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MBTA Weighs Service Cuts For Buses, Ferries, And Commuter Rail

Lower-ridership bus routes, most commuter rail lines and some ferries appear most likely to receive service cuts at the MBTA starting next year, but even the core subway system may need to run trains less frequently to help close the agency's massive budget gap, officials said Monday.

MBTA officials have recommended slicing $60 million to $255 million from spending on service in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 to help manage a COVID-inflicted budget shortfall, targeting services with low ridership potential and a smaller portion of "transit-critical" riders for the steepest cuts.

In a presentation at Monday's board meeting, T staff said most of the subway system — except for the Green Line's B, C, D and E branches — is deemed essential service because it has high potential for ridership to recover from pandemic-era lows and a large number of transit-dependent riders.

Other essential services include most bus routes, the commuter rail's Fairmount Line and the Charlestown Ferry, staff said.

The remainder of the commuter rail system, some other bus routes, and the Hingham and Hull ferries all rate as having lower ridership potential or as serving less transit-critical populations, making them more likely to be targeted for cuts that would take effect in July.

No specific cuts have been confirmed yet, and T staff plan to present more detailed options in November ahead of a final decision from the board in December.

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