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Full MBTA service may be month away

Limited schedule to be norm for now; more snow could delay recovery

T workers cleared Red Line tracks between Quincy Center station and Quincy Adams station on Monday.
T workers cleared Red Line tracks between Quincy Center station and Quincy Adams station on Monday. Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/Boston Globe

MBTA officials announced Monday that it could take up to a month to restore the faltering transportation system to full operation — and that assumes no more big storms blow our way.

Few details were available; officials would not commit to specifics on opening shuttered lines or rolling out repaired cars, and it was not clear which stretches of track would be the last to return to full service.

The announcement, by departing Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Beverly Scott, came as the Boston area braced for still more snow on Tuesday — anywhere from 1 to 6 inches, forecasters said.


The T planned to run a limited service Tuesday, similar to Monday’s schedule, which included less frequent trains and shuttle buses replacing the rail service between many stops.

“We share and care about the frustration of our customers,” said Scott, who abruptly announced last week that she would resign in April. “We’re all very, very sorry.”

Prioritizing which lines are restored first requires balancing several factors, including ridership, parallel service nearby, and access to equipment repair facilities, she said.

Full service could still be restored in fewer than 30 days, Scott said, but another big snowstorm could push that date beyond a month.

The T enlisted workers from unions, private contractors, and about 80 Department of Correction inmates Monday to add muscle to snow removal efforts. Scott said the MBTA was aiming to reach the point of reliability for those who count on the service.

“We need to bring back some semblance of predictability,” she said, as officials work to “strategically and methodically take this system back.”

The crews brought in to help shovel tracks by hand made good progress and more will be out Tuesday, including an additional dozen or so inmates.

But Scott would not commit to a time frame to reopen the Red Line’s Braintree branch, the longest stretch of exposed track in the T system; it has been closed since last week.


“It will take time. It will be arduous. It will be in some instances very exhausting work,” said Sean McCarthy, the T’s chief operating officer.

Among those doing that work Monday was Jay Andrade. The 37-year-old works for the company that cleans T stations, but he was put to work shoveling out the tracks near North Quincy station.

“It’s the first time this has happened,” Andrade said of being asked to work the tracks instead of the platforms, adding that he has had to shovel plenty of snow at home, too.

It was cold, he said as he got into his truck Monday afternoon — particularly when he started shoveling at 8 a.m. and the wind chill was well below zero.

He said he would be back at it first thing Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the city and the T limped back to life during a rare respite from the snow on Monday, but both T officials and Mayor Martin J. Walsh pleaded for patience amid a relentless winter without precedent. City snowplows went to work early to clear streets.

Around the region, roofs buckled under the weight of their white blankets on Monday.

According to the National Weather Service, there will be no immediate reprieve, as bitterly cold temperatures will be here for a while.

“There is no end in sight as far as the cold air,” said Bill Simpson, a weather service meteorologist.


Most of the week will see highs in the teens and low 20s, and lows in the single digits or below zero, he said.

Tuesday’s snowfall will probably start in the early hours, forecasters said. Snow is expected to fall through the evening commute, with 1 to 3 inches accumulating in Boston, and 4 to 6 inches along the Cape. Lesser amounts are expected to the west.

Simpson advised drivers to allow extra time for the morning and evening commutes Tuesday, as even light snowfall can create hazardous driving conditions given the preexisting snowbanks.

There is a chance for light snow showers along the coast on Wednesday as well, forecasters said, though no significant accumulation is expected.

There is a possibility of a weekend snowstorm, but Simpson said it is too early to be sure.

At a news conference at City Hall on Monday, Walsh said he understands that people are fed up with the wintry onslaught.

“We’re shoveling snow piles to make room for new snow piles,” Walsh said.

On Sunday, a 57-year-old Brighton man became a casualty of the heavy snow when he suffered a fatal heart attack while shoveling.

“Shovel in short stints,” Walsh urged.

Walsh said he has been happy to see residents help each other dig out.

“I’ve been struck over the last couple days how Bostonians have pulled together,” Walsh said. “It’s important that we stay focused and not let the frustration get the best of us.”


He advised people to stay off the roads so that the city could launch a full-scale snow removal.

And the city’s parking ban will remain in effect until further notice, he said.

Plows will reach every street in the city, Walsh said, though the high winds that accompanied Sunday’s storm created drifts that made some areas appear untouched.

He also chastised would-be daredevils who are apparently jumping out of windows onto tall snowbanks for fun.

Walsh urged people to “act responsibly,” and said the last thing the city needs is to send an ambulance to someone’s house because they thought it would be funny to jump out of the window.

“This isn’t Loon Mountain,” he said, referring to a ski resort in New Hampshire.

Peter Schworm of the Globe staff and correspondent Aneri Pattani contributed to this report. Nestor Ramos can be reached at nestor.ramos@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@NestorARamos.