Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. has run the commuter rail for the last 10 years, presiding over a more than 12 percent drop in ridership. Many have speculated that reliability and on-time performance are the key factors. I thought of that the other day as I stood at Winchester Center station for an extra 33 minutes in the cold.
I waited for the 7:46 a.m. train, which didn’t arrive until 8:19. The train then crawled into Boston, arriving at 8:47 — 42 minutes late. Train riders have obligations, such as client meetings, job interviews, front desks to cover, etc., and arriving three-quarters of an hour late can have serious consequences. What are the consequences to MBCR?
When the MBTA awards a commuter rail contract next year, a contract that will last for a decade, I hope it gives MBCR’s only competitor, Keolis, a chance. MBCR had its chance, and we’ve seen the result: performance so bad that ridership has plummeted even while the population of communities served by the commuter rail has increased and rail ridership has increased throughout the rest of the country. Enough is enough.