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MBTA moves forward with bus network redesign

A 28 bus to Ruggles drives through the Nubian Square bus station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A 28 bus to Ruggles drives through the Nubian Square bus station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The MBTA plans to start service on a newly redesigned bus network as early as next year.

The transit agency says the project will focus on areas with high demand and communities that rely heavily on mass transit. This includes people of color, people with disabilities, and those with low incomes.

Some of the changes in the works include reducing stops on some routes, creating corridors with more frequent service, adding direct routes and adjusting schedules to meet all-day demand. The agency also hopes to work with several municipalities to increase use of bus-only lanes.

As the MBTA rebounds from a loss in ridership due to the pandemic, project manager for the redesign, Caroline Vanasse, said the plan will not be a return to pre-pandemic service.

“We believe that going back to the pre-COVID network is not good enough, and we want to build a better and more equitable network than what we had pre-COVID,” she said.

Vanasse spoke Wednesday during a public meeting where transit officials sought input from riders about their priorities for the service plan.

The redesign is part of the MBTA’s Better Bus Project, an initiative to improve overall bus service.

MBTA officials are planning to complete the plan for the new network and start rolling it out next year, with full implementation planned for 2026.

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Darryl C. Murphy is the host of WBUR's segment for NPR's "Consider This."

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