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Out-of-state shuttle bus drivers navigate Orange Line routes without major hiccups

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

BOSTON -- 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.

Senior Boston City Traffic Engineer Alfredo Vilar was nervous about how Monday would unfold but was pleasantly surprised.

"I thought it'd be Armageddon. I was very nervous coming in," Vilar said, "But I believe everyone came together, we came up with a good plan. I also believe that a lot of people stood home today to see what the fallout might be, and I believe tomorrow and Wednesday people will come back to work."

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.

"I just came from Malden Center. I came back here. Was like a half-hour ride at the most. It was pretty pleasant, not that many people on the bus," said passenger Toby Thomas.

Joe Marchi, a Yankee driver from Massachusetts, said his colleagues were trained well and studied up on the routes.

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

During the height of the morning commute, Marchi said he had 40 to 45 passengers aboard. 

The greatest challenge facing the shuttle drivers, Marchi said, is other drivers on the road who are not used to the new bus lanes. 

"People that are here, that drive every single day on Gilmore bridge, they're not realizing it's a bus lane," he said. 

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