A steep drop in MBTA ridership attributed to the pandemic and rising unemployment combined with the need for state budget cuts has resulted in some pretty scary proposed cuts that include halting all ferry service, eliminating a half-dozen commuter rail stops as well as stopping weekend service, cutting 25 bus routes and decreasing subway frequencies.
As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery.
Ferry service is currently running at 12% of pre-pandemic levels. Commuter rail service is essentially the same running at 13% of pre-pandemic levels. Subway and bus service are faring better but also have seen steep drop offs in ridership so the MBTA is proposing fewer trains and ending service at 12 Midnight. Approximately 25 bus routes appear to be on the chopping block. You can see what the MBTA has proposed for changes in bus service, here.
Some of the cuts to the commuter rail and ferry could be phased in as soon as January, but the changes to rapid transit and bus service would not be expected until the spring of 2021.
On Monday, December 10th, Massachusetts Dept of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the North South Rail Link, sharing public comments received, the draft report and cost estimation. Long-time residents of Boston may recall, linking both North and South Station was initially part of the “Big Dig” but was later scrapped after poor management of the project led to cost overruns and ridiculous delays.
Mass DOT Public Hearing: North South Rail Link project
Monday, December 10th 5PM – 8PM
10 Park Plaza, 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms 2 & 3
For those unfamiliar with the project, the North South Rail Link (NSRL) project would connect the MBTA commuter rail networks (South Station and North Station) into one regional system through the construction and operation of a rail tunnel through Downtown Boston. This tunnel would enable through-running of MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains, increasing system coverage, capacity, and ridership.
North South Rail Link Feasibility Reassessment Draft Final Report
I would like to see any project that links these two commuter hubs with a direct link via the MBTA subway system as well, providing a better and more direct connection for people who use the subway.
If interested, you can download and read the entire draft final report here.
Starting one month from today, bus service in Boston will get a significant boost. Earlier this summer the MBTA announced that they would add nearly 300 more bus trips each week, to give riders more options and to provide more access to Boston’s Logan Airport.
The additional trips will build on an extension of late-night/early-morning service that started this past April; some bus routes now start as early as 3:20AM. Late night service will roll-out on September 1 and ridership will be evaluated in December 2018, and again in April and June 2019 to determine if late night ridership warrants continued service or should be expanded. Assuming the late night service is a success that will mean parts of the city will have nearly 24-hour service; something that is long overdue in my opinion.
The MBTA’s failure to provide late night service opens the door for services like Uber to roll out $5 flat fares starting this weekend.
Angry with the MBTA for ending late night service on the weekends? Uber has stepped up to the plate and will be offering $5 flat fares for trips along the MBTA subway lines on its uberPool service starting March 19th and running through April 9th. The following is from the Uber Newsroom earlier this month.
The end of late night service on the T will have an impact on thousands of people who will be seeking an alternative safe ride home during early hours. In an effort to continue connecting Bostonians to the people, places, and businesses they love, we will be offering $5 uberPOOL rides along T subway lines during late night hours for four weekends starting on March 19th.
How much of a Bostonian are you? Are you a student or tourist who’s only been to a few MBTA stops or are you a frequent flyer always on the T?
A former BU graduate who works for Condé Nast created an interactive map that judges rates you based on the number of T stops you’ve got off at over the years. Anyone who has been to all 146 stops earns the title of Charlie. I am an Interlopah, one grade above BC Dropout with a respectable score of 40.
Last month MBTA officials announced that passengers boarding buses and trains can ride for free. The MBTA will leave fare gates open all day — similar to what the T does on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July — so that riders can casually walk through and board a vehicle at no cost. This is a PR campaign meant as an apology for the delays / lack of service that caused major headaches for Bostonians this past winter. While it doesn’t make up for the issues, you may as well make use of the free rides all day today.
Tomorrow evening, Thursday, March 5th Massachusetts Department of Transportation will host a hearing for the public to share their thoughts on extending the MBTA’s late-night weekend train and bus service beyond the June 19th pilot end date. MassDOT’s recommendation will be based on data & public input. If you support the idea of maintaining the late-night service it is important that you attend the forum.
What: MBTA late-night weekend train and bus service When: Thursday, 6:00 p.m. Where: Boston City Hall 1 City Hall Square, Boston, MA
For more information check out the event’s Facebook page here.
Last month I wrote that the 1 year trial of late night MBTA service was being evaluated and that its future was in question. Late night service started on March 28, 2014 and earlier this month the MBTA announced that they would extend the service for an additional 3 months to June 19, 2015.
According to the MBTA, late night service, which runs on Friday and Saturday night, has supplied more than 1.1 million rides. That is pretty impressive if you think that the MBTA late night service only accounts for 3 additional hours of service each week. That 1.1 million rides then breaks down to approximately 12,500 – 13,000 riders who took the MBTA late night service over the past 44 weekends, which seems like a lot of people to me. The MBTA has never shared a projected ridership, so it is hard to tell what is considered “successful”. If you want to keep the MBTA late night service, I’d encourage you to continue to use it.
Late last week Boston Magazine reported that the fate of the MBTA’s late-night weekend service was being reviewed. The one year pilot program that started in April 2014 needs to be extended if late night weekend service is to continue through 2015.
Since service started last April 820,000 customers have used the MBTA’s late-night service between the hours of 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. According to MBTA spokesman, Joe Pesaturo a recommendation will be made in the coming weeks.
Fingers crossed that late night service will be extended.
Perhaps you have seen Thrillist Boston’s “T” Bar Map. They skipped over the Silverline 4&5 that cut through my neighborhood so I created my own version and took a bit of liberty starting at the Tufts NE Medical Center because I prefer the bar at the W Hotel over Jacob Worth’s.
You can check out Thrillist’s map (complete with close ups of each MBTA line) by linking here. Check out my list of South End watering holes near Silver Line stops in the South End.
The MBTA Orange Line (one of Boston’s Metro Lines) turns 111 years old today. Back when this line started passengers paid $.05. Apparently demand for the service was underestimated and the line was plagued with overcrowding and delays. Hmm… here we are 111 years later and it seems like those problems persist.
Regardless, of the ills that can sometimes plague this often maligned subway line, I have to say Boston just wouldn’t be the same without it. The Boston Globe has a collection of photographs chronicling the history of the Orange Line which you can peruse here.
Once upon a time the MBTA made a halfhearted attempt to provide a limited late night transit service on weekends called the “Night Owl”, but the popular program was axed as a cost cutting measure some 6-years ago.
Now The Boston Herald is reporting the Restaurant and Business Alliance is pushing to have late night service reinstated. I’ve been a long-time fan of extending public transportation hours and making the existing system more available. Thousands of employees work during hours that T service is not available. However, finding a way to pay for this additional service is a legitimate concern. In the article acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis is quoted as saying its simply too expensive. I’d like a more novel approach and put the concept out to bid for ideas on how to make this work. It seems if we can figure out how to fly a man to the Moon, we can pay for late night public transportation – its merely a matter of priorities.
The full article in the Boston Herald can be read here.