GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 27, 2012

Rail ridership helps lift MBTA numbers

BOSTON — The number of people riding the rails with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority continued to climb in November, up 1.3 percent over the figures for November 2011 and with a 2.4 percent jump in commuter rail ridership.

The latest ‘T’ figures mark the 20th time in the last 22 months that ridership increased year over year, according to MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, and the increases have continued despite predictions that ridership would drop after fare increases went into effect July 1.

According to the MBTA, the ‘T’ averaged more than 1.3 million passenger trips per weekday in November. Analysts predicted passenger trips would decrease by 5.5 percent after the hikes, which averaged 23 percent.

Boston’s Red, Orange and Blue subway lines saw weekly ridership climb by 5.6 percent in November, while commuter rail average weekday ridership increased 2.4 percent throughout the system. No figures were available for specific lines, such as the Newburyport/Rockport line that carries riders to and from Cape Ann’s stations in Rockport, Gloucester, West Gloucester and Manchester.

The commuter rail gains also come some six months after MBTA officials were considering significant cutbacks, including the loss of late-night and weekend service, on commuter rail lines. But the agency backed off the service cuts and opted solely for the fare hikes after getting hit with extensive opposition — especially from Cape Ann, where the Gloucester City Council, the boards of selectmen in Rockport and Manchester, and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce all went on record against any plan to cut rail service here.

The latest MBTA figures show that average weekday ridership on the Green line decreased 1.5 percent and bus rides decreased 1.6 percent.

“The numbers continue to look very good, and we’re confident that we can maintain this trend through the winter,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

“No matter what Mother Nature has in store for us this season, we’re committed to delivering dependable and convenient services on which commuters can rely.”

Full ridership figures for all of 2012 are expected to be available next month, Scott said.

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