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To Accelerate Repairs, The MBTA Will Close More Subway Lines During Fall Weekends

Commuters wait on the platform as an Orange Line train enters Downtown Crossing station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Commuters wait on the platform as an Orange Line train enters Downtown Crossing station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The MBTA plans to close sections of the Orange and Red lines and some branches of the Green Line during select weekends in the fall to accelerate repairs on the beleaguered transit agency.

In a statement, the MBTA said the proposal, which was approved by the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday, "will deliver benefits to riders significantly faster and allow T crews to undertake multiple projects at the same time as opposed to performing projects one after the other during the limited overnight hours."

Bus shuttles will replace subway service during the weekend closures.

“Riders deserve a reliable, safe transportation system and while we understand this accelerated plan will be inconvenient for some riders, we believe these temporary diversions are necessary to improve the system that has been neglected for decades,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in the statement.

According to the plan, the T will close the Orange Line from Tufts to Sullivan Square stations on Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 5 to Nov. 10, in addition to weekend closures on other parts of the line previously planned for September.

The MBTA will halt service on the Red Line from Broadway to Kendall stations on weekends from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15 — with the exception of the weekend after Thanksgiving — in addition to a planned closure of the Mattapan line the weekend of Oct. 5.

The Green Line C branch will have buses replace the subway service between Cleveland Circle and St. Mary's Street from Sept. 7 to 9, and Sept 28 to 30.

The D branch won't be an option most weekends, either, as the MBTA has long planned to halt service there for most weekends until the end of the year.

The proposal includes replacing sections of track that are more than 30 years old and improving signage, lighting, intersections, elevators, accessible pathways and parking.

But it will also interfere with the commutes for hundreds of thousands of riders.

The announcement comes after a series of derailments this summer, snarling commutes and frustrating riders. A Green Line train derailed last week ahead of the morning commute, the third instance of a train running off the tracks in the same number of months. Another Green Line train ran off the rails near Kenmore on June 8, injuring 10 people, and a Red Line train caused severe damage to the branch's signal system when it derailed June 11.

In the statement Monday, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the diversions will allow the T to "quicken the pace of investments in the system more efficiently and effectively."

"We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to accelerate the pace of improvements," Poftak said. "This is an especially important opportunity for the MBTA to replace track in areas that aren’t accessible to work crews without these shutdowns. We’re taking a holistic approach in getting as much work done as possible, and we’re hopeful that customers will see and feel these incremental advances in reliability and the customer experience."

Baker called for more frequent service disruptions to allow faster MBTA improvements in June, when he filed a $50 million bill to fund the accelerated work. However, the T's new $27.5 million plan is separate from that proposed funding, which has not yet been taken up by the Legislature.

The MBTA implemented long-planned fare hikes July 1, despite pushback from riders and some local officials, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and City Councilor Michelle Wu. The T declined their calls to delay the hikes until repairs were made, saying it needed the money for necessary improvements.

The plan also notes that the MBTA may further expand work on the weekends next year and will "identify opportunities for longer outages."

With additional reporting by State House News Service

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Laney Ruckstuhl Twitter Digital Producer
Laney Ruckstuhl is a freelance digital producer.

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