Mayors want MBTA fare hike delayed, free rides after Red Line derailment

BOSTON (WHDH) - BOSTON (WHDH) – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh wants the MBTA’s upcoming fare hike delayed and Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan is calling for free rides on the heels of a Red Line derailment that left behind extensive damage and caused chaotic commutes last week.

One car of a six-car train derailed for about 1,800 feet at JFK/UMass Station around 6 a.m. on June 4, damaging the track, signals, switches, and bungalows, MBTA officials said in an update Monday.

Crews have since repaired the track, along with some switches and signals, but repairs are still being made to wires, power cables, bungalows and the rest of the signals.

Regular service resumed Sunday on the Red Line. Commuters are still experiencing delays as trains continue to operate at restricted speeds because switches have to be operated manually.

Gov. Charlie Baker has stressed that the agency is making long-term improvements, which will be funded in part by a fare increase set to come next month.

In a message on Twitter, Walsh said, “There should be no fare increase until the Red Line is fixed. The @MBTA must act with urgency and it’s unfair to ask riders to pay more until the Red Line is fully operational.”

Sullivan, whose city is a major stop on the Red Line, says the latest MBTA mishap is “quality of life issue.”

“For many of these folks, public transportation is their only access for getting into Boston,” he said.

Sullivan believes the MBTA should offer some sort of compensation for the suffering caused by the derailment.

“Maybe there are a couple of days that they can offer some free rides on the Red Line, something like that,” he said.

Along with operator error, MBTA officials have ruled out foul play and infrastructure as causes for the derailment.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says that the public transportation service “regrets that the derailment occurred.”

“We believe it is unacceptable and we are taking every step we have available to us, not only to mitigate the delays that our customers are currently facing, but obviously to address concerns regarding safety,” he continued.

It’s not clear when service will return to normal speeds.

A third-party service is now reviewing all in-service, mainline derailments from 2017 to 2019.

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