Why so hot on the red line train?

Every Monday afternoon for the past three weeks, the Red Line has been without any air conditioning or air circulation. Given the packed conditions during rush hour, the result is temperatures of 80-plus degrees and humid, stagnant air in the cars. My question is, why is this occurring at all and is this an intentional cost-cutting measure? Matthew Bartlett

 Dear Mr. Bartlett: We are aware of the importance of having properly working air conditioning in confined spaces such as in a train, and I assure you that we work hard to locate and repair defective vehicles.  

That is why we are investing approximately $4.5 million to rehabilitate 58 Red Line vehicles, including overhaul of the HVAC units. The A/C units regulate the temperature of the car to keep the train between 68 and 72 degrees. Each unit has a heating and cooling element to achieve the proper temperature. There is no way to predict when a unit will fail, thereby resulting in an in-service car having a defective air-conditioning system. In addition, each car in a six-car train has one HVAC unit, which feed two blowers located in each end of the car. It is possible for the one end to be sufficiently comfortable and the other end to be hot/cold in the event that a blower fails.

Unfortunately, at times, the crew of the train may be unaware that one car has a failed A/C unit. However, when we are aware that the system is inoperable, we immediately dispatch an official and also instruct the train crew to check the unit to see if the issue can be overcome. If the issue cannot be overcome and the car is not fit for service, the car is taken out of service as soon as possible.

While crews are trained to be mindful of having all elements of their vehicle working in proper order, failures do occur. I would like to remind customers that reporting instances such as inoperable air-conditioning or a malfunctioning door helps us address the problem early before it escalates. Similar to our successful See Something Say Something campaign for reporting suspicious activity, we urge customers to take that same approach and report service-related issues. For customers reading this who want to share their experiences or make a recommendation on how we can serve you better please go to www.mbta.com, click on customer support, click on customer comment; or call our Customer Support Department at 617-222-3200 and speak to a Customer Support Representative. Send your questions for MBTA General Manager Rich Davey to letters@metro.us or leave a comment on the Transportation Blog at www.metro.us

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send 300-word submissions to letters@metro.us.


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