A comprehensive plan intended to shorten bus trips between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica will begin Monday, May 13 as the first phase of work begins on bus-only lanes along Wilshire Boulevard from MacArthur Park to Western Avenue.

Rapid bus lanes have been initially designated for a 1.8-mile stretch in both directions along Wilshire Boulevard. Contractors will remove lane markings next week, mark and install long-line striping May 20 to 24, mark pavement with “Bus Only” messages and install “Bus Lane” signs May 29 to June 1.

The entire Wilshire bus lane is expected to be completed in late 2014 and is designed to cut bus commutes by 15 minutes on 12.5 miles between downtown L.A. and Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica. Some street improvements and street widening will be made along 9.9 miles of Wilshire with bus lanes on 7.7 miles.

The new bus lanes will become effective 7 a.m., Wednesday, June 5, officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Thursday.

Only buses will be able to use those lanes during rush hours — 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Drivers of cars and trucks are subject to a citation if caught driving in the bus lanes during those hours. Drivers can use the lanes during off-peak hours and on weekends.

To help drivers get acquainted with the new lanes, for a short period, warnings will be issued to those who are busted.

Transportation officials said bus lanes are used in New York, Chicago and Boston to improve travel times and service reliability, encourage drivers to shift to public transit and improve air quality.

During peak hours Metro operates buses every 2 minutes on Wilshire west of downtown Los Angeles. There are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of those during rush hour.

The bus lane is funded by a $23.3 million federal grant, with an $8.2 million local match, officials said.

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