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When it's okay to not pay, and downtown delays

Posted by Nichole Davis  August 5, 2012 10:39 PM

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Happy Monday, again! Hope your weekend was wonderful. Quick post for you today from in front of the AC -- I've got an answer about a Silver Line question, and your downtown Boston-area closures on the Pike, Storrow Drive, and the Expressway.

Coming up on Wednesday I'll have an answer about a Fenway Park commuter rail quandry, and we'll talk about what's making headlines this week when it comes to getting around.

Let's head over to the mailbag...

"When I flew into Logan Airport on the way home from a recent business trip, I took the Silver Line to South Station instead of waiting for the usual shuttle bus. I hadn't done it before and I liked the service. It's no cab, but it was relatively direct and straightforward. I don't use the T much, as I live outside the city, but it got me to where I needed to go for my commuter rail train. I also was surprised to hear that the Silver Line was running for free. I'd thought it would cost just as much as a regular trip on the T, because it's part of the T system.

I'm heading out of town again in a couple weeks. The driver last time couldn't tell me when they would start charging again on the Silver Line, if at all. Do you know? And why are they making it a free service, anyway? Isn't this costing the T some pretty big money when they already have a huge debt to deal with?"
Maria, Norwood

Good news for your upcoming trip, Maria. It looks like MassPort and the MBTA have decided to extend the free rides on the Silver Line for Logan Airport passengers to and from South Station until the beginning of September.

Why did they start doing this in the first place? Good question. Massport's been running a pilot program since the early part of June to try and figure out how to whittle down the hefty delays the Silver Line was dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

Apparently it's been working
, according to a release from 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.

Some other interesting info... according to Massport, an unofficial survey also found that most people riding the Silver Line were those coming in from out-of-town -- not Boston-area residents. Many of them were not there on business, either, but rather on vacation trips or other leisure-based pursuits. They also told Massport that if the Silver Line service weren't free, they'd have skipped the whole thing altogether and just hailed a cab.
(Intriguing, considering you still save a considerable amount by taking the airport shuttles to the Blue Line, or just paying up the fare on the Silver Line to get to South Station instead of forking over something like 20-30 bucks to get to Boston-metro destinations. But hey, that's just me.)

So, essentially, the program is to try to figure out if the free service is drawing more ridership than the normal Silver Line service does ... and, if so, why that is and how they can try to budget and see where they want to move with the service. They're also trying to find more effective ways to be environmentally friendly and promote HOV-esque services, and this is a big one that they want to get right. Enjoy the free rides while they last - and if that end date changes, I'll let you know.

You'll find slowdowns here ... (Greater Boston version)

Mass Pike Eastbound
The HOV tunnel will close on Monday and Tuesday from 10 PM to 5 AM.

The road will be completely closed at exit 22 (Prudential Center/Copley Square) on Monday from 11 PM to 5 AM. All traffic diverted at exit 22.

The ramp from the South Boston Bypass Road will be closed on Tuesday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from the Expressway NB to the Pike EB/Airport and the ramp from Northbound Frontage Road to the Pike EB/Airport will close on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Westbound

The Arlington St. on ramp will close on Monday from 9 PM to 5 AM.

The Copley on ramp will close on Monday from 9 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Congress St. and the Ted Williams Tunnel to I-93 will close on Monday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The on-ramps from I-93 Southbound will close on Monday from 11 PM to 5 AM. Access to Albany Street to remain open.

The off-ramp from the Ted Williams Tunnel to I-93 will close on Thursday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

Expressway and O'Neill Tunnel (Downtown)

The off-ramp from I-93 Northbound to exit 23 (Government Center) will close on Wednesday from 10 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Purchase Street / Congress Street to I-93 Southbound will close from Thursday through Saturday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Albany St. to I-93 Southbound will close on Friday and Saturday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from the Surface Artery Southbound to I-93 Southbound and the Surface Artery Southbound at New Chardon St. to the Callahan Tunnel will close on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from I-93 to the Burgin Parkway will close Monday through Thursday from 9 PM to 5 AM.

Watch for a closure of the Dewey Square Tunnel section of 93 Southbound on Monday and Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM. All traffic will be diverted at exit 20 A/B.

The ramp from Essex Street to I-93 Southbound will close on Monday and Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Storrow Drive Tunnels...

... will be closed in both directions Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 PM to 5 AM.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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