MBTA riders demand full T service, improved safety during board meeting

MBTA leaders met for the first time since the Federal Transit Administration ordered the organization to implement immediate changes to the T’s overall safety.

The first 40 minutes of the meeting were behind closed doors. When the meeting finally opened to the public, riders took the floor, demanding the T resume full service after it announced a temporary reduced schedule. Riders threw around a potential Labor Day deadline for the T to resume its standard weekday schedule. The MBTA said in the meeting that its service cuts have come in direct response to the FTA report’s findings, including staffing shortages and overall safety concerns.

The most recent incidents, the Red Line’s runaway train and an Orange Line train battery failure at Wellington Yard, have prompted the MBTA to remove all new Red and Orange Line trains while an investigation is underway.

Over an hour into the MBTA’s leadership meeting, the FTA report came up. Participants discussed finding ways to fast track critical track work and maintenance, including by leasing or buying more equipment, looking at the unintended and uncontrolled movements by disabled trains, improving staffing levels and the number of hours people are working and developing clear safety procedures and recertifications.

“Obviously, safety is absolutely our first priority here at the MBTA,” General Manager Steve Poftak said. “We absolutely want to address each one of these issues and we want to bring the resources that we need.”

The FTA’s investigation, sparked after a man died after getting his arm caught in a Red Line train door, wrapped up last Friday. Still, the MBTA plans to be in direct communication with the federal agency on an ongoing basis. The full investigation will be released in late August.

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