MBTA riders saw the first in a series of deep service cuts on Saturday as the system slashed ferry and weekend commuter rail schedules with ridership and revenues bottomed out amid the pandemic.
The agency eliminated weekend service on seven lines. Newburyport/Rockport, Framingham/Worcester, Fairmount, Providence, and Middleborough lines are now the only ones offering Saturday and Sunday schedules, according to the MBTA.
“Ridership has remained low during the pandemic with approximately 8% of regular weekday ridership in the fall of 2020 compared to fall 2019,” the agency wrote on its website.
Hingham direct ferry service and all Charlestown ferry service was also temporarily suspended. Weekday Hingham/Hull ferry service will operate with reduced frequency.
Ferry ridership has plummeted to just 12% of pre-COVID levels.
In the spring of 2021, the T will suspend 20 bus routes as well as reduce subway and bus frequency as it grapples with a gaping budget hole.
The T is projecting a budget gap of $54 million to $79 million for the current fiscal year and $577 million to $652 million in the next one, which starts in July.
The cuts are intended to be temporary. Officials plan to discuss in February and March whether to keep cuts in place, expand them or roll them back in the next fiscal year.