On August 3 the MBTA announced its plans to accelerate major track and maintenance work on the Orange Line during a 30-day shutdown of the entire line – beginning at approximately 9 p.m. on August 19 through September 18 with service resuming on Monday, September 19 – to improve service, safety and reliability on a faster timeline. The major revitalization work taking place on the Orange Line during this shutdown will deliver several projects over five years faster than originally planned and will result in track replacement, upgraded signal systems and station improvements. The MBTA will also be able to accomplish required track maintenance associated with Federal Transit Association (FTA) directives as quickly as possible.
“This closure will allow departments across the Authority to make substantial improvements across the Orange Line,” said Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler. “Not only will improvements made benefit Orange Line riders, but they will allow for an overall rehabilitated system that is safe and efficient for employees and neighboring communities.”
“We’ve listened to our riders, and we hear them loud and clear – bold action needs to happen in order to improve the MBTA at the pace that riders deserve. This 30-day surge will allow the MBTA to accomplish major and expansive progress on a number of priorities at the same time,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Thirty days of 24-hour access to the Orange Line replaces over five years of weekend diversions needed to address delays and slow zones. We can eliminate slow zones, prevent unplanned service disruptions, and increase the reliability of our service. Perhaps most importantly, we will provide the quality of safety and service that our riders deserve.”
“The MBTA’s Capital Transformation program has used the surge approach successfully to make significant improvements across the Green Line over the last two years,” said MBTA Chief of Capital Transformation Angel Peña. “We are applying this experience and lessons learned as we transform the Orange Line. This surge will ensure rider safety with a continued focus on the quality of our employees and the service we offer.”
Maximizing the amount of work able to be accomplished, this shutdown will progress several projects and maintenance along the entire Orange Line on an accelerated timeline, 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
The installation of upgraded signals and associated systems at Oak Grove and Malden Center Stations, allowing for improved safety and reliability
The Orange Line provides approximately 101,000 trips each day with ridership approximately 49% of what it was prior to the pandemic.
To keep riders updated about this upcoming Orange Line work, the MBTA has created a specially designated webpage that is available at mbta.com/BBT2022.
The plan to shut down the entire Orange Line during this 30-day period will provide work crews with unencumbered access to the entirety of the Orange Line’s 20 stations, over 121,000 feet of track, and infrastructure, allowing a substantial amount of work to be accomplished. Following these 30 days, riders will experience faster trips and better service on an Orange Line fleet that is predominantly new cars.
The MBTA encourages the public to consider their alternative travel options, including those listed below.
Alternative travel options for Orange Line riders
Enhanced Commuter Rail Options: Orange Line riders who must commute downtown are strongly encouraged to use the Commuter Rail as an alternative as the MBTA is making a series of changes in service to accommodate the change in travel patterns:
All Zone 1A, 1 and 2 fares can be paid simply by showing a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket on all Commuter Rail lines. Since many Orange Line riders drive to or transfer between buses and the Orange Line, the MBTA is making it easy to access the Commuter Rail before riders get to the Orange Line by allowing all riders to utilize Commuter Rail stations in Zones 1A, 1 and 2 by showing their CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to a conductor.
During these 30 days, most passing south-side Needham and Providence Line Commuter Rail trains will stop at Forest Hills, Ruggles, Back Bay, and South Station. On the north side, Haverhill Line Commuter Rail trains will stop at Oak Grove, Malden Center and North Station. During these 30 days, riders can show their CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to the conductor to access the Commuter Rail. Riders should review the latest Commuter Rail schedules.
Seek existing MBTA bus and subway alternatives. Riders can use other existing MBTA bus and subway services to complete their trips.
Consider working from home. During this 30-day shutdown, Orange Line riders who can work from home are strongly encouraged to do so. The MBTA encourages employers with hybrid work policies to allow employees to work from home as much as possible.
Alternative shuttle bus service will be provided. The MBTA Board of Directors approved an approximately $37 million contract for shuttle bus service to Yankee Line, Inc. Alternative shuttle bus service will also be provided by MBTA buses. Shuttle bus service will operate in both directions, connecting Oak Grove and Forest Hills Stations to downtown Boston. Riders should expect that this alternative shuttle bus service will take longer and be less reliable than regular Orange Line train service. The MBTA is currently discussing options with the City of Boston for how to best service the downtown area and will provide updated information soon. This service will be at no cost to riders and fully accessible.
Parking: The MBTA will continue to charge for parking at MBTA lots and facilities at Orange Line stations and will communicate lost-parking impacts related to staged shuttle buses in advance if necessary.
The MBTA is committed to providing as much information as possible before, during and after this major and accelerated work to take place on the Orange Line. Ongoing and transparent outreach to riders, communities and stakeholders will continue to take place through all available communication channels, including in-station signage, social media and mbta.com. During these 30 days, extra MBTA personnel and Transit Ambassadors will also be on hand to assist riders.
Upcoming work this fall
The MBTA also plans several upgrades and maintenance construction work to take place on additional lines this fall.