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Service Pilot Process

We’re always looking for insights and opportunities from outside the MBTA to make our service better. Through our service pilot process, sponsors like cities and towns can propose pilots and work with us to shape them.

Proposals that meet minimum projections for costs and benefits will be presented to our Fiscal and Management Control Board for consideration to operate in our next fiscal year.

Approved proposals begin as limited-duration, experimental pilots. Their success is evaluated before a decision is made about whether they will become permanent. 

Pilots include:

How It Works

Because we are introducing new Red, Orange, and Green line vehicles for more frequent subway service, the pilots currently apply only to bus, ferry, and Commuter Rail.

A successful service pilot would require little or no capital investment from the MBTA and feature 1 or more of the following:

  • More frequent service 
  • Extended hours of operation 
  • New service routes

The MBTA’s process is collaborative. Sponsors contribute to the analysis of proposals, and we will assist with data analysis and metrics development.

Sponsors should demonstrate that, even without major capital investment, there is: 

  • Demand for the service 
  • Community support 
  • Operational feasibility

Deadlines

Initial proposal drafts are due September 15, 2019. We will work with sponsors to determine the viability of proposals and conduct additional analysis.

The second drafts of proposals are due November 15, 2019.

Proposals that meet minimum requirements will be presented to the board for possible funding. Pilot service could start in fiscal year 2021. 

At any point in the process, the MBTA or a sponsor can decide to take more time developing a proposal and enter consideration for the following fiscal year.

Contact Us

For more information, email pilots@mbta.com.

Downloads

Policy

Transit Pilot Policy (March 2017)

Presentations to the Board

Bus Demonstration Projects

Riders exit a Route 66 bus in Harvard Square

The Better Bus Project's Network Redesign is evaluating new bus service ideas that could become Demonstration Projects in 2020. Anyone, including individuals, can submit ideas through October 4, 2019.

Due to the high response rate, and to ensure we can evaluate ideas by the end of the year, responses received by September 6 will be given priority.

Bus Demonstration Projects

Riders exit a Route 66 bus in Harvard Square

The Better Bus Project's Network Redesign is evaluating new bus service ideas that could become Demonstration Projects in 2020. Anyone, including individuals, can submit ideas through October 4, 2019.

Due to the high response rate, and to ensure we can evaluate ideas by the end of the year, responses received by September 6 will be given priority.