MBTA to Reduce Haverhill Line Weekday Commuter Rail Service and End Weekend Trips

(Photograph courtesy of MBTA.)

There will be reduced MBTA commuter rail weekday service and no weekend trips on the Haverhill line beginning later this month.

Despite objections by Haverhill city councilors, the MBTA made good on its plans to cut service on Jan. 23 to, as the agency said, stem losses and “match service to new ridership patterns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua was among those in November who complained cuts will hit Gateway cities such as Haverhill particularly hard.

“Many of our lower income and moderate income people need the MBTA services to go back and forth to the Greater Boston area for their jobs. To have reduced MBTA service out of Haverhill to the Boston area will not only slow the economic recovery but it will also slow the ability of our Haverhill area residents to continue with their employment,” Bevilacqua said.

MBTA officials repeated last week that “Ridership has remained low during the pandemic with approximately 8% of regular weekday ridership during the morning rush hour period in the fall of 2020 compared to fall 2019.”

Besides Haverhill, weekend service was cut on the Fitchburg, Franklin, Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, Lowell and Needham Lines. There will be additional trains on the Newburyport/Rockport line.

Commuter rail operator Keolis cut service by more than half in December as a short-term step to cope with significant staff shortages amid a COVID-19 outbreak. That reduction remains in place through Jan. 22, officials said, and will be replaced by the new schedule a day later.

Other approved service cuts the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will not take effect until later in 2021.

Haverhill councilors sent a letter to the city’s state legislative delegation with Councilor William J. Macek calling the MBTA “an essential service” for many residents.

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