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    MBTA to improve 15 heavily used bus routes

    MBTA bus route 15 will undergo changes June 24 through July 12.
    Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
    MBTA bus route 15 will undergo changes June 24 through July 12.

    The MBTA says it will make its 15 busiest bus routes faster, more reliable, and more accessible through a series of changes this summer, which include relocating some stops and eliminating others.

    Construction on some routes will begin this week, and upgrades on all affected routes are expected to be made by the end of August, officials said Monday.

    Buses on the routes carry about 40 percent of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s bus passengers. Buses on those routes run more often than those on other routes to serve high-density corridors, primarily in Boston but also stretching to Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Newton, Revere, and Watertown.

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    The T hopes to make trips on each route 10 to 15 percent faster by moving some stops and closing others. The goal is for there to be a stop every 750 to 1,320 feet, or four to seven stops per mile. Currently, many stops are as close as 200 feet apart.

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    The authority also hopes to run more reliable bus service by better adhering to scheduling and trying to reduce “bunching,” when two or more buses travel too close to each other.

    More amenities,including new bus shelters at 85 stops, as well as benches and trash barrels, will be installed. Some sidewalks will be improved, and some curb extensions will be built.

    New signs and pavement markings will be installed to provide better information about the route and to keep drivers from stopping or parking at bus stops, officials said.

    Traffic-signal improvements are expected on some routes.

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    The work will include bringing bus stops into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to improve accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities. In some cases, that will mean lengthening the bus stop area

    Funding includes about $7 million in federal stimulus money and $3 million from the US Department of Transportation.

    Over the past two years, more than 50 public meetings were held about the bus route improvement plan.

    “The MBTA is looking forward to improving the quality of amenities and service on some of our most utilized services,” general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement Monday. “This aggressive and ambitious project will reduce trip times, enhance customer comfort, accessibility, convenience and safety, and make service more reliable and cost-effective.”

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    A list of the 15 routes and projected timelines for construction are as follows. The schedules are subject to change, T officials said.

    Route 1 – July 1st – July 25th

    Route 15 – June 24th – July 12th

    Route 22 – June 17th – July 17th

    Route 23 – June 17th – July

    Route 28 – June 17th – August 30th

    Route 32 – June 24th – August 8th

    Route 39 – July – August

    Route 57 – July 15th – August 30th

    Route 66 – June 24th – August 1st

    Route 71 – August 1st – August 30th

    Route 73 – August 1st – August 30th

    Route 77 – July 25th – August 26th

    Route 111 – August 9th – August 30th

    Route 116 – July 19th – August 30th

    Route 117 – July 19th – August 30th

    Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@
    globe.com.