Faced with huge drops in ridership and fare revenue, the MBTA last Monday announced a series of planned service cuts that would limit the transit system’s operating hours and the frequency of trains and buses starting next year, while eliminating some services outright.
The T has a map that shows commuters how their rides would be affected, at mbta.com/forging-ahead. Below is a quick rundown of the different ways the transit system would change in 2021 if the cuts are approved by the MBTA’s governing board next month.
Early closures: The T’s plan would shut down the subway and bus service at midnight. The last trip on the subway now begins around 12:30 a.m., while buses vary by line but typically extend later. The commuter rail, meanwhile, would shut for the day at 9 p.m.
Eliminated services: The MBTA would eliminate ferry system outright, at least for the extent of the pandemic, affecting commuters who use boats from Hingham, Hull, and Charlestown.
On the bus system, 25 routes with low ridership would be eliminated. Most are in the suburbs, but the list also includes the 18 bus in Dorchester, the 72 in Cambridge, and the 55 between Fenway and Back Bay. The MBTA says seven of the eliminated routes have alternative bus or rail options within a quarter-mile.
On the commuter, six stops with low ridership would be dropped: Plymouth Station, Plimptonville Station in Walpole, Cedar Park Station in Melrose, Prides Crossing in Beverly, Silver Hill and Hastings stations in Weston. Of those, Cedar Park has the highest usage with 20 passengers a day, which is a higher rate of its pre-pandemic count than the overall commuter rail system.
Shortened routes: Five bus routes will also be shortened, including the 230 bus between Brockton and Quincy and the 558 bus in Newton. And the Green Line E branch will end at Brigham Circle, instead of Heath Street, requiring passengers to switch to buses.
Longer waits: Many services won’t run as often; the commuter rail, for example, will cut back the numbers of trains it runs on weekdays to about 430, down from more than 500.
Subway service will drop by about 20 percent, meaning a six-minute wait between rush-hour trains on the Red Line, for example, compared to scheduled waits of less than five minutes.
On the bus line, about 60 routes will see a 20 to 30 percent reduction in frequencies. But about 80 routes that the T calls “essential” would face minimal decreases, with some of the busiest of those potentially seeing no reduction. The goal on these routes has been to run enough vehicles to avoid crowding and allow riders to maintain social distancing.
Idle weekends: One of the biggest changes would be the elimination of weekend commuter rail service. The lone exception is the Fairmount Line, but even there the T plans to run replacement buses along the line, not trains. It’s a stark change for a transit system that had seen some success in luring weekend riders to the rail system with a big price drop prior to the pandemic.