As a slew of delays struck the T’s Red and Orange lines Friday morning, wreaking rush-hour havoc and leaving commuters grumbling via social media, the T offered a mea culpa to riders over Twitter.
“We apologize for delays this AM,” the T’s Tweet said, “but we’ll soon be replacing 44-yr-old Red Line cars w/new ones.”
Soon, as in, sometime before fall 2019.
Or, in the case of Orange Line cars, winter 2018.
Governor Deval Patrick said last month that part of the Legislature’s $800 million transportation finance package will be used to replace the senescent cars on the Orange and Red lines. About a third of the cars on the Red Line were built in 1969, and 120 cars on the Orange Line were built in 1981.
But the announcement was just the start of a years-long procurement process to get new trains designed, manufactured, and assembled. Even with funding finally in place to bring new cars to the overtaxed MBTA system, the quality of service on the Red and Orange lines will probably get worse before it gets better.
“The simple answer is that we are doing all we can with the limited resources available to maintain and extend the life of our Red and Orange Line cars until the new ones arrive,” MBTA said spokeswoman Kelly Smith said.
Subway cars are built to last 25 years, as long as they undergo a significant midlife overhaul to replace or refurbish the cars’ major mechanical components. None of the Orange Line trains received such an overhaul.
On Friday, the T’s reminder that the new trains are a mere six years away was little comfort to commuters, many of whom mocked the transit agency’s liberal use of the word soon.
“In life I don’t usually consider things happening 5 years from now as ‘soon,’ ” wrote one Twitter user.
“Your definition of ‘soon’ is precious,” wrote another.
A user named Seth Hardy pointed out just how “soon” 2019 would arrive: “I’ll get to watch at least two new Star Wars movies by the time there are new Red/Orange Trains,” he wrote.
The delay on the Red Line was caused by a disabled train at Alewife Station that had an air pressure issue, Smith said. The car was sent to the T’s maintenance facility for evaluation and to determine the exact cause of the issue.
Starting at 7:15 a.m., for about 25 minutes, no Red Line train left Alewife Station southbound, causing ripple effects on the rest of the line, Smith said.
The Orange Line also experienced a minor delay Friday morning, due to a disabled train at Oak Grove Station caused by a broken air compressor.