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Baker On MBTA's Cold Weather Disaster: 'This Can't Happen Again'

BOSTON (CBS) – The bitter cold and all of the snow left behind from the last two storms crippled the MBTA Tuesday.

Check: MBTA Service Alerts

Rail service, particularly on the Red Line and commuter rail, was severely impacted for the morning rush hour.

Check: Commuter Rail Service Alerts

"A week of constant exposure to frigid temperatures, ice, and record snowfall has taken a major toll on the MBTA's vehicles and infrastructure," MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email to WBZ-TV.

Check: Red Line Updates

"Due to a shortage of fully functioning subway cars, customers are asked to consider an alternative to the Red Line today."

Red Line

Some riders said that wasn't an option for them.

"I don't really have another way to get to work so I gotta try," commuter Dan Zachs told WBZ-TV.

Just after 9:30 a.m., the MBTA issued a service alert saying shuttle buses were replacing Green Line service between Kenmore and Haymarket stations.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that she didn't want to make excuses, but riders are seeing the effects of harsh winter conditions on an aging transportation network.

"It's bad, OK?" Scott said. "This should be a real wake-up call in terms of what are the consequences of lack of investment in a system for years and years."

Beverly Scott
MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. (WBZ-TV)

Passengers were stuck on one Red Line train Monday for more than two hours when the power went out.

"There's not a magic sauce for us," Scott said. "We're hoping this weather will subside some."

Red Line service did not resume normal operations until just after noon.

Gov. Charlie Baker told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that he'd be meeting with transportation officials later on Tuesday.

"The weather conditions are pretty extraordinary and I'll certainly want to include those as part of the conversation," he said. "But clearly, this can't happen again."

Commuter rail delays and cancellations should be expected through the evening commute due to the cold, said Mac Daniel, a spokesman for commuter rail operator Keolis.

"We're running, but we're certainly delayed," Daniel told WBZ NewsRadio 1030, adding that plummeting temperatures caused a huge number of signal and switch problems overnight. "The trains themselves are having trouble keeping going in the cold temperatures."

The MBTA said fares would be waived for customers boarding commuter rail trains between Braintree and JFK/UMass Tuesday.

By midday Tuesday, MBTA officials said things were improving and 142 Red Line cars were back on track.

In the past week and a half, crews have had to replace 60 traction motors on subway trains, which is usually the number for an entire winter.

"The snow that we got over the seven-day period, it's a fine snow and it gets sucked up into the traction motors of the trains," Pesaturo told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Joe Mathieu reports: 

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