavior

Region: Greater Boston Area, Massachusetts, USA

Industry: Public Transportation

Company: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)


Many people rely on the MBTA’s bus services to commute to and from work. The MBTA has dedicated resources to bus lane development. However, vehicle lane blockages have limited the benefit that this service can provide to the community.

Eric Burkman, the Director of Transit Priority at the MBTA, is looking for solutions to this challenge.  He would like the solution to be broadly applicable across the MBTA’s 52 municipalities. The solution options include, but are not limited to, enforcement, education, and design.  Bus lane blockage has been a challenge for Mr. Burkman for some time now. Resolving this challenge will lead to more efficient bus services, meaning more satisfied customers, happier bus operators, and less fuel usage.

``Making Your Case`` As A Stepping Stone

Elucidating Our Professional Core: Our Choice

Our team was inspired by this challenge because of how it involves the entire community and a multitude of other stakeholders. This gives the team a chance to bring in innovative ideas to help knit together the Greater Boston community and improve upon aspects of social responsibility. The BE-EDGE Consult-a-thon has allowed us to further develop our skillsets while forming valuable connections.


Developing Trust: Collecting Data

To tackle this challenge, the team conducted an in-depth interview of our client at the MBTA.  We then compiled extensive research and data around the MBTA, the municipality of focus (Boston) and the various stakeholders (car drivers, public transit users, the City of Boston, etc.).  We utilized sources from the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, federal government reports, and the MBTA performance dashboard. We then met with a mentor who had extensive experience in the space, from the perspective of the city. He provided us with some valuable guidance and input, allowing us to narrow in on our solutions and implementation strategies.


Generating Value: Analyzing and Addressing the Challenge

Our team collected a significant amount of data to take a broader look at the MBTA. First, we investigated MBTA’s background, operations, business model, resources, and priority projects. Then, we took a step back to take a broader look to understand external dynamics such as the industry composition, user preference on transportation modes, and industry trends. To conclude, we conducted our analysis using PESTEL and TOWS frameworks. This analysis helped us pinpoint two suggestions that would help Mr. Burkman tackle the challenge MBTA was facing. The immediate solution was to implement an awareness campaign which would help to increase community engagement and strengthen stakeholder relations. The long-term solution was to invest in technology and resources by forging new relations with ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft and GPS navigation companies such as Google and Apple.


What’s Next?

Following the Consult-a-thon, the team will continue to work with the MBTA to address this challenge.  We will build a definitive action plan to increase bus lane awareness around the Greater Boston Area.

MBTA Team:

Abhinaya Muthukrishan, Ilia Xheblati, & Grace Heming


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