MBTA: Commuter Rail Ridership Reaches New Post-Pandemic Peak, Exceeds 90% of Pre-COVID Levels

Written by MBTA Corporate Communications
image description

BOSTON ––Ridership totals bolstered by Halloween travel to Salem and Fairmount Line ridership boost during the Ashmont – Mattapan closure.

The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the Agency’s operating partner for Commuter Rail, today announced that Commuter Rail ridership reached a new post-pandemic peak in October. For four weeks, the average weekly ridership of the Commuter Rail systemwide exceeded 90% of pre-COVID levels. While ridership across the Commuter Rail network was high in October, three lines in particular saw significant jumps compared to their September averages: the Newburyport/Rockport, Fairmount, and Franklin lines.

“Seeing ridership on Commuter Rail return and grow consistently to reach this milestone demonstrates that safe, reliable, and more frequent service can bring riders back to mass transportation,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “Thank you to our partners at Keolis for providing more frequent and convenient train service, making it easier and more attractive to the public to choose this option. We look forward to continuing to build upon this success to identify new ways to improve service, get more people out of cars, and protect our environment by reducing our carbon footprint.” 

“Whether you are a long-time Commuter Rail rider, or trying it out for the first time, our goal is to provide you with a safe, reliable, and convenient trip,” said Abdellah Chajai, CEO of Keolis Commuter Services. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked closely with the MBTA to adapt our service to meet the changing needs of our passengers. These latest ridership trends are proof that the all-day service, and more flexible fare products are meeting our passenger’s needs.”

The Franklin Line saw a ridership increase in October of nearly 20% compared to September which is attributed to the new Fall/Winter schedule service increases on that line. The Fairmount Line saw a nearly 35% increase in ridership during the Red Line Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line construction. The Newburyport/ Rockport Line saw record ridership as crowds rode the train to Salem for the Haunted Happenings festivities. 

Week Of:System-Wide Commuter Rail Ridership as % of Pre-COVID baseline

During the height of the pandemic, Commuter Rail ridership dropped down to approximately 10% of pre-COVID levels. In the 2021 Spring/Summer Schedule, Keolis and the MBTA introduced a new all-day service model providing service at regular intervals throughout the day and increasing service on the weekends. This new service model has corresponded with a steady increase in ridership.