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MBTA Discourages All Non-Essential Travel

Posted on March 23, 2020

Targeted adjustments to capacity on select Commuter Rail lines to take effect Wednesday.

Capital work will focus on safety-critical projects.

Customers encouraged to visit for full details.

The MBTA has announced additional service revisions in a continuing effort to protect the health and safety of the T’s customers and workforce, and to preserve transit services for those who are essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19, or otherwise must travel for purposes that are absolutely necessary. 

Effective Wednesday, March 25, the MBTA will modify the Commuter Rail’s Reduced Service Schedule to allow for 5 trains to arrive in Boston prior to 7 AM. These schedule revisions are being made to address demand for travel by medical professionals and other emergency responders.  The specific intent of these changes is to allow essential workers to travel with enough time to meet to shift changes at hospitals and other medical facilities. 

The complete Reduced Service Schedule including these adjustments is available at

These revisions assist in maintaining vital transportation services to employees in key industries and workers with limited or no other transportation options.  As a key component of ensuring continuity of service for those individuals, the MBTA is strongly urging customers to avoid any and all unnecessary travel. 

“The MBTA’s recent service revisions are in keeping with the broader strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure health care workers, grocery store employees, and others who play key roles in keeping everyone safe, can continue to do so,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Critical to our success in sustaining mobility is a combination of providing service that meets the needs of employees essential to combating COVID-19, keeping up our enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and high-contact surfaces, and renewing our request to customers to minimize their travel to only what is absolutely necessary.”  

As part of the MBTA’s process of monitoring ridership and making corresponding service adjustments, the T continues to strongly discourage all non-essential travel.  The MBTA will continue to monitor this situation and may make further revisions in service based on guidance from public health professionals to support social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Commuter Rail

All Commuter Rail lines will operate on reduced schedules, which can be found at On all lines, Commuter Rail schedules are being modified to support targeted periods of peak travel while providing options for off-peak travel throughout the day.

Effective with the start of service on Wednesday, March 25, targeted adjustments in capacity will be made to meet the unique needs of health care professionals and early morning shift changes:

LineHaverhillDeparts/Location5:50 AM from ReadingArrives/Destination6:23 AM at North Station
LineLowellDeparts/Location5:35 AM from LowellArrives/Destination6:23 AM at North Station
LineFitchburgDeparts/Location4:50 AM from WachusettArrives/Destination6:30 AM at North Station

5:35 AM from Newburyport 

*6:03 AM from Beverly for Rockport customers

Arrives/Destination6:41 AM at North Station
LineNeedhamDeparts/Location5:45 AM from Needham HeightsArrives/Destination6:24 AM at South Station

MBTA Construction

While significant MBTA projects like the Green Line Extension, South Coast Rail, and safety-critical work will continue, effective today, March 23, the MBTA is pausing a number of previously planned capital program activities for 3 weeks to ensure that necessary engineering and maintenance employees can focus on providing safe service for MBTA customers, many of whom provide COVID-19 essential services. Projects that were scheduled to take place during evenings, overnight, and on weekends are particularly affected because of the need for engineering and maintenance staff to focus on safety and preventive maintenance activities needed to support service rather than capital delivery.

This previously scheduled work will be rescheduled at a later date with more information available on for the most current diversion information. 

Many projects will continue, including safety-critical work, environmental stewardship projects, and accessibility improvements including elevator work at various stations; repair work at the Alewife Garage; emergency lighting, fire alarm and suppression work in the Harvard busway and at Oak Grove; standpipe work within the Blue Line’s tunnel; power upgrades at the Wellington Car House; Green Line Extension/Green Line Transformation work in support of Lechmere Viaduct work; and MBTA/Keolis Commuter Rail projects that include Gloucester Drawbridge structural inspections; PTC construction; the Worcester Branch Bridge Bundle; construction at the Iron Horse Park Dispatching Center; and related Green Line Extension construction.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting

In addition to encouraging good hygiene practices and social distancing, the MBTA is continuing its enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, which includes: 

  • Disinfecting all fleet vehicles – buses, trolleys, subway cars, Commuter Rail coaches, ferries, and RIDE vehicles – every 24 hours;
  • Cleaning all high-contact surfaces such as handrails, fare gates, and fare vending machines in subway stations once every 4 hours.

The MBTA continues to follow guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, with the MBTA encouraging its riders and the public to: 

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Cover coughs and sneezes;
  • Stay home if sick;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Clean areas that are frequently touched with sanitizing spray or wipes.

MBTA riders and Massachusetts residents are encouraged to visit for information on COVID-19 and for additional preparedness tips.

More Information

Media Contact Information

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MBTA Press Office