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Free Silver Line service to stretch until September

The free rides shave nearly two minutes off of a ten minute route, according to Massport, but more ridership data is needed.

The Massachusetts Port Authority announced today that it will extend free Silver Line service until September.

The free ride runs from Boston Logan International Airport to South Station and the MBTA’s Red Line rapid transit system, and started as a pilot program on June 6 and was scheduled to end on Sept. 3

Massport officials hoped that by offering the free service, the city would see less terminal traffic. It was also meant to promote carpooling and increase awareness of alternative public transit options to and from Logan.

“Moving passengers quickly and efficiently to their destinations is one of our top priorities at MassDOT,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “This program is a great example of the kind of collaboration that transportation reform has made possible, and I am glad to see that it is already producing positive results.”

The hope is to get more data over a longer period of time to figure out if the free program is propelling ridership growth faster than the Silver Line's normal year-over-year growth. Massport officials also said more data collection is needed to determine if there are significant shifts in ridership and if existing service would need to be augmented.

Massport is seeing quicker trips and buses spending less time stopped at the curb because all three doors can be used by passengers, rather than having them queue to pay when boarding, according to David S. Mackey, Interim CEO & Executive Director of Massport.

Observers compared Silver Line service during four days in May with four days in June after the free service started and found that the buses were spending, on average, about 20 seconds less at each stop on airport. The biggest impact was between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. when the average time to complete the five terminal airport circuit of arriving at Terminal A and departing Terminal E decreased 116 seconds. Overall, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. the on-airport circuit decreased on average by 79 seconds.

 
 
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