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Drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists get to share in angst from Orange and Green Line shutdowns

State and Boston officials today detailed their latest efforts to provide alternatives for Orange Line riders and Green Line riders north of Boston for the month-long shutdown that starts Friday night - and to caution that eliminating train service that normally handles 100,000 people on weekdays will affect everybody else in the region as well.

At a press conference this morning, officials said drivers can expect to see more congestion in part due to all the big, lumbering charter buses being called in to mirror most of the Orange Line route and the Green Line north of Government Center, but also because of the pop-up bus and bicycle lanes Boston is beginning to paint in key areas, such as around Back Bay and Government Center.

Pedestrians and bicyclists, meanwhile, need to be even more cautious than normal when crossing or riding along streets because those buses are so big and lumbering.

Officials said they hope riders will switch to commuter rail where they can - flashing a CharlieCard will get you a free ride on Zone 1, 1A and 2 commuter-rail stops. That includes some of the roughly 5,000 Boston public-school students who would normally take the Orange Line to and from school, Boston Streets Chief Jascha Franklin-Hodge said.

Franklin-Hodge said a BPS help line will try to help students and parents find alternate routes to and from school. He added the city is also working to ensure "accessible" transit for disabled and senior city residents.

Franklin-Hodge and state officials urged companies to let their employees work at home where possible - and to be more patient with workers who show up late due to problems getting to and from their jobs over the next month.

Officials from cities north of Boston served by the Orange Line and the new Green Line Extension were not part of the press conference.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak acknowledged there will be no shuttle service between Back Bay and Government Center, but that riders will get free transfers to the Green Line there. He said providing shuttle buses on dense, narrow downtown streets would have proved too challenging.

Baker started the press conference by pointing to billions of dollars he said his administration has poured into the T since he took office to make up for decades of deferred maintenance - he served as chief of administration and finance during one of those past administrations.

He said all of the work the T and its contractors will do over the month-long shutdown was already in the T's "asset management" system, but that a month-long shutdown will mean a tremendous amount of work can be done simply because the T won't have to spend long hours just bringing in and then removing tools and material to restart service at the end of the night or weekend, as has been done with other T repair projects.

He said the idea to just do five years' worth of work in a month was entirely the T's idea, and that the state went to the feds with the proposal, rather than federal rail investigators, already pressing the T on a variety of safety issues even before that train caught fire over the Mystic River, forcing the T to do so.

Poftak said his "confidence level is quite high" that all the work will get done in 30 days and service will resume Sept. 19 better than ever, with smoother, faster rides and almost all new Orange Line cars. He said T managers have devoted a considerable amount of time to "choreographing" the delivery of equipment needed for the work to points along the Orange Line, especially in the tunnel section downtown, that a buffer has been built into the schedule to allow for any unexpected issues and that there are even some additional projects ready should the work actually go faster than expected.

More specifics on the shutdown.

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Comments

FFS - Make the T free within Boston, Medford, Malden, Somerville, and Quincy (Only because the Braintree line moves like a stagecoach) for the duration of this work.

Show a Charlie Card to get on the commuter rail inside Boston City Limits? Sorry Charlie. Try harder. You tried to break 589 and instead your broke the T.

Just remember, when Ed Markey retires and Charlie goes for his seat, hang his handling of the T around him like a lead filled Flavor Flav clock.

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Voting closed 89

Any reason why anyone should believe a word baker or poftak say about the T anymore?

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actually _seen_ a detailed plan for all the work that is allegedly due to take place during this shutdown?

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This.

The major revitalization and safety work to take place on the Orange Line during this 30-day shutdown will deliver a number of projects, including track replacement, upgraded signal systems, and more, over five years faster than originally planned. The MBTA will also accomplish required track maintenance associated with Federal Transit Association (FTA) directives as quickly as possible.

This shutdown will maximize the amount of work able to be accomplished and will progress a number of projects and maintenance along the entire Orange Line, which will improve service, safety, and reliability for riders, including:

- The replacement of over 3,500 feet of 38-year-old Orange Line track and tie replacement work that will allow for the removal of speed restrictions, improving travel time for Orange Line riders.
- The replacement of two crossovers that facilitate the movement of Orange Line trains, allowing for improved reliability and future capacity improvements;
- Track repair, tie replacement, concrete work, and more along the Southwest Corridor of the Orange Line, which will improve reliability; and
- The installation of upgraded signals and associated systems at Oak Grove and Malden stations, allowing for improved safety and reliability.

I mean, are you looking for details as to which areas are in the 3,500 feet of track that will be replaced?

A tip would be to ride the line from end to end and back. All those spots where the train crawls? That's where they will be working.

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Voting closed 33

Given how hard it's been for most companies to assemble supplies, how'd the T pull together the materials and contractors for a huge project in only 2 weeks?

Perhaps the T already had what they needed on-site but otherwise it seems like a challenge to get things delivered quickly even if it was in the country and ready to ship. And if they source parts from overseas, that another long shipping and manufacturing delay.

Same with labor. For the actual track work that's primarily contractors and most of these crews are booked a year out.

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Part of this is work that was already contracted. Part of this is work that they have staff for, except that they only are able to do the work for 4 hours a day. A side effect of that is that there will be much overtime paid to that staff, which will be fodder for T hate in a year's time, if the example of the staff that worked 20 hour days to get trains back online in February-March is a guide.

And of course, there's the part that is unmentioned- this is being done so the Government Center garage can be torn down and so that more of the new Orange Line trains can be brought online.

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Commute themselves?

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My gut is to say “drive”, but they do do this overnights and on the occasional weekends.

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"in a month was entirely the T's idea."

BS. Total BS.

Have him repeat that under oath.

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The idea to shut down the orange line and the GLX almost instantly without warning public officials responsible for planning around this clusterf*ck was just something they decided was a cool idea that everyone would love.

It's either a blatant lie or demonstration of complete managerial incompetence. And Charlie always told us what a great manager he is, so...

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Voting closed 67

when management said "hell, let's keep running the trains anyway!" and blew out all those motors.

I knew then a bigger disaster was coming. But Charlie got re-elected anyway, and a lot of that was due to no viable Democratic alternative. A plague on everyone (and we got one).

Damn it, I am utterly disgusted and I expect that while the trains _might_ be back in a month, nothing will have been done.

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Voting closed 39

I would have liked to have been in that meeting.

"I mean, could we just, you know, do the work?"

"Do the what?"

"The work."

"The work?"

"Just do the work."

"Just what the work?"

"Just do the work!"

"Just what now?"

etc.

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Voting closed 42

Since the streets are going to be more of a clusterfuck than usual, can we get actual enforcement of blocking bike lanes and crosswalks, running lights and narrowly missing pedestrians, etc? It's extra important that people who typically take the T, especially kids/seniors/disabled can safely walk and bike.

(And yes, I know, you saw a cyclist blow through a light once, and you think that somehow means pedestrians and cyclists don't deserve safety. Fuck off.)

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can we get actual enforcement

No.

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Thanks for at least replying, officer.

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counts as 4 hours of overtime

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Lots of detail in all those "ha ha"s.

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I recall that it's been done before...

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The lead-up to this T shutdown has all the same hysteria as Y2K. People put a ton of work into making sure Y2K wasn't a problem (and for those who can't remember 22 years ago, nothing bad happened.) I think - or at least hoping - that the planning by riders and the T and the city will result in only a minor overall blip in commuting pain. I hope I'm right.

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People put a ton of work into making sure Y2K wasn't a problem

They did indeed, for years. For some companies, their entire purpose was to prepare for Y2K.
How much time and effort has gone into preparing for this shutdown?

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New Year's 2000 was a lot more fun than New Year's 2022 but then again I'm getting old af

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When I read a lot of these comments, I can't help but think many of the commentors want to see chaos and failure.
I don't know how this will turnout. Undoubtedly there will be problems, but I hope for the sake of the people who actually need the T and will be impacted by this it goes off without calamity.
Happy Motoring!

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A matter of knowing that it will happen.

The only motor I'm relying on through this mess is electric.

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Next Tuesday and Wednesday the Sox are in town. Prepare for disaster like it's a nor'easter during the superbowl.

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The green line stops and the commuter rail stop near Fenway will be open.

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No worries. No one's going to the games.

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No worries. No one's going to the games.

You would think, since they stink on ice...but since the '90s, "going to Fenway" has become a performative ritual for bros and the girls who cling to them. Baseball is not the main attraction for them, win or lose - they're in it to check off an item on their bro-culture list.

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...how much is being spent on the emergency shuttle buses, how the contracts were awarded, and who owns the winning vendor(s). Lots of people will be making a fortune on this whole endeavor, and I suspect any oversight will take place well after the fact.

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Funny how the owner of Yankee Line is a supporter of MBTA Board member and Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, no?

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/08/11/metro/herculean-effort-under-way-...

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So, I have multiple sclerosis but still able to get around on my own… up to a point. Just thinking about that transfer from BBY to Copley in order to continue downtown almost makes me faint - for that is what would happen if I had to walk that on a hot day. Not even 80+, mind you. I truly feel for those who don’t have a choice to “work from home” and such. Christ, I almost fainted trying to get a new TAP card at DTX last year in that hallway that must run about 85 degrees all year.

And don’t tell me to take The Ride. That in and of itself is a failure to the nth degree.

I “see” the people with invisible and visible disabilities. Pretty sad Those In Charge do not.
#mbtafail

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So at least you won't have to make that walk.

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N/t

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Has anyone ever followed the money with regard to A Yankee Line? Who's the owner friends with? It seems weird that their totally unsuitable coach buses have been the shuttling go-to for years.

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It does seem odd to use motor coaches as opposed to city buses, but I'm guessing it's easier to source a bunch of motor coaches on short notice.

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The T should normally have enough buses and drivers to operate rush hour schedules, with some slack built in for vacations, training, sick time, maintenance/repair for the buses, etc. They're not going to have enough extra buses and drivers to run replacement service for a heavy rail line without deep cuts to their regular bus services, which will be needed even more with the subway line being shut down. Plus we know they're already short of bus drivers to begin with.

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They're not going to have enough extra buses and drivers to run replacement service for a heavy rail line without deep cuts to their regular bus services

That's exactly what I said in the second half of that sentence. The reason I found it "odd" is that motor coaches are not designed to efficiently move large numbers of people like city buses. They only have one door, there's no standing room, etc. Every bus will carry fewer passengers and be slower to load and unload than a city bus. But if you need several dozen(?) buses on short notice, they're probably your only option.

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Yes, the aisles are super narrow and IIRC there are steps to enter (there is a wheelchair lift, but I hear from people with less-obvious disabilities that it's pretty impossible to get the operator to agree to operate the lift if you aren't a chair user).

I'm imagining the coach buses being used by with people with shopping carts, cellos, strollers, crutches, canes, etc. It's going to be a disaster. Like, will every person with an object that blocks the entire aisle have to get off at every stop to allow others out?

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Like, will every person with an object that blocks the entire aisle have to get off at every stop to allow others out?

Or not? They often don't on the regular MBTA buses, so...

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Which company provided coaches for the Red Line replacement shuttles in North Quincy/Wollaston a couple of years ago?

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