FTA OKs T’s response to 2 safety directives

Two other corrective action plans sent back for additional work

MBTA OFFICIALS said on Thursday that the Federal Transit Administration has approved the authority’s corrective action plans to deal with two of the federal agency’s safety directives and asked for additional work on the remaining two.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, told a safety subcommittee of the MBTA board that the transit authority’s plan for dealing with delayed critical maintenance won approval from the FTA Wednesday evening.

The MBTA is preparing to shut down all of the Orange Line and part of the Green Line for a month to address maintenance issues, including go-slow zones where track needs to be replaced.

Gonneville said the FTA also approved the T’s plan for dealing with a safety directive on employee safety recertifications on Monday.

The two safety directives that have not won FTA approval yet are the ones dealing with staffing levels in the operations control center (resubmitted by the T on Wednesday) and the handling of disabled trains in maintenance facilities and repair yards (due to be resubmitted on Friday).

Gonneville also reported to the board on four recent safety incidents – the Orange Line train that caught on fire on a bridge over the Mystic River on July 21, the runaway disabled train at Braintree Station on July 25, the derailment of a maintenance vehicle 200 feet south of the Quincy Center Station on August 2, and a bus fire caused by a faulty air conditioning compressor at the Arborway facility in Jamaica Plain last Thursday.

Gonneville said the FTA’s final safety report on the MBTA is still scheduled to be released before the end of this month. The four safety directives were issued in mid-June to address immediate problems that couldn’t wait until the final report.

Gonneville revealed that third party companies are working with the T helping staff juggle their day-to-day work and the work addressing the FTA’s safety directives. Gonneville didn’t identify the companies during the virtual meeting.

The deputy general manager said Orange Line operators will be assigned to operate heavy machinery on the line during the month-long shutdown for maintenance and repairs.

The shutdown of the Orange Line is running from August 19 to September 19 and the Green Line shutdown is running from August 22 until September 18.

T officials plan to run shuttle buses along the Orange Line route between Oak Grove and Government Center and between Back Bay and Forest Hills. On the downtown section of the Orange Line, riders are being encouraged to jump over to the Green Line.

Riders can board the shuttle buses for free and they can hop on any commuter rail train running between Zones 2, 1, and 1A by flashing a Charlie Card. Zone 2 fares into Boston are typically $7 one way, while Zone 1 fares are $6.50.

Communities in Zone 2 include Weymouth, Braintree, Readville, Needham, Waltham, Woburn, Reading, and Lynn.

Gonneville said the T is doing test runs of the bus replacement service, setting up phone and email hotlines riders can call, and plotting the details of routes. “For the most part we are pretty well buttoned up,” Gonneville said. adding that more details about replacement service could be available as early as Friday.