The Boston Commuter Bus, mothballed since the start of COVID-19, returned to service yesterday.
The Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority restored service after customers said they would be returning to in-person work after Labor Day, at least a few days per week. The bus became popular with passengers after it began operating in 2002. Spokesperson Niorka Mendez said the relaunch of MVRTA’s Commuter Bus “will once again make sure a ride to and from Boston is stress free.”
“We all know that it is not safe or easy to multitask while driving, particularly on the congested highways leading into the city. So, leave the hassle to our professional drivers—We have your back, whether you are visiting a friend, going to a doctor’s appointment, work, school, a museum or just to enjoy a well-deserved day off,” Mendez said.
Transit officials said one outbound trip takes place in the morning and one inbound in the afternoon, connecting Methuen, Lawrence, Andover and North Andover with downtown Boston. The first coach pulled into the Methuen Park and Ride on Pelham Street at 6:15, Tuesday morning.
MVRTA anticipates returning to the more robust four inbound trips with six returns, over two different routings, once Boston businesses more fully reopen. This fall will also see the opening of the state and federally funded Bus-on-Shoulder project, which turns the Interstate-93 shoulder lanes into dedicated bus-only lanes, open only to buses and emergency vehicles. A 2014 study by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission estimated the Bus-on-Shoulder initiative on I-93 southbound would save 8-15 minutes on inbound bus trips to Boston during the morning rush.
Besides convenience, Mendez said, the bus service is economical at $5 for a one-way fare, saving riders money on gas and Boston parking rates. Riders may also elect to use pre-tax commuter benefits to save even more money. Parking is free for Commuter Bus riders at the McGovern Transportation Center, Lawrence, as well as Methuen Park and Ride and Faith Lutheran Church in Andover.