One week down, three more to go
So far, Orange Line ‘hell’ hasn’t materialized
That may be the chief takeaway as we near the end of the first week of the month-long Orange Line shutdown.
After all the buildup and hype – by the media and state officials –the shutdown hasn’t been all that bad so far.
There was definitely inconvenience and some hiccups here and there, but it was nothing like the “new circle of hell” the Boston Globe had predicted on Monday in their top news story.
While Gov. Charlie Baker and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak warned of inconvenience and urged riders to be patient, state Highway Commissioner Jonathan Gulliver suggested the Orange Line shutdown and its replacement shuttle service would turn Boston into a bumper-to-bumper mess. He urged people to avoid Boston if they can.
“I know that some of the transit users may be considering driving as an alternative to the shuttle buses. I assure you that that is not a good option and you should look to other transit options,” Gulliver said. “We are urging travelers to evaluate their commute and, if possible, adjust or look for a route that avoids the shuttle diversion if you must drive in and shift your travel time to off-peak hours.”
“If possible,” he added, “avoid the region altogether until the diversion period has ended.”
The warnings appear to have worked. Poftak on Wednesday said passenger levels were down, although he lacked numbers. Some Orange Line riders used the shuttle buses, but many shifted to commuter rail or simply stayed away and enjoyed the end of summer.
Toward the end of the week, Poftak stopped holding daily media briefings on the shutdown because there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in hearing how the project remained on schedule.James Aloisi, the former secretary of transportation, said the media frenzy about the Orange Line shutdown had the desired effect. But he worries the end-of-summer lull will give way to a post-Labor Day crush.
“The problems will come after Labor Day, when people return to work and school,” he said. “That will test the system.”