BOSTON – The MBTA has released data associated with two weeks of free service on the Fairmount Line in May 2017.
From Monday, May 8, through Sunday, May 21, and after a robust marketing campaign that partnered with businesses, civic organizations, and elected officials, the MBTA’s Fairmount Commuter Rail Line operated without charging customers fares. The goal of the free Fairmount Line service was to promote the line for prospective riders to consider it as a future transportation option.
“MassDOT and the MBTA look forward to continuing to partner with the Coalition, community advocates, and elected officials to improve service for our bus and train customers along the Fairmount Corridor,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.
An increase in total trips occurred during the two-week period, though this increase did not extend after the sponsored service expired. During the first week of the program, the number of weekday trips increased by approximately twenty-five percent (an additional 550 one-way trips per day or fourteen passengers per train) compared to the week before. The second week of the free-fare period showed an increase of forty-four percent from the week before the program. This is approximately 1,000 additional one-way trips per day or twenty-five more passengers per train. In the inbound direction, the additional trips were primarily in the morning peak and at 4 p.m. In the outbound direction, the additional trips were primarily in the afternoon peak and early afternoon.
“I am pleased, but not surprised, that there was a substantial increase in ridership during the Fairmount Sponsored Service initiative,” said Congressman Mike Capuano. “Many dedicated neighborhood and community advocates committed substantial resources to making sure residents in the Fairmount Corridor were aware of the program. My hope is that, between increased ridership during this two-week period and the change in rider count methodology prior to this program, the MBTA is closer to realizing the Fairmount Line’s full potential. I encourage the MBTA to continue the broad partnership this initiative fostered, and to continue to promote and improve the Fairmount Line.”
“The purpose of this initiative was to encourage more residents along this line to try the commuter rail to get to work and enjoy recreational opportunities, and the results show an increase in passengers over a handful of key periods,” said Keolis Commuter Services President Gerald Francis. “The increased ridership during this initiative demonstrates the importance of having convenient and reliable transit options in the communities served by the Fairmount Line, and we appreciate the collaboration at all levels to help provide more Fairmount Line residents with an opportunity to experience the commuter rail.”
“The Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition appreciates Congressman Capuano’s bold step of sponsoring free rides to demonstrate the need for strong service on the Fairmount/Indigo Line,” said the Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition. “The FITC is excited about how our community mobilized to support bringing about a dramatic increase in ridership during the two weeks of sponsored free rides. We look forward to continuing to work with our elected officials, the City, and MassDOT/MBTA to improve service and make the Fairmount Line the best possible.”
Ridership data was collected via conductors performing manual counts for an entire weekday once during the week prior to program, twice during the program, and once after the program had ended (all counts were conducted on Wednesdays for consistency). The Keolis passenger assistance team also counted passengers getting on and off Fairmount Line trains at South Station in order to support the conductors’ manual counts.
The MBTA is pleased to have had the opportunity to further introduce and promote the Fairmount Line to the corridor’s neighboring communities and looks forward to collaborations with its stakeholders and partners to grow ridership on the line.