Friday, June 14, 2024

A rider waits in the aging Central Square T stop in Cambridge. (Photo: Marc Levy)

You’re not going crazy because you’re imagining the T is even slower than usual. You may be driven crazy by the fact that that the entire rail system really is slower than usual.

As of around 10 p.m. Thursday, all four light rail lines of the MBTA – red and green, which serve throughout Cambridge and Somerville; orange, serving Somerville’s Assembly Square; and blue – are restricted to speeds between 10 to 25 miles per hour. 

At their peak, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains travel 40 mph. 

The safety-based speed restrictions follow an inspection of the red line between Ashmont and Savin Hill stations by the state Department of Public Utilities and were ordered “out of an abundance of caution,” the transit agency said in an email and social media posts late Thursday.

“These actions will add additional travel time,” the agency said. “The MBTA apologizes in advance for these inconveniences and remains committed to operating the transit system in the safest manner possible.”

A press conference is planned for 10 a.m. Friday in Boston to answer questions, according to the email. Key among those questions will be how long the restrictions last, a detail MBTA officials didn’t share Thursday.

Cambridge and Somerville residents may be most familiar with the slow-motion feeling from travel between Harvard and Central stations, where a 10 mph speed limit was put in place heading northbound in September after a track inspection discovered a hazard, said Joe Pesaturo, MBTA director of communications, in October. He failed to add that when northbound travel was fixed, southbound travel would slow, which has been the situation for months.

It’s hardly the only afflicted spot on the T. An online safety dashboard went live in February to show how the system progresses on fixes to Federal Transit Administration safety directives; the dashboard includes a speed restriction report. Figures from January showed the red line had the most slow areas: 27 restrictions on 3.8 miles of track, or 9.1 percent of the line. The orange line followed with 24 restrictions on 2.9 miles of track, or 13.1 percent of the line.