BOSTON — A heads up for thousands of riders of the MBTA subway. The agency says “staffing challenges among the ranks of subway dispatchers” will lead to changes in service, effective Monday, June 20, and continue through the summer.
The Red, Orange, and Blue Lines are affected.
The MBTA says the changes will result in service that’s usually only seen on the weekends.
For example, Red Line trains will now run every 15 minutes on weekdays starting Monday through the summer on both the Ashmont and Braintree branches. Usually, Red Line trains are scheduled every 10 minutes during the summer, so riders can expect longer gaps between trains.
The staffing issues affect the T’s Operations Control Center.
“As of last week, ridership on the Red and Orange Lines remained approximately 50% below pre-pandemic levels while Blue Line volume was about 44% below pre-Covid ridership,” according to a statement from the MBTA. “The MBTA is exploring multiple options to add capacity at the Control Center, including an aggressive recruitment campaign, offering bonuses, and potentially hiring back former dispatchers.”
“With a limited number of dispatchers, these new timetables allow the MBTA to schedule dispatchers in compliance with Federal Transit Administration directives and continue delivering service in a safe and reliable manner,” according to the T.
The FTA issued a scathing report in the safety of the MBTA earlier in the week. The changes are a result of that initial report from the FTA.
Federal transit officials on Wednesday issued a series of special directives ordering the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to correct major safety concerns.
The FTA orders require the MBTA to take immediate action to fix issues involving operating control center staffing, general safety operating procedures, delayed critical maintenance, and lapses in staff safety certifications, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration.
The MBTA’s troubles with the feds began back in March when, after a series of safety incidents, it engaged in meetings with FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, along with the state Department of Public Utilities -- the safety oversight agency for the T.
The MBTA said on there is one exception to the revised summer schedule unveiled on Friday.
“In the afternoon and evening of Monday, July 4, the MBTA will provide regular weekday service in order to accommodate people attending Independence Day festivities,” according to the statement.
Here are the changes outlined by the MBTA, for the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines:
Effective June 20, Red Line weekday trains will operate every 14 to 15 minutes on both the Ashmont and Braintree branches and seven to eight minutes between trains on the “trunk” of the Red Line between Alewife and JFK/UMass stations.
Red Line weekday summer service is typically nine to 10 minutes between trains during morning and evening peak periods, 10 to 12 minutes between trains during off-peak hours, and every five to six minutes between trains on the “trunk” of the Red Line between Alewife and JFK/UMass stations.
Effective June 20, Orange Line weekday trains will operate every 10 minutes in the mornings, 11 minutes between trains in the evenings, and eight to nine minutes between trains during mid-day periods.
Orange Line weekday summer service is typically six to seven minutes between trains during morning and evening peak periods, and every seven to eight minutes between trains during off-peak periods.
Effective June 20, Blue Line weekday trains will operate every seven minutes until 9 AM, and every eight to nine minutes for the rest of the day.
Blue Line weekday summer service is typically five minutes between trains during morning and evening peak periods, every nine to 10 minutes between trains in the mid-day mornings, and every five to six minutes between trains in the mid-day afternoons.
The subway news comes as the MBTA also prepares for disruptions on the “B” branch of the Green Line starting on Monday, June 20 too.
The B Line will be running shuttle buses instead of trolleys between Boston College and Kenmore Station over 12 days, starting on Monday.
“Alternative service will be provided for B Branch riders throughout the scheduled closure,” according to the T. “Accessible shuttle buses will replace service from Kenmore to Boston College stations. Shuttles will not stop at Warren Street, Allston Street, or Packards Corner stations due to inaccessible sidewalk conditions.”
“Having this 12-day closure allows our team to enhance the safety and reliability of the B Branch at an accelerated rate,” said MBTA Chief of Capital Transformation Angel Peña.
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