BOSTON — Commuters are bracing for travel changes as the MBTA on Monday began cutting service on three major lines through the summer.
The changes implement a Saturday schedule on weekdays on the Orange, Red, and Blue lines.
The slashed trip frequency adds at least several minutes of wait time between trains and may lead to more crowded trains and platforms.
It comes after the Federal Transit Administration concluded that a staffing shortage at the MBTA’s operations control center poses a safety risk to riders and workers.
“This is binding set of recommendations. If the T doesn’t follow through then we lose federal funding that over time could be hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance.
Federal overseers found that dispatchers have sometimes been working up to 20-hour shifts.
In some cases, workers only have four hours off before returning to duty.
According to the MBTA, the reduced train schedule matches its current staffing capacity.
“They are behind on overall operational spending because they haven’t had the support they need,” said Thompson. “The state has been underinvesting in public transit for more than a decade.”
The MBTA says it plans to launch an aggressive recruitment campaign, offering bonuses and potentially hiring back former dispatchers.
It hopes to bring back full weekday service in the fall.
“It’s definitely more inconvenient, especially when I need to get to work early, and I don’t want to leave super early,” said MBTA commuter Wes Cohen.
The changes that take effect Monday do not impact the Green Line, which uses a different dispatch system than the Orange, Red and Blue lines.