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More commuter rail service is coming to the MBTA’s Fairmount Line, after the agency's Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday approved a new pilot program.
Under the pilot, the transit agency will add eight additional weekday trips this spring to bring additional early morning and late night service to parts of Boston that have been underserved by rail.
"This has been something that the community has been asking for,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said Monday. "We worked very closely with the city to prepare this proposal."
The pilot program, which the board unanimously approved, is set to start May 18. According to Poftak, the transit agency would decide whether or not to keep the service after a year.
The additional service is expected to cost the MBTA roughly $1.1 million per year for transportation, mechanical, labor and management expenses.
There are 2,600 daily rides on the Fairmount Line, according to Reggie Ramos, the T's deputy director of pilots and innovation who presented the Fairmount Line proposal to the board. In terms of ridership, MBTA officials expect up to 400 additional daily trips during the pilot program. The agency expects many of those extra rides to come from people switching from bus to rail.
During the pilot, riders will be able to use their CharlieCards (LinkPass or cards with stored value) to pay their commuter rail fares. Card validator machines will be installed at stations in Zone 1A of the Fairmount Line and will produce a paper ticket as proof of payment. The ticket will also allow riders to get a free bus transfer. The T hopes this feature will serve a test for the agency's broader plan to make paying for transit easier, Ramos said.
Advocates and community members have long called for more rail service in the Fairmount corridor, which includes parts of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and Hyde Park. Some have pushed for the commuter rail line to be transformed into something more like a subway.
The newly-approved pilot mirrors a proposal put forth by Mayor Marty Walsh last fall, when he asked T officials for more service on the Fairmount Line.
"All we have to do is look at a map of the system and you can see areas of Boston with no subway service," Walsh told the T's control board in October. "It's the Fairmount Line that's a game changer. It's our largest and most diverse neighborhoods that the Fairmount Line goes through."
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