As Red Line repairs continue, plan for another longer commute Monday
Two recent derailments on the MBTA’s Red and Green lines within days of each other highlighted the fragility of the state’s transit system and underscored the critical need for lawmakers and transportation officials to move quickly on upgrade efforts, advocates said Sunday.
Repairs continued into Sunday night on the Red Line, which has been plagued with delays following a derailment Tuesday near JFK/UMass Station that left one person with minor injuries and forced Braintree riders to switch trains.
In a statement on Sunday, MBTA general manager Steve Poftak said that direct service to Braintree had resumed, but much work remained to be done. And Red Line riders should continue to plan an extra 20 minutes for Monday morning’s commute.
“Recovery operations are continuing with a goal of full service, but riders should allow additional time for their commutes because track switches must be operated manually until repairs are completed,” he said.
The MBTA will also offer supplemental morning inbound service on Monday at the following stations and times:
Braintree -- 6:20 a.m., 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m.
Quincy Center -- 6:30 a.m., 8:10 a.m., 9:37 a.m.
JFK/UMass -- 6:50 a.m., 8:20 a.m., 9:45 a.m.
South Station -- 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:55 a.m.
Supplemental outbound service will include:
South Station -- 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:20 p.m.
JFK/UMass -- 3:06 p.m., 4:36 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Quincy Center -- 3:20 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 6:20 p.m., 7:37 p.m,
Braintree -- 3:25 p.m., 4:56 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m.
The Red Line derailment followed a June 8 derailment on the Green Line that injured 11 people when a D Line trolley left the tracks near Kenmore Station.
The state Department of Transportation’s Board of Directors and the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board are expected to discuss the derailments during a scheduled meeting Monday morning, and the MBTA has hired an outside consultant to review derailments on the transit system.
“These incidents of late remind us how important the T is to our city, how important it is to our residents, and we just have to do a better job in the reliability of service, the quality of service, and maintaining a safe experience for those riders,” said Councilor at Large Annissa Essaibi-George of Boston.
The Red Line derailment damaged electronic signaling equipment when the train traveled about one-third of a mile with one of its cars off the rails.
That crash remains under investigation, but the MBTA last week tentatively ruled out driver error as the cause.
Mary Z. Connaughton, director of government transparency at the Pioneer Institute, urged officials to quickly determine what caused the derailment.
“Until they know what happened, they can’t assure the public that it won’t happen on the Red Line again, or other lines,” Connaughton said. “Determining what happened is really key here, and the public needs to know that as soon as possible.”
More than 150 MBTA workers and contractors were making repairs Saturday on damaged signals, switches, and bungalows, the T said. The damaged third rail — about 200 feet of it — was repaired or replaced, as well as 200 feet of rail near the track switches.
The MBTA said that during Monday’s commute, it will offer additional commuter rail trains and update riders on scheduling through its website and Twitter.
Red Line commuters coming from the South Shore will have the option of using the Kingston/Plymouth, Middleborough/Lakeville, and Greenbush commuter rail lines by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to the conductors, the T’s statement said.
The MBTA said it will also offer supplemental morning inbound and afternoon/evening outbound service Monday at Braintree, Quincy Center, JFK/UMass, and South stations.
The Green Line derailment took place on the D Line just after the train left Kenmore Station, where the tracks for the C and D lines split.
The MBTA blamed the train’s 62-year-old driver, concluding the accident “does appear to be operator-related,” the deputy general manager, Jeffrey D. Gonneville, said last week.
The driver, who has been with the MBTA for about three years and was injured in the crash, was suspended after a preliminary investigation.
According to MBTA data, the Red Line has had 14 derailments from 1999 through June of this year. During the same period, the Green Line had 121 derailments.
In its statement on Sunday, the MBTA said it’s planning to spend $8 billion over the next five years to improve the system, including $2 billion for the Red and Orange lines, which will replace their cars and signal systems and upgrade track and maintenance facilities.
Sarah Finlaw, a spokeswoman for Governor Charlie Baker, said in a statement that “while there is still more work to do to restore regular service to riders, the nonstop repair work by the MBTA this weekend will result in a one seat ride for all commuters on Monday with some delays.”
Chris Dempsey, who leads the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts, was a passenger on a Green Line train behind the trolley that derailed June 8. He said riders rely on the T but are often let down.
“What we’d like to see more of is leadership at the MBTA being more robust advocates for the system . . . and being clear with the Baker administration and the Legislature about what they need to sustain and build a system that we can all be proud of, that can be safe and reliable,” Dempsey said.
State Representative William M. Straus, cochairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, said lawmakers will take up the issue of new revenues for transportation, including the MBTA, this year.
He said the state is falling behind in maintaining its transportation infrastructure — including roads, bridges, and mass transit — and the MBTA derailments have heightened the focus on the issue.
“Regardless of how you travel around Massachusetts, you have a stake in every other transportation means,” Straus said. “If you drive, you have to care about the T. If you take the T, you have to care about the condition of the roads and bridges.”
At JFK/UMass Station Sunday afternoon, a recording announcing that direct service to Braintree had resumed was playing over the speakers, while at least one MBTA employee was telling riders they no longer had to switch trains to reach Braintree. But not everyone got the message.
Liz Zinn, who was traveling from Allston to North Quincy to celebrate Father’s Day and her godfather’s birthday, said there were still signs at Park Street Station telling riders to switch trains.
“I thought that I had to get off here to go to Braintree, but I guess that I didn’t . . . and now I’m waiting,” Zinn said.
Some Red Line riders were not optimistic about Monday’s commute.
Eric Schilling, a learning resources producer at the MIT Media Lab, said in a phone interview that last week his commute was upended because of the Red Line derailment and the residual delays.
“I fully expect that it will be a crowded platform and that I will have to wait for three or four packed trains to go by,” Schilling said. “It’s quite stressful. It’s just a really awful way to start your Monday.”