The Red Line, as previously scheduled, will be shut down on both branches this weekend. Service will be replaced by buses between Quincy Adams and Braintree Stations as well as between JFK/UMass and Ashmont Stations Dec. 3 and 4.

The biggest improvement the T is putting into place this year is replacing the third rail of the Quincy Adams to Braintree stretch of the Red Line and the exposed portions of the Red Line's Ashmont branch. Frozen third rail segments were the major culprit of system failures in the winter of 2015, which devastated the Red Line around Dorchester and Quincy. According to the MBTA's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville, the project is 65 percent complete and ahead of schedule. The T is also on schedule or ahead of schedule adding heaters to equipment and adding other protections like snow troughs to shelter gear.

Getting all that track work done on the exposed portions of the Red Line means inconveniences for riders. Straphangers in Quincy and Dorchester may be used to the occasional weekend shutdown, with buses replacing subway service between stations, but the T plans to make things a little tougher now so that things pay off when there's two feet of snow dumped on the region.

Ice is a big problem for the aging Red Line fleet, which runs some cars that date back to 1969. The Red Line's performance for the week was a little poorer than expected, MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville told the Board, due to dew.

"Early morning [Monday] we also had slippery rail condition between Braintree and JFK and if you'll recall that was the morning that we had that little bit of residual dew and it obviously froze on the rail slightly," Gonneville said.

That dew-based delay on one of the first frosty mornings of the fall created enough of a problem to drag the Red Line's weekly performance rating off mark.

The T is also looking beyond the winter to future developments. MBTA leaders want to work with private developers to create more transit-oriented development projects, housing, commercial or mixed use buildings near MBTA services. The T defines TOD as "compact, walkable development around transit stations" with a mix of "housing, shopping, employment, and recreational facilities... making it possible for visitors and residents to move around without complete dependence on a car."

Surplus MBTA property in areas around Wonderland Station in Revere, Mattapan Square, Newburyport Station and JFK/UMass in Dorchester are all currently being considered for future TOD by MBTA brass.

Stephen Kaiser, a regular commentator during the MBTA's open meetings, said he first became aware of transit-oriented development when developers told him they prefered TOD over traditional projects with parking. "Oh yeah, we favored transit oriented development. Because we can do less parking, which saves us money. And we can take all the person trips that we generate by whatever development we do, and we dump them on the MBTA," Kaiser said of the developers' sentiment.

The benefits of developments purposely placed on or near MBTA services are plentiful: greater access to the T means a greater embrace of public transit and less reliance on automobiles, which in turns frees up parking for already-congested urban centers.

The downside of increased ridership means increased congestion on MBTA packed vehicles.

"If the MBTA trains are already jammed and struggling and don’t have the capacity today to do this, why can’t the developers help us out on that matter of getting capacity?" Kaiser asked the Board.

The MBTA faces a $804. Million budget deficit for this fiscal year that could expand to around $100 million if state tax revenue doesn't perform as expected. With sales tax receipts to the state not bringing in the amount of revenue budget writers expected when the spending plan was approved this year, the T might not receive millions from state coffers it had anticipated. To balance the T's operating budget, Shortsleeve and company may resort to layoffs and service cuts to make ends meet.

Gov. Charlie Baker made the MBTA's fiscal performance a high priority when he came into office and set up, with Democratic lawmakers' permission, a Fiscal and Management Control Board to govern the traditionally mismanaged agency. The Legislature also granted Baker and the MBTA a three-year relaxation to a law that limits contracting with private companies to replace work done now by in-house state employees.

The T last month moved to eliminate it's in-house cash handling operation to save around $8.6 million a year. Other functions the Control Board is expected to privatize include maintenance warehouse operations and even some maintenance jobs and bus operation positions.

Although the annual operating budget is stretched thin, the MBTA has the opposite problem with it's long-term capital spending. The transit agency can't seem to manage large contracts well enough to spend the millions of dollars in state capital spending that's been authorizes, leaving maintenance and improvement projects on the drawing boards year after year. The Control Board has been working with Shortsleeve's staff to bring on new managers to help navigate the contracts and project implementation to allow the T to spend as much as it can on projects like track work, signal improvements and train replacements.

According to the MBTA, the agency carried out 831,000 subway trips in September. Bus traffic accounted for 385,000 trips. There were 127,000 Commuter Rail runs.