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Orange Line reopens after unprecedented month-long shutdown for repairs

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BOSTON - The MBTA's unprecedented month-long shutdown of the Orange Line ended Monday morning as scheduled.

The first trains arrived at Forest Hills and Oak Grove stations just after 5 a.m.

The shutdown allowed crews to work on dozens of projects that would have taken five years to finish on nights and weekends.

Some of the changes include replacing 14,000 feet of rail, adding 400 rail fasteners, installing track signal upgrades, and eliminating slow zones.  

Riders can also expect to see 72 new train cars on the updated line.

Shuttle buses had replaced the Orange Line for the past month.


Orange Line will be "faster, safer, more reliable"

"Faster, safer, more reliable": Orange Line service resumes Monday after month-long shutdown 02:08

The month-long Orange Line shutdown is officially ending first thing Monday morning as planned.  

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said he looks forward to welcoming riders back to a "faster, safer, more reliable Orange Line."  

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Governor Charlie Baker had high praise for the MBTA, its workers, and MassDOT for getting the project done on time  

By WBZ-News Staff

MBTA prepares to roll out revamped Orange Line on Monday

MBTA prepares to roll out revamped Orange Line on Monday 01:59

BOSTON - The countdown is on with the Orange Line preparing to reopen Monday after a 30-day shutdown.

On Saturday, the MBTA performed test runs with new Orange Line cars on the updated tracks near the Oak Grove station.

The MBTA said as of Friday, 96 percent of the project's work had been completed. This includes more than 12,300 feet of track work, eliminated "slow zones" and more than 70 new Orange Line trains ready to roll come Monday.

It was nearly a month ago when the MBTA closed the entire Orange Line to complete years of work, claiming by closing the entire line for 30 days, they would be able to complete nearly 5 years' worth of work.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was asked Saturday about the return of the Orange Line. It's one she frequently takes to work.

"It's exciting to see the 30-day effort really come to a close," said Wu. "So much collaboration, so much hard work. We are about to get underground."

Other riders who have been forced to use shuttle bus service said they were ready to get back on the rails.

"I am very excited," said Devisha Pandey, of Boston. "I have missed the Orange Line so much."

The MBTA published video of crews completing cosmetic work at stations. The video showed pressure washing of platforms, benches and staircases.

The MBTA is scheduled to host a news conference Sunday afternoon to go over the final details of the reopening of the Orange Line. 

By Brandon Truitt

Orange Line service currently scheduled to resume on time

The Orange Line is schedule to reopen in one week, and so far all is going according to plan.

MBTA officials said more than two-thirds of Orange Line work is completed.

Currently, the MBTA is planning for service to resume September 19 as originally planned.

By WBZ-News Staff

Orange Line will have new train cars when it reopens

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak stated on Friday that the Orange Line will have new train cars when it reopens.

Poftak also said he is "confident" that Orange Line will reopen on the morning on Monday, September 19. 

In his update, he stated that 66% of the overall work is done, with 50% of rail replacement completed and 72% of track replacement completed. 

By WBZ-News Staff

MBTA facing test as more students return to school after Labor Day

MBTA faces test as more students, workers return after Labor Day amid Orange Line shutdown 01:34

The MBTA faces a big test Tuesday as the post-Labor Day rush back to work and school begins.

Schools like Bunker Hill Community College are back in session Tuesday. Normally students use the Orange Line, but with the shutdown in its third week they will have to navigate shuttle buses.

In addition, many are headed back to work as well.

In spots where the Orange Line overlaps with the Commuter Rail, the T is also adding more trains to make sure they can handle the traffic.

The T said they are over 50% done with repairs and plan to wrap up on September 19 as scheduled. 

By WBZ-News Staff

MBTA: About 37% of Orange Line work has been completed

As of Sunday, the MBTA said about 37% of planned work on the Orange Line has been completed.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker got a look at about 900 feet of new track between State and Downtown Crossing during a tour on Sunday. 

It has been just over a week since the Orange Line fully closed and shuttle buses started in rotation.

By WBZ-News Staff

MBTA extends service cuts for subway, bus into the fall

BOSTON - The MBTA announced that service cuts on the Red, Blue, and Orange lines that were set to end this summer will instead extend into the fall.  

Also, beginning next week, 43 bus routes will operate with less frequency during varying times of day.   

By WBZ-News Staff

Some allege that MBTA has failed to communicate with non-English speakers

BOSTON -- A local law firm claims the MBTA is violating federal law with the Orange Line shutdown.

"We are calling on the federal authorities to intervene and investigate the MBTA's lack of compliance with Civil Rights laws," said Oren Sellstrom with the Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR).

Some allege that MBTA has failed to communicate with non-English speakers 02:30

Sellstrom says the MBTA must perform an equity analysis study before any major service changes. The study accesses any harm to communities of color or low-income areas.

"Federal law recognizes that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately disrupted by transportation interruption," explained Sellstrom.

In response, the MBTA says the study is not required by the Federal Transit Administration because the shutdown is only temporary and does not exceed 12 months.

Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV

By WBZ-News Staff

More train cars being added to Commuter Rail

The MBTA is beefing up service on some Commuter Rail lines that have been "packed" since the Orange Line shutdown began.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said there has been a "significant increase" in the number of people using the Commuter Rail. Wednesday is typically the busiest day on the T, so officials are keeping a close eye on ridership numbers. 

Extra coaches are being added to the Needham line that goes to Forest Hills, and the Haverhill line to Oak Grove.

The Commuter Rail is free for riders who show a Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket in areas serviced by the Orange Line.

MBTA adding coaches to busy Commuter Rail trains during Orange Line shutdown 02:06
By WBZ-News Staff

Orange Line fixes "progressing as planned"

The T is "pleased" with the progress made so far on Orange Line repairs, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said Wednesday afternoon.

"This 30-day shutdown is well underway currently progressing as planned," he said during a briefing at Ruggles Station. "Roughly 16% of the work that we've planned has been completed."

Workers have replaced 2,700 feet of track so far. 

By WBZ-News Staff

Boston officials ask MBTA to add shuttle buses for students

The City of Boston is asking the MBTA to add shuttle buses to serve the 4,600 students who take the Orange Line during the month-long shutdown.

The city says there are 28 schools along the Orange Line that will be impacted by the shutdown.

Boston Public Schools said free Charlie Cards will be distributed in the next few days to students so they can begin trying out the new route to school. Students will also be able to take the Commuter Rail for free if they're traveling within zones 1, 1a or 2.

School starts on September 8.

By WBZ-News Staff

2,400 feet of track replaced over first three days of shutdown

The MBTA provided an update on what work has been completed so far during the Orange Line shutdown.

Officials said that over three days, three planned projects have been completed.

In addition, the MBTA said crews have replaced 2,400 feet of rail and eliminated a slow zone between State Street and Downtown Crossing.

MBTA crews making progress replacing Orange Line rails, updating signal system 02:31
By WBZ-News Staff

MBTA reports 2 minor derailments of construction equipment

The MBTA reported two incidents where construction equipment on the Orange Line derailed. Neither have impacted the construction schedule or caused any damage.

No injuries were reported either. 

Around 7:20 p.m. on Monday, the rear wheels of a stationary piece of construction equipment slipped off the rails near the Wellington station. The MBTA said rainy slick conditions may have contributed. 

Around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a piece of equipment used for rail and tie replacement work derailed just south of Mass Ave Station, The MBTA said. 

By WBZ-News Staff

After waiting out Monday, more commuters take shuttle buses Tuesday

More commuters take Orange Line shuttle buses Tuesday 01:40

Some Orange Line riders told WBZ-TV that they were joining in on the commute Tuesday after working remotely on Monday. 

"Yesterday I just stayed home, worked at home," one man said. "I wanted to see the smoke clear." 

"I was definitely watching the news for sure," a woman said. "I usually work from home in the beginning of the week but I was a little nervous. I was going to take the Red Line but I decided to just go for it." 

By WBZ-News Staff

"Packed" on the Commuter Rail

Tuesday looked to be a busier day on the T for the second workday commute of the Orange Line shutdown.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu tweeted that the Commuter Rail platform in Roslindale was "packed" - and all seats on the train were taken after by the time the train left Forest Hills Station. 

The Commuter Rail is free for riders who show a Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket in areas serviced by the Orange Line.

By WBZ-News Staff

Rider optimistic after first day of shutdown

An MBTA rider says directions from T staffers on the ground really helped, and his four-stop trip north was more pleasant than the practice run he made over the weekend.

"Fingers crossed," said Matt Ford. "I'm hoping for the best -- but it's not ideal obviously."

MBTA rider puts Orange Line diversions to test during evening commute 02:18
By WBZ-News Staff

Somerville hit with Orange Line and Green Line closures

Confusion in Somerville as Green Line, Orange Line close at the same time 02:51

Somerville gets a double whammy: a stretch of the Green Line from Union Square to Boston was taken out of service starting Monday. That is in addition to the Orange Line, which has been shut down since Friday. Both will be down for a month, allowing crews to work on updating the MBTA's aging infrastructure.

Student Rosalee Santana said it took her more than twice as long as usual to make the trip from Boston to Somerville. 

By WBZ-News Staff

Out-of-state shuttle bus drivers navigate Orange Line routes

Boston traffic engineer pleasantly surprised by first weekday of Orange Line shutdown 02:29

Hundreds of shuttle buses took to Boston streets to replace MBTA service for the first weekday test of the Orange Line shutdown Monday. Transportation officials and drivers said the day went relatively smoothly.

Many of the drivers manning Yankee Line and other shuttle buses came from as far away as Georgia, Florida, and Las Vegas.

Despite Boston's notoriously confusing geography, passengers said the buses appeared to be navigating the roads well.    

"They've driven in many cities. Boston is not the only crazy city to drive in so, but I think they're adjusting," said Joe Marchi, a Yankee driver from Massachusetts, 

By WBZ-News Staff

"Cautiously optimistic": Riders take shuttle buses to work Monday

"A nightmare but we'll survive": Orange Line rider describes shuttle buses 02:44

Many Orange Line riders gave themselves extra time in anticipation of a longer-than-usual commute on the shuttle buses Monday morning. 

"First day riding it. It's like the first day of school I guess. Cautiously optimistic," one woman said. 

"A nightmare, but we'll survive," another rider said. 

Teams at the state and local levels have been in daily communication with each other and MassDOT to monitor traffic. 

By WBZ-News Staff

Traffic lighter than expected on first weekday commute of Orange Line shutdown

Traffic lighter than expected on first weekday commute of Orange Line shutdown 02:21

Massachusetts Department of Transportation highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver said traffic has been lighter than expected as the MBTA faced a big test during the Monday morning commute.

Gulliver spoke to WBZ-TV as shuttle buses made their way along the Orange Line route during a weekday commute for the first time since the month-long shutdown began.

"So far things are looking pretty good out there," Gulliver said. "The traffic is lighter than we expected, which means we can thank people who really listened and limited their trips today and hopefully will continue to do so throughout the duration."

By WBZ-News Staff

Commuters brace for Monday morning

Commuters brace for Monday morning commute on Orange Line shuttle buses 02:05

Boston-area commuters will be put to the test on Monday morning. It will be the first workday commute of the 30-day MBTA Orange Line shutdown and part of the Green Line will be closed as well.   

It used to take 20 minutes to get from Oak Grove to State Street. Now it's going to take over an hour." said Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. 

Transportation Secretary Jamey Kesler said the MBTA has made significant construction progress in just a few days. He said since Friday, tracks at Wellington were demolished and excavation started; between Downtown Crossing and State Street, rail demolition was completed and half of its replacement is done; in Forest Hills, Stony Brook, Assembly, and Mass Ave, new lighting was installed. 

By Stephanie Johnston

Medford mayor 'nervous' about Monday's commute

Medford mayor: "Unanswered questions" on Orange Line shutdown remain ahead of Monday commute 04:34

Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn is nervous about Monday's commute since it will be the first workday with the Orange Line completely shut down.  

Lungo-Koehn said Medford officials flagged 30 different intersections along the route where shuttle buses will be running to the state, hoping to add detail officers. But the mayor said the state and MBTA have not yet heard which will be covered.  

"I think you're going to see a lot of gridlock, a lot of congestion, and it's going to disperse throughout our whole city," she said. 

Read more of what Lungo-Koehn said here

By WBZ-News Staff

Where MassDOT predicts vehicle traffic will most be impacted during Orange Line shutdown

Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials released a map showing areas where they predict traffic will be most congested over the next month.

Traffic slowdowns are expected in the following areas:

  • Wellington Circle
  • Sullivan Square
  • Gilmore Bridge
  • Leverett Circle
  • Charles Circle

MassDOT suggests drivers try to avoid these areas and consider alternate routes until the Orange Line's scheduled September reopening.  

By WBZ-News Staff

Construction underway on Orange Line

Riders get their first taste of shuttle buses for Orange Line shutdown 02:41

Construction work began immediately on the closed Orange Line. Crews could be seen on the tracks Saturday. 

Meanwhile, some riders got their first taste of the shuttle buses

Mayor Michelle Wu said she would be taking the shuttle bus on Monday. 

By WBZ-News Staff

WBZ-TV reporter tries to navigate Orange Line shuttle buses

WBZ-TV's Mike Sullivan gave the Orange Line's shuttle buses a try Friday night. To his surprise, he found dome of the shuttle bus stops were not at the familiar train stops, so he didn't get off at the right stop.

Riders should expect some bumps as first-time shuttle bus riders 01:51

Sullivan's advice: "Riders will want to pay attention to the signs on the sidewalk. Those will lead you to your location. Once on the bus, there's an attendant with a flag ready to answer questions. The struggle comes when you get off. The stops are not always close to the train stops, so it may lead people to missing their exit."

"I will remember tomorrow, but it was a little out of the way," said one rider. 

"We almost got on the wrong shuttle," her friend said.

The MBTA is using Coach buses and Yankee buses. Each bus has a different feel, Sullivan reported. One feels like a long road trip, and one feels more like an MBTA bus.

Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV

By WBZ-News Staff

Local leaders say bus replacements won't be an exact science

Local leaders say they realize the Orange Line shutdown and its replacement service won't be an exact science.

Local leaders say they realize shuttles won't completely replace Orange Line 00:53

MBTA officials have placed signs everywhere - no parking signs, road closures and special lanes - to make way for the 180 shuttle buses that have been brought in from around the country.

Drivers were making their test runs on Friday before the shutdown went into effect.

Lawmakers gave the T credit for the effort to get alternative transportation up and running, but are concerned it won't be enough.

"I could envision shuttle arriving at a station already being full; it happens on MBTA cars all the time. Happening here is not gonna be acceptable," said Somerville Rep. Michael Connolly.

The buses will have wheelchair access and will welcome service animals. Also, riders will be able to request an accessible van.

By Chris Tanaka, WBZ-TV

By WBZ-News Staff

Boston begins its adjustment to life without the Orange Line

Friday was a confusing night in the city as Back Bay was packed with fans heading to Foxboro for the Patriots game and others came into the city for the Lady Gaga concert at Fenway. However, many were uncertain how they were getting home.

"A lot of people from the suburbs have in their head this is my route I don't know alternate routes," said Christian Matyi, a pedal cab driver.

Orange Line riders begin finding their way back home 02:10

Now shuttle buses may occupy the lanes he's used to being able to zip through. Soon, they may be getting a share of his fares as well.

With the Lady Gaga concert starting an 1½ hours before the Orange Line shutdown, many took the train in and need to find another way home.

"We took the train in. Trip was great. Bus back might be an issue, but we will figure it out when we get here," said one concert-goer.

Michelle Auditore avoided the train completely. "We opted to drive in, which is just as horrifying," she said, "but it was the only option."

By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV

By WBZ-News Staff

Orange Line shutdown begins

The shutdown is here, but in a sense, it's still the calm before the storm. Disabling the line and beginning the work is happening at the end of the typical work week. Many are starting their weekend bracing for what Monday will bring.

All Orange Line trains are officially offline 03:01

Monday, and even before that - this weekend - you can expect to see more MBTA employees posted at stops; those workers are there to help riders adjust to this huge change in their routines. The agency acknowledges this will absolutely be disruptive; an obvious pain but essential for overdue progress.

If you don't take the Orange Line but live or work in the city, the ripple effects of this shutdown will be part of your routine, too, as many areas in the city are expected to see an increase in traffic.

By Juli McDonald

Some commuters wonder how shutdown will impact their wallets

Silvia Ribeiro takes the Orange Line from Lynn daily to get to her job as a custodian in Boston. When the Orange Line closes for a month, she's not sure how she'll navigate the signs, shuttle buses and traffic. She said a taxi is out of the question; it's too expensive.

"I pay $136 a month for the pass. Taxi is more money," Ribeiro said.

Commuters say Orange Line shutdown will hit them in the wallet 02:10

Some may have to use an Uber, Lyft or taxi, and that's more money that many commuters can't afford to spend.

"That's a lot. Per day, it's $15 to $20 or more," said T rider Hernan Diez.

Mal Sanford is a college student who relies on the Orange Line to get from Jamaica Plain to her job in Boston's Downtown Crossing. She's worried she'll be forced to open her ridesharing app just to make it to work on time.

"I might go bankrupt. It's just the Ubers and Lyfts are really expensive, so I need to figure out that," Sanford said.]

City and transit officials are warning commuters to brace for a hectic month, and T riders fear they'll pay with their time and money.

"Day by day," said Diez. "It's going to be harder and harder the whole month."

By Tiffany Chan

As shutdown looms, MBTA, commuters make final preparations

The Orange Line trains stop running Friday night and despite signage, the shutdown is still catching some riders by surprise as the MBTA made final preparations for the shutdown Friday night. 

"Our full intent is that this is a 30-day surge and only a 30-day surge," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. 

MBTA, commuters make final preparations for Orange Line shutdown 03:50

With the Orange Line shut down and 180 shuttle buses temporarily replacing its route, traffic will be jammed. 

"As you have been hearing, we are expecting major impacts in traffic areas as the diversion is ongoing," said Jonathan Gulliver of Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 

Transit officials are warning all commuters in and out of Boston to plan ahead. If you can work from home, they ask that you do. If you can't work from home, commuters are being asked to use the Commuter Rail then walk or bike, take other T lines or use the replacement Orange Line shuttle buses.  

In the final hours before the shutdown, some riders were still trying to decide on which option they will try. 

"Ride the Commuter Rail even though it doesn't go as much time as I like, but what can you do right?." said commuter Jimmy Duke of Roslindale. 

However, others didn't even know about the shutdown, despite the MBTA's attempts to get the word out. 

"I start school in two weeks, and right now I'm on my way to work. And I didn't even know it was going to shut down" asked Christina Durand of Boston. 

By Kristina Rex

The Orange Line has shut down before

Boston history: The Orange Line has shut down before 02:08

We found the Orange Line was actually shut down once before. In May of 1987, a section of the Orange Line was an elevated train that ran aboveground in Boston. Looking to improve the system and move it to an underground subway, the MBTA shut it down for several days. WBZ-TV reporters covered the morning commute.

Shelby Scott was there for what most thought would be a tough morning commute. Instead, she found traffic was light and the shuttle buses were nearly on time for some riders. Boston Police officers manning intersections kept the traffic moving. This shutdown only affected the Boston section of the Orange Line. 

By Cheryl Fiandaca

Orange Line work a "ballet" with "heavy machinery"

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, MassDOT CEO Jamey Tesler and Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver held a news conference Friday morning at the Forest Hills station to go over the final details of the shutdown.

Poftak said the primary focus of the work will be track maintenance and they will add additional projects if they can get them into the 30-day window. He called the overall project a "ballet" with "heavy machinery."

MBTA General Manager update on final details of Orange Line shutdown 11:44

He added that safety is the priority but they fully intend to be back up and running in 30 days.

There will be MBTA ambassadors at stations to help commuters navigate the changes. Poftak said they're spending $37 million on 180 shuttle buses to replace the trains.

"We have drivers coming from all over the country," Poftak told reporters, adding that they've been out practicing the shuttle routes to be familiar with them.

Authorities said don't expect the existing plans in place for the closure to stay the same the entire 30 days. The MBTA and MassDOT will make adjustments and changes as they figure out what works and what doesn't during the month-long shutdown.

By WBZ-News Staff

Bluebikes reports "system outages"

Bluebikes tweeted that they are aware of "reported system outages" Friday evening, hours before the month-long shutdown of the MBTA Orange Line. 

The company said they are working to accommodate demand created by the shutdown. 

The issues should be resolved, Bluebikes said. 

As a transportation alternative during the Orange Line construction, the city of Boston has offered free 30-day Bluebike passes to commuters. 

By WBZ-News Staff

Shuttle bus drivers conduct trial runs through Boston

One hundred eighty shuttle buses will provide transportation for commuters during the Orange Line shutdown. Some bus drivers were practicing the routes Friday.

The coach buses have a wide turn radius and navigate roadways differently than standard MBTA buses. 

This video shows how the buses maneuver turns. 

The MBTA is spending $37 million to bring in the shuttle buses. Drivers are coming in from around the country.

By WBZ-News Staff

Some Boston streets closed to general traffic

Boston plans to shut down some streets to general traffic, in hopes of keeping shuttle buses on schedule. 

Starting Friday night, the following roads will be closed

  • State Street between Congress Street and Washington Street
  • Dartmouth Street between Saint James Avenue and Boylston Street in the Back Bay
  • Washington northbound from the Arborway to Williams Street in Jamaica Plain 

Police will ticket drivers who park in restricted areas. 

By WBZ-News Staff
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