During a Tuesday press conference, Governor Charlie Baker was repeatedly asked about MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott’s Monday comments that it could take 30 days to restore full service to the troubled transit system—and it didn’t seem like he was fully on board with them.
“Bev Scott said 30 days, we’re viewing that as sort of an outer limit,’’ Baker said. “We need to be faster than that, but I don’t want anyone over-promising and under-delivering, here.’’
In a conference call with reporters later in the afternoon, Scott clarified that service would improve over the course of the month, with “incremental’’ restoration. “It is our intention…to restore service as soon as possible,’’ she said.
According to Scott, the T has restored full service on the Red Line to Ashmont. The Braintree line is still relying on bus service from the JFK stop. All stations are open on the Blue and Silver lines. The Orange Line is operating from Sullivan to Forest Hills, with buses servicing between Sullivan and Oak Grove. The Green Line’s D branch is operating in full. An update from MassDOT Wednesday morning said that, while the B branch was still not going above ground beyond Kenmore, the C branch was now operating with limited trolley service along Beacon Street to Cleveland Circle. The E branch ends at Prudential, but buses are shuttling passengers between Northeastern and Heath St. Scott said she hoped to “speak concretely’’ to a full restoration plan on Wednesday.
Scott was asked about the possibility of refunds for MBTA monthly pass customers in February. She did not say whether a refund would happen, but said it is something officials are discussing. “We appreciate that this goes beyond the pale of what anybody would want,’’ she said of the T’s recent performance.
During his press conference, Baker dodged questions about long-term plans regarding MBTA funding and operations, instead saying the focus should be on what could be done today to clear snow and return the ailing transit system to normal operation levels.
“We’re gonna focus on what we can do to get the thing running now,’’ the governor said, though he added that he is looking forward to speaking with lawmakers and other officials about “the future with respect to the T.’’
The governor distanced himself from the T’s woes—“Remember, I don’t have direct control over this entity,’’ he said—and admitted that, in matters ranging from how the MBTA operates to how it picks a replacement for its departing general manager, he realizes that what he has to offer is “more influence than anything else.’’
In her call, Scott was asked why she left the position but declined to discuss beyond saying it “was a personal decision,’’ and that her “focus is on restoration’’ of MBTA service.
Baker said that he and state Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack want to meet with Keolis, the company that runs the commuter rail for the MBTA, in the next few days.
“I’m really looking forward to having the folks from Keolis in for a chat. I’m certainly not satisfied with their performance,’’ he said.
Service on several commuter rail lines was canceled on Tuesday.
“Quite candidly, even on (the commuter rail’s) reduced schedule, it has been a subpar performance,’’ Scott said in her conference call.
When asked whether or not the MBTA was still a world-class transit system, Baker gave an answer that was rather forgiving, considering his recent comments on his frustration and disappointment with the organization’s performance: “I think the MBTA at this point is a transit system that is dealing with nine feet of snow in three weeks.’’
But when asked if he had been aware of Scott’s “30 days’’ warning to commuters before she made the comment to reporters last night, Baker answered with a curt, “No,’’ and ended the conference.