MBTA service expected to be back on track on Tuesday after storm shutdown
Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
MBTA service was expected to largely resume Tuesday morning, after being shut down for part of Monday due to the fierce storm hitting Massachusetts, a T spokesman said.
Subways will resume regularly scheduled service, except that shuttle buses will replace Green Line trains on the D branch between Riverside and Reservoir stations, said Joe Pesaturo, MBTA spokesman.
Commuter rail service was expected to return with delays and with the suspension of the Providence/Stoughton Line between Mansfield and Wickford Junction. Pesaturo encouraged commuters to check the authority’s website at MBTA.com for updates.
As commuters rushed to subway lines and commuter rail stations on Monday afternoon to catch the last trains before the system shut down at 2 p.m. because of Hurricane Sandy, some commuters criticized the MBTA for waiting too long to announce the closure.
The announcement of a shutdown should have been made Sunday, giving people more time to prepare, said an annoyed Julian Down of Cambridge, as he waited for one of the last Red Line trains at South Station, shortly after the 2 p.m. closure. “They knew about this storm, they knew this storm was coming,” said the biotech employee.
There was no reason officials could not have made an earlier announcement, he added.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said he ordered the shutdown of MBTA bus, subway, and commuter rail service at 10 a.m. Monday because he feared for the safety of commuters and workers as the transportation agency faced increasing reports of fallen wires, trees, and branches, and were concerned that rising flood waters would make parts of the system impassible.
“We were looking at the forecasts and it looks like we will have significant and sustained winds in the metropolitan Boston area of 50-plus miles an hour,’’ he said, noting that most of the sprawling public transit system is above ground and not protected by subway tunnels.
Davey said in a telephone interview that the closing was announced at 10 a.m. so that passengers who had taken the T to work would have time to craft alternative departure plans.
Still, some commuters said they wish they had known earlier, because the late announcement meant some workers would be stranded.
“That is pathetic,” said Jim Silvers, as he boarded a train at North Station on Monday afternoon. “People have to work and won’t be able to get home,” said the Malden resident, noting that workers in hospitals, hotels, and pharmacies might have taken the T to work, thinking they could to take it home.
But Davey said the T made it clear on Sunday and on its website Monday that Hurricane Sandy could force the closure of the region’s public transit system at any time. The T should be credited for choosing to operate its buses, subway trains, and commuter rail trains Monday for as long as it did, he said.
Last year, the MBTA was faulted for shutting down completely during Hurricane Irene, Davey said.
“We could have just not run service at all,’’ said Davey. “But we heard from the hospitals and medical profession last year during Hurricane Irene that it really put a burden on the medical community.”
“By maintaining service for nine hours today, we were able to provide transportation to medical professionals and other personnel needed for emergency situations,” a T spokesman later said.
Davey added: “Shutting down public transit is never ideal. But under the circumstances, the safety of our customers and our employees is paramount.’’
Many who heard about the T shutdown left work early. The commuter rail waiting area at South Station was as full at noon as if it were the regular late afternoon rush hour, even though ridership for the day was down by 70 percent.
But as the clock neared 2 p.m., the area thinned out. At the Red Line stop, only a handful of people waited for the last trains.
Others had not heard about the shutdown and were lucky to catch a train.
“I had no idea,” said Markson Ulysses, who works at Au Bon Pain and was at South Station this afternoon.
Dave Miller, a Brookline resident, said he understood the T’s decision to shut down despite the inconvenience it caused him.
“I completely understand,’’ he said. “It is better to be cautious, although I wish I drove in.’’
Davey said the Blue Line, Green Line, and buses in Belmont, Cambridge, and Watertown all draw power from overhead lines and that some commuter rail tracks pass through isolated patches of woods.
By 3 p.m., at least 15 trees or large branches had come down on all four subway lines and four commuter rail lines.Matthew Carroll can be reached at email@example.com. John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peter Schworm can be reached at email@example.com..