BOSTON (WHDH) - The MBTA has temporarily paused nearly all contractor work on its tracks, officials said Thursday, citing to safety concerns.
A T spokesperson said officials paused work beginning on Wednesday. The pause, the spokesperson said, was scheduled to continue for 48 hours and would include “all contractor work that is not taking place inside an established diversion area.”
The pause comes after news of more close calls between MBTA trains and workers became public.
The pause also follows a crackdown on the T from the Federal Transit Authority, which recently ordered new safety changes to protect employees.
Among recent incidents on the Red and Green lines in the last six weeks was one on Sept. 11 that happened in a tunnel between Porter and Harvard stations on the Red Line. A worker tried to flag a train to stop. The driver did not stop and the incident was not immediately reported.
In a letter last week, the Federal Transit Authority said it “has determined that a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of serious injury or death of a worker.”
Asked this week about the new pause on contractor work, MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said “The MBTA is working to establish more rigorous levels of protection for work crews on our rights of way.”
“The first priority is to ensure safety for our internal workforce supporting critical inspections and maintenance,” Pesaturo continued.
Pesaturo said the T paused contractor work outside established diversion areas “in order to focus on this first phase of work.”
MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng in his own statement said the T “is committed to the safety of our workforce.”
“The status quo is not acceptable, and we will continue to focus on the safety of our riders and employees,” Eng said. “As general manager, it is my job to ensure our employees have the appropriate tools, clear direction and resources to enable them to successfully perform their functions.”
Eng said the T is “rebuilding and reorganizing the workforce, top to bottom, to ensure we have the right people in place at all levels to implement the changes required to bring meaningful, long-lasting systemic solutions.”
“T management needs to ensure that we are implementing improved procedures and following through on our commitments,” Eng continued. “This is a team effort with the FTA, DPU, and our labor unions, and we all share the common goal of a safe and reliable MBTA.”
MBTA officials on Thursday did not elaborate on what may happen after the current work pause.
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