FRAMINGHAM, MA — One week after the MBTA discussed deep commuter rail service cuts, the transit agency is still preparing to boost service along the Framingham-Worcester line next month.
Starting Nov. 2, the “Heart to Hub” express train will begin running with stops in Worcester, Framingham and Boston. One train will leave Worcester at 6:30 a.m. and department Boston at 4:35 p.m. on weekdays.
Commuter rail service came to a halt last spring as coronavirus hit the state. Train service was reduced as a precaution, but also because many commuters were forced to work at home during lockdown — and some will likely remain remote for the foreseeable future.
During an MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting last week, officials described a major drop-off in ridership due to the pandemic. Only about 11 percent of the pre-pandemic Framingham-Worcester line riders were still taking the train, for example.
Of all the stations along the line, only Worcester and Boston Landing have been deemed “highly transit critical” by the MBTA. The Framingham and West Natick stops are seen as “moderately critical,” according to the presentation.
The board is looking at several steps to reduce commuter rail costs, including eliminating service on weekends, closing stations, ending weekday service at 9 p.m. and reducing or eliminating midday service. The MBTA board might vote as soon as December on cuts, which would go into effect in mid-2021.
The new Framingham-Worcester schedules are available on the MBTA website.