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LRTA Profile

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LRTA Service Area


The Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) serves Lowell and 16 surrounding towns. LRTA provides local and suburban bus services, a downtown shuttle, and ADA complementary paratransit service. All fixed-route services connect at the Robert B. Kennedy Bus Transfer Center, a part of the Charles A. Gallagher Transit Terminal which includes the Lowell Commuter Rail Station.


LRTA provides a variety of services:

  • Fixed-Route
    • City
    • Suburban
    • Downtown Shuttle
  • Demand-Responsive
    • Service for seniors in 10 communities
    • ADA complementary paratransit in communities with fixed-route service
    • Medical transportation
    • COA-sponsored van service in communities not served by demand-responsive service.
    • Recreation and social trips for nursing home residents.
LRTA Communities and Services
Community Fixed-Route Non-ADA Paratransit
Burlington *
*LRTA provides service to and from Burlington, but not within Burlington.

Most LRTA service consists of local city and suburban routes that are focused on Lowell. These include 18 local fixed routes (including "city" and "suburban" services) and a downtown Lowell shuttle. Local services generally operate from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekdays, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays. No service is provided on Sundays. Of the 18 routes, one operates during the winter holiday season only.

LRTA's Roadrunner demand-responsive service operates in all communities with fixed-route service, plus four others. This service is available for those aged 60 or older and provides curb-to-curb service anywhere within the 10 Roadrunner communities from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekdays. Roadrunner also provides LRTA's ADA complementary paratransit service and this service operates the same hours as fixed-route service.

LRTA also provides three specialized types of demand-responsive service. These include:

  • Medical trips to Lahey Clinic in Burlington, the Bedford VA Medical Center, and Boston area hospitals. This service operates on Wednesdays and is available to Road Runner eligible residents of Acton, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Tewksbury, and Westford.
  • Council on Aging sponsored van service for seniors in areas that are not served by Roadrunner.
  • LIFE (Living for the Elderly) recreation and social trips for nursing home residents.


All of LRTA's services converge at the Gallagher Transit Terminal, which is also the terminal for regional commuter rail services on MBTA's Lowell Line. The Lowell Line provides service to Boston's North Station every 30 to 60 minutes from approximately 5:30 am to midnight on weekdays, and every 120 minutes between 7:00 am and 11:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) provides service from Lawrence to Lowell at the Gallagher Transit Terminal on Route 41. Additionally, private operator Peter Pan provides regional coach services to destinations within New England and Sunshine Travel provides service to Mohegan Sun casino from Gallagher Transit Terminal.


As described above, most service operates to and from the Gallagher Transit Terminal, which is LRTA's major passenger facility and also houses the LRTA administrative offices. The facility has 950 commuter parking spaces available at daily and monthly rates. The Gallagher Transit Terminal is located at the intersection of Thorndike Street at YMCA Drive. LRTA's bus maintenance facility is a separate facility located at 100 Hale Street.


LRTA has three basic fare structures for its three primary types of service:

  • Local Fixed-Route: $1.00
  • Suburban Fixed-Route: $1.50
  • Demand-Responsive: $1.00 within one community; $1.50 between communities; $25.00 to Boston medical facilities, and $12.50 to Bedford and Burlington medical facilities.

LRTA provides a variety of discounts for fixed-route services. These include a 50% discount for older adults (age 60+), disabled riders, and children between 6 and 12, and no fare for accompanied children under age 6. System-wide monthly passes are also offered for $35.00, with a discounted rate for older adults and students ($20.00). An 'express pass' for the Downtown Shuttle is also available ($20.00). No discounts are offered for paratransit service.

Transfers cost $0.25 on city routes ($0.10 for discount riders), $0.50 on suburban routes ($0.25 for discount riders), and transfers are free to and from the downtown shuttle.


2010 Annual Ridership

In 2010 LRTA carried 1.4 million passengers. A total of 93% of these passengers used local bus services and 7% used paratransit. In total, LRTA carries the sixth highest volume of riders among Massachusetts RTAs, but provides only the ninth highest amount of service (in terms of vehicle hours). The service has relatively high ridership largely due to the large proportion of riders using fixed-route service.


In 2010, LRTA had 47 vehicles for fixed-route service and 32 vehicles for paratransit service. Compared to other RTAs, LRTA has the sixth largest fixed-route fleet and the eighth largest paratransit fleet.


In 2010, LRTA's total operating expenses were just under $8.8 million. Of this, $7.2 million (or 82%) was for fixed-route service, and $1.6 million (or 18%) was for demand-responsive service. LRTA's operating costs were the eighth highest among RTAs.

Fare revenue covered approximately 13% of LRTA's 2010 operating expenses. By type of service, fare revenues cover 14% of fixed-route costs and 7% of demand-responsive costs. LRTA collects the sixth lowest amount of fare revenue among RTAs, and has the fourth lowest farebox return ratio. In general, this is due to low farebox revenues from both fixed-route and demand-responsive services.



Ridership Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, total ridership on LRTA services declined from to 1,820,000 to 1,440,000 passengers, or by 17%. Ridership began to decline after 2002, when service was reduced by 9%, and then declined until 2007, when ridership reached a low of 1,350,000 passengers. Since that time, ridership levels have fluctuated but have generally increased.

Ridership levels on fixed-route services dropped from 1.70 million riders to 1.34 million riders, or by 21%. During the same period, ridership on demand-responsive services declined from 124,000 riders to 100,000 passengers, or by 20%. Most of the decline took place between 2001 and 2004, when demand-responsive ridership dropped from 124,000 to 100,000. Since that time, ridership levels have been fairly steady.

Revenue Vehicle Hours

Vehicle Service Hour Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, the total amount of service that LRTA has provided, in terms of revenue vehicle hours, decreased from about 131,000 annual hours to about 116,000 hours, or by 8%. About half of the hours reduced were on fixed-route service and half were on demand-responsive service.

Operating Costs and Fare Revenue

Operating Cost and Farebox Revenue

LRTA's operating costs increased between 2001 and 2010 from $6.7 million to $8.8 million, or by 32% overall. This represents an average annual increase of 3%. This very low rate of increase reflects the 11% reduction in revenue vehicle hours.

During the same period, farebox revenues increased 42% overall, rising from $780,000 to $1.1 million. On fixed-route services fare revenues rose by 41%, and on demand-responsive services, fare revenues increased by 51%.

Operating Cost per Passenger

Operating Cost per Passenger Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, LRTA's overall operating cost per passenger increased from $3.67 to $6.11, or by 67%. Compared to other RTAs, LRTA's operating cost per passenger is in the middle.

On fixed-route services, operating costs per passenger increased from $2.99 to $5.41 or by 80%, meaning that LRTA has the median operating cost per passenger among RTAs. Demand-responsive costs, however, increased by only 24%, from $12.90 per passenger to $15.67. LRTA has the second lowest demand-responsive operating cost per passenger of all RTAs.

Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour

Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, the number of passengers that LRTA has carried per passenger hour has fluctuated from 11.9 to 13.9. On fixed-route services, ridership has fluctuated from 16.6 to 19.7 passengers per revenue hour, and on demand-responsive services, the number of passengers per revenue hour has remained relatively steady, at 2.4 to 2.8. During the period when total ridership dropped (2002-2006), fixed-route service efficiency also declined. However, since ridership began to increase in 2007, efficiency has also increased. LRTA carries the seventh-highest volume of fixed-route passengers per revenue hour, and the third-highest rate of demand-responsive passengers per revenue hour.

Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour

Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, LRTA's operating cost per revenue vehicle hour increased by 48%, or an average of 4.7% per year. During that period, fixed-route costs increased from $58.81 to $90.55, or by 54% and demand-responsive costs increased from $36.14 to $43.15, or by only 19%. LRTA's 2010 operating cost per revenue vehicle hour for fixed-route service was seventh highest among RTAs, while for demand-responsive service it was fourth lowest.


  • All LRTA fixed route services converge at Gallagher Transit Terminal, which is also the terminal for the MBTA Lowell Commuter Rail Line. This terminal provides strong local and regional connections.
  • On Wednesdays, LRTA provides extended door-to-door paratransit service for riders to access medical clinics in Burlington, Bedford, and Boston at a higher rate.
  • LRTA provides paratransit service beyond what is required by ADA, serving ten communities in the Greater Lowell area.
  • LRTA's costs for demand-responsive service, on a per passenger basis, are among the lowest of all RTAs.
  • LRTA offers among the lowest fare among all RTAs for paratransit service ($1.00 to $1.50, the same price as fixed-route services). Fare revenues on LRTA services are relatively low.
1All cost and revenue data is presented in actual year values. Costs and fare revenues for 2001 are in $2001; operating costs and fare revenues for 2010 are in $2010.
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