Tuesday, February 23, 2021

CommonWealth Magazine: "MBTA tries new approach with commuter rail cuts"

"WITH NO EXPECTATION of a quick turnaround in ridership, the MBTA is preparing to move ahead with bus and subway service cuts next month while adopting a more revolutionary approach on commuter rail that spreads trips out across the day and does away with the traditional concept of peak travel times.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the MBTA’s deputy general manager, said the new approach will spread service out across the day at regular, often hourly intervals rather than concentrating it at morning and evening peak periods. A marketing campaign promoting the new approach is expected to roll out over the next 30 days leading up to the April 5 launch.

Gonneville said the new schedule will also allow the T to operate trains and deploy staff more efficiently, saving an estimated $30 million annually. He said the new approach would use 11 percent fewer trains and enable a 20 percent reduction in operator hours.

The concept is fairly simple. Ridership has vanished on the commuter rail system during COVID and particularly at the traditional peak travel times, so the T is going to experiment with a new all-day approach. On the Worcester line, for example, a train will run every hour all day long between Worcester and Boston. The same is true on the Fitchburg and many of the other lines. "

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