Prioritizes On Time Performance
Ridership continues to increase on Commuter Rail
Flag Stops Converted to Regular Service Stops
Popular $10 Weekend Pass Program Expanded
BOSTON – May 16, 2023 – The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the agency’s operating partner for Commuter Rail, today announced the new 2023 Spring/Summer schedule which will take effect on May 22nd. The schedules are available online at mbta.com/cr. The 2023 Spring/Summer schedule will continue the “clockface” service to offer more consistent service throughout the day. Other adjustments take into consideration increased ridership, maintenance of strong on-time performance to ensure reliability for passengers, and improving the overall passenger experience. Also beginning this Spring, the popular $10 Weekend Pass program will be expanded to include all federal holidays, with the first one being Memorial Day.
“We’re excited to expand the $10 Weekend Pass program to include federal holidays, allowing riders to utilize this popular pass throughout a three-day weekend, and to continue to offer our popular regional rail-style of Commuter Rail schedules,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “Providing affordable alternatives to driving is important as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint. I want to express my appreciation to our partners at Keolis for collaborating with the T on these schedules, and continuing to improve Commuter Rail service and the customer experience. ”
“Over the last six months nine out of ten commuter rail trains arrived on time. A high level of reliability is the key to ensuring that our riders continue to choose us. Adjusting the schedule makes our services an appealing alternative for potential riders,” said Abdellah Chajai, CEO of Keolis Commuter Services. “The new Spring/Sumer schedule will continue to deliver safe, reliable service, that puts our passengers first.”
The Spring/ Summer schedule will deliver the same excellent on-time performance as the previous Fall/Winter schedule. Commuter Rail on-time performance over the winter of 2022-2023 was the best Commuter Rail has seen since Keolis began operating the network nearly a decade ago, with more than 94% of trains arriving on time. Though the winter of 2022-2023 was not one of the region’s snowiest, with Boston totaling just over 12 inches of snow, the region did experience record-breaking cold temperatures and several high-wind weather systems that impacted Commuter Rail service. Still, due to the winter weather preparedness measures that Keolis and the MBTA have implemented, this past winter saw a dramatic nearly 9% improvement in on-time performance from the comparable winter of 2019-2020 when the Boston area barely saw 15 inches of snow. In fact, over the past three winters, Commuter Rail has consistently seen on-time performance of over 92%. This improvement in performance is largely attributed to investments that the MBTA has made in more resilient infrastructure as well as operational and process improvements implemented in partnership with Keolis.
The previous Fall/Winter schedule introduced schedule adjustments to accommodate the increase in ridership across the Commuter Rail system and in 2022 Commuter Rail ridership peaked at over 78% of pre-COVID ridership. After a typical seasonal dip over the holidays, the Commuter Rail has continued to see ridership increase in 2023 averaging over 75% of pre-COVID ridership for the month of April. In the spring and summer seasons, passengers will see the new bi-level Rotem Coaches start to enter service, allowing increased capacity on trains that are seeing the highest ridership. The MBTA and Keolis attribute the steady gains in ridership to the transition to a clockface schedule, which offers more service throughout the day, providing flexibility for a workforce with changing needs and increased options for passengers who are traveling beyond traditional work hours.
The 2023 Spring/Summer schedule will also bring regularly scheduled service back to some “flag stops.” At a flag stop, due to typically low demand, a train only stops when customers are visible on the platform or when the conductor has been notified by a passenger that they plan on disembarking at that stop. Converting flag stops to regular stops means that trains will now operate normally and make that scheduled stop, improving the passenger experience. In the Spring/Summer schedule, the last train of the day for each line will no longer have any flag stops, making each scheduled stop. On the Fairmount and Lowell Lines all Flag stops have been converted to regular stops, and several have been converted on the Newburyport/Rockport line. The remaining flag stop trains are denoted on the schedule with a purple “f”.
The popular $10 weekend pass program, which offers unlimited weekend trips for a flat fee of $10, will be expanded to include Federal Holidays on a pilot basis for six months. Starting on Memorial Day weekend, $10 weekend passes will be accepted for trips on all three days of Federal Holiday weekends. For Federal Holidays that are observed mid-week, passengers will now be able to purchase a $10 Holiday Pass for that holiday. $10 weekend passes are available for purchase at ticket offices, on board trains, or on the mTicket app. For a full list of holidays and more information visit MBTA.com/weekendrail for a full list of holidays and more information.
Passengers can stay connected with Commuter Rail by calling customer service at 617-222-3200, following @MBTA_CR on Twitter or signing up for T-Alerts at www.mbta.com/alerts.