T ridership is ticking up

The MBTA has noticed a “modest increase” in ridership in recent weeks, though averages across the system still remain well below pre-pandemic averages, General Manager Steve Poftak said on Monday.

Toward the end of August and in the beginning of September, weekday ridership on the T’s buses and its Blue Line — both of which have consistently experienced the highest demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak — crept above 40 percent of the levels observed in late February.

Ridership on the Orange, Green, and Red Lines hovered in the low- to mid-20 percent of pre-pandemic range over the past two weeks, the highest it has been since early March. The Green Line had seen levels below the other trains through most of the pandemic, but in recent weeks it has caught up and now tracks closely with other lines, Poftak said.

“My educated guess is that … as some of the universities come back that are along the Green Line, we are seeing an increase in ridership,” Poftak said at Monday’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting. Commuter rail ridership remains the lowest of the bunch, still lingering around 8 percent of February averages.

The dramatic changes in commuting patterns have created enormous challenges for the T, where officials predict they will face hundreds of millions of dollars in a fiscal year 2022 budget deficit because of cratering fare revenue.