In The Dark: MBTA Resumes Blue, Green, Orange Line Amid Power Problems

Photo: Courtesy of X User @VITO22NE

Updated 2/15/24 3:45 p.m.

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The MBTA Blue, Green, and the Orange Lines are back on track after a power problem took out electricity at stations and interrupted signaling systems, leaving hundreds of passengers waiting on platforms or idle trains in complete darkness.

Photo: Courtesy of Josie Smith

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said the outage at North Station was unexpected, as it's one of the system's primary power feeds.

"As a safety precaution, protective systems opened related circuit breakers, temporarily discontinuing power flow. We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption during the morning commute," a spokesperson for the MBTA said.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said the outage was caused by a feeder cable that had failed. The cable, which is seven miles long, is one of seven main feeder cables that delivers power to the substation inside of North Station. The other six cables automatically tripped as a safety precaution. Eng said the T then decided to "move trains manually."

"Obviously that resulted in some delays," said Eng. "That's why people experienced longer waits for their trains [Thursday] morning."

The T owns the feeder cable, but National Grid provides the power that runs through it. The MBTA was still trying to determine exactly why the line failed as of Thursday afternoon.

Officials said passengers could board the Commuter Rail for free at stops along the Orange Line.

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At the peak of the disruption, rideshare prices doubled and traffic backed up heavily as many T riders looked to the roads in an effort to make it to work on time.

"We've been sitting here for 25 minutes, so I just called an Uber," a frustrated passenger told WBZ NewsRadio's Chaiel Schaffel.

"Days like this, it's freezing, it's late, I'm not going to make it until God knows when," another said.

Photos and videos posted by passengers on social media show Haymarket and North Stations in the dark, with passengers waiting on the platforms. Trains could be seen sitting idle.

The MBTA announced that trains would be free Thursday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., in "a gesture to acknowledge that we do care about [the riders'] travels," said Eng. "We do appreciate that they're riding the T and our riders are paramount to us."

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Mayor Michelle Wu critiqued the MBTA's communication during the power outages and delays on Thursday. "Rather than just saying something's wrong and just keep waiting, tell people that it's likely going to take a while so they can make alternate plans." This was "a big frustration" she heard from people who were affected by the service stoppage.

When asked how she plans to fix the MBTA's problems, Wu explained, "We have the right leadership in place, we need resources and I really think we need a stronger mechanism for communication as well."

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