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MBTA Backs Away From Cuts As Riders, Lawmakers Complain

BOSTON (CBS) – The MBTA is backtracking on plans to cut service and jobs.

On Friday, riders complained about crowded trains and longer wait times.

"They need to ramp up service, not cut back, especially with federal service stimulus money on the way," one rider said.

That's an about-face for the MBTA, which had already begun implementing service cuts. Many riders were already feeling those cuts.

"It went from five minutes to 15 maybe even 20," said MBTA rider Caitlyn Webb. She said the changes have made her late to work.

Bus routes were suspended or consolidated, leading to a blistering attack by Rep. Stephen Lynch, who said the agency is receiving an estimated $2 billion in federal aid.

"They get a billion dollars and they're going to take the billion dollars and lay people off?" Lynch said. "I don't think so."

On Friday, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak reversed course in a letter to members of Congress.

"We at the MBTA commit to increasing service levels as quickly as possible," Poftak wrote. "The authority is committed to hiring and training operators for buses and trains as soon as feasible. I'm directing staff to increase service levels on bus and rail as quickly as possible."

In addition, there will be no layoffs or furloughs.

The MBTA said reductions in service have been necessary during the pandemic because ridership is down, costing the system millions of dollars.

"I think it's good that they felt pressure," said MBTA rider Abigail Sheridan.

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