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Before the Orange Line shut down, officials hired shuttle buses and urged people to not drive downtown - in 1987

WBZ Archives: The Final Ride of the Orange Line ‘El’

In 1987, the MBTA shut the elevated Orange Line south of Back Bay so it could eventually switch over to the semi-submerged line we know today. The T brought in 100 buses and the mayor of Boston held a press conference to urge patience - and to avoid driving downtown. Walt Sanders at WBZ reports.

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All kinds of nostalgia here! Dudley station (trigger warning) on the bus detour map; the shiny new Orange trains, same ones now being phased out, no rust or dirt yet covering the exteriors; Shelby Scott; passenger holding a Kodak Disc camera; and is that a young Michelle Wu in the video preview?

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The trains in the 1987 video are still running today.

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American rail is regrettably a laughing stock. We claim first subway in America (yes the whole continent) but look at the state it’s in?
We are so far behind European cities and Asian cities. We should have a high speed rail in 2022? But instead we have people fair hopping because they’re so disillusioned with the mbta

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This clip is a 'chef's kiss'

- Liz & Jack in their prime
- Shelby Scott
- Someone with a thick mass accent

Of course the irony is one of the parts of the track they are working on is the part you see in the video, where the, then new, orange line met the existing rails just south of Chinatown station.

And that in 1987 the cops did their job and buses moved OK, albeit only for a weekend. Imagine if we had buses that moved b/c people did their jobs all the time since 1987 what kind of bus network we'd have now.

and "Well run system".. oh times have changed. He musta been a tourist.

PS - I really hope WBZ is digitizing all of their reels and at some point wil post most of them online (they do it now but.. I mean like Boston Archives level of videos). Some are so interesting to watch.. and the reporting is outstanding.

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Was that Elliot Davis @4:14?

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Service on the old elevated line ended on Wednesday or Thursday, service on the new line started the following Monday, and there were free demonstration rides on part of the new line (not yet connected to the downtown Orange Line) over the weekend.

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The bus shuttle was for three days from Friday May 1 1987 to Sunday May 3 1987, the new Orange Line began regular service on May 4 and was opened for demonstration rides (but not tied into the old line yet) on May 2 and 3.

The bus shuttle was operated inhouse by the MBTA, not contracted out, and it followed the old Orange Line el route, so it just operated on Washington St. from Forest Hills to Downtown.

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The free demonstration rides were the previous weekend.

Service on the old line ended at the usual time, after midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning.

Service on the new line began at the usual time, around 5:00 am Monday morning.

There were also significant bus route changes.

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Three days -- May 1, 2, and 3, a Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- is a lot different from a month. And there was no closure of the Orange Line north of downtown, or of the Green Line.

They had to do the same thing in April 1975 when the north half of the Orange Line switched to its current route.

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Before the switchover, the next stop after Chinatown was on the elevated at Dover station (East Berkeley Street). The Orange Line did not serve Back Bay or Tufts Medical Center until after the swtichover.

Also, some station names have changed. Back then, Chinatown was still Essex, and Tufts Medical Center was New England Medical Center, and Downtown Crossing may still have been Washington.

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Forest Hills -- Green -- Egleston -- Dudley -- Northampton -- Dover -- Essex -- Washington

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there was North Station --> City Square --> Thompson Square --> Sullivan Square --> Everett.

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The station names were all changed, officially, on the same day the new Orange Line opened, May 4, 1987. The T had a number of hearings and then decided on the name changes a couple of years in advance, with the understanding that none of the changes would be effective until the Orange Line opening. That way they would only have to do one set of new system maps, especially including the expensive enamel maps in stations.

Exception: Tufts Medical Center was changed to that in 2010. It was called New England Medical Center on the day it opened. But in the hearings a couple of years earlier, there were several other names considered, including "South Cove" and even "Chinatown". (The T wasn't sure which station would have the Chinatown label.) As I recall, back then there was even a disagreement between Tufts University officials and the leaders of the Medical Center, over the exact name that the station should have.

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People forget (or weren't around or weren't yet born) that there was another major project when the Southeast Expressway was completely rehabilitated during the 1983-1985 period. Although that project was highway surface and bridges, it was equally disruptive. There was time to plan, and the project was successfully completed. Dorchester was greatly affected because the highway cuts right through the neighborhood. We adapted by modifying schedules and activities. People working set hours in specific locations do not have that luxury. This time, prioritizing the shuttle buses is the only fair solution.

RECONSTRUCTING MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES: THE CASE OF BOSTON'S SOUTHEAST EXPRESSWAY (trb.org)

1021-001.pdf (trb.org)

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In the above new stories the Mayor and T-spokesperson talk about the roles of the Boston and Transit Police have in traffic control. The Mayor and T-spokesperson in news stories the past week have ignored and not invited the Transit Police or BPD to their press conferences but we have heard from the Chief of streets and the minimum wage ambassadors.

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Wait, wasn't the old El the one they shut down and never brought back? Eventually the Silver Line replaced it, earning the nickname the "Silver Lie" because it's not a train but permanent bustitution?

I pretty much expect the current Orange Line to go the same way. Few weeks from now we're going to hear the state of it so dire it needs to stay closed for more work.... longer and longer.... and then we get a new overland bus route along the OL.

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