T ridership keeps falling as staff infections rise

18 employees, including 10 bus drivers, test positive

MBTA GENERAL MANAGER Steve Poftak disclosed on Monday that 18 employees, including 10 bus drivers, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The other employees who tested positive include one subway and Green Line operator along with six other non-customer-facing workers – a bus inspector, a subway supervisor, a fare equipment technician, a construction division inspector, a rail repairer, and a railyard motor person. On Wednesday, only three employees, all bus drivers, had been infected.

Poftak did not disclose what bus or subway lines the operators worked on. He said the Department of Public Health will communicate with individuals who had “prolonged direct contact” with the employees who contracted COVID-19.

“All of us at the MBTA are performing a crucial duty for our community during an unprecedented period in our community and country’s history,” Poftak said in a communication to employees. “I appreciate the service you provide and the sacrifice that you are making to perform this mission.”

That mission, however, is serving fewer and fewer people. According to data gathered as of Friday, ridership on the subway lines is now a tenth of what it was during a normal week in February.

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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.

Total subway ridership as of Friday was down an estimated 90 percent compared to February levels. The week before, subway ridership was down an estimated 83 percent compared to the February benchmark.

All subway lines are carrying fewer passengers. The Blue Line is carrying the most, down 83 percent from the benchmark. The Red Line is down 90 percent, the Orange Line 89 percent, the Green Line 92 percent, and the Silver Line 94 percent.