Lessons from Boston’s Orange Line Shutdown

A month-long shutdown of one of the region’s busiest lines prompted the city to experiment with temporary bus lanes, reoriented streets, and free bikeshare.

2 minute read

October 6, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

When Boston’s busy Orange Line shut down for a month this summer for long-awaited repairs, commuters braced themselves for massive disruptions. Governing’s Jared Brey spoke with Boston’s chief of streets, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, about the city’s strategies and what they learned.

To give subway riders alternative options, the city responded by “dedicating bus-only lanes, changing the direction of streets or closing them to cars, creating temporary bike lanes, designating queuing areas for shuttles, offering free 30-day passes to its Bluebike bike-share system and many other adjustments.” During the shutdown, Boston’s Bluebikes bikeshare system saw its highest ridership ever.

Franklin-Hodge admitted the line never should have gotten to the point where the shutdown was necessary. “I hope it leads to a real renewed commitment on the part of MBTA leadership to never allow the system to get to a point where we have to shut it down for 30 days.”

Franklin-Hodge also noted that the city should “try more stuff” on a short-term basis to test innovations and understand how they function in the real world. “I think it’s a reminder that we can move quickly, we can try things, we can learn from them, we can adjust them, we can use temporary materials in a lot of cases to refine a design rather than going straight to permanent, and if our goal is supporting transit, and it is, then we have to not lose that speed and that sense of urgency.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in Governing

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Bike parking in underground area with ramp for taking bikes upstairs.

California Building Code to Add Bike Parking Requirements

Convenient and secure bike parking can make a major impact on whether people adopt biking as a daily transportation option.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog California

Close-up on map of Kemmerer, Wyoming.

Nation's First Nuclear Power Plant in Nearly Half a Century Breaks Ground in Wyoming

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had shovel-in-hand for the groundbreaking of his company's small-scale nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on June 10.

3 hours ago - WyoFile

Close-up of red Houston BCycle bike share bikes parked at a station

Houston Will Be Largest US City Without Bike Share

The city’s bike share system will cease operations at the end of June.

4 hours ago - Houston Public Media

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.