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With Ridership Low Due To Coronavirus, MBTA Fast-Tracking Construction Projects

BOSTON (CBS) – Construction on the T is being fast-tracked while MBTA ridership is low due to coronavirus. The MBTA is also working to ensure safe and efficient rides when commuters begin heading back to work.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and MassDOT leaders toured the Maverick Blue Line station in East Boston on Wednesday. The station closed on May 18 and will remain shut down through May 31 as part of an accelerated improvement project made possible by low ridership during the coronavirus pandemic.

"By diverting this part of the Blue Line for two weeks, this work will be finished more than two months sooner than previously anticipated," said Governor Charlie Baker.

Buses are replacing service through Maverick Station on the Blue Line. Baker said public transit will be a critical part of the state's reopening process.

"The T also launched a public messaging campaign at stations, as well, reminding riders to ride safer and wear a mask or face covering while using the MBTA," Baker said. "As we turn to reopening, we know the public transportation will play an important role in making sure people get where they need to go."

The Blue Line project is part of the state's $8 billion capital improvement plan. Over the five-year project, the Orange and Red lines will get new cars, the Green Line will be extended and there will also be improvements to signals and fair gates.

"Life as we know it has changed in many ways, but what hasn't changed is the need for a good transportation system that functions well," said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

General Manager Steve Poftak said the MBTA is changing how it manages transportation as a result of the coronavirus.

"Our old service delivery policy used to consider a bus with 58 people on it to be crowded. We will now consider a bus with 20 people on it to be crowded," said Poftak. "We will track that to the extent feasible. We will attempt to provide additional service where we can."

The MBTA will increase service with each phase of the state's reopening plan. It is also asking riders to wear masks and practice social distancing.

"Our staff will be monitoring ridership levels and rider behavior during Phase One and during all the following phases in order to make targeted adjustments where needed and where feasible," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

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