Aug 22, 2022 - News

MBTA riders suffer through shuttles during Orange Line shutdown

Illustration of an MBTA sign changing into an emergency symbol.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The first weekday of the MBTA's Orange and Green Line shutdown wasn't the disaster many feared it would be.

State of play: The army of shuttle buses the T is spending $37 million on to temporarily replace the subway is providing effective, if slower, service for commuters.

  • Traffic on was lighter than expected Monday, indicating that drivers heeded officials' warning about staying off the roads the shuttles use.
  • Yes, but: The Globe has been tracking each bump in the road, so to speak, including a morning shuttle that got lost trying to get to North Station.

The latest: MBTA general manager Steve Poftak said at a press conference Monday afternoon that he's cautiously optimistic that things will continue to go smoothly.

What they're saying: Boston resident Carmen Morales usually takes the Orange Line from Forest Hills to the Back Bay, where she works as a custodian.

  • She told Axios that she budgeted extra time to make it to work Monday, but that the bus ride only added around 15 minutes to her commute.
  • "I feel good about this method of transportation," she told Axios in a Spanish-language interview. "They are going very fast. I think it'll go like this until [the closure] finishes."
  • Still, WCVB found that a trip from Malden to downtown took more than twice as long on the shuttles than on the subway.

What's next: State transportation officials are concerned that traffic could be worse this morning if more hybrid office workers head into the city.

  • "Our biggest concern is that people don't divert and that you get so much traffic that it's going to shut down and cause some gridlock at those key places" like Leverett Circle, highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver told NBC 10.
  • Government Center and Copley Square are expected to be particularly harsh bottlenecks as the parade of shuttles goes in and out of Back Bay Station, a Commuter Rail hub.
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