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Weather brings delays and frustrations for MBTA riders

Drivers crawling along on the Mass. Turnpike in Newton coped with low visibility on Monday.
Drivers crawling along on the Mass. Turnpike in Newton coped with low visibility on Monday.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/Globe staff

Tuesday morning’s commute looked to be shaping up much the same as Monday evening’s did -- with severe public transit delays and ongoing snow removal keeping residents from getting to where they needed to be on time.

A storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in Boston snarled Monday’s evening commute for those who depend on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, delaying nearly every commuter rail line and stranding a northbound Red Line train full of passengers on the tracks for about two hours.

A six-car train with about 50 passengers was stranded for about two hours on the tracks near the Braintree station. According to Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman, major disruptions in both directions occurred when the third rail lost power from Quincy to Braintree about 4:30 p.m.

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The T is asking commuters on Tuesday to expect longer wait times, plan for extra travel time, and dress appropriately. All subway lines were experiencing severe delays Tuesday morning, with shuttle buses replacing rail service between the JFK/UMass and Braintree stations on the Red Line.

Pesaturo said the T was as frustrated as commuters by the delays. “Our crews have been working through some very difficult conditions over the last seven days,” said Pesaturo, “And when the temperatures dropped dramatically late this afternoon, it had a detrimental effect.”

Susan Pearson, a commuter who said in a phone interview that she was stuck on the disabled Red Line train, said passengers were frustrated.

“They’ve been telling us for about an hour now that we’re going to be pulled back into Braintree,” Pearson said shortly after 6 p.m. “We’re still stuck.”

Pesaturo said crews sent another train to evacuate the stranded passengers, who were able to get off the train about 6:30 p.m. He said commuters were exasperated, but no one requested medical attention.

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All subway lines experienced delays, but the Red Line, the T’s most popular line, had the most. About 4:40 p.m., the T announced severe delays on the line toward Ashmont and Braintree and urged commuters to seek alternate transportation. About 5 p.m., MBTA officials announced that shuttle buses would be available to replace service between JFK/UMass and Braintree stations.

For Rich Desmond, a chef at Seaport Boston Hotel, the delays added more than 2 hours to his commute. “Halfway through the train ride they asked us to take shuttle buses,” Desmond said, while waiting at the JFK/UMass station. “This is my worst commute home from work.”

Late Monday night, snow, ice, and freezing temperatures contributed to a train derailment at the Fields Corner stop on the Ashmont branch of the Red Line, causing more delays, Pesaturo said.

The T also recommended Monday that people take the commuter rail instead of the Red Line. But the commuter rail lines were also significantly delayed. By 4 p.m., commuter rail operator Keolis had already canceled 10 trains to free up crews and equipment, and nearly all lines had delays.

Throughout the day, MassDOT had more than 3,200 pieces of snow plowing equipment on the roads. Mike Verseckes, a MassDOT spokesman, had warned that a sharp drop in temperature during the afternoon could cause flash freezing on the roadways.

The transportation system has been under extreme stress during the snowiest seven-day period in Boston history, according to the National Weather Service. The challenges even prompted Beverly A. Scott, the MBTA’s general manager, to send out a note of appreciation to employees on Monday.

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“There really are no words to adequately convey my thanks and deepest appreciation for the overall effort and sacrifice that you and your families have given during these extremely severe weather conditions,” she wrote on Monday.


Globe correspondent Juan Cajigas Jimenez contributed to this report. Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com