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MBTA, Several Communities To Open Bus-Only Travel Lanes

An MBTA 73 bus bound for Harvard Square travels through the red painted lane restricted for buses and bicycles on Mt. Auburn Street at the Cambridge/Watertown line. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An MBTA 73 bus bound for Harvard Square travels through the red painted lane restricted for buses and bicycles on Mt. Auburn Street at the Cambridge/Watertown line. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is joining the city of Boston and three suburban communities to create up to 14 miles of dedicated bus lanes it is hoped will improve reliability and reduce on-board crowding during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Several of the bus routes selected for the project that includes Somerville, Everett and Chelsea provide critical connections for people heading to essential jobs, and are among the agency’s busiest, the T said in a statement.

Bus lanes can reduce crowding on buses and limit the amount of time riders spend in close proximity to others while on the bus, officials said.

The new lanes will help the economy reopen and help the region recover from the pandemic.

“The Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program is about addressing the needs of riders today while taking a transformative step forward to build a better T,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

The program will start this fall and run through the spring, according to a statement from the T.

The bus lanes will be marked with striping, red paint, signage, and minor signaling changes.

Emergency response vehicles and school buses will also be allowed to use the bus lanes.

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