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UPDATED: MBTA: 100 more subway cars now in service

The Red Line experienced significant delays Monday evening and Tuesday morning.Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Despite delays, T service improved Wednesday, with authorities confident the worst is behind the city’s public transportation system.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) spokesman Joe Pesaturo said by Wednesday morning the T had 100 more subway cars in service than it did on Tuesday during the same time period.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott said Tuesday that at least 40 percent of the subway cars on the Blue, Orange and Red Lines were out of service, while about 20 to 25 percent of the Green Line cars were also down for the count.

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Wednesday morning also had delays, and Pesaturo said commuters should be prepared for continued difficulties, albeit not as severe as Tuesday, when shuttle buses replaced stretches of the Green Line and some Red Line commuters waited 40 minutes to board a train.

“While vehicle maintenance crews have made much progress in the last 24 hours, they have more to do before we can resume a typical weekday schedule of service,” said Pesaturo.

He said that if the weather cooperates the T expects to resume a regular schedule within a few days.

The MBTA said Tuesday’s delays could be chalked up to the snow and freezing temperatures that wreaked havoc on mechanical components of the T infrastructure. On Monday night, the third rail on the Red Line was iced over to the point where there wasn’t a strong electrical connection between the rail and the cars.

Complicating matters, Pesaturo said the snowiest seven-day period in Boston history caused problems for the traction motor in many trains. The motors were sucking in fluffy snow, which rendered dozens of them inoperable. The motors transfer the energy from the third rail to the train’s propulsion system.

“When you lose the traction motor, that’s what causes all the issues,” said Pesaturo.

MBTA crews in the last week and a half had fixed about 60 such motors. Usually they would fix that number across a whole winter season, said Pesaturo.

Pesaturo said some of the Red Line cars in operation today had weathered the blizzard of 1978.

“We have to find a way to work with what we have,” he said. “It’s not an ideal situation. We can’t retire them, we need these cars to meet the demand on the Red Line.”

New Orange and Red Line cars have been ordered — 284 in total — but they won’t arrive until 2018 and 2019, he said.

Severe delays plagued all subway lines Tuesday morning after a storm dumped more than a foot of snow on the region. Delays also hampered some Red Line commutes Monday evening.

All subway and lines reported delays Wednesday morning as tens of thousands descended into the heart of the city for the New England Patriots’ parade.

 
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