MBTA Fall 2020 Bus Service Expanding due to Ridership Demand and to Prevent Crowding, Service Being Added on 23 Routes, CharlieTicket and Cash Fare Lowered to CharlieCard Levels Effective September 1
Posted on August 5, 2020
Virtual public meetings outlining service changes to be held on August 12 (Spanish language) and August 13 (English language).
The MBTA today announced that service is being added on 23 bus routes effective August 30 and that the T is expanding service on certain routes due to ridership demand, to avoid crowding on vehicles, and to allow for physical distancing in keeping with health and safety protocol guidance. Meanwhile, some bus routes with low ridership or routes with other service options nearby will have service frequency reduced or will continue to have service suspended.
Additionally, effective September 1, CharlieTicket and cash fares will be lowered to CharlieCard prices. These customer-driven fare tariff changes were approved by the Fiscal and Management Control Board on May 21.
For complete fall 2020 bus route service information, visit mbta.com/servicechanges.
“As the Commonwealth continues to reopen, we continue to monitor and evaluate service, and make adjustments in order to provide the safest ride possible for our workers and customers,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Bus service in particular has seen our most durable ridership. The changes coming on August 30 prioritize safety and the T’s efforts to limit crowding on vehicles. We will also be adding service above our previous regular service schedule in communities that have few transit alternatives and which have many essential workers who use the MBTA to get to their jobs. I want to again thank our riders for their patience and for continuing to wear face coverings while using the system. I also want to express my appreciation to our frontline workforce, who work every day to provide essential transit services.”
While passenger volumes continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels, bus ridership has generally been more durable than other modes throughout the pandemic and the MBTA is altering some route schedules effective August 30, including:
- Buses on 23 routes that were not operating during the initial phases of the pandemic will resume operations.
- Some bus routes that have been operating on a reduced Saturday schedule will begin operating weekday service or close to it with service on some routes increasing above pre-pandemic, regular weekday levels to accommodate high ridership that has been observed.
- Some bus routes will have reduced frequency on weekdays, weekends, and/or during off-peak times as ridership levels indicate that is the appropriate step for the T to take.
- Some bus routes have been combined, extended, restructured, or will still have service suspended.
- Customers should check for specific route information at mbta.com/servicechanges.
Ridership levels are also leading to some schedule changes on other MBTA modes of travel.
Effective August 30, minor service adjustments will also be made on the Blue and Green Lines in response to both COVID-19 ridership and as part of the Lechmere Viaduct/Green Line Extension work, respectively. Service on other subway lines, Commuter Rail, ferry, and The RIDE will remain at their current levels on August 30 and through the fall.
The MBTA encourages essential travel only. Customers should make efforts to distance and face coverings are required within the MBTA system. The MBTA reminds the public that providing safe transit service during the pandemic is a shared responsibility among the MBTA, its customers, employers, and cities and towns. The MBTA urges employers to continue to allow telecommuting and to consider staggered work schedules to promote social distancing on public transit. The MBTA also encourages cities and towns to assist in this effort be expanding available space at busy bus stops and working with the T to implement dedicated-bus lanes.
How The Fall 2020 Bus Service Changes Were Made
The fall 2020 bus service changes remain in keeping with COVID-19 prevention guidance, including lower bus capacity thresholds; prioritizing service where there is steady ridership, especially in communities that have few transportation alternatives and many essential workers; optimizing service in keeping with the T’s fixed number of vehicles and operators; and allowing for flexibility for what ridership is likely to be in the fall.
The MBTA reviewed rider, community, and bus operator feedback to help make these service changes. MBTA planning staff also made some assumptions about how, when, and where ridership will return:
- Bus ridership is expected to return to 50 percent of baseline by September with ridership growth expected to continue throughout the fall. However, this growth is not expected to be consistent across all routes. Decisions have been based on the assumption that growth will likely occur on the routes that had the steadiest ridership during the pandemic.
- Crowding thresholds have been prioritized over service frequency when deciding where to add service in order to provide the safest ride possible. This means that resources have been diverted from less-crowded routes to accommodate routes where heavy crowding is observed, even if it means decreasing service below the frequencies in the MBTA’s Service Delivery Policy.
Bus Service Details
Bus service continues to be tailored to allow for operational flexibility with crowding closely being monitored. The MBTA is operating its full complement of buses with 5 percent reserved to be deployed where there is increased demand for service.
Effective Sunday, August 30, 23 bus routes will resume operating, including Routes CT2, 67, and 68. Additionally, many MBTA bus routes will begin operating with significantly more frequent service, including Routes 22, 66, 112, 114, 116/117, and 504.
In order to resume operating these routes and increasing frequency where high ridership currently exists, other bus routes with less-crowded conditions will experience reduced frequency during certain times of the weekday, on weekends, or both. A number of routes have also been combined, extended, and/or restructured to reduce redundancy. Some bus routes that have parallel or nearby alternate service will also continue to be suspended.
Visit mbta.com/servicechanges for complete fall 2020 bus route service information.
Virtual Public Meeting Information
Members of the public may learn more by attending 2 virtual public meetings being held by the MBTA on Wednesday, August 12 (Spanish language), and on Thursday, August 13 (English language). For more information, customers can visit mbta.com/servicechanges. Feedback received during these virtual public meetings will continue to inform future service changes.
Previous and Current Service
On March 17, the MBTA implemented service changes that mimicked limited, modified Saturday schedules for most modes with ferry service temporarily canceled in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19. On June 21, regular weekday service resumed on all subway lines and service increased for nearly sixty bus routes. On June 22, Commuter Rail service increased and ferry service resumed on weekdays.
More About CharlieTicket and Cash Changes
Effective September 1, CharlieTicket and cash fares will be lowered to CharlieCard levels. As of September 1, all fare payments will be the same, regardless of whether a customer is using a CharlieCard, CharlieTicket, or cash:
- $1.70 for local bus (a $0.30 reduction for those using CharlieTicket/cash),
- $4.25 for inner express bus (a $1 reduction for those using CharlieTicket/cash),
- $5.25 for outer express bus (a $1.75 reduction for those using CharlieTicket/cash), and
- $2.40 for rapid transit (a $0.50 reduction for those using CharlieTicket/cash).
These fare tariff changes are part of the first phases of the MBTA’s Fare Transformation program, which aims to make paying for transit easier and more convenient.
Enhanced Decontamination, Cleaning, Disinfecting, Social Distancing, and More
In addition to encouraging good hygiene practices and social distancing, the MBTA is continuing its enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Protocols include:
- Stations and facilities: disinfecting touch points in high-traffic facilities twice a day; disinfecting touch points on surfaces such as handrails, fare gates, and fare vending machines in subway stations once every 4 hours; and hiring additional vendors for disinfecting using chemical fogging, electrostatic sprayers, and manual disinfecting wipes/solutions.
- Bus and rail vehicles: decontaminating all vehicles nightly with disinfecting wipes; performing mid-day decontamination at layover locations daily by wiping down operator cabs and high-touch locations; wiping down cabs, fare boxes, and entrances for first/second shift bus pullbacks; performing electrostatic fogging for 100% decontamination every 2 weeks for all bus vehicles; isolating and electrostatic decontamination of any vehicle reported as operated by an employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
Crowding threshold standards have been temporarily lowered for each bus and subway fleet to accommodate social distancing measures. Customers can find real-time crowding information for a number of bus routes with more information at mbta.com/crowding.
The MBTA continues to follow guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and face coverings are required within the MBTA system. The MBTA encouraging its riders and the public to:
- Practice social distancing at all times when leaving the home for essential trips;
- Stay home if sick and avoid close contact with others;
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth;
- Clean areas that are frequently touched with sanitizing spray or wipes;
- Cover coughs and sneezes, and use a tissue or the inner elbow, not hands.