MBTA green and orange line shutdowns begin, bringing advice on getting around without rail
With an MBTA green line train shutdown between Government Center and Union Square stations starting Monday and orange line trains shut down as of 9 p.m. Friday, Cambridge has pulled together a commuter-advice page and the Bluebikes bicycle-rental system is offering more capacity.
The closings are expected through Sept. 18 on both lines to provide time for repairs and improvements. In addition to replacement shuttle buses, there’s free use of commuter rail in zones 1, 1A and 2 by showing a CharlieCard, state transit officials have said.
“While Lechmere is the only Cambridge MBTA station impacted by the closures, many Cambridge residents and workers use the green or orange lines to travel around Greater Boston and should plan accordingly,” the Cambridge resources page says.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to run shuttles at least every 45 seconds during peak hours, but any longtime user of its mass transit knows how often expectations are disappointed. “Plan for shuttles to take longer than green and orange line trains,” the city advises.
The state did get permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to reduce the number of daily “on demand” openings of the Craigie Drawbridge between Boston and Cambridge, which should mean more efficiency on the approximately 100 shuttle buses using the bridge during the orange and green line closings, transportation officials said Friday. Buses on the route will be “doing continuous loops each day where headways are expected to be 45 to 60 seconds.”
More bicycling expected
The increase in shuttle buses mean a new hazard for bicyclists and pedestrians – different even from the MBTA’s regular buses. “They have a different turning radius and they have different blind spots for drivers,” said Jonathan Gulliver, a state transit official. “If you are walking or biking near these shuttle buses … you need to be extra vigilant, especially around these bus stops, and around turns and intersections.”
Cambridge officials advised caution in and near the city on the Craigie Bridge, also known as Charles River Dam Road; the Gilmore Bridge; Monsignor O’Brien Highway; Morgan Avenue; and side streets near Lechmere, including East Street, North First Street and Water Street.
More bicycling in general is expected during the shutdown, officials have said, and once shuttle bus riders get into Boston, they may want to use Bluebikes to get around. There are free 30-day Bluebikes passes available during the MBTA line shutdowns, according to city officials and Bluebikes. The rental system is owned by Cambridge and 10 other cities and towns in Greater Boston, run by the Lyft car-share company and sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. (The hourly car-rental business Zipcar also said it was adding vehicles in the orange line ridership area during the T shutdown.)
The Bluebikes system
Bluebikes availability is being pumped up at some T stops and other locations: Ruggles, Stony Brook, Boylston and Dartmouth streets, Boston City Hall at 28 State St. and on Congress Street, and Williams and Washington streets.
Blue Cross is also sponsoring valet service at the four busiest Bluebikes stations during peak use – though which stations those are “can change on a daily basis, based on demand,” according to Bluebikes on Friday. He advised checking a system service map to see which stations are the most slammed and, therefore, the ones with valet service (identified by the icon of a little person inside a green pin.)
Valet workers “help create capacity at a station by moving bikes out of docks to an overflow area and making sure stations are running efficiently, while also being available to help riders navigate the Bluebikes system,” Bluebikes said.
The valet support is at select Bluebikes stations weekdays from Monday through Sept. 16 during the hours of 7 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., Bluebikes said.
This post was updated Aug. 20 to remove the name of not someone who was not “an official spokesperson of Bluebikes/Blue Cross,” just “a PR person reaching out on behalf of my client, Blue Cross.”