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Changes to weekday MBTA service begin this week. Here’s what to know. 

Trains on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines will come less frequently this summer.

A new Orange Line car at the Massachusetts Avenue station in September 2021. The Orange Line will see slower service this summer, with trains coming two or three minutes less often. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The Red, Orange and Blue lines will all see slightly reduced frequency on weekdays this summer, as the MBTA grapples with staffing challenges among subway dispatchers.

Starting June 20, the schedules for the three train lines will mirror typical Saturday service, the MBTA said in a release, with longer-than-usual wait times in between train arrivals during the workweek.

The Green Line will not be affected, officials said, and weekend service on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines will remain the same.

If dispatch capacity permits, the MBTA said, there is a chance some days will have increased service, and when dispatch capacity rises enough, the trains will revert to the previous level of service. 


“The MBTA is exploring multiple options to add capacity at the control center, including an aggressive recruitment campaign, offering bonuses, and potentially hiring back former dispatchers,” the statement read.

There is one day riders won’t have to worry about decreased frequency of trains — July 4. During the afternoon and evening of July 4, schedules will return to regular weekday services to accommodate Independence Day festivities, the MBTA said. 

Usually in the summer, Red Line trains come every nine to 10 minutes during peak morning and evening periods, every 10 to 12 minutes during off-peak hours, and every five to six minutes on the “trunk” of the line, between Alewife and JFK/UMass stations, according to MBTA. This summer, however, trains will come every seven to eight minutes on the trunk of the line, and on the Ashmont and Braintree branches they will come every 14 to 15 minutes.

The Orange Line will see increases in wait times of two or three minutes, according to the MBTA. Trains will come every 10 minutes in the mornings, every 11 minutes in the evenings, and every eight to nine minutes in the middle of the day, as compared to normal service times of six or seven minutes during peak hours and seven to eight minutes in non-peak times. 


Blue Line weekday trains will operate every seven minutes until 9 a.m. and then every eight to nine minutes the rest of the day, the MBTA said. This is up from typical peak period service of five minutes between trains, nine to 10 minutes between trains in mid-day mornings, and every five to six minutes between trains in mid-day afternoons.

According to the MBTA, ridership is still down from pre-pandemic levels, with the Red and Orange lines down about 50% and Blue Line volume down 44%.

These changes are a direct response to orders from the Federal Transit Administration, or FTA, which has been inspecting the MBTA since mid-April. Last week, the FTA handed down four main issues it wants the MBTA to address before the release of the final report of the inspection. 

The four issues identified were: inadequate staffing at the operations control center, a lack of safety protections in train yards, delayed track maintenance, and late recertification of MBTA workers.

According to The Boston Globe, FTA associate administrator Paul Kincaid said the FTA found operations control center staff working up to 20-hour shifts, with just four hours off in between. The administration also found that, as of April 29, four of the 18 heavy rail dispatcher jobs and two of the 11 supervisor jobs were vacant.


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