The passengers who scurried to catch the last subway trains operating at midafternoon Friday had one hope for the weekend, that the MBTA restarts service as quickly as possible, so they don’t have to borrow cars or take taxis to get places, creating more hassle, cost, and potential danger on the roads.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority had previously shut down its subways, buses, and commuter rail service twice in the past 18 months, once for Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and for Hurricane Sandy last October. In both cases, a T spokeswoman said the full shutdown lasted “less than a day each.”
MBTA general manager Beverly Scott said Friday that, without knowing the storm’s full intensity, she could only predict that the T may be able to restore partial service by Saturday afternoon and full service by Monday.
While waiting at Park Street station Friday, Hoshang Dadrass, a 24-year-old bartender in downtown Boston, pointed out that everyone benefited from a conservative mindset Friday. The MBTA gave advance warning of suspension of service, employers let workers leave early or shut down, events were canceled early with refunds promised, and schools were closed.
But Dadrass said that when the blizzard is over and things begin to return to normal, many workers will be expected to show up or lose income. Others will feel pressure to be places where they are expected, he added.
With no public transportation option, “it kind of encourages people to drive,” said Dadrass.
Garvey Ducheine, a Mattapan resident who studies at Newbury College in Brookline, said he made arrangements to stay overnight with a campus friend because he could not leave early enough to catch the Green Line trolley Friday. If the trains do not run the entire weekend and he does not get offered a ride, Ducheine said he will be trapped on campus. He laughed, suggesting that he will get a lot of homework done. “I’m trying to make the best of it,” Ducheine said.
The MBTA general manager said that the T had to impose a 3:30 p.m. “final pick-up” time Friday, given the severity of the weather forecasted. She said that any time she hears predictions of a foot of snow or more, she knows there is a strong likelihood that train tracks will be iced over and blanketed in thick snow, making it dangerous for train travel. Also, the anticipated strong winds of 65 miles per hour or more probably would down many of the overhead wires that power the trolleys.
Though the underground subway lines would be sheltered from the gusts and heavy snow, she said, the mass transit system cannot simply utilize a portion of its underground section and operate in piecemeal fashion. She said that would only create chaos, with some riders boarding trains and realizing that their destination cannot be reached.
“People could get stranded and hurt,” Scott said in a phone interview late Friday morning.
She said the MBTA would be offering continuous updates on its service online. (For updates, the T suggests riders check the website at mbta.com or follow Twitter updates @mbtagm.)
Bill Conover, a billing analyst in Quincy, said he does not have to be any place special Saturday or Sunday, so he will not mind a lack of weekend subway service — and it may just force him to relax, in a good way, at his Brighton home. But while his boss let him out early Friday to catch the subway back to his home in Brighton, he does not expect any more special breaks.
On Monday, he hopes to take the Green and Red subway lines and show up at work by 8 a.m.Patricia Wen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.