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MEDFORD - MARCH 15: T officials inspecting the derailment of the Orange Line T train just outside the Wellington MBTA station in Medford, MA on March 16, 2021. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The MBTA is such a hot mess. I seriously feel for the people who rely on it for their main mode of transportation. There have been issues for YEARS! From major delays, to breakdowns, to runaways trains, and a train that caught on fire where a woman jumped into the water below. And we can’t forget the shutdown during COVID when someone licked the train. All that said, the Orange Line is getting ready to shut down from August 19th – September 19th.

The Orange Line

The Orange line has a well-earned reputation of being the worst line of the MBTA. It’s also the second most traveled line, behind the Red line. Pre-COVID, in 2019, the daily ridership on the Orange line was 201,000. According to the MBTA, ridership is still down from pre-pandemic levels.  As of June, ridership on the Red and Orange lines was down about 50%. On the Blue Line, it was down 44%.

Fun Fact: The Orange line opened in 1901, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those trains were still in service. Lol

Make the T Free

With all the issues on the T, a lot of people are calling for them to drop the fees. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Ed Markey are both calling on the T to make it free during the Orange line shutdown. They both say that making the T free during this time would help ensure that riders won’t be financially impacted during the shutdown. They also say in a press release that this could help with “addressing the transit gaps that have deepened the racial and economic disparities in our communities. In addition, fare-free transit would also help lower costs for riders during a time of rising inflation.”

There are a lot of moving parts to this shutdown, and the MBTA recently released A Rider’s Guide to Planning Ahead.  Here are 9 Things You Need to Know About the Orange and Green Line Shutdowns.

  • 1. When is the Orange Line shutting down?

    The MBTA is fulling shutting down the Orange Line, from Oak Grove to Forest Hills. The shutdown will happen starting Friday, August 19th at 9pm through Sunday, September 18th.

    From the T: “The closure will 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. This extended full access closure will bring to Orange Line riders an improved overall quality of service, faster travel times, and increased service reliability.”

  • 2. The Green Line too?

    The Green Line will have shutdowns too. That line will shut down starting on Monday, August 22nd through Sunday, September 18th. Service will be suspended between Government Center and Union Square. The shutdown will allow the T to finish the final-phase construction needed to open the Medford Branch of the Green Line. It’s now scheduled to open in the fall.

     

  • 3. Assistance during the shutdown

    The MBTA will be providing onsite signage to help commuters. There will be in-station signs to show people where to go at all affected stations.

    There will also be “feather flag banners” that will be highly visible, and will show people the boarding areas at each stop.

    Look for Transit Ambassadors. The T is increasing the number of ambassador staff to help commuters with any issues that may arise.

  • 4. Use the MBTA's Trip Planner

    The T has a trip planner tool to help riders identify the best route for them to take. You can access the MBTA Trip Planner Tool HERE.

     

  • 5. Not just affecting riders

    Think you’re in the clear because you drive into Boston? Not so fast. Governor Baker and T officials said that the 30-day Orange Line shutdown is going to cause severe traffic congestion throughout Boston because of the increase in shuttle buses. They warned that drivers should avoid downtown Boston, and that cyclists and walkers should be extra careful because the shuttle buses are bigger than the regular MBTA buses and have different blind spots and turning curves.

  • 6. Commuter Rail Options

    During the shutdown, you can use the Commuter Rail within the City of Boston FREE. All you have to do is show your CharlieCard or your Charlie Ticket on board. This includes Zones 1A, 1, and 2 on all Commuter Rail lines.

    The Charlie Card doesn’t have to have money on it either. Just show the card. If you don’t have one, you can get one at Boston Public Libraries.

  • 7. Accessibility Options

    Riders with disabilities have long had issues with accessibility on the MBTA. Advocates have called for more accessible replacement shuttles during shutdowns, and say that even when using shuttles, they may be compliant, but not necessarily a good experience.

    The MBTA has provided in-depth accessibility instructions for riders, and you can check it out on Page 11 in A Rider’s Guide To Planning Ahead. With all the planning and details, it’s unfortunate that it will probably not be enough for riders with disabilities. Let’s hope that those concerns will be addressed during the shutdown.

  • 8. You can hop on a FREE Bluebike

    Boston will be offering FREE BlueBikes for anyone who wants to use one during the Orange Line shutdown. The free passes will give people an unlimited number of 45-minute trips. If you want to join the program, download the BlueBikes app or HERE during the shutdown.

     

  • 9. Who to follow on social media to keep up-to-date

    Twitter – @MBTA

    Instagram – @theMBTA

    Facebook – The MBTA

    YouTube – MBTA GM

    TikTok – @TheMBTA

    For an even more in-depth look at what you need to know, check out the MBTA’s A Rider’s Guide To Planning Ahead.

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