MBTA Temporary Cuts Include Charlestown Ferry

The MBTA’s Fiscal Control Management Board (FCMB) voted on Monday to enact a number of temporary cuts due to low ridership across the system, with one of those cuts being the Charlestown ferry service in the Navy Yard.

That move was opposed by the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard and advocates from Boston Harbor NOW.

The MBTA stressed that the ferry service and other cuts were only temporary through June, and the MBTA would begin planning for the next fiscal year (starting on July 1) this spring with a robust schedule of meetings and discussions.

“We appreciate the thousands of public comments we received and have incorporated this feedback into our planning efforts,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We recognize the importance of adjusting service levels now while ridership demand is low, so that we can use the savings to increase service frequency when it is needed. These changes in service levels have also been designed to minimize impacts on current transit-critical travelers, meaning that changes in rapid transit frequency, for example, will mean that individuals are waiting only an additional ninety seconds for a train. The service changes approved will align capacity with ridership demands during Fiscal Year 2021, which ends on June 30, 2021, and we will continue to analyze ridership and other factors including the economic reopening and vaccine distribution as we plan for Fiscal Year 2022 service levels during our budget process this spring.”

Starting in January 2021, the Charlestown ferry and Hingham ferry service will be discontinued temporarily and re-evaluated in the spring. Only the weekday Hingham/Hull ferry service will operate, but with reduced frequency.

As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA continues to only transport 330,000 trips on an average weekday, but operates the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic – an unsustainable level of service delivery. Since November 9, when the MBTA first announced the Forging Ahead service changes proposals, there has been no significant increase in ridership, and on many modes, ridership has decreased.

Director Monica Tibbits-Nutt offered an amendment to the Service Level vote that required the FMCB to assess the need for additional service to meet ridership demand by no later than March 15, 2021 and, if feasible, allocate additional resources to meet that demand. That amendment was accepted in the final proposal.

Three members of the FMCB also amended the vote laying out Fiscal Year 2021 base service levels with language delaying any fare increase until the overall level of service provided on the bus and rapid transit service returned to the levels of fall 2019. The FMCB had previously postponed any fare increase until Fiscal Year 2022. With these amendments, the FMCB voted 3-2 to authorize the proposed changes in Base Service levels.

The changes also affect some services on the subway, commuter rail, bus service and The Ride.

For more information, visit mbta.com/ForgingAhead.

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