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Forging Ahead

Updated April 5, 2021

Silver Line bus in a bus lane along Washington St in Downton Boston, with a headsdign that reads "Face Masks Required"

Due to an infusion of federal funding, as of April 2021, the MBTA is able to begin bringing service back to 100% pre-pandemic levels.

Learn more about our plan to bring back service


Last year, challenged by unprecedentedly low ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MBTA faced a historic moment: In 2019, MBTA riders took 1.26 million daily trips. In October 2020, riders took around 330,000 daily trips—or 26% of daily ridership compared to 2019.

While we continued to run close to 2019 service levels through this time, it did not match changing demand and travel behaviors caused by the pandemic. In order to protect essential service for those who depend upon it, we needed to reduce service where there were fewer riders.

The MBTA planned the Forging Ahead program to preserve access and quality of service available to these transit-critical customers.

In November 2020, we presented the first Forging Ahead proposal, before beginning a public engagement process that included ten public meetings and one public hearing.

Based on the feedback we received during this month-long process—including more than 7,000 comments from riders and MBTA stakeholders—we proposed an updated plan to the Fiscal and Management Control Board on December 14, 2020.

This proposal better matched service demand, and accounted for future expected ridership levels. It also allowed us to be flexible and increase service frequency in response to ridership and revenue.

The revised base service:

  • Reduced service frequency
  • Preserved more access to service and hours of operation
  • Avoided some service changes that would have required customers switch modes

By focusing on reductions to service frequency during this time, the MBTA was better prepared to increase service when ridership returns and more revenue becomes available. Any savings from service reductions would be used to increase service frequency if needed.

These adjustments:

  • Preserved the majority of pre-pandemic service (by as much as 90%, depending on mode)
  • Aligned current service levels with changing ridership and demand
  • Maintained service for those who depend on public transit
  • Reduced primarily non-essential services (e.g. where we’re currently operating empty trains and buses)

Learn more about our Spring 2021 service changes

Thank You for Providing Feedback

Reducing service is a difficult topic. We appreciate your feedback on the proposed changes and how to prioritize adding back service.

The public input period ended at 5 PM on December 4, 2020. Thank you to all those who participated and offered feedback.

You can still provide feedback to the MBTA by contacting our Community Liaisons at publicengagement@mbta.com.

Learn More About Our Plan

View our presentation to the Fiscal and Management Control Board about how we plan to bring back service in 2021.

View our March 2021 update to the FMCB

Environmental Review

The MBTA submitted an Environmental Notification Form for the Forging Ahead program to the Executive Office of Energy and Environment. The ENF is available for public review and comment.

Review Forging Ahead Environmental Notification Form (ENF)

Ride Safer

Transit Ambassador at Maverick with face covering and ride safer button

We're committed to keeping you safe on public transportation. From hand sanitizer to crowding information, we've got you covered. 

Learn more about Ride Safer

Learn More About Our Plan

View our presentation to the Fiscal and Management Control Board about how we plan to bring back service in 2021.

View our March 2021 update to the FMCB

Environmental Review

The MBTA submitted an Environmental Notification Form for the Forging Ahead program to the Executive Office of Energy and Environment. The ENF is available for public review and comment.

Review Forging Ahead Environmental Notification Form (ENF)

Ride Safer

Transit Ambassador at Maverick with face covering and ride safer button

We're committed to keeping you safe on public transportation. From hand sanitizer to crowding information, we've got you covered. 

Learn more about Ride Safer