BROCKTON – Transit service has been on the decline nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people working from home or choosing not to use public transit.
Ahead of the pandemic, Brockton saw 2,100 passengers take the Brockton Area Transit No. 12 bus daily from the downtown station to Ashmont, according to a study by Transit Matters, a Boston-based transit advocacy group. That number has been almost halved since the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
Now, in order to increase traffic and businesses in Brockton, BAT is offering a tempting offer to residents for the remainder of the summer.
Since June 19, BAT has offered free weekend bus service as part of the Open For Business Initiative, a regulatory reform effort to make doing business easier in Brockton.
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Mayor Robert Sullivan is behind the idea because he was the one who introduced it to BAT as part of his business initiative.
âAs we recover from COVID and rebuild our local economy, access to quality public transit is essential,â Sullivan said. “This free public bus program is part of a larger initiative to streamline services for our residents, help businesses rebuild and open Brockton for business. I urge people in the area to take advantage of this free service and to buy local. “
The free service started as a smooth launch last weekend. BAT Administrative Michael Lambert said he hopes to see a significant increase in ridership over the coming weekends with the summer festivities in Brockton.
âWe saw this as a way for transit systems to help small businesses and the Brockton area workforce get back on their feet,â Lambert said. âWe also see this as a way to thank our runners who have continued to use our services throughout the pandemic. “
The service will be free for BAT riders every weekend this summer, with the free service ending on Sunday, September 5th. The goal is to increase ridership on weekends and allow the workforce to transition from remote work to in-person work, Lambert said.
The free service includes the 11 Brockton-based routes, the intercity routes to Ashmont, Stoughton and Rockland, as well as the Dial-A-Bat service.
The cost of offering a free service for the remainder of the summer is expected to be around $ 26,500, which will be covered by a portion of the $ 8.9 million funding that BAT has received from the American Rescue Plan Act, promulgated by President Joe Biden in March to help local institutions.
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The higher ridership forecast over the weekend will also lead to increased federal formula funding in the years to come, Lamber said.
National public transportation studies show bus ridership decreased by 50%, but bus ridership remained one of the most popular forms of transit compared to metro and commuter train Lambert said.
BAT administrator credits new technology installed on BAT buses, called Passio GO !, during the pandemic, which allows passengers to see how far apart the buses are but also the passenger load of each bus, giving passengers a idea of ââhow a number of passengers are packed. the bus is.
Weekends tend to be less crowded and it is hoped that the service offering will make it easier to travel to local businesses on weekends.
Enterprise staff writer Darvence Chery can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.