MBTA Riders Frustrated by Extreme ‘Slow Zones,' Other Ongoing Issues

As the embattled MBTA continues to search for a new general manager, the list of problems that future leader will face continues to grow

NBC Universal, Inc.

The MBTA is continuing to deal with a long list of problems.

This week, as the agency continues its search for a new general manager, an Orange Line train spent nearly 24 hours on Interstate 495 in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Thursday night, the MBTA said shuttle buses were replacing Orange Line service between North Station and Oak Grove because of ice on the tracks. Green Line riders are frustrated with "slow zones," and things weren't much faster on the Red Line.

"I feel like the T is pretty unreliable," Boston University student Lydia Evans told NBC10 Boston. "I normally only take it if I have to."

That sentiment is apparently hindering the search for a new leader of the MBTA. The Boston Herald cited sources in reporting that the agency's bad reputation has hurt its recruiting efforts — even though previous General Manager Steve Poftak pulled in more than $360,000 a year.

"You cannot run the economy of Greater Boston without a successful T, and right now, it just not passing the test," Sen. Ed Markey said.

Riders also say it has not been fast enough. According to data obtained by the Boston Globe, parts of the Green Line have slowed down so much that the average person could run — or, in one stretch, walk — faster than the train.

The Globe found that near the Fenway stop, Green Line trains have been moving at 3 miles an hour since December of 2020.

Slow zones are put into place to give the MBTA a chance to make track repairs. They are supposed to be temporary, but often, they are not.

"It is really, really critical that the T treat this like an emergency," said Jarred Johnson, executive director of TransitMatters.

The nonprofit's slow zone tracker, which maps delays, has showed a spike in recent weeks on the Red Line.

"Safety is important, but we also want to make sure that we have a system that people want to ride," Johnson said.

More delays are expected on the Orange Line, Red Line and Green Line as the MBTA plans track maintenance starting next month.

The MBTA said it will announce plans Friday on when it will make slow zone data available to the public.

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