Skip to Content
Streetsblog Massachusetts home
Log In

MBTA Board Updates: Poftak Apologizes for Banning Bikes ‘Rather Abruptly’ on Commuter Rail

2:52 PM EST on December 16, 2021

A bicycle storage car on the Cape Flyer train. Courtesy of the MBTA.

A bicycle storage car on the Cape Flyer train. Courtesy of the MBTA.

During the pandemic, while the T's regional rail trains were running with only 10 to 20 percent of their pre-pandemic passenger volumes, the agency temporarily suspended a policy that prohibited bikes on rush-hour trains in an effort to entice riders back to the service.

On Oct. 11, though, with little advance notice that left some riders in the lurch, that policy ended. As it was before the pandemic, bikes are not allowed on trains traveling toward Boston between 6:30 and 10 am, or on trains that depart Boston between 3:30 and 7 pm.

"We are seeing as ridership has increased the issue is, you have our riders with bikes, but we have riders with disabilities and wheeled mobility devices, and there is limited space, particularly on platforms where the accessible path of boarding is at the first car in the train," explained MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak at Thursday's MBTA board meeting.

Poftak added "I do concede that we brought the policy back rather abruptly and without an appropriate period of notice, so I do apologize for that." He also promised that "we are planning for a future that allows for greater accommodation for bikes, and also stations that accommodate more multi-modal commuting."

In an accompanying presentation slide noted that peer transit systems have "vehicle fleets and stations designed to accommodate riders with bikes," including dedicated bike cars and universal high-level boarding platforms, which allow riders to bring wheeled mobility devices, carts, or bikes directly onto the train without negotiating stairs or lifts.

Poftak also said "we're looking at the possibility of some pilot programs where we could allow bikes on parts of the system," but for now, the rush-hour bike prohibition will remain in place.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Massachusetts

Poll: Free Fares Could Rival Reliable Service For Attracting New Riders To the T

57 percent of the poll's respondents said that making the T free to ride would make them more likely to use transit; 37 percent said that fare-free service would make them "much more likely" to ride.

September 21, 2023

Sec. Tibbits-Nutt Spotlights Climate Issues In First Meeting As MassDOT Board Chair

"We all know that we're one of the filthiest industries, and we have a lot of work to do," said the Commonwealth's new Secretary of Transportation.

September 20, 2023

In Hadley, MassDOT, DCR Shut Down Norwottuck Trail With No Viable Detours

The Norwottock Rail Trail is the only ADA-accessible route across the Town of Hadley, and hundreds of people use it on a daily basis.

September 15, 2023
See all posts