MBTA Summer Schedule Changes

During yesterday’s MBTA Board of Directors Meeting, the 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.

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