The MBTA announced a new, COVID-19 informed fall bus schedule, and it means more service than current levels on virtually every route in Everett while cutting back on suburban and downtown Boston routes that are seeing sharp declines in ridership.
The news came during a Thursday, Aug. 13, meeting online where the MBTA announced their Fall schedule, and also announced major changes to service as the Authority starts to see more ridership emerging in low-income, communities of color where there are lots of essential workers.
Seems Everett and many surrounding communities fit the bill.
“The big takeaways are that ridership has recovered more quickly on our bus routes compared to other modes,” said Kat Benesh, MBTA chief of operations strategy, policy and oversight. “Fortunately, bus ridership dipped less during the early months of the pandemic and is recovering more quickly.”
She said that bus ridership systemwide in mid-July was at 40 percent of pre-COVID numbers. However, some buses have recovered much faster, or never really lost great deals of ridership. Those routes included those that went to medical centers, that served low-income communities with lots of essential workers, routes near grocery stores and communities with geographic obstacles like the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.
It is in those areas where service will increase to levels greater than before COVID-19, and in Everett that will include Bus Routes 104, 106, 109, and 112.
“One of the most important things we can do is eliminate crowding,” said Benesh. “One of the things we are prioritizing is adding service to routes that need more capacity versus giving less service to some areas that are seeing less ridership.”
Some of the major beneficiaries of this plan included Everett’s routes, but also Chelsea’s major 111 Route over the Tobin Bridge – as well as key routes in Boston’s Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan areas. Some of the major cutbacks are to routes in the suburbs where people are working from home and are more likely to have a car. Also cut from service are many of the Express buses from the suburbs that mostly handled commuters that now no longer come into the city.
Other routes include inner-city services that mostly served commuters, like the Silver Line 2 route in Boston. At the same time, the Silver Line 3 service that ends at Market Basket on the Chelsea/Everett line will be restored to near pre-COVID levels, but isn’t seeing as strong ridership as other buses due to the continuing lag in the airport business.
The new Fall schedule is to take effect on Aug. 30 and 31, but there is room to adjust routes after three month – around November.
The full route changes in Everett are below:
•Route 97 (Main Street, Belmont Street, Hancock Street, Broadway, Gateway Mall and Wellington) – Regular weekday schedule resumes.
•Route 104 (Malden Station to Sullivan Square via Ferry Street and Broadway) – Regular weekday schedule resumes with more service than pre-COVID. Weekend trips added.
•Route 106 (Main Street and Parkway to Wellington) – Regular weekday schedule resumes with more service than pre-COVID.
•Route 109 (Linden Square to Sullivan Square via Broadway) – Regular weekday schedule resumes with more service than pre-COVID. Weekend trips added.
•Route 110 (Wonderland to Wellington via Elm Street, Ferry Street, Chelsea Street, Everett Square and Wellington) – Regular weekday schedule resumes.
•Route 112 (Market Basket Chelsea to Wellington via Chelsea Street) – Regular weekday schedule resumes with more service than pre-COVID.
•Silver Line 3 (Chelsea/Everett to South Station) – Weekday schedule resumes with nearly pre-COVID service levels.