Passenger rail service from Boston to Cape Cod will run for the first time in more than two decades starting in the summer of 2013, a spokesman for the MBTA said Tuesday.
"Working closely together, MassDOT, the MBTA, and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, with the support of Governor [Deval] Patrick, are excited about the opportunity to restore passenger rail service to the Cape next summer," T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail. "A convenient alternative to highway travel, passenger rail service delivers economic and environmental benefits to the area."
He said the service would be run on weekends by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, which would set fares "at a rate consistent with the market value."
Pesaturo said that the three agencies plan to finalize and announce more details over the winter, including specific schedules and fares.
"The governor is glad we will be able to restore train service to the Cape," said a statement from Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Patrick. "It will be a boost to the tourism economy of the region and make life easier for year-round residents. This is only happening because of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s work on this effort and because of the collaboration between the MBTA , MassDOT and the Cape Cod Regional Transportation Authority."
The announcement that the Boston-to-Cape service would resume in 2013 was first reported by The Barnstable Patriot.
In the 1980s, the Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad offered service between the Red Line's Braintree Station and Falmouth and Hyannis, the Globe reported in 2004. Despite slow train speeds north of Middleborough and no direct service out of South Station at the time, the railroad carried 53,000 passengers between the Cape and Boston during its last season of operation in 1988.
Currently, the only mass-transit options between Boston and Cape Cod are buses.
The Globe reported in May that the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority had floated the idea of launching Boston-to-Cape service in 2011 and then hoped to implement it last summer. But, the authority ultimately decided to push the plan back one year.
That plan called for extending weekend service on the MBTA’s Middleboro commuter rail line to Hyannis, with up to two trains that would leave South Station in Boston on Friday evenings for Hyannis, the Globe reported. A round-trip train would run on Saturdays, and up to two trains would travel to Boston on Sundays.
The regional transit authority has said the additional service would be cost-neutral and could actually ease the T's debt by increasing ridership.