The MBTA will seek an outside review of the system's safety and practices in the wake of last week's Red Line derailment that continues to slow service on the heavily used transit line, officials said Monday.
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told the T's oversight board on Monday that he believes a third-party analysis, something advocates have called for, is warranted following two derailments in just four days. There have also been five derailments this year, not the four the T officials have been citing in recent days. Board members said the idea was worthwhile and expect to draft plans in the coming weeks.
A separate review of all MBTA derailments since the start of 2017, conducted by LTK Engineering, is already underway. Six days after the Red Line derailment near the JFK/UMass station, the MBTA still has not identified the cause and investigators are looking at whether the 50-year-old car or its wheels replaced in 2014 are to blame, Poftak said Monday. Poftak told the T's oversight board that flaws with the track infrastructure, human error and foul play have been ruled out as responsible, but that officials still "do not have any determination for a root cause."
"The investigation is focused on the vehicle itself," he said. The MBTA will continue to run additional commuter rail trains Monday and Tuesday to supplement Red Line service. Poftak said Friday that a planned July 1 fare increase will take effect.
On Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the fare hike should not be implemented until Red Line service is restored.
"There should be no fare increase until the Red Line is fixed. The @MBTA must act with urgency and it's unfair to ask riders to pay more until the Red Line is fully operational," the mayor tweeted.
Progress on Red Line repairs; slower commute likely
Five days after a train derailed while approaching JFK-UMass station on the Red Line, the MBTA on Sunday said it has resumed seamless service to Quincy and Braintree stops but asked customers to build an extra 20 minutes into their planned travel times as they begin another work week.
Riders no longer need to transfer to another train at the JFK-UMass station, officials said, but while service has resumed on all tracks through the JFK-UMass station trains continue to operate at restricted speeds. In the wake of the 6:10 a.m. derailment Tuesday, the authority has made "around-the-clock repairs to signals and track infrastructure" and the service announcement was made Sunday after a series of successful ttests.
"We are pleased to be able to resume direct service to the Braintree branch, but we still have a lot of work to do," MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. "Recovery operations are continuing with a goal of full service, but riders should allow additional time fo r their commutes because track switches must be operated manually until repairs are completed. For Monday’s commute, we will continue to offer additional commuter rail trips and will continue to keep riders routinely updated on the schedule."
Countdown clocks that let passengers know when to expect trains remain inoperable due to ongoing signal work. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS