The good news in a Boston Foundation report on the Fairmount Line is that a $200-million state investment in adding and improving stations and service meant a three-fold increase in ridership since 2012.
The bad news is that only means 2,257 riders on a typical weekday, because ridership in 2012 was so low - just 789.
Despite the improvements - the Fairmount Line remains a confusing thing - some students can use their T passes on it, others can't, people who live in one Mattapan apartment building have to walk a half mile to get to a train platform even though it runs right next to the building, and T maps refer to the "Fairmount Line" while announcements at South Station call out the next "Readville" train.
The report cites a number of things - some fairly inexpensive, that the T could do to increase ridership on the line.
One would be to literally put the line on the map, or at least with a thicker line than it has now - since the T intends the line to become a sort of rapid-transit system, the least it can do is give it the same prominence on system maps as the Silver Line.
The report notes the corridor along the tracks currently has twice as many bus riders as along the route of the proposed Green Line extension.
Service could be increased without extra trains - one of the first things Charlie Baker did after becoming governor was to cancel plans for self-propelled cars for the line - by running off-peak Franklin Line trains on the Fairmount Line instead of down the current Northeast Corridor route.
Longer term, the T should look at more formally extending Fairmount Line service to Legacy Place and the Dedham Corporate Center in Dedham - either through additional trains or through scheduling changes that would let Fairmount riders quickly changes to the Franklin Line at Readville - to give people in the Fairmount corridor access to the jobs and shopping in that area. A potential extension to the Back Bay - also rejected by the Baker administration - would also help.
And the T should figure out how how to speed up the trains between Newmarket and South Station - which currently take 10 minutes to go just 3.2 miles.
Also needed: Some sort of fare rationalization that would let riders use CharlieCards, such as giving conductors mobile card readers, and better coordination with the bus routes that pass by Fairmount Line stations.
Complete Boston Foundation report (8.5M PDF).