Capping a 7-month streak of consecutive ridership increases, July 2008 was the single best month for MBTA ridership in at least a decade. Ridership on subway, bus, commuter rail, and the RIDE continues to grow as customers choose public transportation as a viable option to driving. Comparing July 2007 to July 2008, ridership spiked 10% from 31.4 million to nearly 34.7 million. On the Blue Line, where average weekday ridership jumped from 53,424 customers in December to 66,933 customers in July, this month’s introduction of 6-car train service could not come at a better time.
In response to the remarkable growth in ridership, a series of improvements to MBTA subway and bus service are being implemented. Effective this week, Green Line customers will experience a 5.5% increase in capacity. During the morning and evening rush hours, 150 and 144 Green Line vehicles respectively will service the corridor. A 2.7% capacity increase for morning commuters, and a 2.8% increase for evening commuters, Transportation officials are confident this service improvement will demonstrate a more efficient, comfortable experience for Green Line customers. To accommodate increasing ridership on the Red Line, a total of three trains (or 18 subway cars) have been added during the AM and PM peak commuting periods. On the Blue Line, 6-car train operation will begin the week of September 15th. 14 trains equal to 62 Blue Line cars will operate along the line reflecting an 11% increase in capacity. As vehicles become available, 6 – car trains will replace 4 – car train sets.
"I am happy to see the upward trend in MBTA ridership continue,” said Transportation Secretary and MBTA Chairman Bernard Cohen. “It's a positive sign our economy is doing well, and it means we moving more people without adding to highway congestion. I have asked MBTA management to continue to explore all opportunities to expand capacity in order to accommodate this welcome increase in demand for public transportation service.”
For bus customers the following efforts to ease overcrowding are underway:
• Route 9 service (South Boston – Downtown) will operate with an additional vehicle and improved frequency during the morning rush hour.
• Route 32 service (Wolcott Sq. – Forest Hills station) between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM will be operated with 60-foot vehicles rather than 40-foot vehicles in response to crowding.
• Route 57 service (Watertown – Kenmore Sq.) will operate additional short trips between Oak Square and Kenmore Square (rather than Watertown Yard and Kenmore Square), allowing the same number of vehicles to operate more trips where crowding is most critical. This will reduce long gaps in service. Additionally, the number of rush hour trips will increase by 6%, although the total number of vehicles will remain the same.
• Route 88 service (Clarendon Hill – Lechmere) will operate short trips between Clarendon Hill and Davis Square during the AM rush hour to place more trips where crowding is most critical on both bus routes 87 and 88.
• Route 116/117 service (Wonderland – Maverick) will operate the same schedule using one more vehicle in order to improve reliability and reduce crowding caused by irregular service.
“We are making every effort to maintain our growing customer base with enhancements that prove useful to the customer,” said the General Manager. “Improvements to service whether tweaking a bus schedule or introducing 6-car trains as we are on the Blue Line will significantly improve the quality and reliability of service for our customers. We will continue on this path to ensure the needs of our customers are met.”