By Breana Pitts

BOSTON (CBS) – The MBTA has announced what they are calling an “unprecedented effort” to implement 14 new miles of bus lanes throughout Boston and surrounding neighborhoods.

The “Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program” will construct bus lanes on Columbus Avenue, North Washington Street, and Washington Street in Boston, Broadway in Chelsea, Sweetser Circle in Everett, and Washington Street in Somerville. The program will be running on a tight schedule so that the new lanes will be complete before winter.

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The MBTA says ridership on buses has stayed the most consistent throughout the pandemic, one of the main reasons the T decided to accelerate some of their bus lane projects and create several new ones.

“We know a lot of our service workers and our essential workers are still riding the bus, needing to get to work,” Wes Edwards, Assistant Manager in Service Development at the MBTA told WBZ.

Renderings for a center running bus lane planned for Columbus Avenue in Boston. (MassDOT)

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Many of the projects will include signal improvements, shared bus and bike lanes, dedicated bike facilities, and improvements to pedestrian safety and accessibility. Work on a center-running bus lane on Columbus Ave. between Walnut Avenue and Jackson Square Station is expected to start next week.

“The more reliable our buses are the more service we can potentially provide and give people a little more space on our buses. It’s sort of seen as a way for us to look at opportunities to improve service for our customers. They don’t have to be on the bus quite as long by making investments in bus lanes,” Edwards said.

The T says some of the bus lane projects were not supposed to begin until next year, but the pandemic, people returning to work, and college students coming back for the fall helped move things along.

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For more information on the “Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program”, visit the MBTA’s website.

Breana Pitts