The $10 Weekend Commuter Rail Passes Are Coming Back

They'll be available again starting Saturday.

Photo by C Hanchey on Flickr/Creative Commons

If you’re one of the thousands of people who made use of those $10 unlimited commuter rail weekend passes last year—which let you ride as much as you want to wherever you want for one flat fee—then here’s some good news: They’re coming back.

The MBTA will once again offer the discounted passes beginning on Saturday, January 5, following a short hiatus after a six-month pilot.

We have the feds to thank for this development. Federal Transit Administration officials have agreed to let the state keep trying out the reduced fares for another six months.

Unlimited weekend passes gave plenty of potential passengers a hard bargain to pass up, as tickets on weekdays can cost  $10 or more each way. The pilot launched in June as a way to boost ridership on off-days, and there were early signs of success. More than 180,000 of the passes were sold, and revenue went up 4.6 percent over the same period in the previous year.

There had been some confusion about an FTA policy, though, that requires transit agencies to conduct an analysis proving fare changes that last longer than six months are fair for low-income communities. So it ended abruptly in mid-December. But now the FTA says it’s fine to keep the reduced fares going, so they’re back.

“Resuming this pilot allows our customers to continue taking advantage of Commuter Rail as a travel option on weekends, while we study the potential for making this program permanent,” the MBTA’s new General Manager Steve Poftak says in a statement. “I want to thank our partners at the FTA for working with us to resume this pilot and also acknowledge the enthusiastic response we received from our customers to this initiative.”

So if you’ve got a trip down to Providence on your mind this weekend (which would usually set you back $23 round-trip), you can save yourself a cool $13 to spend at Oberlin. Not bad at all.