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MBTA Eyes Semi-Regular Commuter Rail Customers With New Flex Pass

An MBTA Commuter Rail train on the Haverhill line travels through Andover. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An MBTA Commuter Rail train on the Haverhill line travels through Andover. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With commuting patterns disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MBTA will test a new commuter rail ticket option next month offering passengers five days of discounted round-trip travel within a 30-day period.

The "Flex Pass" will allow commuters to space out the trips on non-consecutive days without going to the expense of purchasing a full monthly pass. It will be available for all zones and interzones from July 1 to Sept. 30, with the pass available for 10% less than five traditional round-trip tickets.

During a Monday board meeting, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the new feature — available only in the mTicket mobile app — is aimed at commuters who may need to travel for work on occasion but not as regularly as they did before the viral outbreak altered routines.

"The idea here is that certain folks who may have purchased a monthly pass in the past may be working with a partial work-from-home schedule, so a monthly pass may no longer be the right product for them," Poftak said. "We do want to develop products that serve different markets now."

In another step announced Monday, passengers whose tickets and passes expired while they were instructed to stay home during the state of emergency will be able to use them this summer. Starting June 22, paper tickets that were valid as of March 10 will be valid for 90 days, and mobile passes will automatically update in the app.

The MBTA will also allow youth pass holders to purchase commuter rail tickets at half-price and will accept Zone 1A fares at the Lynn and River Works stations on the Newburyport/Rockport Line.

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