Thursday, 4:30 PM
T fans commuters
By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff
"This is nice," Kathy Robertson of South Boston said as she stood on the Andrew Station platform and felt something strange and wonderful. "Thereís something there, but Iím not quite sure what it is."
That feeling hit many commuters Tuesday, as the MBTA, dealing with the hottest day of the year so far, did something normally reserved for emergencies: To get the air moving in some subway tunnels and ease the stifling, sweaty stuffiness in stations, T officials turned on 250-horsepower ventilation fans to generate artificial breezes underground.
The move was part of a system-wide effort to cool the T after steamed customers complained during last Augustís heat wave, when temperatures hit 100 degrees in some stations. The effort includes an army of new portable fans and evaporator fans called Port-A-Cools, which are popping up at downtown Boston stations and at Alewife and Harvard on the Red Line. Misting fans, similar to those seen on the sidelines of summertime football games, are expected to be installed later this week.
"We still expect that some stations will be hot when itís this hot," said Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. "Weíre just trying to make it a little more tolerable while they wait."
The T has also been adding air conditioning to buses, subway cars, and commuter rail coaches. Of the 33 commuter rail coaches used Tuesday, only two had problems with air conditioning.
Boston hit 95 degrees Tuesday, shy of the record of 100 degrees set in 1952. Still, the hot and hazy conditions caused an air quality alert for the region through Thursday.
Mac Daniel can be reached at email@example.com