T notes: Riders embracing early morning buses

New commuter rail platform in Worcester; big disruptions coming on D Line

MBTA OFFICIALS SAY the addition of early morning buses on 10 routes has increased ridership by more than 900 riders and reduced crowding.

One example is the Route 455 bus from Lynn to Wonderland. Its first trip used to leave Lynn at 5 a.m. carrying an average of 51 passengers, with 12 of them standing. After a 4:45 a.m. trip was added this spring, the number of passengers on that bus averaged 34 with five empty seats while the 5 a.m. bus carried 45 passengers with six standing. Overall, the T gained 28 new riders.

Gains were reported for early morning ridership on all 10 routes where additional service was added as part of a bus pilot project that started on April 1, 2018. Ten new trips were added on weekdays, two on Saturdays, and five on Sundays. Five short trips were extended in a couple instances on weekdays, a couple instances on Saturdays, and one on Sunday.

Weekday ridership increased by 153, while gains of 47 and 98 were reported for Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

New passenger numbers were not available yet for a late-night bus pilot that launched September 2.

New platform gets green light at Worcester’s Union Station

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday approved a $4 million contract for the design and engineering of a new commuter rail passenger platform at Union Station in Worcester that will allow two trains to enter the station at the same time.

The current station has a platform that allows access to only one train. By building a new platform between two of the existing tracks, two trains can enter the station at the same time and passengers can board one or both.

HDR Engineering Inc. of Omaha won the contract, which is expected to last 27 months. The construction work will be awarded separately and is expected to take 24 months.

Major Green Line disruptions coming on D branch

Service on parts of the Green Line’s D branch will be suspended after 9 p.m. starting Monday as 25,000 feet of track and 6.5 miles of signal infrastructure are replaced.

The location of the service suspensions will vary over the two-year construction period. Most will occur on Sunday through Thursday but there will also be occasional weekend shutdowns extending from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m Monday.

New hybrid buses on order

The MBTA control board on Monday agreed to purchase 194 new hybrid buses from New Flyer Industries for $150 million, with delivery set to begin in June 2019 and be completed by September 2020.

The new buses will replace older diesel-only vehicles; the buses are expected to operate using electricity roughly 35 percent of the time, which will reduce vehicle emissions and diesel fuel use.

T officials said the procurement, once completed, will reduce the average age of the bus fleet from 7.3 years to 6.8 years.

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