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MBTA to make its 15 busiest bus routes faster, more reliable; work includes moving, eliminating stops

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  June 17, 2013 01:17 PM

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The MBTA says it will make its 15 busiest bus routes faster, more reliable, and more accessible through a series of changes this summer, which include relocating some stops and eliminating others.

Construction on some of the bus routes will begin this week and upgrades to all of the effected routes are expected to be made by the end of August, officials announced Monday.

The 15 “key” routes carry about 40 percent of the T’s total bus ridership. The routes run more often than other bus routes to serve high-density travel corridors, primarily in Boston, but also stretching to Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Newton, Revere, and Watertown.

The T hopes to make each route about 10 to 15 percent faster by moving some stops and removing others. The goal is for there to be a bus stop every 750 to 1,320 feet, or about four to seven stops per mile. Many stops now are as close as 200 feet.

The agency also hopes to run more reliable bus service by better adhering to schedules and by trying to reduce “bunching,” when two or more buses on the same route are traveling close to each other.

More “passenger amenities,” including new bus shelters at 85 stops, as well as benches and trash barrels, will be installed. Some sidewalks will be improved and some curb extensions will be built.

New signs and pavement markings will be installed to provide better route-related details and to keep drivers from stopping or parking at bus stops.

Traffic signal improvements are expected to be made along some routes.

Work will include bringing bus stops into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to improve accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, officials said. In some cases, that will mean lengthening the bus stop area.

The T also plans to install new "Park and Pedal" bike parking cages at Alewife Station and the Beverly Garage in July and at Wollaston, Back Bay, Dudley Square and Wonderland stations in August.

Funding for the program includes $7 million in federal stimulus money and another $3 million in federal transportation funding.

Over the past two years, more than 50 public meetings have been held about the “Key Bus Routes Improvement Program.”

“The MBTA is looking forward to improving the quality of amenities and service on some of our most utilized services,” General Manager Beverly Scott said in a statement Monday. “This aggressive and ambitious project will reduce trip times, enhance customer comfort, accessibility, convenience and safety, and make service more reliable and cost-effective.”

A list of the 15 routes and projected timelines for construction are as follows. The schedules are subject to change, T officials said:

Key Bus Routes
Route 1 – July 1st – July 25th
Route 15 – June 24th – July 12th
Route 22 – June 17th – July 17th
Route 23 – June 17th – July
Route 28 – June 17th – August 30th
Route 32 – June 24th – August 8th
Route 39 – July – August
Route 57 – July 15th – August 30th
Route 66 – June 24th – August 1st
Route 71 – August 1st – August 30th
Route 73 – August 1st – August 30th
Route 77 – July 25th – August 26th
Route 111 – August 9th – August 30th
Route 116 – July 19th – August 30th
Route 117 – July 19th – August 30th

For more information on the bus improvement program, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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