Aug 3, 2022 - News

MBTA details how a month-long Orange Line shutdown will work

Illustration of an MBTA sign changing into an emergency symbol.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The MBTA's Orange Line will shut down from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18 for critical repairs, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.

  • The month-long pause in service will allow the MBTA to work on "critical" track repairs and replace most of the aging train cars with new ones.

Details: MBTA general manager Steve Poftak told the agency's board of directors Wednesday that shutting down the whole line allows crews to work on multiple projects simultaneously around the clock.

  • Repair crews are currently limited to working between midnight and 5am before usual service resumes.
  • At a press conference in Medford on Wednesday, Baker said that crews can accomplish five years' worth of traditional maintenance during a one-month shutdown.

Meanwhile: The line's nearly 100,000 weekday riders will be served by existing commuter rail services and shuttle buses that will drive to each station.

  • Poftak requested $37 million from the MBTA's board of directors earlier Wednesday to pay for the private shuttles.

What they're saying: "The short notice of this announcement shows a lack of respect for riders," advocacy group Transit Matters wrote on their website after the announcement. "The quality of the T's communications to riders throughout this effort, as well as the quality of its mitigation efforts, will be major tests for the agency."

Lawmakers and Democratic municipal leaders also weren't pleased with the unprecedented project, or the suddenness of the announcement.

  • Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford) called the closure "disgusting" in a tweet.
  • Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Maura Healey tweeted that the shutdown is necessary and "another devastating reflection of the failures at the MBTA."
  • Mayor Michelle Wu called the shutdown "hugely disruptive." Boston's transit system is "past the point of small fixes for @MBTA safety & reliability," Wu tweeted.
  • Wu wanted to know from her Twitter followers how the city could make the month "as painless as possible" for riders.

The backdrop: The MBTA's sudden move comes after a long series of safety mishaps, equipment failures and warnings from federal overseers that something drastic must be done.


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