MBTA users feeling effects of service cuts

Drastic service cuts on the MBTA’s subway system went into effect last week, and some Suffolk students said they are already feeling the effects. 

The MBTA proposed the cuts in the fall as part of a larger plan aiming to address a budget deficit exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Approved in December and implemented March 14, the plan has made a 20% reduction in subway frequency on the Red, Green and Orange lines, along with a 5% reduction on the Blue line. Several bus routes were also eliminated or consolidated in this stage of the plan. 

In January, commuter rail service was reduced, causing only the Worcester, Providence, Fairmount, Middleborough, and Newburyport/Rockport lines to run on weekends.

The cuts have been a problem for Suffolk students who rely on the MBTA to get around.

Suffolk junior Logan Casey uses the Blue line to get to class, and even though the Blue line cuts were less severe, he said he has still been inconvenienced by the cuts.

“I have to leave earlier than I had to last semester, especially during non-peak hours when I’m headed home,” said Casey.

Freshman Hanah Tuffaha commutes to campus from Saugus on the Orange line.

“With less train service it’s more crowded, which obviously isn’t good considering we’re in a pandemic,” said Tuffaha.

Passengers crowd into a green line train amidst a pandemic.

On March 15 and 16, the first two weekdays that subway cuts went into effect, Orange line trains were plagued with mechanical problems, causing delays of up to 20 minutes on top of decreased service.

Tuffaha experienced the long waits firsthand and felt frustrated by the inconveniences.

“Sometimes, the next train won’t arrive for about 20-30 minutes, which wouldn’t have been the case before when trains were arriving every five minutes. It’s been stressful,” she said.

Tuffaha said that it’s become such an inconvenience that she’s started taking the train less and has her father drive her into the city instead.

Suffolk junior Eric Doty almost missed his COVID-19 vaccine appointment at the Reggie Lewis Center last week because of delays.

“The Orange line trains were running only every 20 minutes when I went to my appointment,” he said.

An Orange line train also derailed on March 16, causing the MBTA to replace subway service between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square with shuttle buses for the next three weeks.

Both lawmakers and the general public alike have been critical of the MBTA’s cuts. Under the COVID-19 relief bill recently passed by the federal government, Massachusetts will receive $1 billion in aid for its transportation agencies, causing some people to call for the cuts to be reversed.

“Hopefully with that money they can eliminate this reduced schedule,” said Casey.

Follow Grace on Twitter @GraceM123456.