While some people reported longer than normal trips to work on Monday, the first weekday commute during the Boston transit system’s Orange Line shutdown appeared to go fairly smoothly.
The 11-mile subway line that runs from the city of Malden north of Boston to the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood shut down for 30 days on Friday night so the MBTA can make track and signal repairs that would normally take a year.
To complicate matters, a section of the MBTA’s Green Line also shut down for a month on Monday for the completion of construction work.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu took two buses and a subway train to get to work at City Hall, a little late.
“It went pretty smoothly,” she said. “It was a little bit longer than a usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way.”
Nicholas Ventura, 32, of Melrose, a job training manager, told The Boston Globe that his commute, which included a 15 to 20-minute walk, was about a half hour longer than normal.
“You really can’t do much,” he said. “The system is broken.”
The T is providing shuttle buses between stations, and the city has set aside designated bus-only travel lanes on some streets. Commuter rail lines are also running with increased frequency and added stops to take up some of the slack.
The T has also deployed hundreds of workers to help commuters navigate the new system, including General Manager Steve Poftak, who on Monday helped passengers at the Forest Hills station.
Workers so far have replaced about 2,400 feet of rail, including a stretch of southbound track between Downtown Crossing and State Street that was the site of one of six speed restrictions Poftak hopes to be able to lift after the shutdown is complete.
Traffic nightmares that had been anticipated with more vehicles on the roads and reconfigured streets did not materialize – at least, not yet. Many workers are finishing summer vacations this week, and school children and college students have not yet returned to classes.
“The traffic is actually lighter than we expected,” state Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver told WBZ-TV.
The MBTA has experienced a series of problems in the past year that prompted the Federal Transit Administration to launch a review of the system, and the shutdown for repairs is in response to that review.
Some officials warned of potential problems in the future. Gulliver said Monday traffic was unusually light. And Wu said that the real test will come when students return to school.
The Orange Line normally handles over 100,000 trips per weekday, according to the MBTA. In addition to bringing commuters to work every day, visitors also use the Orange Line to access many top tourist destinations.
State House News Service staff writer Chris Lisinski contributed to this report.