Baker ‘Frustrated, Disappointed’ in MBTA; Suggests Changes Coming

The tortured commutes of early 2015 are still fresh on many riders' minds.
An MBTA green line subway train sits at a station in Brookline. –REUTERS

Governor Charlie Baker said he was “frustrated’’ and “disappointed’’ with the MBTA’s recent performance in a press conference Monday afternoon and suggested changes could be coming soon.

Despite running on a reduced frequency level Monday, MBTA buses, trains, and commuter rail lines all experienced significant delays. Shuttle buses replaced trains between JFK/UMass and Braintree, as well as on the Orange Line between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square.

“We spent a lot of time over the weekend talking to folks at the T to make sure that they would be able to run at least an abbreviated schedule today,’’ he said. “We’ve been disappointed by the fact that even that abbreviated schedule hasn’t been able to be maintained.’’

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Baker said it was “simply not acceptable’’ and suggested he would address these issues down the road.

“Once it stops snowing, we plan to have a long conversation with the folks at the T about improving performance,’’ he said.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott defended the MBTA’s decisions but also apologized to those being incovenienced, particularly to the Red Line passengers who became stuck on a malfunctioning train between Quincy Center and Quincy Adams.

“We are disappointed, we are apologetic, we are sorry, it is all of it in spades,’’ Scott told The Boston Globe. “We’re trying to do the best we can.’’

With more than 60 inches of snow (and climbing), Boston reached a new record for snowfall over a 30-day period in just the past 17 days. The new total surpassed that of the famed Blizzard of ’78. The record for 40-day snowfall, at 66.7 inches, is expected to be passed later Monday.

“The big issue is not just this storm but the cumulative impact of the past three storms,’’ Baker said earlier on Monday. “It’s been a real challenge for everyone.’’

Baker said the “unprecedented’’ snow totals have “shattered’’ the budgets for snow and ice removal. He said Massachusetts added $50 million to its budget for snow and ice removal, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said the state could request reimbursements from FEMA in the coming weeks.

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“The goal in the short term is we’ll move the snow and figure out how to pay for it afterwards,’’ Baker said.

The increased necessity of funding for snow removal comes amid a $750 million budget shortfall inherited by Baker.

“We’ve probably spent as much time on snow as we have on the budget,’’ he said.

Logistically, officials have struggled to find a place to physically move the snow. Snow farms are full, Baker said, and temperatures haven’t risen enough to melt the snow naturally. While state-run highways have somewhat been able to push snow onto the wide banks, smaller municipalities haven’t been able to do so for smaller roadways.

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