COVID-19 Impacts on Logan, MBTA, and Boston travel and tourism

bigeman312

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The MBTA "Rapid Transit" (fare gated stations including those on the Silver Line) eeked out a new COVID-era high in ridership on Friday, June 25. It was the highest MBTA "Rapid Transit" ridership day since March 2020:

MBTA_RT_Ridership_6_21_Week.png


On Thursday, June 24, the Red Line recorded its highest ridership day since 3/13/20:

Red_Ridership_6_21_Week.png


At 69,200 riders on Thursday 6/24/21, the Red Line recorded:
  • 55% of its Thursday, March 12, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/12 was in the middle of a precipitous decline in ridership and was the last time a Red Line's Thursday ridership was higher than 6/24/21.
  • 36% of its Thursday, March 5, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/5 was at the last "normal" Thursday before the precipitous ridership decline.
On the following day (Friday, 6/25/21), the Orange Line and Green Line (gated station validations) each recorded their highest ridership day since 3/13/20:

Orange_Ridership_6_21_Week.png


At 57,489 riders on Friday 6/25/21, the Orange Line recorded:
  • 68% of its Friday, March 13, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/13 was in the middle of a precipitous decline in ridership and was the last time MBTA ridership was higher than 6/25/21.
  • 40% of its Friday, March 6, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/6 was at the end of the last "normal" week before the precipitous ridership decline.
  • 38% of its Friday, February 28, 2020 ridership.
    • 2/28 was the highest system-wide ridership Friday of 2020.
Green_Ridership_6_21_Week.png

At 31,970 riders on Friday 6/25/21, the Green Line (gated station validations) recorded its first 30,000 ridership day since March '20 and:
  • 87% of its Friday, March 13, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/13 was in the middle of a precipitous decline in ridership and was the last time MBTA ridership was higher than 6/25/21.
  • 45% of its Friday, March 6, 2020 ridership.
    • 3/6 was at the end of the last "normal" week before the precipitous ridership decline.
  • 41% of its Friday, February 28, 2020 ridership.
    • 2/28 was the highest system-wide ridership Friday of 2020.
3/13/20 is in a way a benchmark. It was at the end of a week that saw a precipitous decline in ridership, as COVID precautions took hold. It's the latest day from March 2020 that the MBTA has not yet matched in system-wide ridership.

As ridership keeps ticking up, more stops are starting to surpass their 3/13/20 ridership. These are stations that recorded higher ridership than 3/13/20 on any day from 6/19/21 through 6/25/21 (all dates in 2021):
  • Aquarium on 6/23, 6/24, and 6/25
  • Kenmore on 6/25
    • Red Sox - Yankees game & bussing
    • Highest single-day Kenmore ridership since 3/6/20
  • World Trade Center on 6/21, 6/22, and 6/23
    • 6/23 was the highest single-day World Trade Center ridership since 3/12/20
 

jklo

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Definitely unimpressed by the % change versus Summer last year. Are companies waiting for the FDA to give full approval or something?
 

bigeman312

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I think we’re going to continue to see a slow uptick for months while some people who are fully remote start attending occasional meetings in person, some people are are attending occasional meetings in person start a more hybrid schedule, some people on a hybrid schedule start going in more often, and some people are are driving in traffic now start incorporating in mass transit (again).

It doesn’t help that the MBTA still has a mask mandate. I’ve heard more than one person say that they’ll ride the T once wearing a mask on it is no longer a thing. I thought that was mostly a silly reason, until yesterday afternoon when I was sitting on a 100F, turned-off Orange Line train at Forest Hills waiting for it to depart while wearing an N95. That was pretty brutal.
 

jass

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Definitely unimpressed by the % change versus Summer last year. Are companies waiting for the FDA to give full approval or something?
Im not in Boston, but my work is recommending people come in 2x a week starting July and 4x a week starting August. Not required and employees were directed to speak with their direct supervisor for additional guidance. The guy in charge of my unit has a 90 minute commute so hes more than happy to stay home forever. Previously, he would come in 3x a week, but that flexibility was not granted to all. My understanding is he will advise us to do what we want until September at which point the 4x requirement will probably apply to all.
 

jklo

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Im not in Boston, but my work is recommending people come in 2x a week starting July and 4x a week starting August. Not required and employees were directed to speak with their direct supervisor for additional guidance. The guy in charge of my unit has a 90 minute commute so hes more than happy to stay home forever. Previously, he would come in 3x a week, but that flexibility was not granted to all. My understanding is he will advise us to do what we want until September at which point the 4x requirement will probably apply to all.
Just across the country I am getting the impression that there's a lot of people who still think they will be able to WFH indefinitely. I don't know where these people who moved to some random city in the US are gonna work. Let alone people here to moved to like Worcester or the Cape.
 

393b40

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Combination of WFH and I think more people driving in. We may not see peak MBTA usage return for a very long time.
 

bigeman312

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New data dump. Ridership was down a bit on the week of 6/26-7/2 compared to the prior week. I assume a lot of people have been taking vacations. These are stations that recorded higher ridership than 3/13/20 (the latest day from March 2020 that the MBTA has not yet matched in system-wide ridership) on any day from 6/26/21 through 7/2/21 (all dates in 2021):
  • Aquarium on 6/26 (Sa)
    • Aquarium continues to be one of the highest ridership stations relative to pre-pandemic, with especially high Friday & Saturday ridership.
  • Copley on 6/26 (Sa)
    • Red Sox - Yankees game, Saturday, highs in the mid-80s.
    • Highest ridership day since Thursday, 3/12/20.
  • Kenmore on 6/26-7/1 (Sa-Th)
    • Red Sox games & shuttle bussing.
  • Sullivan on 6/26-7/1 (Sa-Th)
    • Shuttle bussing.
    • Highest single-day ridership since 2/5/20.
  • World Trade Center on 6/28-7/2 (M-F)
Here's a graph of Sullivan daily ridership from 1/1/20 through 7/2/21, with occurrences of shuttle bussing very clearly visible:

Sullivan_Ridership_through_7_2_21.png


Sullivan likely felt like pre-COVID rush hour on the week of 6/28.

More recent bus data is available as bus ridership data for the week of 7/5/21 was released today. Bus ridership was also below its June local maximum. One of the routes that did not see a decline around July 4th was the #1 bus:

1_Bus_Ridership_7_5_Week.png


At 7,353 riders per weekday on the week of 7/5/21, the 1 bus recorded its highest ridership week since the week of 3/9/20. The #1 bus ridership was 52% of the index week (week of 2/24/20) and 82% of Christmas week '19. The 1 was the 2nd highest ridership route in the system for the second week in a row.
 

bigeman312

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Quick second data dump. Bus ridership data from the week of 7/12/21 (last week) was just released. The July 4th vacation ridership dip was just that. At 211,862 riders per weekday, the week of 7/12/21 saw the highest system-wide bus ridership since the week of 3/9/20.

MBTA_Bus_Ridership_7_12_Week.png


System-wide bus ridership was 52% of the index week (week of 2/24/20), 72% of New Years' week '19/'20, 79% of Christmas Week '19, 82% of Thanksgiving week '19.

The 1 bus was yet again the second-highest ridership route in the system (to the 66), and yet again set a COVID-era high in weekly ridership:

1_Bus_Ridership_7_12_Week.png


At 7,330 riders per weekday, the 1 bus increased week-over-week by just 0.4%.

Most of the bus ridership growth in recent weeks has come from the types of riders that were not riding during COVID. Rides to/from Logan Airport and the whiter/wealthier areas (Allston, Back Bay, Brighton, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Downtown, Fenway, Longwood, Newton, North End, Seaport, Somerville, South Boston, South End, Watertown, West End). In particular, the ten highest ridership routes that surpassed their COVID-era highs by more than 1% on the week of 7/12/21 were the:
  • SL3
  • 57
  • SL1
  • 86
  • 47
  • SL2
  • 89
  • 93
  • 10
  • 7
It appears that the recent increase in bus ridership is driven by those who had the ability to decrease or avoid MBTA trips over the last 17 months, while routes serving a lower-income ridership with fewer options (28, 23, SL5, etc) have mostly been plateauing recently.
 

stellarfun

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I think we’re going to continue to see a slow uptick for months while some people who are fully remote start attending occasional meetings in person, some people are are attending occasional meetings in person start a more hybrid schedule, some people on a hybrid schedule start going in more often, and some people are are driving in traffic now start incorporating in mass transit (again).

It doesn’t help that the MBTA still has a mask mandate. I’ve heard more than one person say that they’ll ride the T once wearing a mask on it is no longer a thing. I thought that was mostly a silly reason, until yesterday afternoon when I was sitting on a 100F, turned-off Orange Line train at Forest Hills waiting for it to depart while wearing an N95. That was pretty brutal.
The mask requirement is Federal. It is applicable nationally.
See:
https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/Mask-Order-CDC_GMTF_01-29-21-p.pdf
https://www.transit.dot.gov/TransitMaskUp
 

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