T addresses costly shutdown process

Moves up departure of last E-Line train

THE MBTA’S CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER said on Monday the agency is moving up by 10 minutes the departure time for the last Green Line train from Heath Street so that the agency’s shutdown process can proceed with fewer delays. Jeffrey Gonneville said the final train from Heath Street through Park Street and on to Lechmere typically carries only one passenger on weekdays.

The scheduling change appears to be a response to a CommonWealth article by former state transportation secretary Jim Aloisi that suggested the Heath Street train was holding up the departure of two Red Line and Orange Line trains, one Blue Line train, four Green Line trains, and 56 buses at a cost of as much as $3.8 million a year.

Gonneville at the time strongly disputed the article, saying the Heath Street train was not the sole cause of the problem and the total cost of the shutdown process was $500,000, not $3.8 million.

“The assumption that the MBTA end-of-day service shutdown is delayed solely because of one Green Line E branch train is incorrect,” Gonneville said. “The shutdown is a deliberate, impressive, and well-synchronized process, which is managed by dispatchers each evening.”

At Monday’s meeting of the T’s Fiscal Management and Oversight Board, Gonneville said the last train from Heath Street for Lechmere will now depart at 12:32 a.m. instead of 12:47 a.m. “This change will allow for a more prompt release of other connector trains from downtown core,” he said in his presentation.

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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 T’s shutdown process is an effort not to strand any passengers, so final trains at Park Street and buses at other stops along the Green Line E branch wait for the final train to pass through before departing. Aloisi in his story said the final trains out of Park Street are ready to head out at 12:45 a.m. if they are on schedule, but often wait until after 1 a.m. until the E-Line train arrives.

“A rider taking the final E-Line train in the wee small hours of the morning is guaranteed a connection under today’s schedule,” Aloisi wrote. “The cost to keep such a guarantee does not match the benefits.”