T radio ads ask riders to return

Agency launches $40,000, one-month campaign

THE MBTA is running a modest $40,000 radio advertising campaign in an effort to put passengers back in the seats at a time when ridership remains a fraction of what it was pre-pandemic and road congestion is rising.

Entitled “We’re Ready,” the campaign extols the virtues of riding the T from a convenience, safety, and environmental perspective. The campaign launched this week and continues for a month.  The ads are currently running on WBZ (AM traffic reports), Kiss 108, and Rumba 97.7 (Spanish-speaking).

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the campaign is the outgrowth of a report issued by the business group A Better City that called on the T to “actively court ridership through a robust public outreach campaign that highlights convenience and safety, and to ensure adequate service levels to accommodate commuters as they return.”

A Better City’s report also urged the T to develop tailored fare products catering to riders who are working at least a portion of the time from home and no longer commuting at peak times five days a week. The T so far hasn’t changed its fare approach, although it has shifted schedules on the commuter rail system to provide service spread more evenly throughout the day.

Ridership on the T is slowly increasing but still lagging behind pre-COVID levels. As of early June, subway ridership was at 35 percent of pre-pandemic levels, bus ranged between 29 percent and 87 percent on the 20 top routes, and commuter rail at 21 percent.

Service levels are in many cases back to or near pre-pandemic levels with the help of federal aid.