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MBTA expanding service on some bus routes starting Aug. 30 to avoid crowding amid coronavirus pandemic

Wearing a protective mask, Alejandra Ceja with S.J. Cleaning Services wiped down the doorway of a bus at the MBTA Charlestown bus garage.
Wearing a protective mask, Alejandra Ceja with S.J. Cleaning Services wiped down the doorway of a bus at the MBTA Charlestown bus garage.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The MBTA said Wednesday that it’s expanding some bus service at the end of the month in an effort to meet customer demand and combat overcrowding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the agency said “service is being added on twenty-three bus routes effective August 30,” and that “the T is expanding service on certain routes due to ridership demand, to avoid crowding on vehicles, and to allow for physical-distancing in keeping with health and safety protocol guidance.”

According to the statement, 23 routes will “resume operations” Aug. 30 after shutting down during the initial phases of the health crisis.

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And some bus routes, the statement said, that have been running on a reduced Saturday schedule will begin operating weekday service or “close to it” on Aug. 30, with service on some routes exceeding pre-pandemic, weekday levels to meet the high demand that officials have observed.

At the same time, the T said, some routes starting Aug. 30 will have reduced frequency on weekdays, weekends, or during off-peak times based on ridership levels, while other routes have been “combined, extended, restructured, or will still have service suspended.”

Bus routes that will resume operating include CT2, 67, and 68, while the routes that will operate with “significantly more frequent service” will include 22, 66, 112, 114,116/117,and 504, the T said.

In addition, starting Sept. 1 CharlieTicket and cash fares will be lowered to CharlieCard prices, the T said. The agency said its Fiscal and Management Control Board approved the “customer-driven fare tariff changes” in May.

So come Sept. 1, prices regardless of payment method will be $1.70 for a local bus, $4.25 for an inner express bus, $5.25 for an outer express bus, and $2.40 for rapid transit, according to the statement.

Complete fall 2020 bus service information is available online at mbta.com/servicechanges.

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The T said minor service adjustments will also be made beginning Aug. 30 on the Blue and Green Lines in response to “COVID-19 ridership” and the Lechmere Viaduct/Green Line Extension work, respectively.

“As the Commonwealth continues to reopen, we continue to monitor and evaluate service, and make adjustments in order to provide the safest ride possible for our workers and customers,” said Steve Poftak, the T’s general manager, in the statement. “Bus service in particular has seen our most durable ridership. The changes coming on August 30 prioritize safety and the T’s efforts to limit crowding on vehicles.”

Poftak said the T “will also be adding service above our previous regular service schedule in communities that have few transit alternatives and which have many essential workers who use the MBTA to get to their jobs.”




Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.