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MBTA will shut down Orange Line trains for a month04:33
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MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford after T leaders announced the line will be shut down for 30 days later this month to handle a backlog of repairs and upgrades. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MBTA Orange Line cars at the Wellington train yard in Medford after T leaders announced the line will be shut down for 30 days later this month to handle a backlog of repairs and upgrades. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The entire Orange Line of the MBTA will shut down for 30 days beginning in the middle of August, T officials and Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.

Officials said the shutdown, which comes amid escalating safety incidents and a federal review of the system, is necessary to speed up repairs and improvements on the line.

"This is an unprecedented service diversion for the MBTA," said Steve Poftak, the T's general manager, in a press conference Wednesday. "We have never shut down an entire line in this way in order to make sweeping improvements, but we're doing this because it's the fastest, most efficient way to deliver the benefits to our customers."

The Orange Line — all the way from Oak Grove in Malden to Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain — will be shut down starting at 9 p.m. on Aug. 19 through 5 a.m. on Sept. 19.

The MBTA will make repairs such as replacing tracks, upgrading signals and rolling out new trains. Without the shutdown, Baker said implementing the repairs would have taken five years.

"To put it in perspective, the 30 days of 24-hour access to rebuild and replace tracks across this line will replace what would have taken five full years of weekend and evening diversions," he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker addresses questions from reporters after it was announced the T would shut down the Orange Line for 30 days in the middle of August. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker addresses questions from reporters after it was announced the T would shut down the Orange Line for 30 days in the middle of August. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The MBTA has been experiencing a string of high-profile safety issues, including a Green Line collision last summer, derailments, a crossing signal malfunction leading to a woman's death and a Red Line train dragging a man stuck in the door to his death. A couple of weeks ago, an Orange Line train caught fire during the morning commute.

The repair work during the shutdown includes replacing 3,500 feet of track, which will allow the MBTA to lift some "slow zones" and allow for quicker trips, Poftak said.

He says the T received directives from the Federal Transit Administration to accelerate those critical track updates. And he says the T has heard from riders that they want service to be better.

"We've heard them loud and clear that they want bold action to improve the MBTA at the pace they deserve," Poftak said. "And we know that we can't wait. So part of this shutdown is about not waiting. It is about making the necessary improvements and making them now."

MBTA data shows the Orange Line has the second-highest ridership in the system — only behind the Red Line. There are about 101,000 average weekday trips, according to data from April of this year.

During the disruption, the T is providing free shuttle bus service. The T's board approved a $37 million contract with A Yankee Line for up to 200 buses during the shutdown.

Poftak recommended riders also consider using the commuter rail instead, which follows a similar path as the Orange Line in many areas. Riders could board the commuter rail line in Zones 1A, 1 and 2 during the disruption using their Charlie Card. (Read more about alternative transportation options during the shutdown here.)

This article was originally published on August 03, 2022.

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