T notes: Fairmount Line getting 8 more daily trips

Change orders drive up cost of Red, Orange line cars 8 percent

THE MBTA PLANS to launch new service along the Fairmount commuter rail line in May, testing whether four additional trips in each direction will boost ridership and how fare validators on the platforms will perform.

The Fairmount Line, the commuter rail line with the least ridership, runs from Readville to South Station with seven stops in-between; passengers at each station except for the final outbound station at Readville pay the Zone 1A fare of $2.40, which is the same as the subway fare.

The pilot, which is expected to launch May 18, will allow passengers to tap CharlieCards on the fare validators and receive a paper validation to present to the conductor on board showing that the $2.40 fare was paid. The validation will also provide a free bus transfer. Currently, commuter rail riders have to pay using special cards or apps and cannot use CharlieCards.

Passengers transferring to the Fairmount Line from a bus will be charged 70 cents (the difference between the $1.70 bus fare and the Zone 1A $2.40 fare) and receive a validation that they paid their commuter rail fare, which can be checked by the conductor on board.

The pilot is expected to cost $1.2 million, including $100,000 for marketing. The T is hoping the eight additional trips will attract a total of 400 new Fairmount riders, of which 185 will be net new trips, meaning the passengers are not merely substituting an MBTA bus trip for a commuter rail trip. Assuming the pilot attains the targeted level of ridership, it’s expected to match the existing $27 per passenger subsidy for off-peak commuter rail service.

The Fairmount Line currently has about 2,600 daily boardings, so a 400-passenger increase would increase the total by about 15 percent. The line serves Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.

The four new inbound trains will depart from Readville at 5:10 and 9:25 a.m. and 3:05 and 3:53 p.m. MBTA officials, who worked with the city of Boston on the timing of the additional trips, said the 5:10 a.m. train is designed to get workers to the Newmarket area of Boston for very early shifts with employers there.

The four new outbound trains from South Station will depart at 7:35 and 9:15 a.m. and 6:50 and 12 a.m. The midnight train is one of the last trains to depart South Station in the entire commuter rail system. Many communities have been asking for late-night service for people who attend events in Boston and need a way of getting home late at night.

MBTA officials briefed reporters on the Fairmount pilot prior to Monday’s meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, which was expected to approve the initiative.

$49m change order on Red, Orange Line cars     

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday approved a nearly $49 million change order to the $821 million contract with the Chinese company CRRC for 404 new Red Line and Orange Line train cars.

The change orders will increase the overall price of the train cars by about 8 percent. The biggest change was for a nearly $31 million upgrade to the LCD monitors in the cars, making each individual monitor larger and doubling the number from three to six on Orange Line cars and four to eight on Red Line cars.

The remaining change orders dealt with a series of smaller issues, including $6.8 million for additional overhead handrails in the new Red Line cars.

State officials stressed that the change orders are unrelated to defects in some of the initial cars off the production line. The officials said the defects are being corrected at the expense of CRRC, while the change orders reflect improvements sought by the T.

Curtatone frustrated, but T says Green Line extension on track

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone raised concerns on Monday about delays in completing bridge work along the path of the Green Line extension through his community, but project manager John Dalton insisted the overall project is on schedule to open in December 2021 and on budget.

Curtatone told the Fiscal and Management Control Board that some bridge work is taking longer than expected, in one instance six months longer. He said the delays are making it difficult for the city to manage traffic. “There is some frustration on my part right now,” he said.

Dalton acknowledged some of the bridge work is taking longer than expected, but he said it is being sequenced to keep disruption to a minimum.

T officials also said the Lechmere and Science Park stops on the Green Line will shut down for a year starting in May while a new Lechmere station is constructed and the elevated structure near the Science Park station is repaired. During the construction period, the roughly 6,000 passengers traveling between North Station and Lechmere will have to make the trip by bus.

Some passengers had urged T officials to carve out special bus lanes during the construction period, but there was no mention of bus-only lanes on Monday.

T signs new contract for 26 ATM locations

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

JP Morgan Chase Bank won access to 26 new ATM locations on the MBTA system by bidding $627,190 a year, a sum that will rise 3 percent a year for the life of the five-year, $3.3 million contract.

JP Morgan Chase beat out Citizens Bank, which bid on only a portion of the new ATM locations. T officials said the rental fee for the ATM locations represented a 63 percent increase over previous ATM leases. The new ATMs – 10 of them along the Red Line – are expected to open this summer.