Reduced frequency on subways will continue through fall
Poftak indicates staffing levels in operations control center remain too low
THE MBTA, which had originally hoped to restore regular weekday service on the Red, Blue, and Orange lines by the end of the summer, is now planning to continue the lower frequency service throughout the fall.
The T moved to less frequent weekend levels of service on the three lines in June because it lacked enough dispatchers in the subway operations control center. The Federal Transit Administration, in its safety review of the MBTA, had raised concerns about understaffing and overworked dispatchers in the operations control center.
General Manager Steve Poftak indicated on Wednesday that the T is going to need more time to bring staffing levels up to where they need to be.
“We don’t anticipate any changes in service for the fall,” he said.
“Our priority is always going to be safety and we are prioritizing safety in this case, so until we feel we have an adequate level of staffing at the OCC we’re going to keep the service level in place that we believe we can provide safely,” Poftak said.
The general manager said one class of dispatchers is currently being trained and another class is waiting to start. He promised a more detailed announcement about the situation soon.
His comment about service levels came at a press conference on the commuter rail platform at Ruggles Station, where he said construction work during the one-month shutdown of the Orange Line was on schedule and proceeding smoothly.
He said 16 percent of the planned work is finished. He also said passengers accustomed to using the Orange Line appear to be finding their way to destinations using replacement shuttle buses and free commuter rail and bicycle services.
Indeed, Poftak said passenger levels on some commuter rail lines — the Needham and the Haverhill lines, in particular — have been so high that the T is preparing to add more passenger coaches to the trains.
He urged drivers to stay away from the shuttle bus routes and urged those that have to go into the area to stay out of the shuttle bus lanes.