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Building a Better T

Behind the Green Line closures is MBTA’s Track Improvement Program to build a better T 

By Bethany Hartman

Photo By Lawton Jordan

The Green Line is shut down…again. And the comfort and ease provided by the Green Line can’t be replaced by the free shuttle buses. While Boston’s bus system is well suited for city transportation, its incident rate is significantly higher than that of trains, posing challenges to its operations.

According to the MBTA’s Track Improvement Program, city-wide shutdowns are in place to address a few issues.

The first obstacle to tackle is the track damage caused by speed restrictions and poor train/station infrastructure. Speed restrictions include track wear and tear that slows down trains. 

Station infrastructure is a whole other issue. Fallen ceilings, collapsed staircases, and consistent resident complaints about the poor maintenance of Boston’s public transit have all prompted the need for city-wide transit upgrades, according to WBUR. The new improvements are aimed at enhancing the overall rider experience. 

Reducing delays and disruptions is a top priority for the MBTA, according to its Track Improvement Program

“...the T would need to hire 2,800 workers by the end of the year [2023] to ensure safety and progress on the system,” according to WBUR.

These delays and disruptions are partially due to the lack of MBTA workers. According to the MBTA, new training and procedures are being implemented for workers as part of the new improvement plan scheduled from 2023 to 2025. The MBTA hopes that these new training procedures will also employ more workers. 

The $48,100,000 budget for the improvement program has proved to be far too little. This is partly due to the unexpected cost of the injuries caused by the buses replacing the trains. A man was hit by a bus in February, merely two weeks after a 19-year-old was hit by an MBTA bus on February 5th, as reported by MBTA Transit Police. The MBTA’s goal of reducing delays and disruptions and improving train speeds underscores the urgent need for improved operational management within the transit system. The MBTA’s Track Improvement Program is on track to achieve this goal.

On a lighter note, aside from the operational adjustments to the T, the Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library has taken a creative approach to the ‘T’ upgrades. The center has gathered donations through the creation of faux re-naming of stops. Among the names, passengers can look forward to chuckling at “BU,” “Even more BU,” and “Seriously, Still more BU?” as they make their way along BU’s Campus.

So, even though the Green Line is shut down (again), initiatives such as the MBTA’s Track Improvement Program and efforts to enhance rider experience are steps in the right direction.


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