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Pilot program lets bikes board rush-hour commuter trains between some Newburyport-Rockport stations

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 23, 2013 03:10 PM

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The MBTA launched a pilot program this month that allows passengers to bring bikes aboard commuter rail trains between certain stations on the Newburyport-Rockport line during morning and afternoon rush hour travel times.

The T’s general policy has been to ban bikes aboard its commuter rail trains during weekday “peak commute periods,” a policy that remains in effect for all other commuter rail lines.

Times when bikes are allowed are designated by a bike symbol on train schedules.

The pilot program on the Newburyport-Rockport lines began on May 13 and is scheduled to run through Friday, October 25.

On the Rockport line, bikes will be allowed to travel on trains between Rockport, Gloucester, West Gloucester, Manchester, Beverly Farms, Prides Crossing, and Montserrat stations on the following inbound peak service trains: 104, 106, 108, and 110; and on the following outbound peak service trains: 127, 129, 131, and 133.

No bikes will be allowed to go beyond Montserrat Station.

On the Newburyport line, bikes will be allowed to travel on trains between Newburyport, Rowley, Ipswich, Hamilton/Wenham, and North Beverly stations on the following inbound peak service trains: 152, 154, 156, 158, and 162; and on the following outbound peak service trains: 177, 181, 183, and 185.

No bikes will be allowed to go beyond North Beverly Station.

Passengers with bikes are required to board at the mini-high platform, entering one of the last two coaches closes to the engine and place their bike in the designated area indicated by the conductor.

Passengers with bikes should get off the train first or as directed by a train crew member, though preference will always be given to wheelchair passengers. If there is not enough room for wheelchair passengers and passengers with bikes, the passengers with bikes will not be permitted to board the train with their bikes.

The North Shore Transportation Management Association asked the MBTA to try the revised bike policy on a trial basis, and the MBTA agreed, said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

When asked if the program might be tested on other commuter rail lines, Pesaturo said: “Right now, the MBTA’s primary focus is to see how the pilot program fares on the Newburyport/Rockport Line.”

The association said in a statement it worked with the T for several months to develop the program.

Steve Roberge, a member of the association’s board of directors who works as a health and safety manager at Axcelis Technologies in Beverly, praised the initiative.

“As a bike/train commuter from Cambridge to Beverly, the current policy allows me to take advantage of the commuter rail for the majority of my commute from Cambridge to Axcelis, then bike the approximately 3 miles from the Beverly Depot to Axcelis,” he said in a statement. “The new pilot program will allow our employees from the North Shore to take similar advantage of this bike/train commute mode allowing them to reduce their car use, lighten their carbon footprint, and improve their fitness level by including biking for part of their commute.”

The T also started a new policy on May 1 requiring cyclists to register either a CharlieCard or a Bike CharlieCard to access any of the T’s Pedal & Park facilities. Registration is free and is designed to further enhance security at the bike parking locations. To register, click here.

For more details about the Newburyport-Rockport pilot bike program, click here.

For more information about the T’s general bike policies, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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