MBTA Makes Substantial Improvements for Riders

By Phillip Eng | 6/3/2024

Track Improvement Program Delivers on Commitment to Reinvest in Infrastructure

General Manager and CEO
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

In March 2023, the MBTA confronted a harsh truth as we came out of a system-wide slow zone order: years of underinvestment and deferred maintenance had left our subway system with about 250 speed restrictions causing trains to crawl at 25 mph or lower (as low as 3 mph in some areas) across nearly 35 miles of track, representing over a quarter of the T’s system.

We knew we needed a bold plan to put the T back on the proverbial track. We needed to be innovative, creative, and open to accomplishing our work differently. And to win back the trust of the public, we needed to not repeat past mistakes—we needed to tackle our challenges head on and accomplish our work right the first time.

Crews worked in critical track areas during a four-day Orange Line shutdown, installing more than 5,000 feet of new rail and removing seven speed restrictions.

Last November, we announced plans for our 14-month Track Improvement Program, an ambitious undertaking in recent MBTA history designed to safely eliminate 191 speed restrictions, improve the reliability of the MBTA system, bring our infrastructure closer to a state of good repair, and ensure we can tackle future challenges quickly and effectively.

Through carefully planned multi-day service suspensions along each subway line, crews are given unencumbered access to the right of way so they can replace track, replace ties, resurface rail, and complete tamping work.

Our teams take full advantage of this special 24/7 access by performing a variety of other activities that benefit riders too, from vital power upgrades to station brightening, to security enhancements to signal improvements, and more.

MBTA removed 11 speed restrictions on the Green Line following closely coordinated work of crews within tight confines of the underground tunnel.

Through cross-departmental partnerships within the agency and between the T and its contractors, the success of these multi-day outages is thanks to the extensive planning, coordination, and collaboration of MBTA teams, multiple contractor groups, and hundreds of on-site workers.

Improving the system would not be possible without the efforts of the workforce, and I continue to thank them for their dedication to improving the safety and reliability of our infrastructure.

Since last fall, the MBTA has removed more than 140 speed restrictions across its rapid transit system, and for the first time in over a year, there are less than 100 restrictions across the system.

Within the last six months, we’ve accomplished critical work to replace nearly 65,000 feet of rail, over 16,000 ties, complete more than 95,000 feet of tamping, and improved travel times systemwide by nearly 25 minutes.

Crews performed track improvement work and overhead ­catenary upgrades while Blue Line service was shut down to replace 22,500 feet of rail, over 9,000 feet of catenary wire, and more than 10,000 ties, resulting in the removal of 19 speed ­restrictions.

We look forward to continuing this momentum through the end of the year and beyond. With each step forward, we are following through on our commitment to deliver to the public a transit system that they can rely on and be proud of. We will continue to rebuild both for today’s needs and for future generations.

Riders deserve safe, timely, reliable trips. The MBTA is on the move, and we’re just getting started.