In an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 the MBTA announced it would be reducing frequency in service to help facilitate social distancing.
However, following last week’s implementation of service reductions that led to crowded trains on some lines, the MBTA announced Wednesday additional revisions to service to reflect demand at specific times of day. This change applies to select rapid transit lines and bus routes.
In response to reports of heavy passenger volumes on the Green Line E branch and to further support workforce access to area hospitals in the Longwood Medical Area, service will be added to the E branch specifically with more frequency seen between Prudential and Heath Street Stations. Green Line B, C, and D branch trolleys will continue to run every seven to thirteen minutes with more frequent service on the trunk.
On Saturday, March 21, the MBTA implemented rear-door boarding on all MBTA buses and trolleys at street-level stops on the Green Line. Anyone needing to use the front door, including seniors and people with disabilities, may continue to do so.
These new measures further the T’s support for social distancing and are aligned with Governor Baker’s State of Emergency declaration.
This comes after three MBTA bus operators tested positive for COVID-19. The MBTA took immediate steps to protect its workforce and riders by enacting its facility maintenance protocols to clean and disinfect all exposed work areas, vehicles, and equipment at the T’s Cabot bus facility.
“We ask the public to keep our employees in their thoughts, and I continue to express my deep gratitude to the women and men of the MBTA workforce who are serving a vital purpose in combatting COVID-19,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “To ensure we can protect the health and safety of our workforce, we strongly urge essential travel only, and we will continue our enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles, equipment, and surfaces.”
Consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the MBTA has enacted its COVID-19 outbreak plan. We are disinfecting the employees’ workspace, vehicles, and equipment that they may have come into contact with.
“The MBTA is undertaking these measures to protect our frontline employees while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips by healthcare workers and emergency responders,” said Poftak. “As we continue monitoring the situation, we are making adjustments to ensure we can provide service for essential trips in the safest manner possible,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We recognize that some employees in key industries, including those in the medical community, rely on the MBTA to get to their places of work and we’re committed to providing service to those folks who rely on the T. That said, service continues to operate at reduced levels in an effort to maintain a responsible balance between protecting our workforce and operating safe service.”
Boston Carmen’s Union President Jim Evers said working together, the Carmen’s Union and the MBTA are ensuring that the necessary precautions are put in place to protect its members and riders.
“We take our responsibility as essential employees tasked with moving Massachusetts seriously,” said Evers. “The men and women taking the MBTA every day are trusting us to get them where they need to go, and to do so safely. I’m proud that our Union and the T were able to work together to ensure the right steps are being taken to protect employees and riders during this time.”
The MBTA will continue to track customer volumes and make service adjustments accordingly while continuing to meet the needs of customer demand and supporting social distancing.
On the Red Line between Alewife and JFK/UMass Stations, trains continue to be expected to arrive approximately every seven minutes. Red Line trains on the Ashmont and Braintree branches will run approximately every fourteen minutes.
The MBTA urges members of the public to travel only if absolutely necessary in keeping with Governor Baker’s declaration of a State of Emergency and efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 by engaging in social distancing.
These changes are being made based on guidance from public health professionals with the principal goal of protecting the health and safety of MBTA employees and customers. The MBTA will continue to monitor and assess ridership needs as this situation evolves, with a particular focus on workforce access for hospitals and food distribution locations operated by the City of Boston.
The MBTA also said it continues to ramp up its cleaning and sanitation work in stations and across vehicles.
“We are continuing to take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of riders and MBTA employees with increased cleaning and sanitation at stations and on vehicles,” said Poftak. “This includes Cleaning and disinfecting vehicles. All MBTA fleet vehicles (buses, trolleys, subway cars, Commuter Rail coaches, ferries, and RIDE vehicles) are being disinfected on a daily basis.”
The MBTA is also cleaning and disinfecting MBTA property.
“All business locations, including the RIDE Eligibility Center and CharlieCard store, are being disinfected every 24 hours,” he said. “All high-contact areas at subway stations (handrails, fare gates, and fare vending machines) are being cleaned every 4 hours.”
The MBTA is also adding more sanitation equipment like hand sanitizing dispensers, disinfectant wipes, and cleaning sprays. These will be deployed at MBTA facilities and stations throughout the system.
The MBTA is also encouraging all riders to:
Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
Cover coughs and sneezes in elbows
Stay home if sick
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
Clean areas that are frequently touched with sanitizing spray or wipes.