The MBTA did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. CEO Steve Poftak is scheduled to announce “expedited upgrades to the MBTA’s infrastructure” Wednesday afternoon at Wellington Station with Gov. Charlie Baker and Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler on the governor’s public schedule.
The MBTA Board of Directors has scheduled a last-minute meeting Wednesday morning to review the contract with the A Yankee Line, Inc., a a company that often provides shuttle buses for the MBTA when it suspends parts of its subway lines.
Former Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi said if the T were to shut down the entire Orange Line for 30 days, it would likely be the first.
“There may be a small precedent, but nothing of this magnitude,” Aloisi said. “It’s a drastic step.”
The Orange Line’s 20 stations are the primary means of transportation for entire communities. According to a presentation by the MBTA earlier this year, 2021 October month. average weekday trips on the Orange Line were 104,000. By comparison, average weekday trips on the Blue Line were 41,000, Green Line 94,000, and Red Line 125,000.
The plan to close the Orange Line comes after a year of frightening safety incidents at the MBTA.
From the collision of the Green Line in 2021 in July — just over a year ago — the T was plagued with trouble: an escalator malfunctioned at the Back Bay station, causing a bloody pileup that injured nine people and killed a woman in her car on a commuter train. A crossing signal malfunctioned in Wilmington, two more Green Line trains crashed and derailed, injuring four people, and a man was dragged by a Red Line train at Broadway Station after his arm got stuck in a subway door.
The death has come under scrutiny by federal transit safety regulators, who in mid-April began an almost unprecedented inspection of the MBTA subway system. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to release its final report on T.
In June, LPS said it found that the MBTA didn’t have enough dispatchers to operate the subway safely, so the agency cut service on the Orange, Blue and Red lines by more than 20 percent. Federal inspectors also said the T must repair and renovate large areas of subway tracks.
The LPS found that about 10 percent of the MBTA’s subway tracks are speed-limited due to defects, including a year-long slow zone on the Orange Line tracks between Tufts Medical Center and Back Bay stations. Track maintenance crews use 2 to 2.5 hours to make repairs overnight, which is not nearly enough time, the FTA said.
The MBTA has already made progress on repairing a broken stretch of Orange Line track that has caused a years-long slow zone, the agency told board members last month.
It’s not just the tracks that are the problem. The old Orange Line cars, which entered service between 1979 and 1981, were never overhauled. Last month, one of the old cars burst into flames after a side panel fell off and touched the electrified third rail, sending passengers running wildly.
in 2014 The MBTA chose a Chinese company that significantly underbid competitors to build an assembly plant in Springfield and deliver hundreds of new Orange and Red Line cars to the MBTA.
Last month, the T received 78 of 152 new Orange Line cars and only 12 of 252 new Red Line cars, as of July 22. said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The T expects all new Orange Line cars to be delivered by 2023. of all new Red Line cars until 2025. summer,” said Pesaturo.
CRRC MA said the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues are causing delays.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu called for a more aggressive approach to addressing the T’s aging infrastructure in a radio interview last week.
“It’s time to talk about just ripping off the tape and taking drastic action,” she added on July 25. in an interview with WBUR’s Radio Boston. She proposed closing sections of the Orange Line and said Boston would be willing to make room for street shuttles.
She reiterated her commitment on Tuesday night.
“We’re at a point with T where we can’t keep kicking the can down the road anymore,” she told reporters at an unrelated event. “We’re working very closely with the agency to make sure that Boston is ready to help support any additional alternatives and to make sure that the work actually happens during this period to have a real impact to see improved services.”