MEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Orange Line commuters will soon hold a title they likely didn’t want: riders of a the first entire MBTA line to be shut down.
“We’re doing this because it’s the fastest, most efficient way to deliver the benefits to our customers,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at a news conference announcing the shutdown.
MBTA officials said the closure will allow for long-overdue maintenance and repairs, squeezing five years’ worth of work into one month. Gov. Charlie Baker said the 24-hour access will allow workers to rebuild and replace tracks faster than the years of weekend and evening diversions otherwise necessary.
Starting August 19 and running through September 18, the 100,000 daily Orange Line riders will have the option to use the bus replacement service, though the exact routes and schedules are still in the works.
Riders can also use the Commuter Rail in Zones 1 and 2 that connect to the Orange Line by showing their Charlie Cards or T passes.
The MBTA also advises riders to work from home during the shutdown, if possible.
Riders, though, said the plan is a mess.
“It’s stupid,” said rider Steven Yee. “The point of taking the train is to dodge traffic. The bus is going to be sitting in traffic. What’s the point?”
The closure comes as the MBTA is awaiting a sweeping safety review of the entire system. The Federal Transit Administration raised alarm and commissioned the report amid derailments, runaway trains and accidents, including one on the Red Line that killed a passenger.
T officials said that they’re hoping to get ahead of expected recommendations to make the tracks safer, while also eliminating existing speed restrictions that lengthen rides.
“Part of this shutdown is about not waiting and making the necessary improvements and making them now,” Poftak said.
Poftak also did not rule out the possibility of another full-service shutdown in the future.
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