Kelois: Weekend passes contributing to revenue growth

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BOSTON (SHNS) – The commuter rail’s $10 unlimited weekend pass has quickly become a popular option for travelers with more than half a million sold since it was introduced in May 2018, though it remains unclear how much the ticket type has affected overall ridership, officials said.

Keolis, which is under contract to operate the MBTA commuter rail network for the next three years, announced Tuesday that customers purchased 584,000 weekend tickets over the past 16 months.

The company did not provide exact numbers linking the new option to financial growth, but said in its press release that commuter rail revenue has increased 25 percent over the last four years.

Keolis also said it would be difficult to quantify overall weekend ridership before and after the new pass was piloted and then made permanent, but that the $10 unlimited ticket contributed to some growth.

“We’re thrilled that so many riders are choosing the convenience of Commuter Rail for their weekend activities,” said Keolis CEO and General Manager David Scorey in a press release. “The $10 fare enables travelers to maximize their weekends with a more environmentally-friendly transit option. There is a lot that passengers can see and do without having to fill up the gas tank, worry about traffic and pay for parking, and we have new tools that help people explore restaurants, local festivals and so much more.”

Keolis also touted the weekend passes alone as a boon for environmental efforts. If each of the trips was instead taken by car, the company said in its press release, the carbon emissions would have been equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 1,000 homes.

The MBTA first launched the weekend pass as a pilot program in May 2018. In March of this year, the T’s oversight board voted to continue offering the deal as a permanent program while also raising overall fares.

While many public transit customers are growing more frustrated with the state of service, the commuter rail had its best stretch of on-time performance in at least five years in the period from December 2018 to May 2019, officials said earlier this year. However, those figures did not include subsequent delays caused by a June 11 Red Line derailment.

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