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Region braces for first work week without Orange Line service – Boston 25 News

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Sunday, Aug. 21, 4:15 p.m.

Thousands of commuters who rely on the Orange Line will be forced to find an alternate method of travel when they return to work on Monday.

A full shut down of the Orange Line took effect on Friday night with shuttle buses replacing subway service through Sept. 18. Officials have told the public to prepare for severe traffic congestion on roads and highways in the Boston area.

In addition to the disruption in Orange Line service, Green Line service between Union Square and Government Center will go offline Monday and remain closed for the entire duration of the Orange Line shutdown.

Commuters on the Green Line Extension will be diverted to shuttle buses, just like the Orange Line riders.

During the shutdowns, the MBTA will be working to address a maintenance backlog and planned construction investments, all of which are focused on safety improvements and returning the system closer to a state of good repair.

Sunday, Aug. 21, 10:30 a.m.

The Boston Cyclists Union is holding two practice rides for less-experienced bicyclists on Sunday. The rides depart at 11 a.m. from each end of the Orange Line into downtown.

Forest Hills into Downtown: https://www.mobilize.us/bostoncyclistsunion/event/493050/

Oak Grove to Downtown: https://www.mobilize.us/bostoncyclistsunion/event/493768/

On Monday, regular morning bicycle convoys will begin. These rides will take place every weekday morning during the shutdown and are designed for beginner riders who are newer to city biking.

Click here for more information.

More on Bluebike services:

Sunday, Aug. 21, 8:30 a.m.

The Orange Line shuttle buses may not be accessible to those with disabilities, so there are fifteen handicap-accessible vans stationed throughout the Orange Line route to provide transportation to those who may not be able to get on and off the buses as easily as they would with the train.

One of the drivers of the vans says so far, so good with the new system as they work with the Yankee Bus dispatch system and the MBTA.

“Day 2, no real issues, dispatchers are becoming familiar, drivers have to become familiar with call signs and things with that nature,” said Larry Curtis, a driver with Alert Ambulance Transportation Services. “It’s like anything you have to work through – it was good that they started on a Friday night into the weekend because the volume obviously isn’t as much as it could be, but come Monday morning who knows!”

Saturday, Aug. 20, 9:30 p.m.

An MBTA spokesperson confirmed an earlier incident in which a shuttle bus crashed into an overhang at Oak Grove. It was described as a “minor incident” that resulted in no damage or injuries.

“To assist the bus operators, T personnel are re-marking the designated bus lane to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” the spokesperson tells Boston 25.

At Government Center, meanwhile, passengers say the system is working well so far.

“They came pretty quick, I can’t complain. You know, it’s just a couple buses to get on and off, but other than that, it’s no problem,” Bobby Pena said.

Some riders say even though everything ran smoothly – it’s still the weekend, and they’re worried about the ride times on shuttle buses once most people go back to work Monday.

“I’m just going in a little early so I can get the routine of it, you know,” Pena said. “Once I get the routine, everything will be good, you know”

MBTA staff was at the station to help with any confusion.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 9:20 p.m.

Passengers waited in line to board a shuttle bus at Government Center Saturday night. Some people tell Boston 25 “so far, so good” on the first day of the shutdown.

Signs are in place directing riders from the station to the shuttle buses. Boston 25′s Litsa Pappas says it’s a “bit of a walk” to get to the buses from the station.

Drivers should brace themselves for more traffic throughout the city. In addition to more shuttle buses hitting the streets, some roads are also blocked to create a bus lane.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2 p.m.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addressed the city about the Orange Line shutdown during a Saturday afternoon press conference before riding the commuter rail from Roslindale Village station.

“We are feeling as prepared as you could possibly be for something of this magnitude happening,” Wu said.

Wu said adjustments are being made this weekend to alternative services so that come Monday morning the commute can be as smooth as possible for riders.

“The commuter rail will be one of the best ways to get around while the Orange Line trains aren’t running,” Wu said. “I want to make sure that everyone across the city knows that is free for anyone to get on a strop within Boston.”

Saturday, Aug. 20, 11 a.m.

In hopes of keeping shuttle buses on schedule during the Orange Line shutdown, the City of Boston is shutting down some streets to general traffic.

The following streets are now closed:

  • State Street between Congress and Washington Streets.
  • Dartmouth Street between St. James Ave. and Boylston in the Back Bay.
  • Washington Street northbound from the Arborway to Williams Street in Jamaica Plain.

Drivers who park in restricted areas will be ticketed.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m.

Boston 25 Morning News spoke with Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur on how the first night of the Orange Line shutdown has affected nearby residents as they depend on transportation from Oak Grove and Malden Center.

Take a listen below to what Brodeur said the major concerns are as a local leader.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 8 a.m.

The first full day of the historic 30-day closure of the MBTA’s Orange Line began Saturday, and crews were working throughout the night on the transit line.

MBTA officials want to make sure you get the assistance you need when taking the Orange Line Shuttle.

Friday, Aug. 19, 9 p.m.

At the stroke of 9:00 on Friday night, the Orange Line shutdown began.

“It’s definitely going to be chaotic. It’s going to bring a lot of traffic for sure,” said Andrew Koukou, who commutes to work at Fenway Park from Beverly.

He’s now hoping the shuttle bus gets him there, while realizing he’ll need to pack his patience.

“Yeah, I’m definitely going to give myself extra time and take some time off and try to adjust to it – probably have to leave my house early now way earlier than I usually do,” said Koukou.

The MBTA says shutdown repairs, five years’ worth in 30 days, will take time to roll out:

  • After the last train – Orange Line cars must be stored
  • Power to the system needs to be turned off
  • Then, construction crews can be deployed

“We’ve already started that process of pre-positioning that material to get a jump on it,” said Steve Poftak who is the MBTA General Manager.

As Orange Line improvements shift into gear, riders like Jeanne Martin, who commutes from Saugus to Northeastern University everyday, are preparing for the bus ride and a much longer commute.

“Probably shuttle bus,” said Martin. And she too expects her commute time to likely double.

“Extra. A lot of extra time,” she said.

However, Martin says her employer held a meeting today telling workers not to worry if their commute takes longer than usual, telling her this:

“Don’t go crazy if you’re running late. Just call and say I’m running late, and I will be there.”

Friday, Aug. 19, 1 p.m.

A group of Massachusetts dignitaries went for a ride Friday afternoon along one of the shuttle bus routes that will be in place when the Orange Line shuts down for 30 days.

Representatives Mike Connolly, Paul J. Donato, and Steve Ultrino joined Sen. Pat Jehlen for a test run on the north side of the Orange Line shuttle bus route.

“This allowed elected officials to experience the shuttle in real-time and see where municipalities have provided help,” the MBTA said in a tweet.

Boston has created two transit hubs to help commuters travel between the Orange Line and Green Line using shuttle buses.

The hubs are located in Copley Square and Government Center since those stations are expected to see the highest volume commuters using shuttle service, according to city officials.

Shuttle buses will begin rolling out at 9 p.m. when the Orange Line officially shuts down.

Friday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m.

The Orange Line will be “safer, more reliable, and faster” when it reopens to commuters in mid-September following a 30-day shutdown, transportation officials said Friday.

Twelve hours ahead of Friday night’s closure of the subway line, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, MassDOT CEO Jamey Tesler, and Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver asked commuters and local businesses for their patience while rail crews work to implement five years of upgrades in a four-week span.

“We know this is a tremendous disruption, but it allows us to take a bold and decisive step to make the Orange Line and the MBTA safer, more reliable and faster, and we look forward to bringing that improved service to our customers at the end of the surge,” Poftak said.

Poftak said the MBTA will provide updates on work progress every “two or three days” during the shutdown and that the goal is to complete all of the upgrades within the 30-day period, barring any safety or productivity issues.

Officials again urged riders to plan ahead, seek alternate routes of travel like the commuter rail, and to work from home if possible.

The hundreds of shuttle buses that will replace Orange Line trains will roll out promptly at 9 p.m. Friday.

The shutdown lasts through Sept. 18.

Friday, Aug. 19, 9 a.m.

State transportation officials will hold a briefing Friday morning to discuss final details on the planned monthlong closure of the Orange Line.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler, and Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver are slated to speak inside the rotunda at the Forest Hills station at 9 a.m.

The news conference will be streamed live here.

The Orange Line will completely shut down for 30 days starting tonight at 9 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 19, 6:30 a.m.

An unprecedented 30-day shutdown of the MBTA’s Orange Line begins Friday night as commuters brace for major travel changes across the region.

The closure of the heavily-traveled subway line begins at 9 p.m. and lasts through Sept. 18. This disruption in service will force thousands upon thousands of people who rely on the subway service each day to find a new way to travel in and around Boston.

During the monthlong closure, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says crews will work to complete five years worth of upgrades including track replacement and upgraded signal systems.

Transportation officials have warned the public that traffic congestion on roads across the region will likely be nightmarish throughout the duration of the shutdown. They are forecasting gridlock traffic for anyone who takes to the roadways as an alternative travel option during the shutdown.

MassDOT shared a map of the areas that are expected to see the most added congestion, and it’s bad news for commuters who live in the communities of Medford, Malden, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.

“If possible, avoid the region altogether until the diversion period has ended,” Massachusetts State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver earlier this week

During the Orange Line closure, the MBTA will offer free Yankee shuttle buses between Oak Grove and Haymarket/Government Center and between Forest Hills and Back Bay/Copley.

The shutdown could cut some roadway capacity in half due to additional space needed for the fleet of shuttle buses that be rolling down streets.

Anticipating an uptick in traffic among pedestrians and cyclists, Gulliver urged vulnerable road users to beware of the shuttle buses’ “different turning radiuses.”

In addition to the shuttle buses, there are a number of alternate forms of transportation available for Orange Line riders including the commuter rail, Bluebikes, existing bus and subway services, and adopting a work-from-home schedule if possible.

In addition to the Orange Line being closed, Green Line service north of Government Center will similarly be offline and replaced by shuttle buses for four weeks between August and September.

Boston has created two transit hubs to help commuters travel between the Orange Line and Green Line using shuttle buses.

The hubs are located in Copley Square and Government Center since those stations are expected to see the highest volume commuters using shuttle service, according to city officials.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets, said Thursday that the city has set aside “significant” curb space to allow for shuttle bus loading.

Bus lanes have been added on the Gillmore Bridge between Cambridge and Charlestown, Rutherford Avenue, and in Sullivan Square.

Several streets in Boston will be closed to general traffic to allow shuttle operations including State Street between Congress Street and Washington Street, Dartmouth Street between St. James Street and Boylston Street, and Washington Street (northbound-only) between Arborway and Williams Street.

Earlier this summer, the Federal Transit Administration said that investigators found the MBTA to be short-staffed to the point where trains were not safe for riders.

A slew of issues have plagued the MBTA in recent months. In July, a packed Orange Line train transporting commuters on a bridge that runs over the Mystic River in Somerville caught fire, sending hundreds of people scrambling for safety.

The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, with ridership about 50 percent of what it was prior to the pandemic.

A new MBTA call center has been set up and commuters can call 617-222-3200 for assistance.

More Orange Line coverage:

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