BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Seven miles of dedicated bus lanes opened on North Avenue, offering transit signal priority to buses that officials say reduces travel times by 25%, the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration announced Tuesday.

The lanes are marked “Bus Only” and can only be used by buses, emergency vehicles, school buses and cyclists. Other vehicles are permitted to to enter the lane to make a right turn at an intersection or to access a parallel parking space.

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Drivers face fines of $250 for stopping or parking in dedicated bus lanes and $500 for driving in the lanes. Enforcement is handled by the Baltimore Police Department, MDOT MTA Police, Baltimore City Transportation Enforcement Officers.

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With the new lanes on North Avenue, the city now has nearly 13 miles of dedicated bus lanes, officials said. The first lanes were installed in 2017 as part of the BaltimoreLink bus relaunch and reduced ride times on some routes by 25%.

“Additional dedicated bus lane miles along North Avenue will improve on-time performance and customer service, resulting in a transit experience that’s more convenient, reliable and attractive to riders,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “This project is part of MDOT’s commitment to modernize our network, provide high-quality service and prioritize transit as we work with our partners in the city to improve mobility for all users.”

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The new lanes are part of the $27.3 million North Avenue Rising project, which also includes improvements at major bus stops and sidewalks, bike facilities, and repaving.

CBS Baltimore Staff