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‘Adapt and adjust.’ With grit and grumbles, commuters weathered the first Monday without the Orange Line.

Commuters rode a shuttle bus from the Forest Hills MBTA Station on the first Monday after the MBTA shut down the Orange Line for repairs.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Greater Boston on Monday weathered the shutdown of the entire Orange Line with acceptance and grit as commuters rolled with large and small glitches that blurred, or blitzed, their daily routines.

On the first full weekday of the Orange Line’s 30-day closure, undertaken so the MBTA can make necessary track repairs, some commuters biked, some braved shuttle buses in the thick of the morning gridlock, while others opted for the commuter rail and a long walk to work.

The Orange Line is the MBTA’s second busiest subway, stretching from Jamaica Plain to Malden through the heart of downtown Boston, and usually notches around 100,000 trips each day.


The shutdown, along with the four-week closure of the Green Line between Government Center and Union Square stations, flooded Greater Boston streets with more than 170 shuttle buses. The extra buses, plus the likelihood that more people would drive to work, triggered concerns of brutal traffic congestion and general transit chaos this week. But the word from T brass on day 1 of the feared weekday commuter armageddon was: Not bad, all things considered.

“I would say we’re cautiously optimistic that things are going relatively smoothly,” said MBTA general manager Steve Poftak at a midafternoon news conference at Charlestown’s Sullivan Square station. Poftak said the T did not have concrete ridership numbers for the shuttle buses on Monday and did acknowledge there was “an ongoing process of figuring out where we have issues.”

While the T reported no major problems in the morning and evening commutes, there was still no shortage of complications for those who were just trying to start their workweek.

Some missed the commuter rail, which runs much less frequently than the typical Orange Line, and opted instead for an hourlong morning bus ride from Oak Grove in Malden to Government Center in downtown Boston. Others were confused and frustrated by a lack of stop announcements on their shuttle bus. In downtown Boston, a shuttle bus got lost when a driver missed a turn to North Station. Some complained that the transit options in Chinatown were unacceptable.


But mostly, commuters were trying to make the best of a bad situation.

“You really can’t do much,” Nicholas Ventura, a 32-year-old Melrose resident said with a shrug. “The system is broken.”

Ventura was among those to take an hourlong shuttle bus ride to downtown Boston. Once there, he still had a 15 to 20 minute walk ahead of him to the office where he works as a job training manager near Tufts Medical Center. His Orange Line commute is usually 45 minutes, meaning Monday’s journey took at least a half-hour longer than usual. His boss, he said, is understanding and is willing to give him some leeway in terms of punctuality.

But he was already worried about the commute home.

“No one knows what that is going to look like,” he said.

In some respects, the ride for those on a shuttle bus resembled a typical public transit commute as it crawled through Malden, Medford, Somerville, Charlestown, and, finally, downtown Boston. A few people took business calls, but mostly the riders silently played with their phones, looked out the window with headphones on, or tried to grab a nap.

Brooke Cooper, a 42-year-old social worker from Malden, said working from home for her is not an option. She said she had trouble navigating the MBTA’s trip planner, saying the commuter rail was not showing up when she looked at it the previous night. She typically traverses the entirety of the Orange Line, from Oak Grove to Forest Hills stations, which can take an hour and 15 minutes on a good day, she said. Now she said she will have to take the commuter rail to North Station and then walk to South Station to continue on.


“It’s incredibly frustrating,” she said of the shutdown. “Getting to work on the average day is tough as is.”

Others were cautiously optimistic. At Oak Grove, when an official announced the commuter rail was running a few minutes late, the crowd of a few dozen took the news calmly.

“Adapt and adjust,” said Catherine Bailey, a 31-year-old nurse from Saugus. “It is what it is.”

Another Orange Line shuttle bus took 26 minutes to travel about 4 miles from Forest Hills to Back Bay station Monday morning. That’s nearly double the time it took to make the same trip on the Orange Line last Monday, when trains were still running, according to a travel time tracker from TransitMatters, a public transportation advocacy group.

Ruby Acevedo, 47, said she practiced her commute from Roslindale to Chelsea on Sunday, but when the driver skipped the announcements on Monday, she wasn’t sure where to get off. The shuttle bus stops are not always located right in front of the Orange Line stations.


“There’s so much confusion,” Acevedo said in Spanish.

With help from other passengers, she made her way to Copley Station, where she boarded a Green Line train to Government Center. Then, she walked to Haymarket station to board the 111 bus to Chelsea.

“This is a nightmare,” she said.

Some wanted more transit service to specific areas, including Chinatown, where the T station was locked and shuttered on Monday, with T ambassadors outside explaining to residents what their transit options were.

Boston City Council President Ed Flynn said the shuttle service between Chinatown Station, Tufts Medical Center Station, and Government Center — added after public outcry — is currently scheduled to run between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and again from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Those hours, according to Flynn, “do not serve the community well, as many residents travel to work, school, appointments, and other destinations that are beyond these hours.”

At Jia Ho Supermarket in Chinatown, some employees traveled over an hour from Malden Center to get to work. The trip took just 18 minutes on the Orange Line last Monday, according to the TransitMatters tracker.

An employee who asked to only use her last name, Wang, commutes from Malden six days a week.

“It’s going to be more difficult, definitely,” Wang, 55, said through an interpreter. “Every day I have to get up early so I will be more tired.”

At Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, Shannon Clark, 45, who works downtown, said she practiced taking the commuter rail home from South Station last week and said it “wasn’t that bad.”


She grew up taking the Orange Line, and even with all its problems, most recently a fire in July, Clark said she will miss it for the month.

“As much as I hate the Orange Line, I kind of love it in a weird awful way,” she said. “I missed the noise when I commuted in, people watching, and kind of the craziness of it, so this is really weird.”

Even the mayor’s commute was affected. Michelle Wu, who regularly takes the Orange Line to City Hall, said Monday morning her trip into City Hall had gone “pretty smoothly” despite the closure.

“It was a little-bit-longer-than-usual commute, but no real bottlenecks or traffic along the way, buses and trains coming very shortly at each stop,” Wu said at a news conference outside City Hall. “It seems like much of the planning and all the details that we have discussed have been implemented and so far, so good.”

Greater Boston’s bikeshare system Bluebikes announced a record highest ridership during the first weekend of the Orange Line closure on Aug. 20 and 21 with 36,664 trips.

Since Friday, 11,270 free passes have been claimed, according to data provided by the mayor’s office. That’s up from 137 during the same period last week.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesperson Kristen Pennucci said the Highway Operations Center observed Boston traffic to be lighter than a typical Monday.

Still, Poftak, the T’s top official, warned people to avoid driving for the duration of the shutdown if they can.

“I don’t want the message from today to be, ‘Ok, things went relatively well, I guess it’s okay to drive to work tomorrow,’” he said. “I’d like folks, to the extent that they’re able, to continue to avoid the area.”

State Representative Mike Connolly, whose district includes parts of Cambridge and Somerville, took the shuttle buses that replaced the shutdown stretch of the Green Line to the State House on Monday. On the shuttle, it took about a half hour to reach Government Center from Somerville’s Union Square. He noticed one spot near Science Park where cars were crowding the bus lane, but overall he said the commute was straightforward.

But even he noted the late days of August could be quite different, commute-wise, than early September, when the school year for local children begins again, more college students return to the area, and, perhaps more workers are back from summer vacation.

“It seems like everybody had a pretty smooth time of it, of course, after Labor Day . . . it could be a whole other story,” he said.

Are you an Orange Line commuter? Plan your alternative route

The tool assumes the closure of the Green Line Extension through North Station, which begins on Aug. 22. Additionally, MBTA officials have urged riders to look into local bus routes and bicycling for some of all of their trip. Bus stops and schedules can be found on the MBTA’s website.

Travis Andersen, John R. Ellement, Samantha J. Gross, and Emma Platoff of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Alexander Thompson contributed to this report.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Taylor Dolven can be reached at Follow her @taydolven.