Monday morning commute brings first big test of MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown

Monday morning commute brings first big test of MBTA's Orange Line shutdown thumbnail


The second big test of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s 30-day shutdown of the Orange Line is expected Tuesday, and officials expect a gradual increase in passenger traffic in the coming days and weeks.”Just because things have gone relatively smoothly today does not mean you should jump back in your car,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Please continue to avoid these diversion routes. Also want to continue to emphasize the Commuter Rail as an alternative travel option for all for Orange Line riders.”Poftak said that despite Monday going smoothly, he did not want the message to be that it’s OK to drive to work Tuesday.State highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver said Monday traffic was unusually light. Boston mayor Michelle Wu said the real test will come when students return to school.While some people reported longer than normal trips to work on Monday, the first weekday commute during the Boston transit system’s Orange Line shutdown appeared to go fairly smoothly.The 11 miles of the Orange Line, from the Oak Grove to Forest Hills stations is scheduled to remain closed until 5 a.m. on Sept. 19.Planned projects include track repairs to eliminate slowdowns, upgrading signals, replacing infrastructure and repairs or upgrades at various stations as part of what the MBTA calls major revitalization and safety work on the Orange Line.The T is providing shuttle buses between stations, and the city has set aside designated bus-only travel lanes on some streets. Commuter rail lines are also running with increased frequency.Poftak helped direct riders to Orange Line alternatives early Monday and passed out Charlie Card at Forest Hills Station.”I anticipate we’ll face some challenges and probably learn something about where there’s going to be traffic issues and holdups, and we’ll get better as we go,” Poftak said.A fleet of 200 buses is being used to shuttle Orange Line riders to their destinations during the next month.Wu boarded a shuttle at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain to start her commute to Government Center.”It went pretty smoothly. It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way — buses and trains coming very shortly at each stop we were getting on and off at,” said Wu. “Overall, very hopeful. It seems like that much of the planning and all of the details we discussed have been implemented and so far, so good.”On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker took to the commuter rail to test that side of the alternatives and said he had an on-time commute.”Took the @MBTA_CR Haverhill Line this morning. Glad to report it was an on-time commute. Thank you to all of the @MBTA riders today for their patience as the T embarks on the 30-day Orange Line rebuild,” Baker tweeted. “I want to also thank all of the @MBTA employees for their work to make everyone’s commutes as smooth as possible. The team and I have been in close contact with the T over the weekend and today to monitor the diversion and construction progress.” Baker did not announce prior to Monday morning that he would ride the MBTA Commuter Rail train and no photos or videos of the governor riding the train were posted to social media. Officials said they can squeeze work that would have normally taken five years into the monthlong work period.The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, so the impact of the closure on commuters is expected to be major.The start of unprecedented closure ushered in a complicated dance of diversions and alternatives that Boston officials have called a “transportation emergency.”Some streets were closed or effectively cut in half to create dedicated lanes for the shuttle buses. Curbside loading areas were also designated for the buses.State Street between Congress and Washington streets, Dartmouth Street between St. James and Boylston streets and one side of Washington Street between Arborway and Williams Street will be closed to traffic to make a path for the buses.Officials have said that making a path for the buses will have a ripple effect throughout the region, according to projections made by engineers who model traffic for MassDOT. Motorists have been warned to expect heavy traffic increases, especially on roadways along the shuttle bus routes. Commuter Rail train frequency has been increased to accommodate anticipated changes to travel patterns. Riders can also use the Commuter Rail in Zones 1, 1A and 2 for free by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket. As an alternative, Boston is offering a free 30-day pass to ride BlueBikes during the shutdown. Starting Monday, parts of the MBTA Green Line will also be closed for 28 days. The Green Line shutdown from the Union Square to Government Center stations will allow the MBTA to perform the final-phase construction work necessary to open the Medford Branch, which is now anticipated to open in late November.Shuttle buses will also be offered to replace Green Line service.The city of Boston and the MBTA announced the following number for a new MBTA Call Center: 617-222-3200.Officials said the “impetus” for the Orange Line shutdown was a safety review by the Federal Transit Administration. The FTA has been digging into the MBTA’s record since May after a man was dragged to death on the Red Line in April. A final report from the federal agency is expected to be released within the next few weeks.

BOSTON —

The second big test of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s 30-day shutdown of the Orange Line is expected Tuesday, and officials expect a gradual increase in passenger traffic in the coming days and weeks.

“Just because things have gone relatively smoothly today does not mean you should jump back in your car,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Please continue to avoid these diversion routes. Also want to continue to emphasize the Commuter Rail as an alternative travel option for all for Orange Line riders.”

Poftak said that despite Monday going smoothly, he did not want the message to be that it’s OK to drive to work Tuesday.

State highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver said Monday traffic was unusually light. Boston mayor Michelle Wu said the real test will come when students return to school.

While some people reported longer than normal trips to work on Monday, the first weekday commute during the Boston transit system’s Orange Line shutdown appeared to go fairly smoothly.

The 11 miles of the Orange Line, from the Oak Grove to Forest Hills stations is scheduled to remain closed until 5 a.m. on Sept. 19.

Planned projects include track repairs to eliminate slowdowns, upgrading signals, replacing infrastructure and repairs or upgrades at various stations as part of what the MBTA calls major revitalization and safety work on the Orange Line.

The T is providing shuttle buses between stations, and the city has set aside designated bus-only travel lanes on some streets. Commuter rail lines are also running with increased frequency.

Poftak helped direct riders to Orange Line alternatives early Monday and passed out Charlie Card at Forest Hills Station.

“I anticipate we’ll face some challenges and probably learn something about where there’s going to be traffic issues and holdups, and we’ll get better as we go,” Poftak said.

A fleet of 200 buses is being used to shuttle Orange Line riders to their destinations during the next month.

Wu boarded a shuttle at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain to start her commute to Government Center.

“It went pretty smoothly. It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way — buses and trains coming very shortly at each stop we were getting on and off at,” said Wu. “Overall, very hopeful. It seems like that much of the planning and all of the details we discussed have been implemented and so far, so good.”

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker took to the commuter rail to test that side of the alternatives and said he had an on-time commute.

“Took the @MBTA_CR Haverhill Line this morning. Glad to report it was an on-time commute. Thank you to all of the @MBTA riders today for their patience as the T embarks on the 30-day Orange Line rebuild,” Baker tweeted. “I want to also thank all of the @MBTA employees for their work to make everyone’s commutes as smooth as possible. The team and I have been in close contact with the T over the weekend and today to monitor the diversion and construction progress.”

Baker did not announce prior to Monday morning that he would ride the MBTA Commuter Rail train and no photos or videos of the governor riding the train were posted to social media.

Officials said they can squeeze work that would have normally taken five years into the monthlong work period.

The Orange Line provides about 101,000 trips each day, so the impact of the closure on commuters is expected to be major.

The start of unprecedented closure ushered in a complicated dance of diversions and alternatives that Boston officials have called a “transportation emergency.”

Some streets were closed or effectively cut in half to create dedicated lanes for the shuttle buses. Curbside loading areas were also designated for the buses.

State Street between Congress and Washington streets, Dartmouth Street between St. James and Boylston streets and one side of Washington Street between Arborway and Williams Street will be closed to traffic to make a path for the buses.

Officials have said that making a path for the buses will have a ripple effect throughout the region, according to projections made by engineers who model traffic for MassDOT. Motorists have been warned to expect heavy traffic increases, especially on roadways along the shuttle bus routes.

Commuter Rail train frequency has been increased to accommodate anticipated changes to travel patterns. Riders can also use the Commuter Rail in Zones 1, 1A and 2 for free by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket.

As an alternative, Boston is offering a free 30-day pass to ride BlueBikes during the shutdown.

Starting Monday, parts of the MBTA Green Line will also be closed for 28 days. The Green Line shutdown from the Union Square to Government Center stations will allow the MBTA to perform the final-phase construction work necessary to open the Medford Branch, which is now anticipated to open in late November.

Shuttle buses will also be offered to replace Green Line service.

The city of Boston and the MBTA announced the following number for a new MBTA Call Center: 617-222-3200.

Officials said the “impetus” for the Orange Line shutdown was a safety review by the Federal Transit Administration. The FTA has been digging into the MBTA’s record since May after a man was dragged to death on the Red Line in April. A final report from the federal agency is expected to be released within the next few weeks.

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