Schedule Shows How Commuter Rail Will Replace Trains Amid Orange Line Shutdown

As Orange Line riders prepare for a monthlong shutdown, the MBTA says it is close to finalizing a plan for shuttle buses to replace service

The MBTA invited Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and others on a ride-along to show the route of shuttle buses that will replace Orange Line service.

Tens of thousands of Boston-area commuters who will have their trips upended for a month by an imminent MBTA shutdown could get a clearer look at available travel alternatives on Friday.

MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville said leadership at the embattled transit agency are "still continuing to work through a little bit of the granular details" on a plan to run replacement shuttle buses when Orange Line subway service goes dark in eight days. Officials plan "a full announcement, most likely tomorrow," Gonneville told the MBTA board's safety, health and environment subcommittee at a Thursday meeting.

"For the most part, we are pretty well buttoned-up on what the plan is going to be. The micro-details of taking a left here, taking a right here, we're going to have a stop right in this spot — those things are still being worked out," Gonneville said. "As we speak right now, I believe there are some test runs we're doing out on the route itself."

Additionally, riders will be able to ride the commuter rail free of charge in Zones 1, 1A and 2 by flashing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket. Some commuter rail trains will make additional stops at Orange Line stations during the shutdown.

An updated "2022 Orange Line surge schedule," which will be in effect during the shutdown between Aug. 19 and Sept. 18, can be found on the MBTA's website. It shows when trains will be departing from South Station, Back Bay, Ruggles, Forest Hills and Hyde Park on weekdays and weekends.

Another updated schedule on the MBTA website shows how the Providence/Stoughton Line, which stops at those five stations, will run during the shutdown.

The MBTA said in a tweet that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, city transportation officials and representatives from the Boston Police Department on a ride-along on the shuttle route.

Some municipal leaders have grown frustrated with the lack of an exact plan for the shuttle buses as the start date for the 30-day Orange Line shutdown approaches.

The T's website indicates free shuttle buses will run between Oak Grove and Government Center and between Back Bay and Forest Hills stations, but it does not make clear whether buses will connect those two segments or if riders will be asked to take a shuttle bus, transfer to the Green Line for service through downtown Boston, and then take another shuttle bus to get from one end of the Orange Line to the other.

"I certainly do not want to portray that this is going to be an easy alternative service, by any means, and I certainly do not want to portray as well that this will not have an impact on traffic and congestion throughout the downtown area and even getting into the downtown area," Gonneville said.

State House News Service/NBC
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