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Winter weather, suspicious package caused delays on Boston’s subway system

Cold weather caused one to two-hour delays on Boston's MBTA system last week.
Cold weather caused one to two-hour delays on Boston's MBTA system last week.

Earlier this month, Dallas' light-rail system was under fire for not having a business continuity plan in place after harsh weather froze the lines for three days, but they are not alone: Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) experienced similar issues last week.

Although winter does not officially start until the end of this week, freezing temperatures caused cracks to appear on parts of the MBTA's red line, which extends from Cambridge to Braintree. The damaged area was roughly 15 to 20 minutes outside of Boston and slow travel made it difficult for thousands of people to get through their rush-hour commutes, the Boston Globe reported.

A one to two-inch crack into the MBTA's third rail cut off the electric current that would allow the subway to pass through the stops. On Tuesday, December 10 it caused frustration for commuters getting home and the gash on December 11 dampened the Wednesday commute as well.

"They could tell there was a spot where the trains were losing power," Joe Pesaturo, MBTA spokesman, told the news source. "We want to make sure this isn't systemic," Pesaturo said.

The problem with these back-to-back cracks is they happened at the same station, JFK/UMass, which connects two divisions of the MBTA's Red line. Delays took between one or two hours, depending on when passengers were at the stations. To alleviate delays on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the MBTA shuttled travelers back and forth between other stations.

After two days of frustrations, commuters were notified that on Thursday, December 12 traffic had to be slow again due a suspicious package at another station. Although it turned out to be a harmless duffel bag, MassLive contributor Garrett Quinn writes that it caused about an hour of setbacks, also during the afternoon rush hour. 

The MBTA did its best to make the most out of the situation by alerting commuters via social media on the delays, but back-to-back travel issues were difficult to explain. Travel organizations that wish to develop a plan that will alleviate many of these stresses can utilize business continuity consultants