The MBTA is reminding customers that, as of January 23, MBTA Commuter Rail schedules take effect which were approved in December 2020 by the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB). It represents an increase in weekday service levels from the current schedule and provides more than 50 percent of weekday service levels from the same time last year, while current ridership levels are approximately 10 percent.
As part of the Board’s direction to align service with ridership while maintaining access for transit-critical communities, effective January 23, 2021, Commuter Rail weekend service will only run on select lines and weekday service will increase slightly. New Winter Service Schedules will be available at www.MBTA.com on January 15, 2021, and print copies will be available at major stations starting the week of January 18, 2021. The Reduced Service Schedule currently in place will remain through January 22, 2021.
The new Winter Service Schedule starts to align service with the lower ridership levels experienced during the COVD-19 pandemic. Beginning January 23, 2021, Commuter Rail will only offer weekend service on the Newburyport/Rockport, Framingham/Worcester, Fairmount, Providence, and Middleborough Lines. These lines experienced more ridership gains over the last several months compared to other lines and serve transit-critical communities. All other Commuter Rail lines will not have weekend service. Ridership has remained low during the pandemic with approximately 8% of regular weekday ridership during the morning rush hour period in the fall of 2020 compared to fall 2019.
The new Winter Service Schedule includes additional trains on the Middleborough Line, Fairmount Line, and Newburyport/Rockport Line. These added trains help to fill in service gaps that existed in the previous schedule and help to offer more consistent train intervals, such as clockface service which makes riding simpler for passengers.
Since March, Keolis and the MBTA have introduced new technologies, such as electrostatic sprayers, to help sanitize passenger areas quickly and thoroughly. As part of this enhanced cleaning, added attention is given to touch surfaces, employee areas, and air filtration systems. All coach cars continue to be cleaned at least every 24 hours as a protection for passengers and train crews.
The MBTA’s Forging Ahead initiative aims to preserve access and quality of service for transit-critical communities and to match service to existing ridership levels. Commuter Rail ridership is approximately 10% of its pre-COVID levels. As part of its Forging Ahead initiative, the MBTA organized a months-long process to solicit the public’s input, including more than 7,000 comments from riders and stakeholders and which was used to shape the final plan approved by the FMCB.