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

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