The MBTA shut down Orange Line train service for 30 days, from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18. It also suspended Green Line service between Government Center and Union Square from Aug. 22 to Sept. 18. The MBTA said these closures were necessary to accomplish a list of major repairs, including track replacement and a new signal system.

GBH News followed the shutdown, reporting on the effects of the closures, how riders were managing without the trains, and the MBTA's progress on its planned repairs. Below is a recap of what happened.

3:59 PM MONDAY, SEPT. 19

As the city of Boston celebrates the return of Orange Line T service, plans are already underway for the next series of diversions: three nine-day full-access closures of the Green Line’s D Branch on a rolling basis through Oct. 30. It's part of ongoing work to install the Green Line Train Protection System, a series of track improvements meant to improve safety.

The closures are slated for the following dates:

  • Saturday, Sept. 24 - Sunday, Oct. 2
  • Saturday, Oct. 8 - Sunday, Oct. 16
  • Saturday, Oct. 22 - Sunday, Oct. 30

The work includes refitting more than 6,000 feet of new track and upgrading over six station crossings. The D line is the last branch to receive these upgrades, with the other branches already complete.

Free shuttle buses will be available at stops between Riverside and Kenmore. The buses will not be able to stop at the Beaconsfield station due to narrow roads in that area.

Bob Seay

3:37 PM MONDAY, SEPT. 19

As advertised, shortly after 5 a.m. today the first Orange Line trains were back on the tracks transporting passengers after the 30-day shutdown for extensive repairs.

In some ways, Orange Line riders stepped into a whole new commute with a morning fleet composed of exclusively new trains. During the suspension, he MBTA readied 72 new Orange Line cars for service — an increase from 30 cars when the Orange Line shutdown first started.

Also on that list of what crews were able to complete since Aug. 19:

  • 14,000 feet of rail replaced
  • 3,400 feet of track replaced
  • 48,000 feet of new signal cable
  • upgraded Sullivan Square and Forest Hills stations

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak boarded his train to work at Forest Hills and had this assessment of his first ride.

"So far, so good," he said. "Again, I want to set expectations. We still have all those slow zones in place, so it's going to be a slower ride today. As the week progresses, the ride will get faster as we do our inspections.”

The new track means that the six so-called “slow zones” along the line will be eliminated, but Poftak says riders won’t see any difference for five to seven days until the new tracks “settle in” and inspectors deem them safe for higher speeds.

What remains to be seen: Whether the rides stay smooth, whether service gets faster, and whether the T is able to hire more people to have more frequent rides across the system.

Many riders were still complaining about the times they had to wait for trains, but T officials say that is primarily due to a reduced schedule resulting from a lack of train dispatchers. The effort to hire more dispatchers is continuing but it may be several weeks before enough are hired and trained to bring the schedules back to normal.

"I think a lot of people went into this not thinking it would work or not thinking that we would get the work done in 30 days and we've gotten the work done in 30 days," Poftak said. "And my hope is when they come back, they appreciate that the product is better, that the ride is going to be faster, you're going to get more vehicles. … So, I'm hopeful to the extent that there are folks who have lost confidence in the T, I'm hopeful that this is a step in regaining that confidence.”

Riders were glad for the shutdown to end on time.

“I’m back to normal,” said Rochdi Ben, who takes the Orange Line to the Red Line for his commute. He estimated the shuttle buses added half an hour to his trip.

Jesse Martin, a Suffolk University employee, said he was getting used to the shuttle service and gave the MBTA credit for getting people to their various destinations. But as he boarded a train for the first time in a month, was he sad to see the shuttle service go?

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Martin said.

Kaitlynn Oudekerk
Jeremy Siegel GBH News

Kaitlynn Oudekerk, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the return of the Orange Line meant she no longer has to drive to work.

“I had to leave a lot earlier. Traffic was bad,” she said. “The first half of the shutdown wasn't as bad. But I think with schools opening back up, it probably made things worse.”

The Orange Line’s return also means Beatriz Ortiz can sleep in almost two hours longer than she did during the shutdown, when she had to leave early to get to her job at a daycare near Kenmore Square.

“I feel really excited because now I don’t have to wake up so early,” Ortiz said.

Other riders said they were grateful to once again have a direct line to medical appointments, and happy to not climb steep stairs on shuttle buses anymore.

Mayor Michelle Wu, an avid Orange Line rider, spoke to reporters after her commute to City Hall this morning, saying, “We had a great ride in this morning on the new and improved Orange Line. It was fun to look at all the little improvements along the way, the stations that had been cleaned and brand-new paint, new stairs installed, new lighting, as well as sitting in a shiny new train that went pretty smoothly.”

And Wu’s Chief of streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said the shutdown showed what could be accomplished.

“I think, what we saw in the last 30 days is what happens when the city and the transit agency come together and work to make a necessary but unfortunate and challenging disruption work as well as it can,” he said. “If there are future temporary diversions for the Green line or for the Red line, we're going to make sure that we're bringing all of our resources to the table to help make that as smooth as it can be for the riders.”

Not everyone was pleased. Some riders shared on Twitter that the shuttle buses used as alternative transportation were more frequent and reliable than the T. Rick Dimino of A Better City, who was critical of the duration of the 30-day shutdown, reacted by saying, This progress was achieved with both substantial and unspoken impacts, including serious travel time impacts, congestion, and economic harm. Targeted shutdowns need to happen with more advance notice, more appropriately scheduled, shorter durations, stronger communication, and enhanced alternative service and mitigation.”

However, he also noted that, “A silver lining coming out of this was increased use and local stops added to Commuter Rail and a tremendous uptick in Bluebike use. More efforts to continue these trends will be a step in the right direction.”

Bob Seay, Jeremy Siegeland Gal Tziperman Lotan

2:35 PM MONDAY, SEPT. 19

Green Line service between Union Square and Government Center resumed this morning. The nearly monthlong partial service suspension — which overlapped with the Orange Line shutdown — was to facilitate the opening of the Medford Branch of the Green Line extension in late November and allow for continued work at the Government Center Garage project.

“When they announced the Orange Line closing, I thought I’ll just take the Green Line because they had just opened it and it’s convenient,” said Iwona Bonney, 53, a Somerville resident who takes the T to her job at Tufts Medical Center. “But then two days later, 'Oh, we're shutting down the Green Line, too.' So that was a little trouble for me.”

Bonney had "no complaints" about her commute today, even with one small delay between Sullivan Square and Community College stations, where the MBTA says slow zones it worked to remove will remain in effect this week until the trains settle into the new rail that was laid down during the shutdown.

During the shutdown, the MBTA said it eliminated a slow zone near the East Cambridge Viaduct, allowing trolleys to permanently operate at the system’s designed speed of 25 miles per hour. Other improvements include the final testing and integration of track switches, power lines and signal equipment, and improved digital communications between branches.

Connor Donovan, 26, a Union Square resident who commutes downtown to work, says he took rideshare services throughout the shutdown to make it to his job as a media producer.

“It’s been all Ubers in lieu of the Green Line,” Donovan said. “I much prefer supporting public transit and I don't love taking Uber over the T, but, you know, I had to get to work.”

Dylan Corrao, 29, says he’s relieved to see the Green Line operating again, after a month of walking to the Kendall/MIT stop and switching over to Park Street.

“Oh my God, yes, this is amazing,” Corrao said. “This is cutting my commute in half.”

At Mama Gino’s Pizza around the corner from the Green Line stop, owner Thanas Gjerazi tackles the lunch rush as a growing crowd of customers form a line for hot slices.

“It’s still early, but I’m hoping that all my customers from the Green Line come back and join us again,” Gjerazi said. “And hopefully it gets better with traffic. It was really painful for the customers and for everyone living around the Somerville area.”

Most of Gjerazi’s customers wear hard hats, work boots and neon yellow shirts, construction workers on break from a $2 billion transit-oriented, mixed-use development adjacent to Union Square Station.

“I have these regulars who are working on that big tower building, I see them on a daily basis, but we lost all of the people who commute,” Gjerazi said. “We had a lot of people coming in on the Green Line, stopping by in the evenings and coming in on the weekends. Losing them really affected us.”

Gjerazi says he lost an estimated 15% of business during the shutdown, and customers brought their stress and irritation at the traffic and shuttle bus alternatives with them.

“Hopefully we’ll see people a little more calm and relaxed now, with the Green Line starting to work again,” Gjerazi said. “People were stressed and they lost faith that the T was going to be ready in time. It’s different when you say something and it’s different when you see it, but if it started working today, that’s a success for our neighborhood, for our town and for all of Boston.”

Tori Bedford

Gov. Charlie Baker reviews updates on the MBTA Orange Line following a 30-day shutdown with Desiree Patrice, MBTA Deputy Chief of Capital Transformation, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022
Tori Bedford GBH News

5:43 PM SUNDAY, SEPT. 18

Regular service will resume on the Orange Line and Green Line Union Square extension on Monday at 5 a.m. following a 30-day shutdown to address safety, track and infrastructure issues.

“We know this was inconvenient,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at a press conference Sunday, thanking commuters for their patience during the shutdown. “I have ridden so many shuttles that I truly have a sense of the additional time that it took, but we are very excited as an organization to welcome our riders back to a faster, safer, more reliable Orange Line.”

While closures and shutdowns “of this size and scope” are unlikely, Poftak said, commuters can expect more diversions — meaning line shutdowns and shuttle bus replacements — in the future, including three nine-day closures of the Green Line D branch and an evening shutdown of the Red Line Braintree branch later this fall. “We are going to continue to use diversions as a tool,” Poftak said.

Some changes implemented during the shutdown will remain, including more train stops at Forest Hills station on the Franklin and Providence/Stoughton Commuter Rail Lines, ensuring two trains per hour during the weekday morning inbound peak hours. The Oak Grove station will remain on the Haverhill Commuter Rail Line schedule as a permanent Zone 1A stop, offering commuters another route.

[Read the full story]


During the shutdown, Orange Line trains were replaced by shuttle buses, which are technically compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the shuttles are high-floor buses with lifts in the back. The MBTA also provided free ADA-accessible vans along the route for anyone who requested one. The city even overhauled some sidewalks around stops to be more accessible.

“I do think the T is taking accessibility more seriously. But it’s a long, long way to go," says West Roxbury resident Jerry Boyd.

GBH News rode along with Boyd to better understand the challenges of being in a wheelchair and navigating the shutdown.

Here is his journey. [Read the full story]

3:09 PM FRIDAY, SEPT. 16

The MBTA has completed 96% of the planned Orange Line work, the agency tweeted Friday. The monthlong shutdown is set to end on Monday.

So far, 12,320 feet of rail, 3,500 feet of full-depth track and 400 Cologne egg rail fasteners have been upgraded, the MBTA said. (Cologne eggs, developed in Cologne, Germany, are special rail fasteners used in high-vibration and noise-sensitive areas. The replacement of these fasteners is being done near Tufts Medical Center.)

Over the weekend, crews will make final preparations and clean the stations. Riders can expect to see test trains on the line by Sunday.

Bob Seay

12:30 PM FRIDAY, SEPT. 16

The resumption of full Orange Line train service will likely lead more downtown businesses to encourage their workers to return to the office, but it’s not likely to happen all at once, said Jim Rooney CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

“I think that the business community will be glad it's over. They did, as requested, extend greater flexibility to employees who could work from home. So that will end,” Rooney said. Employers are expecting their employees to return to the office, but it won’t look like the traditional five-day a week schedule for everyone.

“In some cases, it's full time, five days a week, some cases it's three times a week or something different,” he said — but there will still be some initial skepticism that the T service will be reliable enough for workers to count on.

A group of new and old Orange Line train cars parked in a train yard is viewed from above.
Old and new subway cars are parked at the Orange Line's Wellington Station train yard on July 13, 2022, in Medford, Mass. The Orange Line trains are scheduled to roll back into service Monday, Sept. 19.
Charles Krupa/AP AP

“I think that there's an expectation and to some degree a promise of better, more reliable service starting next Monday. And I think people will give it a try,” he said. “But I also think there's still some hesitancy. I think the T has a long way to go in terms of restoring trust in its and its customers, and they're going to have to keep working on that.”

And he points out that beyond the Orange Line disruptions, businesses are still navigating the post-pandemic future of in-office work.

“The conversations lately have been focused more around culture, communications and mental health related to the need to be together in-person,” he said.

But he admits that employers are still all over the spectrum when it comes to what they are requiring employees to do. Some require five days a week and some allow for 100% flexibility, and he thinks that's going to continue to evolve over the next year or two.

Bob Seay


The MBTA says it is on track to finish the major safety upgrades that have kept the Orange Line trains out of service for a month — but now the agency is facing a budget shortfall next year of more than $200 million.

Chief Financial Officer Mary Ann O’Hara told the T’s finance committee Thursday that federal COVID relief money has kept the MBTA financially afloat over the past two years, but with that federal money drying up next year and ridership still only about 50% of what it was before the pandemic, the MBTA is facing a massive budget deficit.

“We cannot reduce service levels or increase fares,” she said, as management has focused on returning riders to the system. “What we are left with is a very small amount of dollars that can be impacted by the T.”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu reaches into her wallet for a farecard as she stands at a subway turnstile during her commute to work.
Mayor Michelle Wu enters the Green Line towards Government Center after coming into the city via the Forest Hills Orange Line shuttle on the first Monday after the MBTA shut down the Orange Line for service repairs.
Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images Boston Globe

The T can generate a little extra money through rentals and ad revenue, but it is nowhere near enough to fill the gap, she said. “So even if we cut expenses drastically at, say, 50% in those departments of HR, customer experience, legal, finance, I.T. and others, we still cannot solve the fiscal [2024] budget gap of over $200 million.”

And implementing the safety directives that have been issued by the Federal Transit Administration will add millions more to the cost of operating the MBTA.

The committee is now looking at how additional revenues might be raised including road usage fees, fees on vehicle sales and on rideshares and so-called “value capture” where additional taxes are assessed on areas that benefit from transportation improvements. But the committee has made no decisions on any of these options.

Bob Seay


The head of the agency that is supposed to oversee MBTA’s safety operations admitted to a legislative committee Wednesday that the agency only has 6 people working on rail safety — but 23 working on pipeline safety.

“I’m not trying to make excuses for anything,” said Matthew Nelson, chairman of the Department of Public Utilities. “We need more resources, and we have a staffing plan.”

Nelson said the department is planning to boost the rail safety staff to 12 or more, and “we are looking at hiring short-term consultants that can come on board and instantly increase our competency.”

Metal gates and padlocked shut in front of the entrance stairs to the MBTA's Orange Line station at State.
Locked gates at the State station Aug. 23, during the Orange Line's emergency 30-day shutdown for safety upgrades.
Paul Singer GBH News

In a scathing August report about the MBTA’s safety record, the Federal Transit Agency also faulted the DPU for failures in oversight. “The DPU does not use its available resources as effectively as it could to support field observations, audits, and inspections of MBTA’s rail transit system to identify safety deficiencies and require their immediate resolution,” the federal inspectors found.

The report also noted that the agency audited DPU’s oversight program in 2019 and found 16 “findings of non-compliance” — seven of which have still not been resolved.

The monthlong shutdown of the Orange line for emergency repairs that is supposed to end this week was driven in large part by the T’s poor safety record.

Members of the state’s Joint Committee on Transportation said they had never heard of the DPU’s role in overseeing safety on the T.

“You are the agency that oversees safety,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton, “and throughout the course of all these events, whether it be reports or accidents, you never raised the alarm. You never brought it to the attention of the FTA, to the public, to our committee.”

Nelson responded: “I think when you're saying we didn't ring the alarm bells — we've been in coordination with the FTA. We've met all the deadlines and reported all the information. We've been on site of every major accident analyzing what happened and what has gone wrong with those incidents.”

Nelson said the DPU’s work is unknown because the department doesn’t issue press releases about its safety oversight of the T. But he admitted his agency needs more staff and money to comply with the FTA’s recommendations.

But state Sen. John Keenan said he doubts DPU has the “ability and the resources to do what has to be done. I think the answer is no. ... And with all due respect, I don't think this is something that can evolve. I think it's something that needs immediate, prompt attention, and I have a concern about where this ranks as a priority.”

Nelson added that the DPU is preparing a required corrective action plan to address all of the deficiencies noted in the FTA report and will submit it by Sept. 29, the deadline set by the federal agency.

Bob Seay


The Orange Line stops at Boston's two community college campuses in Roxbury and Charlestown, so the shutdown of the train line was a blow to students who don’t have cars and rely on the T to get to class.

"I do not have a car. I do need this transportation,” she Kiara Rosario said, standing in the heat at a temporary shuttle bus stop on Columbus Avenue at Roxbury Community College on a recent September morning.

A women stands next to a large shuttle bus as the door opens.
Roxbury Community College student Kiara Rosario talks to an Orange Line shuttle driver about whether there’s room for her on board.
Kirk Carapezza GBH News

The 34-year-old single mom is studying to be a social worker, while working part-time at a grocery store and raising a five-year-old child with a disability. Waiting for a shuttle that has an open seat has added about a half hour to her commute, and strained her ability to get where she needs to go on time, but without a car she has no other option.

Transportation is a problem for many community college students. According to research, 20 percent of community and technical colleges campuses in New England are not easily accessible by public transportation at all. As GBH News' Kirk Carapezza reports, that problem is exacerbated by the shutdown. [Read the full story.]


The work along the Orange Line is continuing on schedule. General Manager Stephen Poftak said today that 82% of the work has been completed with five days left in the 30-day shutdown. He said he is confident the work would be done in time for the line to reopen on Monday, Sept. 19.

Poftak said most of the construction work is expected to be finished this weekend. If all goes according to plan, the work would be inspected, and the system powered up and tested Sunday before regular operation resumes Monday.

The track work taking place now between Dana Bridge and North Station will allow for the removal of three more slow zones, which will bring the total number of slow zones removed to five.

Additionally, 64 new Orange Line cars will be available when service resumes, up from 30 cars when the Orange Line shutdown first started. Poftak says riders will have a more than 50/50 chance of riding in a new car when service restarts Monday.

- Bob Seay

10:43 AM MONDAY, SEPT. 12

If all goes as planned, the Orange Line will reopen a week from today, on Sept. 19. Still, the weekend was a hectic and sometimes dangerous one on the T. On Saturday night, an out-of-use commuter rail train caught fire. And on Sunday, a power line fell down at Park Street station, causing sparks and loud noises that sent passengers running in panic. What do these issues mean for the T’s long-term safety and reliability?

"Yesterday's incident involved a power line falling from the ceiling at Park Street station, causing quite a ruckus, lots of flashes and loud sounds," GBH News transportation reporter Bob Seay told Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel this morning.

"Some people thought it was gunshots. That was general panic among the populace there. And the T said, 'well, don't worry, there wasn't a fire.' Well, there was plenty of excitement and fireworks. And it brings to question the whole inspection and maintenance problems that the T has been having."

Listen to the full interview with Seay here.

12:59 PM FRIDAY, SEPT. 9

Three weeks into the 30-day Orange Line shutdown, the MBTA says it's 69% of the way done with its long list of repairs and is confident it will resume service on the line Sept. 19.


More than 4,500 Boston Public School students who usually ride the Orange Line had to find a new way to class for the first day of school.

With the subway line shut down for repairs, the students had to navigate the shuttle buses, trains and subways offered as alternative transportation. They said the biggest impact was how long it took to get to school. Some reported the trip taking two to three times longer than it normally would when the Orange Line was in service. That meant many of them having to get up extra early to make it to school on time. But school administrators were understanding and said they would not mark students tardy considering the commuting challenges.

Adults in yellow vests speak to teenagers in a bus station.
Boston Public School “ambassadors” direct students to the correct transport at the Forest Hills train station on the first day of school, Sept. 8, 2022.
Jenifer B. McKim GBH News

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu started the day by riding a bus to Forest Hills station where, surrounded by students waiting for their buses, she observed “It’s been very smooth here … some of our yellow buses are actually being deployed as shuttle buses for the first time just for students who are being impacted by the Orange Line shutdown as well." Also on hand was MBTA General Manager Stephen Poftak who said “So far, so good. We feel like we've got the right number of buses here. And we have personnel here helping particularly first-time riders understand where they need to go.”

There was a noticeable increase in traffic along city streets compounded by the introduction of the school buses into the mix of shuttle buses and cars. In many cases the extra traffic slowed down the shuttle buses, making the trip even longer. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about that situation until the Orange Line is up and running again. The only saving grace is that the Orange Line shutdown will end on Sept. 19 — which means just six more days of having to get to school without it.

Bob Seay


Many people looking for alternative transportation during the Orange Line shutdown are taking to bikes. Since the shutdown began, Bluebikes has reported a 44% increase in daily usage, with some days as many as 24,000 trips. That surge began immediately after Mayor Michelle Wu declared the Boston would implement a program that lets commuters have free Bluebikes passes during the 30-day subway shutdown.

Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union, said as impressive as a 44% increase is for Bluebikes, that figure doesn't represent all the bicyclists on the roads.

“We know that tons of people have been pulling bikes out of their garage or their basement or buying new bikes and commuting by bike for the first time,” Wolfson said.

She added that people are seeing bike traffic jams at peak rush hours. Wolfson says this biking surge may have a lasting impact on the city even after the Orange Line service resumes.

Citing Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s newly announced plans to expand the city’s bike network, Wolfson said “we hope that investments like the city is making can capture those new riders who are maybe riding now out of necessity and could go back to the Orange or Green line once they're fixed. But maybe decide to keep riding as it becomes safer.”

Wolfson says Wu’s plan to add more than 9 miles of new protected bike lanes would contribute to making the biking experience safer and encourage more commuters to try riding a bike as an alternative to driving or taking the T.

Wolfson admits, as in Cambridge, a lot of Boston businesses may have a hard time accepting the changes in road design that can eliminate some parking, but she says there is a huge demand for safer bicycle infrastructure throughout the city. Wolfson says while the initial reaction is often opposition to change and a fear that it will cause negative impact city officials have said they are ready and willing to engage with people who have those concerns and talk about some of those tools are that the city can deploy to alleviate them.

Bob Seay


What will it take to really fix the T? David D’Alessandro, the lead author behind a 2008 MBTA review under then-Governor Deval Patrick, said on Greater Boston it will take billions of dollars and decades of work to fix the public transportation system.

"We're in for a very long ride, maybe 20 years," he said.

After D'Alessandro published his 2008 MBTA report, he said not a single legislator reached out to him. When asked by Jim Braude if the MBTA would struggle with issues for the next decade, D'Alessandro said yes.


Nearly 60% of the work planned during the Orange Line shutdown has been completed 18 days into the 30-day shutdown. MBTA General Manager Stephen Poftak told reporters today he's cautiously confident that they will reopen service as planned on Monday, Sept. 19. So far, Poftak says crews have finished 47% of the planned rail replacement and 65% of the full track replacement. On hand to observe the work, Governor Charlie Baker said the work is "proceeding pretty much according to plan."

Bob Seay


Last week, the Federal Transit Administration released a report on the spiraling safety crisis at the MBTA. It contained some sobering numbers. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • 94%: The percentage of injuries from light rail accidents in the U.S. between 2017 and 2021 that happened due to incidents on the MBTA.
  • 11: The number of serious safety incidents noted in the FTA’s report that happened while the safety audit was underway. The report notes three more incidents after the audit was over, including the Orange Line train fire.
  • 1,500: The number of documents federal safety regulators say they requested and received as part of their safety inspection.
  • 178: The number of miles of track the MBTA is responsible for inspecting. The T also owns and maintains 46 miles of tunnels.
  • 14: The number of spots along the network noted in the report where train operators aren’t able to communicate effectively with dispatch due to radio dead spots.
  • 1,500-2,000: The number of positions federal safety regulators say that the MBTA will need to fill in order to manage its current level of activity.

Lisa Williams


You’ve probably seen the signs floating around the Internet — they look just like the official MBTA signs, yet slightly funnier. One local transit enthusiast, who only goes by his Twitter handle @just_steve_h has been making them since the start of the Orange Line shutdown. He told Morning Edition host Jeremy Siegel that the idea came from the Twitter user Jeff Melnick, @melnickjeffrey1, with an aim to poke fun at MBTA officials and their communication around the shutdown.

“I'm very into graphic design, and I am an avid student of transit planning and urban planning streetscape design,” Steve said. “And I'm a cyclist and I'm an advocate. So all those things kind of just converged.”

He says he found an old poster on the MBTA Twitter feed and copied it. His first design — inspired by the time Gov. Charlie Baker arrived at the ribbon cutting for Union Square in a black SUV — featured a limo with the words “No Orange Line service. Have your driver pick you up early.”

He realized he struck a chord and went viral. Some people even printed them off and posted them around the city, “which is kind of like getting a physical retweet.”

He never planned to talk to the MBTA, but he was contacted by an official who asked him to stop making posters with the official logo.

“So I'm very surprised that their acting assistant secretary of security and emergency management has time to email me about the fact that I am inappropriately using the MBTA logo on my satire posters. I don't think either of us wants to get into a long, protracted discussion of whether or not this particular piece of satirical writing constitutes fair use or copyright infringement,” he said.

“But I find it rather amusing, not to say alarming, that people are seeing a poster that says 'No Orange Line service, stay at your beach house’ and are feeling confused,” he continued.

Steve made a new logo, with the T titled to the side and a red flame, with a person diving into waves.

“Hopefully they find that one more acceptable,” he said.

Jeremy Siegel


A cyclist rides on the Mass. Ave bridge front of an electronic sign that reads "Orange Line Closed." The Charles River and a beautiful sunset is in the background.
Phillip Martin GBH News

MBTA officials said that the work being done on the Orange Line during the 30-day shutdown is 50% complete and on-schedule.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says that the Orange Line is on track to reopen as scheduled on Sept. 19.

He also says the T is preparing for possible increased traffic next week after the Labor Day holiday as well as for the start of the school year for Boston Public Schools on Sept. 8 with a new rider's guide created specifically for students. Poftak also said work on the Green Line is also ongoing and is "progressing well."


The Orange Line shutdowns have gotten help from some hidden forces. From the depths of City Hall, a room of traffic engineers have been monitoring the city on a wall of traffic camera screens for 12 hours a day, nudging traffic patterns and extending green lights.

“We watch traffic and see how we can help people flow down the street,“ said Alfredo Vilar, a senior traffic engineer at Boston’s Traffic Management Center.

A man sits at a desk behind numerous computer monitors and a large TV screen with live-feed camera footage of city intersections.
Alfredo Vilar, a senior traffic engineer at Boston’s Traffic Management Center, speaks on the phone while monitoring traffic in the city on Aug. 31, 2022.
Jeremy Siegel GBH News

To be clear, the traffic engineers are not all-powerful. They don’t control pedestrian walk signals, and they can’t flip lights from red to green at their whim. But if an intersection is getting crowded, they can adjust the timing of traffic lights leading in and out of it, slightly extending or reducing green light times to help people move through. If they see a double-parked car, they can call a traffic enforcement officer to write a ticket.

Sometimes the engineers witness car crashes. Vilar recalled seeing a speeding driver clip another car and flip over going from the Tobin Bridge into the city a few months ago.

"I don’t know what happened to the driver, or whoever was in the vehicle,” Vilar said. “But that caused a bit of an issue.”

These engineers are used to managing traffic around Red Sox games, big concerts and conventions around town. But a fleet of buses acting as Orange Line trains presents a new challenge.

“When a bus starts coming, you know, they’re bigger, they’re slower, they take up a lot of space, and they big down traffic,” said Devon Morgan, assistant traffic engineer. “It’s increased a lot, but with everybody working together, we keep the city open.”

So how’s traffic?

“Currently it’s not too bad,” Vilar said. “I think we’ll get our big final exam when Boston Public Schools come back into session.“

There have been a few trouble spots: Columbus Avenue and Dartmouth Street, right outside Back Bay Station; and Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown. But for the most part, it's been normal traffic.

“There aren’t going to be tumbleweeds blowing down the street during either the a.m. peak hour or the p.m. peak hour,” Vilar said. “You’re going to have traffic. Drivers should expect traffic. But we’re here to mitigate what traffic can do, so instead of being a nightmare, maybe we’ll get it going so it’s not that bad.”

Jeremy Siegel and Gal Tziperman Lotan


Following a four-month investigation into safety practices at the MBTA, the Federal Transit Administration issued a final report Wednesday with a sweeping set of criticisms and directives, mostly based in a conclusion that the T for years has prioritized new construction over maintaining the safety and reliability of existing rail service.

The findings come on top of the directives issued in June aimed at major safety concerns that federal regulators said could not wait for the full report. [Read the full story.]


Mike Tormey is a Northeastern University graduate living in London. He told the Morning Edition team that the Orange Line was his “lifeblood” when he lived in Boston, and has been following the shutdown from afar.

His transit adventure started when he saw news about a disruption at Forest Hill station. Not the Forest Hills in Boston — Forest Hill, singular, in south London. That spurred him to try to recreate the Orange Line’s route around the London area, visiting places whose names match MBTA Orange Line stops: The Wellington pub for Wellington, Roxburgh Road for Roxbury Crossing, and Downtown Road for Downtown Crossing.

Boston’s colonial history means the city has a lot of British influence in its nomenclature. It took him 12 hours, but it was worth the long journey. “Sometimes doing unhinged transit adventures is fun, even if it takes you 12 hours to do them,” he said. [Read the story from Morning Edition.]

2:19 PM TUESDAY, AUG. 30

The longtime vice chair of the MBTA’s former oversight board believes intervention from the Federal Transit Administration — including a possible takeover of the whole system — will ultimately help the troubled transit agency. But Monica Tibbits-Nutt says she is reluctant to remove managers and contribute to a revolving door in MBTA leadership.

A report from the FTA’s investigation is due to be released Wednesday, Aug. 31. The set of directives will expand on initial orders issued in June, as part of the safety investigation that began in the spring, which led to ongoing service cuts on several lines.

Tibbits-Nutt said the T needs a lot of help in solving its many problems, worsened by long term-neglect of maintenance, shortage of staff and unreliable funding. High turnover in management is one of the reasons the MBTA hasn’t been able to focus on solving problems, she said.

“People who are calling for throwing everyone out, we’ve done that and it didn’t work. It’s not that simple,” she said. “And I think for a lot of people, it’s a very easy thing to say. And then once they do that, they walk away again.”

She said it wouldn’t surprise her if the FTA took over management of the T since the agency has become much more aggressive under the Biden administration.

“It’s a very real possibility,” Tibbits-Nutt said. “They come in and handle a lot of the day to day. They make very clear goals and very clear timelines about when these things [safety solutions] need to be done and put in the people who can help structure that.”

She said the FTA’s intervention, no matter what form it takes, could push the T in the right direction by using best practices they’ve seen at transit agencies across the country.

Bob Seay

5:35 PM MONDAY, AUG. 29

Mayor Michelle Wu and several transit advocacy groups are appealing directly to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttegieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to help address the problems at the MBTA that have resulted in deep service cuts.

A statement released today by Wu, the Livable Streets Alliance, A Better City and Transit Matters says last week’s announcement by the MBTA that it would sustain rapid transit cuts into the fall and reduce bus service on several dozen routes due to a shortage of drivers puts the region’s transportation future in jeopardy. The mayor is appealing to federal, state, and local officials to work together to restore critical services as quickly as possible.

Specifically, Wu says a solution must be found to address the rail dispatcher shortage, which forced a reduction in subway service, and to restore peak period service as soon as possible. The FTA ordered the T to hire more dispatchers to restore service, but the process has been slow and few have been hired and trained. Advocates say Labor Secretary Walsh could help speed the process along by removing the contractual and financial barriers to attracting more workers. The inability to hire more bus drivers has also led the T to reduce service this fall on several dozen routes.

Rick Dimino, CEO of A Better City, said the T just hired close to 200 private drivers to provide shuttle service during the Orange Line shutdown, and asked: “If they did that for the Orange Line, why can't they do that kind of thing relative to making sure that they're keeping their bus service going?"

“Coming off of the Orange Line shutdown, the T just goes ahead and announces without any public engagement that they're going to continue the service cuts that are already in place for the rapid transit lines, as well as cutting bus service throughout the entire network,” he added. Dimino said that’s not only dramatic, but untimely, as we head into September and students and workers return to campuses and offices in greater numbers.

Bob Seay

11:54 AM MONDAY, AUG. 29

Governor Charlie Baker stands with MBTA workers on an underground train platform
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks with MBTA workers while getting a tour of the State Street station on August 28, 2022.
Esteban Bustillos GBH News

Governor Charlie Baker got a tour of some of the work the MBTA is doing on the Orange Line yesterday and is optimistic about the progress as T officials say they've completed 37% of the planned work on the line.

Speaking during a tour of the State Street stop in downtown Boston, Baker said he was confident that the shutdown would be wrapped up by September 19 as promised.

"And I base that confidence on the fact that a lot of the work that's being done here can be done over the course of a 24-hour period," he said "You don't have to spend a huge amount of the time you're actually on the tracks getting on them and getting off them, which is typically the case for night and weekend work."

Baker pointed out the big challenge of organizing all the different layers of work at once.

"It's a lot of people and a lot of gear in and out on different projects literally close to 24 hours a day," he said. "I do think the amount of work that will get done, though, will in fact dramatically reduce some of the issues that we have on the Orange Line, generally."

Speaking alongside Baker, MBTA general manager Steve Poftak mirrored the governor's positivity.

"The amount of choreography that has gone into managing and planning a number of projects with a limited number of access points has really been extraordinary," he said. "So, we feel right now like we're very much on top of the schedule and on top of where we need to be."

Esteban Bustillos

8:53 AM SUNDAY, AUG. 28

The MBTA's fall service schedule changes are now in effect. Riders can expect decreased service on many bus and subway lines.

The Red and Blue Lines will continue to follow the decreased weekday schedules that went into effect in June. The Orange Line, which was also put on a decreased service schedule at the time, will follow suit once it comes back online. The Orange Line will also have fewer trips on weekends.

The Green Line begins reduced service this week on all routes. On weekdays, the B and D Lines will see less frequent trips during the morning and evening peak hours, while the C and E Lines will have decreased service all day. The B, C and E Lines will also have less service on weekends.

But while these changes come during the shutdown, they are not related to work on the Orange Line or Green Line extension. The cuts are the result of the Federal Transit Administration's safety review and slow hiring — which the MBTA says has been hampered by negative news about the agency. In fact, the pace of hiring and training means riders could be navigating reduced service schedules until sometime next year.

Lisa Wardle

11:00 AM SATURDAY, AUG. 27

File under “If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry”: the shutdown has inspired some area residents to seek refuge in satire and humor.

One folk group reprised the song “Charlie on the MTA,” with new verses poking fun at Gov. Baker, who is notably not an MBTA rider:

Some on Twitter spoofed the signs the MBTA did put up announcing service changes, poking fun at Gov. Baker, who is not known as a regular T rider:

And…Halloween IS less than 100 days away.

A Reddit user snapped a photo of an MBTA billboard, prompting others to suggest that the T might want to adjust their ad buy:

Screen shot of a Reddit post showing a billboard visible from Interstate 93. Text on the billboard reads, "Summertime, and the commuting's easy. With Flex Pass."

Lisa Williams

2:19 PM FRIDAY, AUG. 26

Deploying 200 shuttle buses, creating routes and installing miles of designated bus lanes for them to use during the 30-day shutdown of the Orange Line was no small feat. Stacy Thompson, CEO of Liveable Streets, says shuttles are moving much more quickly because of those bus lanes than they would during normal MBTA service diversions. She said this shutdown shows what can be done in a short period of time when state and local governments work together.

Thompson said there are a few areas where car drivers are getting into bus lanes, and that police are informing those drivers of the lane change instead of ticketing them.

“This infrastructure went down so quickly that we don't expect people to know that the road has changed overnight," she said. "So now it's really about informing folks and letting them know that the rules of the road have changed.”

A bus turns the corner of a city street next to a small crowd of pedestrians.
An Orange Line shuttle bus turns onto Court Street outside State Street station at the Old Statehouse, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, in Boston. Orange Line train service stopped at 9 p.m. on Friday, and will not resume until 5 a.m. Sept. 19 so the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority can complete years' worth of track and signal replacement and maintenance in a month.
Michael Dwyer AP

But Thompson warns the success of the lanes should not make drivers complacent. She is also concerned about what will happen when schools resume and traffic picks back up after Labor Day.

"[A driver who gets into a bus lane] could be
delaying literally hundreds of people. And these are people whose trips have already been significantly lengthened, too. These are transit dependent riders," she said. "If you're driving, you need to stay out of the bus lanes."

Bob Seay

11:03 AM FRIDAY, AUG. 26

It has now been one full week since the Orange Line shut down. Is everything on track? Transportation reporter Bob Seay joined Jeremy Siegel and Paris Alston on Morning Edition today to evaluate how it’s all going so far.

“Well, I would give them maybe a B, maybe a B-plus. Because I think we didn't get the traffic meltdown that everybody had been forecasting. And it seems like people that I've talked to have been coping. They might not be happy about it, but most of them realize that this is something that has to happen,” Seay said. “At his update on Wednesday, General Manager Steve Poftak said they've completed about 16 percent of the work. So after five days, 16 percent is about one-sixth. So six times five is 30, 30 days. We're on track. So far, so good.”

He also weighed in on the accidental web posting on the MBTA site about a partial shutdown of the Red Line. Nothing is confirmed, Seay said, but anything is possible.

"So it wouldn't surprise me if we saw what we saw leaked the other day become reality, but we'll just have to wait for confirmation," he said. "Don't be surprised if you see the signs along the Red Line — but the whole Red Line will not be shut down like the Orange Line." [Read and listen to the full conversation.]


The MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown is making it harder for staff and patients to access all of Boston’s hospitals, but perhaps none as much as Tufts New England Medical Center, which has 7,500 employees and sees an average of 1,500 patients a day.

The hospital has its own T stop on the Orange Line, which CEO Diana Richardson says is a reason why a "substantial number" of patients choose Tufts for treatment. But with that station closed, Richardson says they have seen people struggling with getting to the hospital. She said some patients don't understand the transportation options, have been confused by signage, or find the alternative transit options insufficient.

She said the MBTA has been responsive in addressing the signage issues this week, especially translating them into several languages, and that T personnel have been present to help guide people. But she said there are still challenges for patients who have limited mobility or are traveling with children.

The shuttle buses only stop at Tufts in the early morning or late at night, which helps some employees but not patients. The MBTA said deploying the buses during the day would create too much traffic congestion in the downtown area.

Richardson the best alternative is the Silver Line, which stops at the hospital’s front door. The Green Line is another possibility, but its closest stop is several blocks away. For those coming from the south, commuter rail to South Station is an option with a transfer to the Silver Line. But coming from the north is more difficult. A person taking commuter rail to North Station would either have to walk or make multiple connections to get to the hospital.

So how are people getting to Tufts New England Medical Center? Richardson says if they’re not dealing with the multiple connections, they are either driving or taking ride shares.

One thing Richardson doesn’t want is patients canceling their appointments.

“We are asking patients to reach out to us. We will help find an alternative for them to get here," she said. "The last thing we want is to defer any more care, given what we're still seeing coming out of the pandemic.”

Bob Seay


The rebuilding of the MBTA’s Orange Line is continuing “relatively smoothly,” MBTA General Manager Stephen Poftak told reporters at the Ruggles station Wednesday afternoon.

Five days into the 30-day shutdown, he said the agency has completed about 16% of the planned work — most of it replacing track and signal systems.

Poftak said shuttle buses appear to be operating without many problems and that there are enough of them available to meet rider demand. People in cars have been mostly steering clear of the shuttles and not interfering with their movement. Officials continue to encourage motorists to avoid routes along the Orange Line and to observe the designated bus lanes that have been out in place.

Poftak also said there has been a noticeable uptick in ridership on commuter rail, especially on the Needham and Haverhill lines, and that additional coaches will be added to those trains.

Bob Seay


The Chinatown T stop, with a sign posted out front in a Chinese language
At the Chinatown station on the Orange Line Tuesday, there was Chinese-language signage, but Chinese-speaking staff or volunteers were only available to assist riders during rush-hour. It’s also unclear if any of them spoke Cantonese, which is the predominant Chinese language in Chinatown, rather than just Mandarin.
Mark Herz GBH News

Orange Line riders who don’t speak English are running into problems getting help in the first days of the monthlong Orange Line shutdown, according to community advocates. That’s despite the fact that MBTA officials say they’ve taken plenty of actions — including on-site multilingual Transit Ambassadors and translated signage at some stations — to serve riders.

“When the MBTA and the city asked to meet with the community, that's one of the first things that we talked about,” said Karen Chen, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association.

“They [were told they] should hire ambassadors who are bilingual and familiar with the community,” Chen said. “I think that, at the time, the answers were like, ‘We'll take it into consideration; we cannot promise that that will happen.’”

To fill the gap, city officials are asking the MBTA to increase its multilingual assistance, and at least one community group has volunteered time at shuttle stops to provide translation services. And on Wednesday, the advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights requested a federal review of the agency, arguing that the MBTA violated federal law in not preparing adequately for how the monthlong shutdown would affect all riders. [Read the full story.]

Mark Herz


One might assume the suspension of service along the Orange Line would be bad for businesses along the route, but that’s not necessarily the case.

In fact, all those shuttle buses replacing the trains have brought in new customers to the Evergreen Bakery and Café on Green Street in Jamaica Plain. General Manager Aja Garringer told GBH News that’s because people who would usually catch the train underground are now waiting outside her cafe. “So if they're waiting for the shuttle, they'll come in and get a coffee or a sandwich," she said.

Garringer has also noticed an uptick in business from the commuters who are now biking on the street in front of her bakery.

At the other end of the Orange Line in Malden, Pearl Street Station Restaurant Manager Paul Solano agreed the shuttle buses have brought in some new customers, but said the shutdown hasn't had a large impact on the restaurant's customer base overall.

But his employees are feeling the shutdown's negative effects. He says workers coming from Boston must leave their homes earlier to get to work on time and those on later shifts have been inconvenienced by having to take a bus, which can take twice as long for them to get home.

Still, Solano believes despite the inconvenience, improving the Orange Line is worth it. He just hopes it’s finished by Sept. 19.

Bob Seay

6:04 PM TUESDAY, AUG. 23

The Boston Cyclists Union has organized weekday convoy rides to help less experienced bicyclists navigate the city during the Orange Line shutdown. But the first couple weekday commutes have been somewhat quiet.

"I expect newer riders to be more fair-weather cyclists," said BCU Executive Director Becca Wolfson. "So until we have nice weather, I don't know that we'll see the numbers that I'm pretty sure we'll see throughout the shutdown period."

Wolfson also attributed the mild attendance to messages from transit and city leaders urging drivers to stay off the roads and asking employers to allow workers to clock in from home. One of those leaders, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, will join the BCU convoy from Forest Hills to downtown Boston on Wednesday.

Lucía Vilallonga is leading a convoy ride from West Roxbury, but she didn't have anyone who joined on Tuesday, her first day leading a route. But she expects that more bikers will take the roads.

"With the Sunday sort of like shake out, warm up ride that (the BCU) had to practice going downtown from Forest Hills and from Oak Grove, there were at least 20 riders on each way, which is kind of incredible for a neighborhood-organized group," she said. "So, yeah, I think we're definitely going to see more people biking, whether that's Bluebikes or with their own bikes."

One tip from Wolfson: She said that MBTA has confirmed that bicyclists can store their bikes in the storage spaces at the bottom of shuttle buses, and that riders were able to do so on Monday.

Esteban Bustillos

3:36 PM TUESDAY, AUG. 23

Jim Aloisi and Stacy Thompson on BPR | Aug. 23, 2022

Despite a relatively smooth couple of days without the Orange Line, local transportation experts expect more problems to crop up after Labor Day.

Former Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi said the holiday weekend and the return of students to Boston will likely create and amplify issues for commuters as they navigate shuttles, commuter rail trains and congested streets.

“I’m hoping for the best,” he said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “I’m frankly expecting something less than that.”

Still, he commended local leaders like Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and other mayors for helping to streamline the monthlong shutdown period.

“I give a lot of credit to Mayor Wu. She’s got no control over anything the T does, and yet she has stepped up in a way that I think many of us find impressive, gratifying,” he said. Aloisi added that “the T could not remotely be pulling this off without the kind of support that the city of Boston and Somerville and others have been offering them.”

Livable Streets Executive Director Stacy Thompson added that she wants commuters of all kinds — including the state’s next governor — to recognize widespread, systemic issues with the Massachusetts transit system.

“I think the biggest mistake we can make right now is to call it ‘the Orange Line crisis,’ or to call it, ‘the T crisis,’” she said. “We have a statewide transportation issue, and we have spent two decades not paying attention.

“For people who drive to work every day, they are thinking, ‘I don’t take the Orange Line, this isn’t my problem,’” Thompson continued. “Well, it is your problem now, because you’re probably stuck in traffic as a result.”

Aidan Connelly

Watch: Jared Bowen and Margery Eagen’s full interview with Aloisi and Thompson

5:12 PM MONDAY, AUG. 22

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says the agency is on track with planned repairs the first few days into the Orange Line shutdown.

The T has already replacemed 2,400 feet of track, installed new signal systems near the Community College station, and repaired the Wellington Station roof — just three of several dozen projects simultaneously underway.

At an afternoon news conference, Poftak noted that the traffic was relatively light Monday, allowing shuttle buses to move freely and complete their routes without difficulty. He hopes as the week progresses drivers continue to stay away from the shuttle bus routes.

Poftak said the agency has received complaints about a lack of adequate signage, so the MBTA is adjusting its signs to make it easier for passengers to find and board the shuttle buses. Poftak says there will continue to be MBTA personnel on hand to help guide riders to their destinations.

Bob Seay

3:10 PM MONDAY, AUG. 22

At Forest Hills station in Jamaica Plain, a motley crew of buses — including Haymarket Transit, Stout's Transportation, Bailey Coach and some commuter rail shuttles — lined up to pick up commuters as MBTA ambassadors were on hand to help guide passengers adjusting to the temporary system.

Laurie Larose, who uses the T to commute to her job at Tufts University, said she was anticipating an extra hour of commuting time each day during the shutdown. She hoped it wouldn't be worse, especially on the ride home with traffic. Overall, Larose said she’d give the T a “C” grade on the Orange Line shutdown, “because I wish we didn’t have to take shuttles in the first place, but hopefully, they’ll fix their issues “

City Councilor Kendra Lara of District 6, which includes Jamaica Plain, also showed up at Forest Hills to help passenger during the morning rush hour, because she was concerned about the lack of Spanish speakers at the station.

"I've been doing a lot of translating this morning," she said. "And I think, you know, the MBTA should really prioritize making sure that in these kind of neighborhoods where there's a big immigrant population and when there are a lot of Spanish speaking people, that they have at least one person who speaks Spanish helping people find their way."

Mark Herz

12:59 PM MONDAY, AUG. 22

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu rode alongside commuters today to test out the first full weekday of the Orange Line shutdown. The ride, she said, went “pretty smoothly." Still, the mayor predicted that the “real test” of the shutdown plans will come in about two weeks when vacation-goers, college students and Boston Public Schools all return to their regular schedules and use the system.

“It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way,” she told reporters at City Hall. “Overall [I’m] very hopeful that it seems like much of the planning and all of the details that we had discussed have been implemented and, so far, so good.”

“We are still working and pushing for there to be some dedicated shuttles for specific schools that might go the entire length of the Orange Line so our students don’t have to get on and off the bus again,” Wu added.

A woman in a blue dress stands, hands clasped together, behind a microphone while outdoors. A large older building with a gold dome is behind her.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu took questions from reporters about her Orange Line commute outside City Hall Monday, Aug. 22, 2022.
Saraya Wintersmith GBH News

Wu added that she’ll pay close attention to commuter rail ridership since it is fare-free during the monthlong shutdown. Wu, who campaigned on making the entire MBTA system fare-free, argued the rail’s high prices keep people from utilizing it which worsens traffic.

“There are many people who live very close to commuter rail stations, myself included, but because the price, the usual price of taking the commuter rail is almost three times as much as taking bus and subway, you don't do that on a daily basis,” she said.

Asked whether the shutdown has impacted her goal of making the public transit system fare-free, Wu reiterated her view that the system ought to be treated as a public good.

Saraya Wintersmith

11:10 AM MONDAY, AUG. 22

Transportation officials said the first weekday morning of the 30-day shutdown went well.

With 200 shuttle buses replacing subway trains and roads being reconfigured to accommodate them, it was feared there would be traffic gridlock on the roads along the Orange Line route and in downtown Boston. But Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver told GBH News things went better than expected.

“I think people took what we've been saying for the last 10 days to heart, and they are they are avoiding the route altogether or they're taking other modes in," he said. "Either way, it means that the people who do have to be on the road are getting a pretty decent commute out of it.”

Gulliver cautions that this afternoon’s commute could be different, as more people tend to leave the city at the same time rather than trickle in as they do in the mornings. And since the pandemic began, there has been lighter traffic on Mondays and Fridays. Gulliver expects midweek to be more of a test.

Bob Seay

6:33 AM MONDAY, AUG. 22

Malden Mayor Gary Chirstenson was out early this morning to hand out CharlieCards and give directions to passengers looking for the Commuter Rail.

“We’re all in this together, and that’s why I’m out here, just doing what I can to help the situation,” Chirstenson said.

A man in a high-visibility yellow vest gestures with one hand as he looks to the left. Another man stands next to him.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson (left) gives directions to Ernesto Vargas, a carpenter who works near Assembly Square, on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022.
Jeremy Siegel GBH News

Malden police were at every intersection along the shuttle bus route in city limits, Chirstenson said, trying to ensure buses get through Malden as quickly as possible. The MBTA will be paying for those detail shifts.

“This is all new for us, and what I’ve been encouraging everyone to do is work together,” he said. “I think I even had one person report a pothole, so we’re doing everything we can to help.” [Read the full story]

Jeremy Siegel

5:39 PM SUNDAY, AUG. 21

Even the monstrous storm cloud of the Orange Line shutdown has a small silver lining. For the next 30 days, visitors to the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House will get to experience what they sounded like before the city built the rumbling, screeching subway system.

A historic brick building sits on State Street, surrounded by taller and newer construction
The Old State House on State Street in downtown Boston has had an Orange Line subway stop in the basement since 1903.
Paul Singer GBH News

The Old State House predates the State Street station by nearly 200 years. It was built in 1713, and the city installed the station in the basement in 1903. The Old South Meeting House, built in 1929, likewise has a direct access doorway to the T stop.

Nat Sheidley, president and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces, the nonprofit that runs the two historic structures, said they are not expecting a decrease in visitors because very few of the tourists who visit arrive via the Orange Line.

“There will actually be an opportunity to experience both sights without hearing the very 20th- and 21st-century sounds of subway stations within them,” Sheidley told GBH News. “So, if you're curious what it’s like to be in the Old State House and have it sound a little bit more like what it sounded like in the 18th century, this is a good time to come and check it out.”

Sheidley admits visitors will still hear the modern truck and bus and traffic noises from outside, but “without the shaking that comes from the subway,” it’ll be a nice and unique experience — one that hopefully won’t be repeated anytime soon.

Paul Singer

11:55 AM SUNDAY, AUG. 21

How can the MBTA recover from decades of underinvestment to create a transit system that is safe, reliable and sustainable? It’s likely we would have to change how we fund the agency. These transit experts get into the details of the choices we and our elected officials would have to make to change how the T is funded in this GBH Forum Network discussion:


A yellow coach bus driving on a street has a temporary Orange Line shuttle bus sticker on its front grille beneath the large windshield.
A yellow Yankee coach bus serving as an Orange Line shuttle makes its rounds Saturday Aug. 20, the first full day fo the 30-day Orange Line rail shutdown.
Hannah Reale GBH News

This is going to require patience.

At a Saturday afternoon press conference, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said "We just want to ask for everyone who is commuting to be patient with one another, be alert and just kind of look around," because many streets have been altered to make room for the fleet of shuttle buses that are replacing the Orange Line train service for the next 30 days.

"This is a big disruption for commuters who are settling back into fall schedules, students who will be coming back to school at the university level or at our elementary and Boston Public Schools level," the mayor said. She said city staff and neighboring local governments have been doing everything possible to make the shuttle service work as smoothly as possible. But she also noted that there are limits to what she and the City of Boston can control.

"It’s up to the T to make sure that everything that’s happening underground goes according to plan, they make the repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible, so on the other side of this we have new trains, smoother service and a more reliable transportation system.”

— Paul Singer


Volunteers gather around a plastic table set up at Green Street
Volunteers speak with members of Council Kendra Lara’s staff and get ready to knock doors just after 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 20, 2022.
Hannah Reale GBH News

As Jamaica Plain residents began preparing themselves Saturday for an uncertain Monday commute with the Orange Line trains shut down, the overwhelming mood appeared to be mistrust that the MBTA stopgaps would work as planned.

Friday night, an Orange Line train made its final voyage ahead of the monthlong shutdown for repairs. Contracted shuttle buses will partially replace the line’s service.

Saturday morning, City Councilor Kendra Lara, her team and a small group of volunteers fanned out within her district in Jamaica Plain to knock on local seniors’ doors — alerting them to the shutdown, helping them plan alternate travel routes and handing out free CharlieCards. That’s where Lara heard one big takeaway from riders: mistrust.

“It's the same thing that we're hearing everywhere. People are frustrated. ‘How did this happen?’” she said.

Jamaica Plain locals, and Lara, said they expect the shuttle bus to be much, much slower than usual train service as the buses get clogged in rush-hour traffic.

The shuttle buses’ commute will “take significantly longer,” Lara acknowledged. “But accessible, air conditioned, top-of-the-line buses. We've made all of these changes to the streets to make sure — I'm just like, ‘try them,’” Lara said. “We're trying to avoid people getting in their cars, to reduce the congestion. So fingers crossed.”

Instead of taking shuttle buses, some residents might take other routes like the 39 bus, or travel south to the Forest Hills commuter rail stop to take it to Back Bay. Cars and bikes — including Bluebikes, which will be free during the shutdown — are another option. Most of the people Lara spoke with hadn’t yet made up their mind about how they would be commuting Monday.

Shandi Foulger, a JP resident, said the inconvenience of the shutdown is “unfortunate, but it is what it is…I just want to be sure it's going to work in 30 days.”

Setting up at the Green Street volunteer table at 10 a.m. Saturday, volunteers and staff talked through how the shuttle buses will actually work — including some confusion over the Chinatown and Tufts Medical Center service, which apparently will be episodic.

One volunteer was impressed at how quickly a shuttle bus got him from Back Bay to Green Street. But he said all he could think about was how much slower it would be in traffic come Monday morning.

“I don't think it’s kind of hit people that it's happening,” Lara said. “And Monday is going to be here very quickly, and it’s going to be mayhem.”

Hannah Reale


The Orange Line trains made their final trips last night — but the start of the shutdown was not without hiccups.

On the platform at Downtown Crossing, signs that listed arrival times for two Oak Grove–bound trains at 8:59 p.m. promptly switched to "no train service" at 9 p.m. A transit ambassador announced that the station was closed.

This is the sound of the confusion:

Chaos at Orange Line station

A few minutes later, after about half of the several dozen passengers had angrily left, a supervisor stepped in to say there would be one more train.

Paul Singer

Locked gates at the Chinatown station on the Orange Line train line on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Paul Singer GBH News

8:45 PM FRIDAY, AUG. 19

On her last ride, 40 minutes before the shutdown, reporter Meghan Smith said it seemed like a normal night apart from audio announcements and signs, which finally included multiple languages.

At Downtown Crossing, she asked musician Gregory Silva where he plans to play after the shutdown. His response? The Red Line.

Meghan Smith

12:29 PM FRIDAY, AUG. 19

On the Orange Line’s last full-service day before the shutdown begins at 9 p.m., some riders are still scrambling to figure out how they will make their daily commutes.

Jon Barrows, who commutes to Malden for work every day, says the T’s Orange Line shuttle bus plan is not a timely option for him.

“Like multiple transfers, it's going to take at least two times as long to get to work as it usually does, if not longer,” he said. “It's just not acceptable.”

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak says one of the agency's main priorities is to finish the maintenance by the deadline to ensure that the shutdown lasts only 30 days.

Upon the last train’s departure tonight, shuttle buses will be deployed along most of the line’s route.

Diane Adame


Wondering what those shuttles look like? The MBTA says riders can expect a variety of bus styles, so look for signs to make sure you’re in the right place.


The announcement two weeks ago that the MBTA will shut down the entire Orange Line for 30 days to make long-needed repairs sent Malden Mayor Gary Christenson into meeting after meeting. “I would say the biggest thing is just the upending, you know, changing the normal way of life so abruptly,” Christenson said on Morning Edition Wednesday. “This is a lot like COVID in a way, that it’s the unknown. We’ve never experienced anything like this, and as a result, we’re doing everything we can internally to try to prepare for it as best we can.” [Read the full story]

An Orange Line train to Forest Hills stands at a station with doors ajar.
A Forest Hills-bound Orange Line train leaves Malden Center on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Jeremy Siegel GBH News


Boston’s Orange Line will shut down in a matter of days for major construction, and local mayors and town managers still don’t have “clear answers” from the MBTA on logistics, shuttle buses, traffic, service delays and more, one mayor said on Greater Boston.

Watch: Local mayors and town managers still lack ‘clear answers’


Morning Edition’s Jeremy Siegel spent the morning on the Orange Line, talking to riders on how the shutdown is going to impact their lives.


Jamal Parson just moved to Melrose from Atlanta for a new job at the Pine Street Inn a few days ago. But soon, his commute will be completely upended when the MBTA shuts down the Orange Line for 30 days. “It shuts down as soon as I move,” he said. “I didn't realize how limited it was.” [Read the full story]

A man in a black T-shirt and a backpack at an Orange Line station.
Orange Line shutdowns come less than a month after Jamal Parson moved to Boston for a new job.
Jeremy Siegel GBH News