T's commuter rail plans target peak service schedules

The MBTA will reshape its commuter rail schedule this spring, sanding down the morning and evening peaks and reallocating trains to run on more even intervals over the course of the day, officials said on Monday.

While announcing that the next round of service cuts affecting the T’s bus and subway lines will take effect March 14, MBTA higher-ups unveiled plans to “smooth out” service on the 12 commuter rail lines in an attempt to support new travel patterns in the era of Covid-19.

The commuter rail plan that takes effect April 5 will deploy fewer trains during the traditional rush hours and add frequency at other times, which officials described as a step toward a “regional rail” model that many riders and advocates have sought.

Most lines will run a train inbound or outbound roughly once per hour over the course of the day under the new system, according to MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville. Final schedules will be published in March.

Officials believe moving from a peak-heavy approach to one with more even amounts of service will both cut costs and better fit rider demand as travel patterns evolve in response to the pandemic.