MBTA delays have become so par for the course that some Boston.com readers say they’re padding their commutes with an extra hour of wait time, and sometimes even that’s not enough.
The T, buses, and commuter rail have all experienced delays caused by system-wide staff shortages and train shutdowns in recent weeks. We asked readers if the service interruptions had impacted their commutes, and many said it’s as bad as they can remember it.
“I live [near] North Station so every line I take has been affected,” Yolanda M. from the North End said. “I left my job in Longwood due to the Green lines and I will not take a job now unless it’s remote, and I’m in the middle of Boston.”
After a negative review of MBTA safety from the Federal Transit Administration, the MBTA reduced the frequency of the Red, Orange, and Blue lines to weekend service times. Current delays may be temporary, as MBTA officials say they’re “exploring multiple options to add capacity at the control center” — but as long as the delays go on, readers aren’t feeling confident about relying on their services.
Leslie from Jamaica Plain was one of several readers who argued that an unreliable MBTA would discourage office workers from returning to the city and make life harder for the workers who have no choice but to rely on the T to get to their jobs.
“Making public transportation less attractive to commuters has the obvious result of disincentivizing ridership. With all of the efforts for companies to get their employees into the office, and restaurants staffing to accommodate their customers, the MBTA electing to cull trains will undo these initiatives,” she said. “The chosen nomenclature of ‘summer schedule’ seems to imply that the entire economy ceases to operate during the summer, like schools. This decision is embarrassing for a world-class city like Boston.”
Ahead, you’ll find anecdotes from 10 readers detailing how the MBTA’s new normal has disrupted their regular commutes.
Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.
How have you been impacted by MBTA delays and service shut downs?
“It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to work, largely due to delays on the Red Line. My commute is typically an hour and 15 minutes. There was no Ashmont train from Park Street station for about half an hour. The train also was at the station for quite a while loading riders, and stopped for several minutes in the tunnels, waiting for other trains ahead of us to move. The trains are standing room only and take a long time to discharge and load passengers.” — Jen, Beverly
“I commute outbound from Winthrop to Metro West via the T and the Worcester Line. Usually, I transfer from Back Bay via the Orange to State. Long wait times at Back Bay compound to longer wait times for the 712/713 buses at Orient Heights. These schedule changes have added 30-45 minutes to an already 2-hour commute. I don’t trust any of the escalators anymore. I don’t care how deep the station is at Aquarium — I’ll take my chances with the stairs. Also, the whole system is in disrepair. South Attleboro has been closed [due] to the pedestrian walkway being unsafe. I’ve seen multiple equipment issues each week on Worcester line trains.” — Alan N., Winthrop
“My commute is already long as it is, going from South Shore to Longwood Medical Area. But nothing is worse than working a long day, making it to JFK to see that you’ve just missed the Braintree train and now have to wait 10, 15, or even 20 minutes for the next humid and packed train with other tired people. Not to mention, the state of the stations themselves is atrocious.” — Dana, Abington
“It’s been impossibly slow lately. It took me over an hour to get from Back Bay to Oak Grove this afternoon. I have to leave massively early to guarantee I’ll actually be on time to work and it’s getting ridiculous. It’s impossible to rely on its service in its current state.” — Emily, Malden
“The adjusted times they said would go into effect seem wrong, and it is actually longer than they are saying. Also, it seems like the trains aren’t as spread out as they should be. I arrived at the Blue Line last week and the waits were for 10 and 12 minutes. Why wouldn’t those be more spread out? Also, maybe a price reduction during all this inconvenience would make the riders happier.” — Will H., Winthrop
‘I am back to being an annoyed Boston driver’
“A month ago I made a decision to change my commute from driving in the city to taking the T due to the traffic being unbearable and the potholes on the Tobin actively trying to remove my teeth for the entire length of the bridge going north. So my T journey began. On day 1 I took the 4:41 a.m. bus from Everett to Sullivan, the Orange line from Sullivan to Ruggles then the CT2 bus to the Longwood Area. Total time = 1 hour and 26 minutes! On a positive note, my return trip was a bit better with a total time of 1 hour and 17 minutes.
But that was Day 1. On day 2, I was met with delays on the Orange Line as well as the buses both coming and going. The total time to get to work was 1 hour 47 minutes, and the total time to get home was 2 hours 3 minutes. This was my commuting time in the T for the rest of the week. MBTA, I did give it a week. I am back to being an annoyed Boston driver, creating new colorful word combinations daily to yell.”
— Katia D., Everett
“My commuter rail line is on a reduced schedule and if I were to take the commuter rail, I would heavily rely on the Orange Line to get me to my office at Back Bay from North Station. This has forced me to drive to and from work. Without traffic, my ride should be 45-50 mins. Lately, it’s taken me close to 2 hours to get in. Last Wednesday, I left my office at 6:30 pm expecting traffic to be light, but there was severe traffic resulting from an accident. It took me two hours to get home as I subsequently hit construction traffic on the way home as well. It is completely miserable out there. I am extremely frustrated with the MBTA.” — Ashley, Gloucester
‘I had enough and paid for a ride-share’
“I take the Orange Line most days of the week from a suburb north of Boston to Back Bay. Most recently, I was unable to get home on the T due to structural issues at Government Center. I couldn’t get to Oak Grove station by T, so after an odyssey on several trains that didn’t go where signs said they would go, I had enough and paid for a ride-share. Not everyone can shrug this off as a temporary inconvenience. Fortunately, I can still work from home part-time, which is necessary due to the long delays, waiting times, and more crowded trains. I have adjusted my schedule by commuting an hour later every morning, but this is not sustainable long-term. I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany. I think Boston and the MBTA can learn a lot from Germany’s modern and efficient public transportation systems. I am left to wonder why the system here is so poorly managed and maintained with trains rusting away.” — KSchon, Melrose
‘Don’t forget the buses’
“I’ve taken the route 354 express bus since 2006 and never had so many delays and missed buses as we have experienced this year. In the last month, we’ve had at least four different occasions of delays of over one hour before a single bus came to the State Street stop for the ride home after work.
“The T’s communication is horrible. You will get a single alert after the first bus doesn’t come saying there are delays of up to 20 minutes due to traffic. Then no more communication from the T. So we are stuck in limbo wondering if a bus is even coming.
“The T makes up the schedule but still is unable to come within an hour of the departure times. It has become completely unreliable. The Better Bus Project plan to fix this issue is to eliminate route 354. I truly believe the commute on the T is a major reason people would rather work from home.” — John, Woburn
“Don’t forget the buses. Just this morning, it showed a gap of AT LEAST 40 minutes, so I walked a quarter mile down Mass Ave. to catch a bus going to Alewife. I’ve had to use the T for over 20 years and it gets worse every year. I’m sure it was getting worse in the 20 years prior, too.” — Sara, Arlington
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.