BOSTON (CBS) – The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board voted Monday afternoon to approve a series of scaled-back service cuts after the T’s original proposal was widely criticized as too drastic. The board voted 3-2 to implement the changes early next year.
The MBTA released a new plan just before Monday’s vote to maintain weekend Commuter Rail service on lines with higher ridership, eliminate fewer bus routes than previously proposed and continue bus service after midnight. The newly proposed cuts will go into effect sooner than originally proposed.
Last month, the agency proposed stopping commuter rail service after 9 p.m. on weekdays and getting rid of it completely on weekends. Ferry service and 25 bus routes would be eliminated. The T’s subway lines would run less frequently and subway and bus service would stop at midnight.
The T said it received feedback that maintaining access to weekend commuter rail service is critical for essential workers. It will now keep some weekend service on popular routes including the Providence, Worcester, Middleboro, Newbury/Rockport and Fairmount lines. The board did act to keep some commuter rail service going after 9 p.m., the State House News Service reported.
The new plan calls for a 20% reduction in service to Green, Orange and Red Lines, but only a 5% reduction in Blue Line service during lower ridership times.
Bus service will still see reduced frequency, but only 20 routes will be suspended. The T would also continue to offer some Hingham/Hull weekday ferry service.
The board is trying to save about $130 million due to revenue lost in the coronavirus pandemic.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and several community leaders have spoken out against the original proposal, with Walsh saying it could have “long term, severe impacts” to the city, state and region.
Congressman Stephen Lynch said earlier Monday the board should take another look before voting.
“We have time, the will of Congress is there to get transit funding to the MBTA,” Lynch said at a rally against the cuts outside the State Transportation Building in Boston.
Earlier this month, a poll found that nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts residents are against the cuts.