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FMCB Approves Pilot Program to Enhance Service on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line

Posted on January 27, 2020

Effective May 2020, the program will result in an increase in train service

Program will also create compatibility with CharlieCards

Today the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board unanimously approved of a pilot program on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line that will result in an increase in train frequency and will allow customers to pay fares with CharlieCards on Zone 1A stations along that line – a first ever for the MBTA’s Commuter Rail network. The program, which was developed by the MBTA in collaboration with the City of Boston, is scheduled to begin in May 2020. 

“I’m pleased that we are able to deliver on improvements to the Fairmount Line that will result in meaningful improvements to service, including new technology that will allow for the use of CharlieCards for fare payment for the first time ever on Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “I want express my gratitude to Mayor Walsh and to the community of advocates along the corridor for their strong support for improved service and enhanced access to the line.”  

“The Fairmount Line serves the heart of Boston, running through many of our communities with the longest commutes and least access to high frequency transit,” said City of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Boston’s relationship with the MBTA is one of the most important we have, and I will always advocate for the best possible service. It has been a top priority for me to bring better service to the Fairmount Line; this is an issue of transit equity. I’m pleased the Board has voted to make these improvements. Together with the MBTA, we must continue to push for progress and improve mobility in our city and region.”

Fairmount Line Zone 1A CharlieCard Compatibility

Under the pilot and as part of the first phase of the MBTA’s Fare Transformation project, the T will install new CharlieCard validators on all Fairmount Line Zone 1A station platforms.

Customers with stored value or a monthly LinkPass loaded on to a CharlieCard can tap the card at platform validators. The platform validators will issue a paper proof-of-payment for customers to show the conductor when onboard the train.  

When using stored value on a CharlieCard, the platform validator deducts the $2.40 Zone 1A fare and allows for a free bus transfer. Likewise, customers who transfer from bus to any Zone 1A station along the Fairmount Line will only pay the remaining difference between the bus fare and $2.40.  

Customers should note that outside-the-gate subway transfers will not be granted. 

More Frequent Fairmount Line Trains

The start of the pilot is scheduled to coincide with the twice yearly change in Commuter Rail schedules. Beginning with the spring schedule change, 8 additional weekday trips – 4 inbound with an approximate schedule leaving Readville Station at 5:10 AM, 9:25 AM, 3:05 PM, and 3:53 PM as well as 4 outbound with an approximate schedule leaving South Station at 7:35 AM, 9:15 AM, 6:50 PM, and 12:00 AM – will be added to the Fairmount Line as part of a 12-month service pilot aimed at providing more options for faster service. This additional Fairmount service was created through Fairmount train schedule efficiencies and service on other lines is not impacted. With improved levels of Commuter Rail service, the MBTA is estimating an increase of roughly 400 daily riders through customers shifting from local bus to Commuter Rail. 

During the pilot, ridership data will be analyzed and collected via Automatic Passenger Counters (APCs), ridership counts, and passenger surveys. The T will also be analyzing travel-time savings for bus riders that transition to the Fairmount Line. Passenger comfort and crowded conditions will also be monitored as will Fairmount Line on-time performance and safety. 

The estimated cost of the added pilot service is $1.2 million per year, which covers transportation, mechanical, management, and marketing costs. 

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