Lacking drivers, T starts paring back service

Cuts affecting 31 bus routes, Mattapan trolley

THE MBTA is paring back service on 31 bus routes and the Mattapan trolley because it doesn’t have enough workers to provide the scheduled service.

Starting December 19, T officials said some service will be added on a handful of routes, but overall service levels during the winter will be declining by about 3 percent to reflect a large dropoff in the number of drivers available. The transit authority on Monday put out a call on Twitter for more drivers, saying 300 positions need to be filled.

The driver shortage has been building for some time. Over the last several months, the T has been canceling about one of every 20 scheduled bus trips because it doesn’t have enough drivers, the T said.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said drivers are scarce across the board in the transportation sector and at many of the nation’s transit agencies. He said attrition is outpacing the T’s ability to add new workers.

“These service changes are not a cost-control measure,” he said in a statement. “The MBTA is budgeted for a full level of service, and ready to add back services when we have hired and trained new bus and train operators. We have teams at the MBTA working to streamline the hiring process and attract new employees, and I encourage all prospective candidates to visit mbta.com/apply to learn more about the many benefits that come with a career at the T.”

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The Mattapan trolley, which runs between Ashmont Station in Dorchester and Mattapan Square, is also feeling the pinch. While service is being added on Saturday and Sunday evenings, reducing the time between trains from 23 minutes to 13 minutes, service is being pared back during morning and evening weekday periods, increasing the time between trains from 5 to 7 minutes. No other subway changes are planned.

For a complete list of the upcoming service changes, click here.