The MBTA’s Orange Line subway is shut down for a month. The MBTA will also be closing the Green Line between Government Center and Union Square stations, from Aug. 22 until the morning of Sept. 19.
Cities and the MBTA hope people will consider taking other forms of public transit, including Bluebikes and the commuter rail, which will be essentially free for those with MBTA passes or tickets at stations in and around Boston.
Here’s your complete guide to the closures, with information on shuttle bus routes, maps, and schedules.
Taking shuttle buses during the Orange Line shutdown
The T will provide free shuttle bus service on a north route from Oak Grove to Government Center stations and a south route from Forest Hills to Copley stations. Riders can connect to the Green Line at Government Center and Copley to switch between the routes.
The T will provide a separate shuttle bus route for Chinatown which will circulate between stops near the Chinatown and Tufts Medical Center T stations and Government Center every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The MBTA will also provide 20 vans throughout the route to take riders with accessibility needs to the stations closest to their destinations. The RIDE paratransit trips that begin and end within ¾ mile of the Orange Line will be free during the 30-day shutdown.
Alternative routes on the commuter rail
The MBTA is encouraging Orange Line riders to take the commuter rail, which will be essentially free for those who show a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to conductors at stations in zones 1A, 1, and 2.
Commuter Rail trains will stop at Forest Hills, Ruggles, Back Bay, North Station, Malden Center, and Oak Grove stations.
A complete schedule of Commuter Rail alternatives to the Orange Line can be found here.
What about the Green Line shutdown?
While the Orange Line is shut down, the MBTA will also be closing the Green Line between Government Center and Union Square stations starting on Aug. 22 until the morning of Sept. 19. The T will provide shuttle bus service at all Green Line stations along this stretch of the line.
The Green Line E Branch service is suspended between Copley and Heath Street stations until Aug. 21, and the T is directing riders to use the 39 bus instead.
What will it cost to ride the shuttle buses?
The shuttle buses will be free.
The Red Line, Blue Line, and Green Line will still cost $2.40 a ride.
Non-MBTA shuttle option
The Mission Hill Link will be free during the Orange Line shutdown. The Link runs Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Information on routes can be found here.
Thrilled to announce our local community shuttle, the Mission Hill Link, is FREE thru the Orange Line shutdown! M-F 10:30-6:30, ride the Link🚍to:— Kenzie Bok 白凱欣 (@KenzieBok) August 18, 2022
🚃Brigham Circle for E line (& groceries!)
🚆Ruggles for Commuter Rail
🚴♀️Roxbury Crossing to bike SW Corridorhttps://t.co/3iOfhi2zQw pic.twitter.com/koLlgi7cKy
Take a bike during the shutdown
Free 30-day passes on the Bluebikes bike share system will be available during the upcoming Orange Line shutdown. You can sign up for the pass by downloading the Bluebikes app, or navigating to Bluebikes.com/join, and selecting a Monthly Membership.
The free passes will provide users with an unlimited number of 45-minute bike rides from any of the system’s 400 stations across 11 municipalities and will be available on the system’s website and app, city officials said.
If you currently have a monthly pass that will auto-renew between Aug. 19 and Sept. 18, Bluebikes says you will not be charged for the new pass.
You can find your nearest Bluebikes location here.
City planners are working on deploying pop-up protected bike lanes on Columbus Avenue, Stuart Street, and Boylston Street in the Back Bay, anticipating more interest in biking into the downtown area as regular Orange Line riders seek alternatives.
MassDOT recommends using this northern inbound route, this northern outbound route, and this southern route to access downtown Boston from Oak Grove and Forest Hills by bike. The Boston Cyclists Union is coordinating practice rides from Oak Grove and Forest Hills on Sunday, Aug. 21.
If you plan to drive or commute by car
MassDOT is urging drivers to stay off the roads and warning that travel times by car in and around Boston could double.
“To be clear, the shutdown will have substantial regional travel impacts,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver earlier this week. “It is evident that significant congestion will be felt throughout the region.”
To alleviate congestion and help as many as 200 shuttle buses move as quickly as possible, Boston has installed dedicated bus lanes and restricted parking in some areas, and will prohibit car traffic entirely on some stretches, including Dartmouth Street between St. James Avenue and Boylston Street, State Street between Congress and Washington streets, and Washington Street northbound between Williams Street and the Arborway.
Streets with changes and lane closures in Boston
A litany of road infrastructure and traffic changes are being made to accommodate the shutdown. Here’s what we know of so far:
At Copley Square and Government Center, city authorities have set aside extra curb space to allow people to get on and off shuttles more efficiently.
Dedicated bus lanes have been added or are being added in different parts of the city, including downtown, Copley, the West End, and Charlestown. The new bus lanes come with significant parking restrictions and if necessary cars will be towed to ensure that shuttle buses can pass through, officials said. Some blocks will be shut down to vehicles that are not buses.
In Copley, dedicated bus lanes have been added on Columbus Avenue, and Dartmouth, Boylston, and Clarendon streets. Around Government Center, bus lanes are being added on Congress, State, Court, and Cambridge streets.
Officials will monitor traffic flow along the shuttle routes and “adjust signal timing as necessary to prioritize the movement of shuttles,” officials said.
In Jamaica Plain, shuttle buses replacing the Orange Line will be traveling on streets that do not typically carry much bus traffic, which necessitates some changes. Some intersections will lose parking spaces so that the 45-foot long vehicles can safely make turns. Officials couldn’t say exactly how many parking spaces in Boston will be lost from all the roadway changes.
On some streets, turn restrictions may be added. And to assist persons with disabilities, Boston is designating curb space for accessible vans, in addition to space designated for shuttles, officials said.
If you run into trouble
Mass 511 or the MBTA Trip Planner can help you plan your trip:
MBTA Customer Support can be reached at 617-222-3200.
See more stories from the Globe on the MBTA shutdown
- Google Maps plans to display updated Boston transit map for Orange Line shutdown
- Pick your stops: Find an alternative route during the Orange Line shutdown
- Mayor Wu urges employers not to penalize late workers during Orange Line shutdown
- Confusion, frustration reign as Boston region braces for 30-day Orange Line shutdown
Danny McDonald and Sahar Fatima of the Globe staff also contributed reporting to this guide.
Leah Becerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @LeahBecerra. Taylor Dolven can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @taydolven.