MBTA bus system redesign to bring 25% more service to 275,000 more riders

“Get it going, man. It’s been a long time coming.”

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

The MBTA is planning to increase bus service by 25 percent across the network, a redesign that the authority says will bring “high-frequency service” to hundreds of thousands of people.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced the redesign during the Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, noting that once complete, there should be a bus available every 15 minutes. The plan also calls for a 70% increase in service on the weekends.

“The bus network redesign is our proposal not only to redesign the bus network, but to reinvigorate the bus network,” Poftak said. “We do that by envisioning a number of new routes that get people where they want to go. We also do it by increasing the amount of service.”


When complete, 275,000 more residents will be near high-frequency service, including 115,000 residents of color gaining new access to it, as well as 40,000 low-income households, Poftak said.

The T is in the process of “reaching out to key stakeholders,” and a variety of virtual public meetings are being planned.

The kickoff is set for May 16, when the draft map will be available online. The first public meeting is set for May 19, with 10 additional community meetings planned for between May 24 and July 18.

The rollout timeline extends until 2028, according to the MBTA website. Part of the idea is to bring better bus services to places like Roxbury, Chelsea, Lynn, Mattapan, and Everett.

“This area has experienced dynamic change,” Poftak said of the Greater Boston region. “As someone who grew up in this area I’m always amazed.”

He noted that there are housing and employment centers where there weren’t before.

“We need to have a bus service that changes with it,” Poftak said.

Travis McCready, a board member, asked about the budgetary, as well as hiring, impacts associated with the redesign.

“I’d like to bear those impacts in mind,” McCready said.


Poftak noted that the T needs to hire more bus drivers.

“We are currently in the midst of a full court press,” Poftak said in terms of hiring. This includes running the current map of bus routes, as well as eventually operating the updated system. He did acknowledge, though, that it will take “a number of years” before the redesign is fully in service.

“Get it going, man,” board member Bob Butler said. “It’s been a long time coming.”


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