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MBTA riders fume over plans to close Orange Line for 30 days03:36
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MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford after announcing the shutdown of the MBTA Orange Line.  (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford after announcing the shutdown of the MBTA Orange Line. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

MBTA riders who have have already suffered through a summer filled with delays, derailments and other disruptions were hit with more hard news this week: the Orange Line soon will be shut down for nearly a month for repairs.

Seunghee Lee, of Jamaica Plain, uses the Orange Line every weekday to get to Logan Airport. She said the closure set for mid-August will throw a wrench into her morning routine.

"I'm just a little frustrated," Lee said. "I want to know what they're going to do about it."

The MBTA announced Wednesday it will close the entire line for 30 days starting Aug. 19. T leaders say it’s the first time in the history of the transit system that an entire line will be shut down that long for improvements.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the temporary closure will allow the T to do needed repairs much more quickly than normal and avoid having to halt trains on weekends and evenings over the next five years.

"This means that delays in Orange Line service or an unplanned shuttle diversion due to a degraded track condition will be prevented thanks to completely repaired or replaced track that will be put in place during this shutdown," Baker said.

Gov. Charlie Baker announces a 30-day shut down of the Orange Line at a press conference at the Wellington train yard in Medford. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker announces a 30-day shut down of the Orange Line at a press conference at the Wellington train yard in Medford. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu echoed T officials, calling the Orange Line closure “unprecedented." She said there's not much time for the city or its school district to plan for the diversion.

But Wu said she hopes the work can make the line safer and avoid even more delays in the future.

"I’m hopeful that doing this work thoroughly, doing it in one stretch and getting it done now, will mean that we are saving years of disruptions in the long run," Wu said.

But many people riding the T Wednesday were frustrated by the news.

Leslie Good, who commutes on the Orange Line from her home in Jamaica Plain to her work near North Station, questioned why the T didn't do the work during the pandemic.

"The subway sat empty for a year and a half during COVID," Good said. "There was no one on the road. There was no one on the T."

"I think this is the perfect example of government is not here to fix our problems," she added.

Good lives across the street from the Green Street station and will see the impact every day. But Good said the closure will be even worse for people who have to take a bus to the subway and already face a longer commute.

Worse, she doesn't think the delays will end anytime soon. Not with the same people in charge of the T.

“Only if we got some fresh blood in here — that would be my recommendation," Good said. "And I don't mean some guy from Everett; I mean some guy from Queens or some guy from Seoul."

MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Several Orange Line riders at Wellington Station said they were concerned about how they'll get to work on time.

"It’s pretty detrimental," said Rui Teixeira, a Somerville resident who rides the Orange Line regularly and plans to talk to his boss about the issue. "I work two jobs, and I have about an hour to commute in between."

Still, Teixeira says he supports any work that helps make the line faster and more reliable.


WBUR's Laura Kraegel contributed to this report.

This segment aired on August 4, 2022.

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