On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced that it will begin a procurement process in 2012 for a new contract to operate commuter rail services and, in the interim, has exercised the final option on the contract with the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR) to operate the system until July 1, 2013.
The MBTA also announced a series of immediate customer-focused improvements targeted at enhancing the riding experience for the tens of thousands of commuter rail users who depend on the trains every day.
The customer improvements begin on Thursday when a new real-time passenger information system is launched on the Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and Middleboro/Lakeville Lines.
For the first time, customers on the train platforms will be provided with "real-time" arrival information. Displayed in a countdown format on easy-to-read electronic message boards, the information will provide minute-accurate train arrival times to customers waiting for their trains.
Additionally, MassDOT and the MBTA announced that by the end of the summer the commuter rail system’s Wi-Fi service will be expanded to every train on every line, making the MBTA the only commuter rail operator in the country to offer Wi-Fi service on every passenger coach of every train. The installation work begins this spring, and before the end of the summer, all 410 coaches in the commuter rail fleet will offer Wi-Fi service.
In conjunction with the "next train" countdown, the MBTA is preparing to launch a communications system that will allow commuter rail customers to get the same real-time information on their radios. Before the end of the January, this service will be available at the Anderson Regional Transportation Center. In the following weeks, the radio system will be installed at all commuter rail stations that offer 50 or more parking spaces.