Boston’s Transit Service, Schools to Shut Down After Record-setting Snowstorms

Pedestrians make their way along a snow covered street during a winter snow storm in Cambridge, Massachusetts February 9, 2015. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Pedestrians make their way along a snow covered street during a winter snow storm in Cambridge, Massachusetts February 9, 2015. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Brian Snyder)

A record-setting run of snowstorms that has pounded the U.S. Northeast over the past two weeks has taken a heavy toll on Massachusetts, prompting officials to shut Boston’s mass-transit service through Tuesday to allow time to clear the rails.

Following a day that saw 48 commuters stuck on a snowbound train during the morning rush hour, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said all train service would shut down at 7 p.m. EST (2400 GMT) on Monday due to the snow and remain shut on Tuesday.

The closure of Boston’s transit system, as well as its schools, came after officials said 73.9 inches (1.9 meters) of snow had fallen on the city so far this season, making it the 10th snowiest winter on record.

At least four buildings collapsed around Boston under the snow’s weight, the National Weather Service said, though no injuries had been reported as a result of those incidents.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who has expressed frustration through the day at the woes of the independent transportation agency, said it was critical to keep the trains running.

“The most important thing people are looking for today, and I don’t blame them, is a little predictability and dependability,” Baker told reporters. But given the magnitude of the snowfall, he added, “if they don’t think they can run the service tomorrow, I’m glad they said so today.”

The repeated disruption to the city’s transit system, which has included aging trains freezing up during extreme cold, has also exasperated commuters.

“I’m kind of surprised that we aren’t all better prepared for this since we live in the north,” said Nzuekoh Nchinda, 22, as she struggled to find a bus for her commute home from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “We’re frustrated at Mother Nature but we can’t shake our fists at Mother Nature so we shake our fists at the MBTA.”

Others were angry that the transit agency gave only three hours’ notice of its planned shutdown.

“It is absolutely not OK. Three hours, for a major metropolitan cosmopolitan city, is not enough. Especially not for non-blizzard conditions that were preexisting,” said Evan Gutride, 36, who works in technology. “They should have had a plan.”

MBTA officials said “extremely limited” bus service would run on Tuesday.

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SOURCE: Reuters, Scott Malone and Elizabeth Barber

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