MBTA Summer Schedule Changes

During the MBTA Board of Directors Meeting on Thursday, May 25th, Acting Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kat Benish presented planned changes to the summer bus schedule. The changes are an effort to improve the accuracy and reliability of schedules by matching the number of buses in service to the number of available operators. You can view the presentation at 3 hours 11 minutes 55 seconds (3:11:55).

Since January, there has been a higher number of dropped trips along various bus routes, resulting in longer than necessary waits and inaccurate schedule expectations for riders. Our office conducted a bus service survey in March 2023 and 56% of respondents emphasized reliability over frequency when asked to make a choice between the two. The summer schedule changes reflect an MBTA scheduling strategy that similarly emphasizes riders’ need for predictability and reliability by making the posted schedules a more accurate reflection of service levels.

The MBTA expressed its desire for riders to know what to expect for bus arrival and departure times. The new summer schedules are a product of route evaluation and staffing analysis to meet this goal.

Buses will operate at 86% of pre-COVID service hours, down 3% from the currently scheduled service of 89%. The schedule change will reduce frequency on 62 routes across the service area, with most changes made on weekdays during peak hours. A schedule will be posted on the MBTA website in early June, changes go into effect July 2 – August 26.

Routes that will experience the most significant impact include routes 1, 23, 57, 66, 77, 80, 83, 109, 11, 240, 350, and 450.

MBTA staff at all levels continue to be focused on addressing the long-term challenge of hiring more operators in the midst of the national driver shortage to operational capacity can be increased. The MBTA has made changes to its recruitment strategies already, including paid CDL training to expand the pool of eligible applicants, and has several other changes underway to increase starting salaries, offer full-time and part-time schedules, and change pension eligibility requirements. These efforts are vital to increasing the competitiveness of MBTA jobs and as a result, increasing operational capacity.

16 replies on “MBTA Summer Schedule Changes”

  1. Thank you Sen. Brownberger, for the update. In the presentation, Kat Benish said that many of the Key Bus Routes (of which the 57, 70, 71, 73 affect Watertown) were the routes that had the most dropped trips, in part because they took drivers from these routes to prevent dropped trips on routes with less frequency. This in fact mirrors my own personal experience. I take the 71 from Watertown Square to Harvard 2 days a week. Last week during the AM rush I waited about 30 minutes for a bus. On Thursday of last week I waited 45 minutes for a bus in the PM rush (but that might have also been due to Harvard Commencement causing extra traffic). These types of delays make me question why I shouldn’t work remote 5 days/week. I am sure others are inconvenienced as well.

    Anyway, I am glad that the T’s new schedule will reflect actual drivers available to make trips than just quoting a frequency out of thin air. I hope this will result in better bus service to Watertown.

  2. Since I don’t take buses all that often, I usually check the schedule online when I need to catch one. I hope the online schedules will be kept up to date!

  3. Thank you Senator Brownsberger for your communication efforts. I have to say that the weekday 75 Belmont has been very consistently on time even with the issues on the Concord between Leonard St. and Bright Rd. owing to (Route 2) and new BHS traffic/drop off pattern and loss of essentially 90% of their parking. Not sure quantitatively how the addition of the middle school will add to this. Note that the swapping of the bike lane and parking spaces makes it hard for drivers to exit their vehicles and traps cyclists to be doored between passengers who are unaware of bikes and the high curb. I hear there is real evidence that bike lanes are making life safer for pedaled vehicles even normalizing for numbers, but I can’t help feeling that a wary cyclist on the road is safer than a complacent rider in imperfect bike lanes.

  4. Got distracted. 75 has been consistent on weekday morning rush and sometimes overdue on weekday evening rush. Of course the low frequency of this bus and subway lines makes me sad for the time I lose out on. Why is the public infrastructure starved? My political model is most definitely not one of realism. Apologies, but the Democratic Party, my chosen party, has not existed since Clinon’s triangulation, his wholesale sell-out and move to the right is what moved the Republicans to counter to give us Cohen’s and Ailes’s well crafted David Duke by another name. While social justice is still a plank we can’t know who is paying lip service and who holds that as true in their moral core- the difference does matter. We Dems are morally compromised without labor and won’t be able to fight to keep our social justice gains (oh wait- we lost Roe anyway in spite of William Jefferson’s triangulation and “safe, legal and rare sophistry) without the spirit to fight for economic justice.

    1. Case in point with regards to “realism,” and what potential goods that may flow from a Democratic Party with the convictions deep enough to risk losing a battle. I just read the Sacklers won an appeal to be shielded and I wonder what could have been if if an elected MA official hadn’t deigned to countenance a settlement with the mass murdering and society wrecking Sacklers and instead fought the good fight, but instead was rewarded -by our apathy and the area’s financial entanglements – rewarded with higher office when a virtuous loss may have lifted the moral character of the people.

  5. Thank you for keeping us informed and for your interest in our public transportation system.

  6. Anything would be an improvement over the “your guess is as good as mine” situation that exists now.

    Also: please ask them to change the communication so that it makes sense from the POV of a passenger waiting for a bus, not to some theory of a fixed schedule.

    Instead of saying a bus that’s supposed to come every 20 minutes has a “twenty minute delay” (that is, will be running on time from the POV of a passenger) could they just PLEASE own up and say they are running fewer buses and tell us how many minutes between them? Is a “20 minute delay” on an every-twenty-minute bus line one bus every FORTY minutes? Or is it one bus every twenty minutes, but you missed a run an hour ago?

  7. “Ghost buses” are also a problem. I’m on a #73 bus right now that does not appear on the MBTA Luce map.

    The schedule is inaccurate.
    The live map is inaccurate.

    I know there are bigger problems in the world, but seriously…. Sigh. It’s frustrating.

  8. Many years ago I made plans to take my child to our modest science museum at the Charles River locks one sub-zero weekend (Sunday?) and the bus was very late. The driver confessed that they don’t (didn’t) actually run the weekend bus according to schedule, but kept moving in a continuous, off schedule loop. This is probably no longer the case as Saturday I saw a neighbor make it to the bus stop a minute prior to the bus. (I did see a second same direction #75 like five minutes later, but it could mean anything)

    Just to note regarding the improvement in 75 (and probably 74) reliability how at some point I think neither bus actually ventures into the cluster-shmozel that Belmont Center can be at rush hours especially prior to allowing the pandemic to wash over us. For sure patronizing a shop in Belmont Center during rush hour pre-pandemic was to be strictly avoided unless you had the luxury of time to sit and wait it out, because driving out added fifeteen-twenty minutes because the Commuter Rail hems in traffic and creates bottlenecks.

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