The MBTA today announced upcoming schedule changes coming to the Commuter Rail network this fall effective Monday, November 2. These updates are being made in response to changing ridership patterns on the Commuter Rail as a result of the pandemic.
Commuter Rail service was initially reduced in March 2020. In June 2020, about 85 percent of normal, pre-pandemic Commuter Rail service resumed. Commuter Rail schedules have historically been focused on peak period ridership patterns. The most recent data indicates that around 7 percent of morning peak ridership has returned while all-day ridership is at about 11 percent. Most downtown Boston work locations currently remain closed.
Based on this data and the understanding that travel patterns are changing as employers explore flexible work schedules and telework, the goal of these upcoming Commuter Rail schedule changes is to accommodate traditional ridership while also adapting service where commutes have changed (to accommodate new staggered work start times, for example) and where the Commuter Rail may become a new option for some customers. These schedules aim to level out service consistently over the course of the day and eliminate gaps in mid-day service, providing more options to riders that promote social distancing.
Train counts will increase on weekdays from 505 in fall 2019 to 544 in this fall 2020, utilizing the same number of train sets and crews as October 2019. Thirty-two of the 39 new trains (82 percent) will serve either Fairmount, Brockton, or Lynn:
- Fairmont service: This fall, mid-day service will operate every 45 minutes (fall 2019 mid-day service operated every 60 minutes).
- Brockton service: This fall, mid-day service will operate every 60 to 70 minutes (fall 2019 mid-day service ranged 90 to 120 minutes).
- Lynn service: This fall, mid-day service will operate every 30 minutes (fall 2019 service ranged 30 to 90 minutes).
Other key service changes include:
- Providence service: Service will also be more evenly distributed throughout the day with consistent, all-day service and 60-minute headways.
- Worcester service: Better commute options will be offered with the reintroduction of Express trains. The Heart to Hub service on the Worcester Line will also resume, operating at more convenient times and also serving Framingham.
These fall 2020 schedule changes are currently being revised with final Commuter Rail schedules made available online within the coming weeks.
-via Press Release