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‘Psychologically terrible’: MBTA Blue Line power problem causes delays and frustration among riders

A 2022 photo showing shuttle service on the Blue Line during a period of disruptions.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Vicki DiLorenzo was on her way home to East Boston from a friend’s house Thursday evening, a trip she said usually takes under 20 minutes. On Thursday, it took nearly 2 hours.

A downed wire near Wood Island Station Thursday night forced MBTA riders to divert to shuttle buses between Suffolk Downs and Maverick, causing massive delays, confusion, and frustration among riders.

The MBTA initially advised the public about the issue around 5:30 p.m. on Twitter and delayed train service did not resume until 10:30 a.m. Friday, a 17-hour stretch in which shuttle buses slowed commuters’ journeys.

“I made light of it in the moment, but it is kind of ridiculous that it basically took five times as long,” DiLorenzo said.


DiLorenzo narrowly missed the train when she entered the fare gates at Savin Hill and waited 23 minutes for the next train to arrive, she said, even though the platform display indicated the train would arrive in 11 minutes. The downed wire meant she rode a few stops on the Blue Line, then had to wait another 10 minutes at Maverick for a shuttle that had enough room for her to board.

“The ride itself was just really long and slow,” said DiLorenzo, who takes the Blue Line almost every day. “It was 25 minutes or so from Maverick to Suffolk Downs, which is usually a super quick few stops.”

The Blue Line problems come as the embattled MBTA dealt another blow to riders, announcing Thursday evening that the Red, Orange, Blue, and Green lines would cap speeds at 25 mph across the system, effective immediately. The speed restrictions were ordered after the transit agency realized it could not document the results of a safety inspection conducted on train tracks in February, Acting MBTA Manager Jeff Gonneville said at a press conference Friday.


Restrictions on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines were later lifted, but the top speed of 25 miles an hour remained in place for the Green and Mattapan trolley lines, Gonneville said. Other “localized restrictions” remain in effect on all subway lines.

“Watching the the T deteriorate over the decades has been horrible,” said Andrew Burke, a Revere resident working in Cambridge, adding that he’s looking to move closer to his job because of his frustration with the MBTA. “Anyone who takes the T, especially as long as I do, your quality of life is thoroughly deteriorated, your mental health is affected, it just creates unhappiness for everybody.”

Burke’s typical trip home lasts 50 minutes, but on Thursday evening, he endured a three-hour commute that involved waiting on the platform at State Street for more than an hour.

The prediction boards “are never correct,” Burke said. “They constantly give out false information. ... It’s psychologically terrible.”

Burke said he waited at State Street as two Maverick-bound trains passed through, each one too crowded to board, a “smorgasbord for COVID.”

Both Burke and DiLorenzo said there was insufficient guidance and little communication for people looking to board a shuttle once they exited a Blue Line station.

“Nobody was directing anybody there. There was no supervision whatsoever,” Burke said. “I saw people catch a bus at [one] location, so I walked up there to catch the next bus, and then the next bus decided to pick up someplace else. It was just chaos.”


East Boston resident David Zhou’s 45-minute commute from Seaport transformed into an hour-and-a-half trip because of the Blue Line closure. Zhou waited 20 minutes at Airport for a shuttle, confused about where to board the right bus, before deciding instead to make the 25-minute trek home on foot.

Zhou pointed out that the Blue Line, which covers East Boston, serves a predominantly immigrant community.

“All the service workers, the vast majority of whom are from an immigrant community, need to take the train home,” Zhou said. “I just don’t think the city cares as much about the Blue Line because people here, they’re mostly Hispanic, Latin American immigrants. The city just doesn’t care about them.”

The fiasco was followed by hours of further delays Friday morning as the MBTA continued shuttle service between Maverick and Suffolk Downs as they performed maintenance and repairs due to a reported power problem at Airport Station.

“I can’t believe that this keeps getting worse ... something’s gotta give,” DiLorenzo said. “I really hope that it gets better, but it’s sometimes hard to look at the big picture here and feel particularly optimistic.”

Sonel Cutler can be reached at Follow her @cutler_sonel.