MBTA To Consider Refunds Following Weeks Of Poor Service

Workers clear snow from the MBTA's Mattapan trolley line on Friday. The line reopened on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Workers clear snow from the MBTA's Mattapan trolley line on Friday. The line reopened on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The head of the MBTA says the agency is considering refunding some customers affected by the breakdown in service during weeks of crippling snowstorms and below-average temperatures.

The T's policy is not to refund customers for service-related delays, but General Manager Beverly Scott said in a statement that "given the extended duration of our severe weather challenges, a number of questions have been raised regarding fare reimbursement, including a range of suggestions."

Scott said T staff would review the agency's options and that a final recommendation would be made at the next meeting of the Department of Transportation's Board of Directors on March 11.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that some sort of refund as a "good will gesture" would be a "good idea."

Monday was the first time since Feb. 1 that all MBTA rail service was running.

Service was restored to the Red Line’s Mattapan trolley early Monday. An earlier MBTA timeline said the trolley wouldn’t return until Friday.

Service had already been restored to the rest of the T's subway lines.

"I think that old T is trying to roar back over here," Scott said on WBUR's Morning Edition Monday.

Subway car counts are "still down some," Scott said, "but the service level, which is critical for our customers, is also coming back very, very well. ... [Trains are] going to be a little more crowded, OK, but this is just all part of recovery and restoration of the system."

Commuters at the JFK/UMass station Monday morning reported few issues with their T transit.

"The last few weeks was horrible. I had to wait for a long time for the train, for the bus, and I had to walk," said Allan Ordonez, 18, who was heading to school at UMass Boston. "But now, the MBTA is picking it up and everything is more fluid."

Mark Pawlak, a professor of mathematics at UMass, said his commute from Cambridge was "relatively smooth."

After taking a bus, his Red Line ride from Harvard Square to JFK station was "very straightforward," he said.

Not everyone's MBTA ride is so easy.

On the commuter rail, which is operated by the company Keolis, all lines will run on a "modified weekday schedule" from Monday through Friday, and passengers are told to expect "significant delays and cancelled trips."

Gov. Baker on Monday said he called the head of Keolis, which is based in France, to tell him he was not satisfied with the service or the response of local company officials.

Ferry service was back to normal Monday.

Scott, who is resigning from her GM position in April, had earlier estimated it could take a month to restore the embattled system.

Though Sunday brought mild temperatures to the region, cold air descends again Monday, which could complicate Tuesday's T service.

"By [Tuesday] morning most of the area will once again be below zero," WBUR meteorologist David Epstein wrote in his Monday morning forecast.

With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press

This article was originally published on February 23, 2015.



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