MBTA

Orange Line Shutdown Enters Final Stretch

Service is slated to be improved when trains run along the track, including more upgraded cars and faster travel times

Orange Line work being done on the tracks in the Southwest Corridor in Jamaica Plain not far from the Jackson Square T Station on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, as workers use tools to take out the old wooden railroad ties.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a week, commuters should once again be able to take the Orange Line, and with upgraded service.

The MBTA's 30-day shutdown is scheduled to end early on the morning of Monday, Sept. 19, and the agency's general manager, Steve Poftak, said last week that work — then two-thirds done — was on schedule to wrap up on time.

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We are making good progress, and again, we are confident we will be reopening on the morning of Monday the 19th," he told reporters Friday.

The MBTA suspended passenger service along the 11-mile subway line on Aug. 19 to complete five years’ worth of track and signal replacement and maintenance as well as other projects in 30 days. When service resumes, the majority of Orange Line trains on the rails will consist of new cars — double what the MBTA had running before the shutdown.

The Orange Line is scheduled to remain shut down until Sept. 19, and the MBTA says 66% of the work has been completed.

There will be other improvements as well, including upgraded lighting at stations and quicker trips thanks to upgraded rails and signaling systems.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also expressed optimism last week that the busy route will reopen on time.

The end of the project will also mean the end of the major disruptions on the streets of Boston, Somerville Medford and Malden, where scores of shuttle buses have replaced the subway trains. To accommodate the large buses, some streets have been closed in downtown Boston and many street lanes and parking spaces were set aside for buses to use exclusively along the route.

Before the shutdown, the Orange Line facilitated about 100,000 trips per day, according to the MBTA, bringing commuters to work, students to school and visitors to many of Boston’s top tourist attractions.

Some regular Orange Line commuters have said their daily commutes were doubled as a result of the detours. Traffic on area roadways ticked up as more people returned to work after the Labor Day holiday along with students returning to classes.

Poftak said Thursday that, with Boston Public Schools students returning, was the busiest day the MBTA has seen since the shutdown began.

Two weeks into the MBTA Orange Line shutdown, half the necessary repair work is done, the agency said.

The work is part of the MBTA’s response to a safety Federal Transit Administration review following several problems and accidents that have led to injuries, and in one case, the death of a rider. The FTA released a scathing 90-page report two weeks ago that said the MBTA has for years prioritized capital projects over safety and maintenance.

Even while the FTA’s review was ongoing, a fire on an Orange Line train in July sent passengers scrambling out of windows and prompted one to jump into a river.

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