Boston, MA -- The MBTA today announced that it will begin a procurement process in 2012 for a new contract to operate commuter rail services, and, in the interim has exercised the final option on the contract with MBCR to operate the system until July 1, 2013. In exercising the option, the MBTA ensured that commuter rail riders will continue to see improvements in service, reliability and safety. The MBTA also announced a series of immediate customer-focused improvements targeted at enhancing the riding experience for the tens of thousands of commuter rail users who depend on the trains every day.
"We are at the beginning of new era of customer-focused transportation in Massachusetts," said MassDOT Secretary Jeffrey Mullan. "The people who rely on the commuter rail everyday will see that our number one focus in on implementing immediate improvements to their riding experience."
The customer improvements begin tomorrow morning when a new real-time passenger information system is launched on the Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and Middleboro/Lakeville Lines. For the first time ever, customers on the train platforms will be provided with ‘real time’ arrival information. Displayed in a countdown format on easy-to-read electronic message boards, the information will provide minute-accurate train arrival times to customers waiting for their trains.
Made possible by recently installed Global Positioning Satellite equipment on each train, the new passenger information system will be introduced next week on the Worcester/Framingham and Lowell lines. By the middle of February, customers on all thirteen commuter rail lines will be provided with the ‘next train’ arrival information.
“In the past year, we have seen long-awaited improvements in on-time performance, air conditioning and other important changes to enhance our customers’ experience – but we can and must do more,” said MBTA Acting General Manager William Mitchell. “We will continue to focus squarely on strengthening our commitment to customer service and making additional improvements for commuter rail riders.”
MassDOT and the MBTA also announced that by the end of the summer the commuter rail system’s very popular WiFi service will be expanded to every train on every line, making the MBTA the only commuter rail operator in the country to offer WiFi service on every passenger coach of every train. The installation work begins this spring, and before the end of the summer, all 410 coaches in the commuter rail fleet will offer WiFi service.
In conjunction with the ‘next train’ countdown, the MBTA is preparing to launch a communications system that will allow commuter rail customers to get the same real-time information on their radios. By tuning to a specific frequency on a radio’s AM band, customers in the parking lots can stay in their automobiles until the train’s arrival is nearing. In some cases, the radio information will also be available to motorists approaching certain stations. Before the end of the January, this new customer service initiative will be available at the busy Anderson Regional Transportation Center on I-93 in Woburn. In the following weeks, the radio system will be installed at all commuter rail stations that offer fifty or more parking spaces.
For transportation news and updates visit the MassDOT website at www.mass.gov/massdot, the MassDOT blog at www.mass.gov/blog/transportation or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.