BOSTON (CBS/AP) — 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 on:

  • Columbus Avenue in Boston between Walnut Avenue and Jackson Square Station
  • North Washington Street in Boston from Cross Street to Causeway Street
  • Broadway in Chelsea from City Hall Plaza to 3rd Street
  • Washington Street in Somerville between McGrath Highway and Sullivan Square
  • Sweetser Circle, Main Street near Sweetser Circle, and Broadway from Sweetser Circle to Chelsea Street in Everett
  • Washington Street in Boston to Roslindale from Forest Hills Station to Roslindale Village

Projects that will be researched this fall for potential spring implementation include:

  • Warren Street in Boston between Grove Hall and Nubian Square
  • Malcolm X Boulevard in Boston between Nubian Square and Tremont Street
  • Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street in Boston from Jackson Square Station to Ruggles Station, extending the bus lanes currently under construction
  • Hyde Park Avenue in Boston between Metropolitan Parkway and Forest Hills Station

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.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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