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'A faster, more reliable ride': MBTA debuts 1st center-running bus lane

A new center-running MBTA bus lane opens Saturday on Columbus Avenue. (Courtesy MBTA)
A new center-running MBTA bus lane opens Saturday on Columbus Avenue. (Courtesy MBTA)

The first center-running bus lane in New England will open Saturday along Columbus Avenue in Boston.

MBTA buses operating between Walnut Avenue and Jackson Square Station will have their own dedicated lane in each direction. The lane, painted red, will run in the middle of Columbus Avenue for about three-quarters of a mile.

Bus stops are located in the median of the road, instead of on the sidewalk. Each will have a glass-enclosed shelter, a fare vending machine and will be handicap accessible.

"We want to have a faster, more reliable ride for riders," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

"I'm hopeful that as people see that it is faster and more reliable, they're more likely to take the bus. They're more likely to see the bus as a viable option."

The lane will service MBTA bus routes 22, 29 and 44.

"These routes have had more ridership than the average route in the system in the pandemic," Poftak said. "Many of these riders are low income and people of color."

In the last several years, the MBTA has teamed up with local governments to create dedicated bus lanes in Arlington, Allston, Cambridge, Watertown, Roslindale and the North End. All of those lanes run along the right-hand side of the road and many are during rush hour periods only.

The MBTA hopes to extend the Columbus Avenue lane north to Ruggles Station in the future. It is also exploring other areas where a center-running bus lane may be feasible.

Related:

Dan Guzman Twitter Executive Producer, Morning Edition
Dan Guzman is senior producer for Morning Edition at WBUR.

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