BOSTON (WHDH) - With thousands of Boston Public Schools students heading back to class Thursday, including over 5,000 who ride the Orange Line, city and MBTA officials said they’ve been working closely to ensure a smooth transition.
“It’s not going to go perfectly, and our pledge to families is that we are going to be monitoring the situation so carefully and looking to improve every hour as we go,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “It’ll get better.”
With the Orange Line still shut down, Wu said shuttle buses are in place for students who have to ride the train end-to-end.
“We have added capacity not only on shuttle buses that run along that span but on the yellow buses,” Wu said. “More than 500 students actually opted back into yellow bus service given what’s happening.”
A number of charter school students and their families have already been navigating the change in routine. While not impossible, some people told 7NEWS the switch to shuttles has made an already stressful process even more difficult.
“Normally, it would be pretty simple – a bus to the train, and then train to home, but now, it’s kind of like, around about where you’ve gotta bus to shuttle,” said Laquiesha Rainey, whose daughter is a charter school student. “It’s complicated.”
Rainey said their commute time has almost doubled on the Orange Line shuttle buses, from Dorchester to Roxbury.
T commuters are not the only ones concerned about the lengthy commute. One woman who told 7NEWS she drops her kids off at school said she is worried too, having had her commute affected well before Thursday.
“It already affects my morning commute now, for some of the schools that have already started, not just BPS,” said Crystal Centeno. “It already adds an extra 15 minutes, so imagine now, BPS starting and being in full effect, along with the charter schedules and then the Orange Line not running.”
School district officials said they are adding some leeway for students who are late to school due to the changes.
“We’re providing as much flexibility as possible because we understand students might be coming late,” said BPS Acting Superintendent Drew Echelson. “We’re gonna make sure that students who arrive late have access to breakfast and won’t be marked tardy as part of that process.”
Alternatives to the Orange Line shuttles include taking the Commuter Rail, if possible for students. Regardless of how their kids are getting to school, though, some parents told 7NEWS some of the best assistance they can get is the MBTA finishing its work on the Orange Line on-time.
“Not everybody is fortunate with driving and being able to take their kids to school, so hopefully, the City of Boston, we can get this together, get it running, because the kids need a good way of transportation!” one woman said.
In the meantime, students in grades 7-12 are eligible to receive free MBTA passes through the BPS district. On Thursday, the offer will be extended to every student.
More information on students benefits and more can be found in the MBTA’s “A Rider’s Guide: Student Edition,” which can be found here.
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