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‘They didn’t tell us anything’: Sudden B Branch closure leaves riders fuming on the curb

A Green Line train pulled into Packard's Corner Station to pick up passengers in this file photo. No such train was seen for much of Wednesday afternoon there.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Shuttle buses replaced trolley service on most of the B Branch of the MBTA’s Green Line Wednesday afternoon, triggering rush hour delays and a cavalcade of angry and confused commuters.

The service disruption, which affected tracks between the Babcock Street and Boston College stops, came less than three weeks after the entire B Branch was closed for repairs. July’s closure lasted just shy of two weeks, as workers repaired tracks following a June derailment at Packard’s Corner.

Around 2:40 p.m., an eastbound B Branch train was reported disabled at the Lake Street crossover, near Boston College Station, according to Lisa Battiston, a spokesperson for the MBTA.


Battiston said the pantographs — the metal arms that connect Green Line trolleys to the overhead wire — on both cars of the train were broken.

“Personnel are on scene now in order to investigate the cause of the issue and restore service as safely and quickly as possible,” Battiston said in a Wednesday email. “Five passengers were safely off-loaded from the train with no injuries reported.”

The closure was caused by “an overhead wire problem at Boston College,” the agency said shortly before 3 p.m.

The initial message stated that trolley service would terminate at Packard’s Corner, but an update around 3:30 p.m. clarified that trolleys would unload at the Babcock Street stop, one stop closer to downtown. That update did not represent a change in service, but an internal miscommunication, according to the T.

July’s construction focused on track repair around the Packard’s Corner stop. No track work was performed near the Lake Street crossover or Boston College Station, where Wednesday’s electrical issues occurred, according to the MBTA.

For Sarah J., a Dorchester resident who declined to give her last name, Wednesday’s service change was just the latest in a string of delays.


She stepped onto an outbound shuttle around 4:20 p.m. with her two kids. They were on their way to a birthday party, and would have to transfer, once more, onto the 66 bus. Her young daughter played with a seat belt buckle, growing antsy as the bus sat for more than six minutes after they boarded.

“I’m in a rush to get somewhere, and it sucks right about now,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on, they didn’t tell us anything.”

Sarah, a frequent B Branch rider, said she opted to take Uber and Lyft during the July closure.

“That’s the MBTA for you,” she said, laughing softly. “The system has a mind of its own.”

Spyridon Georgakopoulos, 36, said he did not hear about the closures until a T worker called out to him when he was standing on the Washington Street platform, waiting for a train that would never arrive.

Georgakopoulos said he’s only lived in Boston for seven months but, already, “I can tell you that no, it doesn’t shock me.”

”It’s a drag to always not know what’s happening,” he said from the packed bus. “You just don’t know what to do.”

He stepped off an inbound shuttle a little after 4 p.m., with a half-dozen stops left to travel by trolley before meeting his spouse in Back Bay.

”This is too much,” another rider remarked as they both stepped off the shuttle. Georgakopoulos nodded in agreement.


Just after 5 p.m., the T said on social media that there was “no estimated time of restoration” of electricity, although the MBTA was attempting to fix the problem.

By then, there were no signs at the Packard’s Corner or Harvard Ave. stops indicating that shuttle buses had replaced regular service, although that was still the case.

Trickles of would-be trolley riders arrived at the platforms. Some were shocked to hear that the trolleys were no longer running — others, just disappointed.

Around 6:05 p.m., the T announced on social media that crews had completed repairs. Trolleys were running again shortly before 7 p.m.

Daniel Kool can be reached at Follow him @dekool01.