News Briefs

Fall Commuter Rail Schedule Changes Take Effect Nov. 2

The MBTA is reminding customers of upcoming schedule changes coming to the Commuter Rail network this fall effective Monday, Nov. 2. These updates are being made in response to changing ridership patterns on the Commuter Rail as a result of the pandemic. Upcoming Commuter Rail schedules are available at mbta.com.

The goal of these schedule changes is to accommodate traditional ridership while also adapting service where commutes have changed (to accommodate new staggered work start times, for example) and where the Commuter Rail may become a new option for some customers. These schedules aim to level out service consistently over the course of the day and eliminate gaps in mid-day service, providing more options to riders that promote social distancing.

More Information on Fall Changes Effective Nov. 2:

•Full schedules effective Nov. 2 are available at mbta.com. Train counts will increase on weekdays from 505 in fall 2019 to 544 in fall 2020, utilizing the same number of train sets and crews as October 2019. Thirty-two of the thirty-nine new trains (82 percent) will serve either Fairmount, Brockton, or Lynn:

Lynn service: This fall, mid-day service will operate every thirty minutes (fall 2019 service ranged thirty to ninety minutes). 

Commuter Rail Fare Pilot Updates:

•The Lynn Zone 1A pilot remains in effect through Dec. 31. This pilot provides additional travel options for North Shore customers, eases crowding on nearby bus routes, and allows the MBTA to collect ridership data related to the effects of temporary fare changes on relieving crowding.

•The Five-Day Flex Pass pilot will be extended to Dec. 31. The Five-Day Flex Pass on mTicket is a bundled fare good for any five days of travel within a 30-day period.

•The Youth Pass is currently valid on all Commuter Rail Zones with this pilot extended to Dec. 31. The Youth Pass Program is a partnership between the MBTA and participating cities and towns that offers young adults with low incomes roughly 50 percent reduced one-way fares or $30 monthly LinkPasses and was previously only available on bus and subway.

New England Governors Call for Modernization of Regional Electricity System

Recognizing the critical role that New England’s regional wholesale electricity market plays in addressing climate change and cost-effectively reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Charlie Baker and Governors from four Northeast states last week issued a statement calling for reforms needed to achieve their states’ respective goals for clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.

“To meet to our Administration’s goal of net zero emissions in Massachusetts by 2050, the Commonwealth needs a regional electricity system that can support the delivery of clean, affordable, and reliable energy to residents and businesses,” said Gov. Baker. “My administration looks forward to working with our partner states, ISO-New England and stakeholders to build a more transparent, modern and cost-effective power system that will allow New England states to meet our ambitious climate change and clean energy goals while creating a better future for our residents.”

The statement, signed by Gov. Baker, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, calls for reform of the regional electricity market design, transmission planning process, and the governance of the ISO-New England, the independent system operator for the New England power system.  A Vision document outlining specific areas for reform will be released later this week through the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), a non-profit entity that represents the collective perspective of the New England states in regional electricity matters.

In the coming months, the states will convene open and accessible forums to ensure that all interested stakeholders have an opportunity to participate in further refinement of the principles of the shared Vision.

Annual Kitty Connection Silent Auction Goes Online 

Kitty Connection, an all-volunteer non-profit dedicated to rescuing and finding safe, loving homes for local cats and dogs, will hold its fourth annual Silent Auction online this year due to health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online event will run from 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 through 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 at www.myminiauction.com/kittyconnection. 

“Last year’s event was a great success,” said Kitty Connection President Marie Mazzeo. “With funds raised, we were able to care for animals in need and help them find their new forever homes.  Unfortunately, the number of homeless, abandoned, abused and unwanted pets in our community remains a challenge. We’re hopeful our online auction this year will go a long way toward helping to meet these needs.”

Kitty Connection volunteers rescue 450 to 500 cats and several dogs each year. The organization provides critical high-cost medical care, including surgeries, for 30 to 50 cats annually, as well as funds for low-cost medical care to 30 to 50 adopters following adoption of their pets. Volunteers provide foster homes for animals until they are adopted, and Kitty Connection ensures that pets are spayed/neutered, tested for common illnesses, and vaccinated prior to adoption.

In addition, Kitty Connection runs a low-cost spay/neuter program for pet owners in need and provides education and outreach in the community about the importance of responsible pet ownership. The organization anticipates restarting its feral cat trap/neuter/return program when it’s safe for volunteers, after the pandemic has subsided. 

Kitty Connection will share auction guidelines and policies on the auction website the week before the Nov. 12 – 15 online event. Items up for bid will be listed at the auction start time. 

Kitty Connection is still accepting donations for the silent auction. To donate, or for any questions, please email [email protected] To learn more about Kitty Connection and pets available for adoption, visit: www.kittyconnection.net

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