MBTA Ridership Craters As Social Distancing And Confirmed Cases Increase

MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

MBTA ridership dropped each day last week as the number of coronavirus cases increased in the state, according to new data from the MBTA.

The MBTA reduced service across the transit system Tuesday in response to the ridership decline, though the agency said its new service level would still adhere to strict social distancing measures. Massachusetts announced a statewide school closure and ban on dining in restaurants and bars earlier this week.

In a blog post, the MBTA presented ridership data from the week of March 9 and compared it to a "normal" week, in this case the week of Feb. 24. Daily subway trips were down by 12% last Tuesday, March 10 — compared to the average for the week of Feb. 24. By Wednesday, March 11, subway ridership had fallen by 20% and continued to decline from there.

By Friday, March 13, subway ridership had dropped by 48%.

"Usually Fridays are of course lighter ridership, but not nearly this much," the MBTA blog post on the data noted.

Bus ridership also declined last week — dropping by 32% on Friday compared to the week of Feb. 24. The MBTA did not include ridership data on the commuter rail, but noted a 69% decline in parking at MBTA stations by Friday, as a proxy for ridership.

The MBTA said it will continue to assess ridership and may implement more changes — including an increase to service — depending on ridership needs, particularly for hospital workers and people trying to get to Boston's food distribution sites.

Trains and most buses are currently running on a Saturday schedule, while ferry service has been suspended. The commuter rail is also running fewer trains. Meanwhile, the MBTA's service for people with disabilities is fully operating. (See the full schedule changes here.)

The MBTA also recently began cleaning and disinfecting the system more frequently.


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Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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