By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Those who ride the MBTA commuter rails along the Rockport/Newburyport line to and from Cape Ann can now have greater flexibility when they reach their destinations.
They can bring their bicycles on the train with them.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, under a new pilot program serving North Shore commuters, is now allowing bikes on the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line during peak commute periods between certain stations, and will continue to do so through Oct. 25.
The North Shore Transportation Management Association has been working with the MBTA for the last several months to develop a pilot program to allow bikes onto MBTA commuter rail trains between outer core stations on the Newburyport/Rockport line during the morning and evening peak commute periods.
“Making multi-modal commuting easier for our customers is one of our priorities under MassDOT’s GreenDOT initiative,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott. “This pilot program for bike accessibility for our North Shore commuter rail customers falls perfectly in line with our goal of creating sustainable, accessible and environmentally-friendly commuting options for our riders.”
The pilot expands the times in which bikes will be allowed on trains between the stations for Rockport, Gloucester, West Gloucester, Manchester, Beverly Farms, Prides Crossing, and Montserrat stations, and they will include trains leaving Gloucester in the morning at 5:05 a.m., 6:05 a.m., 6:44 a.m., and 7:25 a.m. Bike will also be allowed on trains leaving Montserrat 4:41 p.m., 5:33 p.m, 6:06 p.m., and 6:55 p.m.
Bike commuters should board the train at mini high platforms, enter one of the last two coaches (nearest the engine) and place their bike in the designated area indicated by the conductor, according to an MBTA announcement.
Axcelis Environmental Health and Safety manager Steve Roberge, who is also a member of the North Shore TMA board of directors, lauded the willingness of the MBTA to advance the pilot project.
“As a bike/train commuter from Cambridge to Beverly, the current policy allows me to take advantage of the commuter rail for the majority of my commute from Cambridge to Axcelis, then bike the approximately 3 miles from the Beverly Depot to Axcelis,” he said. “The new pilot program will allow our employees from the North Shore to take similar advantage of this bike/train commute ..., allowing them to reduce their car use, lighten their carbon footprint, and improve their fitness level by including biking for part of their commute.”