MBTA bus service targeted for upgrades – NBC Boston

The MBTA plans to increase bus service by 25% across the entire system, giving hundreds of thousands more Bay Staters immediate access to trips every 15 minutes or earlier, as part of a a major year-long redesign that will be unveiled next month.

Teasing details of the bus network overhaul program ahead of a public reveal scheduled for May 16, MBTA chief executive Steve Poftak said on Thursday that the bus route overhaul will increase frequency and launch “a lot of new routes interesting that lead people to new places of employment and new places of concentration of habitat.

The transformation “will take place over several years,” Poftak said, but overall it will increase the number of buses crossing the MBTA by 25% from current levels. The changes will be even bigger on weekends, which are expected to see a 70% increase in bus service, Poftak said.

Officials expect the new cards and timetables will give 275,000 riders access to “high-frequency service,” defined as their bus running at least every 15 minutes. Of those, 115,000 would be residents of color and 40,000 would be low-income households, Poftak said.

“The redesign of the bus network is our proposal not only to redesign the bus network, but I would say to reinvigorate the bus network,” Poftak told T’s board. “We do this by considering a number of new routes that get people where they want to go. We also do this by increasing the amount of service.”

T officials will publish a draft map of the new bus network on May 16, then hold a virtual public meeting three days later to launch a review of the proposal. Ten additional public meetings will take place between May 24 and July 18.

While total ridership remains depleted from pre-pandemic levels, the T bus system has retained the most demand over the past two years, reflecting a ridership base more dependent on transit and more likely to work in person than people who use the subway or commuter trains.

MBTA executives continue to struggle to hire enough bus drivers to handle existing service levels and have rolled out strategies such as hiring bonuses and one-day hiring events. Poftak said Thursday that the agency will also need to go beyond the currently budgeted staff numbers and hire even more drivers in the coming years to meet the needs of the bus overhaul.

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