The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is significantly ramping up many of its services as part of Phase 2 of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan.
On Sunday, the MBTA resumed regular weekday services on the Blue Line and increased operations on the Red, Orange, Green and Mattapan lines. Regular weekday services for nearly 60 bus routes also increased, according to a statement from the authority.
Commuter rail trips and all MBTA ferries were expected to resume Monday as well with limited weekday services, the statement said.
“As the commonwealth continues its reopening phases and we begin boosting service for all modes, we will continue to protect the riding public and our workforce through enhanced safety protocols,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak wrote in a statement. “Thank you to MBTA riders for their patience during these challenging times and for wearing face coverings while using the system.
“I also want to reiterate my deep appreciation to our frontline workforce, who have come to work every day throughout the pandemic in order to provide essential transit services.”
The MBTA noted in early June that ridership continues to remain at only a fraction of its pre-pandemic levels. The number of passengers using the authority’s services and “undesirable crowding” will be closely monitored, according to the agency’s statement.
Last week, the MBTA announced it would be launching a new tool to help riders track overcrowding for nine bus routes across the transit system. The information is expected to be posted on digital signs and accessed within the agency’s smartphone application, the “Transit App.”
Crowding threshold standards have been temporarily lowered for each bus and subway fleet in accordance with social distancing measures, according to the MBTA.
The agency is also continuing to disinfect touch points in high-traffic facilities twice a day. Handrails, fare gates and fare vending machines in subway stations are being cleaned once every four hours. The MBTA said it would hire additional vendors to aid in the efforts as well.
“While service is increasing significantly, providing safe transit during the coronavirus pandemic is a shared responsibility among the MBTA, its customers, employers, and cities and towns,” MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.
As the COVID-19 public health crisis ramped up in the U.S. in mid-March, the MBTA modified its operations to resemble its Saturday schedules for most modes of transportation. Ferry services were temporarily cancelled to help slow the spread of the virus, according to the agency.
Now, at the start of the second part of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, the MBTA – along with a slew of businesses – will begin to resume many of their operations.
Starting Sunday, weekday services were added to more than 50 high-demand bus routes, including Routes 1, 22, 23, 28, 57, 66, 111, 116, 117 and dozens more. Bus routes will also continue run their regular schedules on Saturdays and Sundays.
Route 39 will also operate with 60-foot buses all day for additional capacity. Routes that were previously not operating but are now resuming services include Routes 19 and 245, which serve key medical and hospital areas.
Face coverings will be required on buses, trains and ferries, and dispatchers will be allowed to make adjustments to alleviate crowding.
“The MBTA will operate a full complement of buses, including 30% reserved to be deployed where there is increased demand for service. Crowding will be closely monitored with these flexible buses deployed as needed,” the agency wrote in its statement. “All available buses will operate with service concentrated on about 80% of bus routes.”
Limited ferry services to Hingham, Hull and Charlestown will also resume on weekdays at about 75% of normal schedules. Weekend ferry service remain suspended, the MBTA said.
All commuter rail lines will operate with increased weekday service as well, with the Fairmount Line beginning full service schedules. Regular midday trains are expected to operate again too, and the number of trains during morning and evening peak periods will be increased.
More information on the MBTA’s adjusted services can be found on the agency’s website.