We’re one week into the MBTA’s closing of the Orange Line for extensive repairs, and commuters are starting to get a handle on traveling into and around the city without that service.
We asked readers to share their experiences during the first week of the Orange Line shutdown, and they told us how their commutes have changed under these temporary circumstances.
Gina M. from Malden said her commute time has “doubled or tripled” since the start of the shutdown. She now uses a mix of cycling, riding the T, and walking instead of her usual Orange Line ride.
“My commute from Malden has doubled or tripled. What’s upsetting is that the T has other routes in place that could help if adjusted or increased, like the 354 bus from Medford Square. But that bus is double the cost and doesn’t run in the middle of the day (as I just realized). The T should have made more increases to non-Orange Line service to fill in the gap but they have not done so,” she said. “They also could have brought back other dormant express bus routes from my neighborhood. There used to be a direct bus to Haymarket but they killed that some time ago.”
Most of the 115 readers polled said the extended closure is going worse than they expected, and just 19% said their commutes have stayed about the same.
People getting into the city by car seemed to be having the worst go of it, and were more likely to poll negatively about the shutdown. MBTA officials said early on that drivers should expect traffic and should try to avoid driving into the city whenever possible.
Starha, who comes into Boston from Woburn, described the first week as “the commute from hell,” while Joey C. from Brockton worries that the shutdown will go on for longer than the 30 days promised.
But there are also plenty of people who’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way the MBTA has handled the situation. Thirty-five percent of the 115 readers polled said the shutdown is actually going better than they expected. Lis from Wakefield described her commute as “super organized,” and Janet from Boston said the only change has been some extra walking in her day.
“Oddly, it’s taking me less time to get to work than it did pre-closure. I board the Orange Line at Malden Center and am used to waiting ten minutes or longer for a bus in the morning,” Sarah M. from Malden told Boston.com. “So far, the shuttles have been much more consistent than the train, and I haven’t had to wait to board once. The downside is that it does take significantly longer to reach Sullivan Square (where I get off the shuttle to board a bus) than it did via train. The Medford/Somerville traffic slows us down.”
Below, you’ll find a sampling of responses from readers who are adjusting to their commutes during the ongoing Orange Line closure.
Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.
What has your commute been like since the start of the shutdown?
“I now leave at 4 a.m. to get to my job at Boston Children’s. I do think we early morning folks adjusted our schedules to an earlier departure time as I see familiar cars on my route. It’s only day 3 for me and I am extra sleepy but I am guessing the folks doing the Orange Line repairs feel the same. Everything is temporary.” — Kate D., Everett
“Travel by vehicle into Boston has exploded. Not sure why the optimism after day one. Took me over two hours today to go nine miles from the north on 93 south. Only one single shuttle bus passed the entire time. The city always wants to triage vs. long-term plan and fix. Should not take the federal government always telling us to do it to get it done. How is this making us more green? Suddenly no one is talking about this impact. Wish I never had to come into the city for work as it is a mess.” — Andrew, Wakefield
“I thought there was going to be much more traffic. Thankfully it seems like there was good planning ahead of time and it all went well on the first day, let’s hope it continues to do so for the next month!” — Vanesa
“Better. Going in earlier and leaving earlier to work afternoons from home could be my new normal!” — Kiki L., Billercia
“The shuttle buses are more reliable than I expected, but the need to take the Green Line from Copley has almost doubled my commute time. The trains in the evening from Park Street are often so crowded you can barely move and people are unable to exit the train due to overcrowding.” — Kate P., Roxbury
“From the north, the buses need to skip stops; 40 people get on at Sullivan, and then 1 off, 0 on at Community College, etc. With the number of available buses this should be trivial and improve rider experience. Just state the destination of each bus. ‘All stops to Gov’t Center,’ ‘Haymarket and Gov’t Center only.’ North Station inbound would be better served by a tight local loop.” — Jack, Somerville
“Awful. I have to change, walk and ride, then walk again. This is a disgrace that our leaders allowed the T to get to a state where we had to do this.” — Michael D., Dorchester
“I am a regular on the Haverhill commuter rail line. Expected a lot more passengers to board at Oak Grove and Malden Center. I guess people are taking the shuttle bus or staying home? My commute was minimally impacted today, just an extra stop at Oak Grove, that’s all.” — Steve T., Methuen
“I usually take the commuter rail to Back Bay, but stayed on till South Station and walked the mile or so left to my office by North Station. The streets were surprisingly quiet and made for a pleasant morning. I had to hustle a little for my evening commute but made it to South Station with a few minutes to spare.” — Alison S., Marlborough
“Normally I get off the commuter rail at Back Bay and take Orange Line to North Station. Now I am taking commuter rail to South Station, and walking to North Station. From South Station I tried getting on the Red Line to MGH and walking to North Station … but it was faster to walk. I wish there was service between South Station and North Station, or more options for the T inside Boston.” — Darcy, Dedham
“Wellington to Ruggles went from 40 minutes to a 90+-minute, three-bus nightmare.” — Jason C., Medford
“Horrendous. What I would consider the most vital stops within the Orange Line to not be accounted for in terms of shuttle service is a joke. Clearly shows absolute neglect in regards to planning for the shutdown. Do we really expect a permanent fix for Orange Line service when they can’t even come up with a proper solution for a month?” — Steve, Jamaica Plain
“It is right about the same amount of time (25 minutes) by bicycle from the Franklin Field area as it took me on the bus/Orange Line. I work downtown off State Street. It has not been a bad experience at all, and I am getting more exercise!” — Daniel G., Roxbury
“When I get to work everybody complains. I gloat in silence since I rode my bike. Raise the gas tax, fund public transit.” — Eric, Brookline
“The T is so inconsistent that I gave up on it 15 years ago. Been biking in ever since and my commute changed from the worst part of my day to the best part of my day.” — Jason C., Medford
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinions.