The MBTA released its plan Friday for how Orange Line riders will be able to get where they need to go during the upcoming monthlong shutdown of the subway line, which will start on the evening of Aug. 19 and end the morning of Sept. 19.
Transit advocates said the plan largely seems sound, though it may not meet the needs of every traveler.
“There’s been a good faith effort to create a diversion plan that is as efficient as you can be with roadways and shuttles,” Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, said in a phone interview Friday evening. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t gaps.”
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.
Tufts Medical Center, Chinatown, Downtown Crossing, and State stations will not have shuttle bus service, according to the plan. The T is directing riders who use those stations to instead travel on Silver Line bus routes, the Blue Line, or the Green Line.
The MBTA will also provide vans throughout the route to take riders with accessibility needs to the station closest to their destination. The RIDE paratransit trips that begin and end within ¾ mile of the Orange Line will be free during the 30-day shutdown.
The MBTA is encouraging Orange Line riders to take the Commuter Rail, which will be essentially free for those who show a Charlie Card or CharlieTicket to conductors at Zone 1A, 1, and 2 stations. Commuter Rail trains will stop at Forest Hills, Ruggles, Back Bay, North Station, Malden Center, and Oak Grove stations.
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 announcement said.
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.
Bluebikes will offer free 30-day passes during the Orange Line shutdown, the City of Boston announced Friday. Those passes will be available on the bike share system’s website or app.
Thompson, the transit advocate, said commuters should “expect tweaks, modifications, and bumps along the way,” and despite the extra trouble of taking public transportation during the shutdown, people should try to avoid further congesting roads by driving into the city.
“I think the key takeaway for any person, whether they take the T or not, is that for the month of the diversion, your last resort should be driving into Boston,” Thompson said. “And if you have flexibility, stay home or come in at off-times. ... We are all in this together.”
Another transit advocate, Brian Kane, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the MBTA’s plan but has other worries about the project.
“I have real concerns that after 30 days, riders won’t experience any benefit,” said Kane, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, a group made up of representatives of municipalities served by the transit system.
“I’m looking for reassurance from the MBTA that things will actually be better, that the sacrifices so many people have to make in terms of time and frustration is worth it,” Kane continued. “And I haven’t heard those reassurances yet.”
The MBTA made its announcement that it would be shutting down the entire Orange Line for 30 days, something it has never done before, with just over two weeks notice. Since then, the agency and cities and towns along the line have been scrambling to inform perhaps hundreds of thousands of riders about the disruption.
The T will perform long-deferred track repairs and replacements during the shutdown, some that have been ordered by the Federal Transit Administration, which is conducting a safety inspection at the T.
That inspection started after a long series of incidents , including the April dragging death of a Red Line passenger at Broadway Station in Boston. In June, the FTA issued four interim directives to the T, ordering the agency to complete safety certifications for all of its staff, better prevent runaway train incidents, hire more dispatchers, and address long-neglected track repairs.
The FTA’s full safety report is expected later this month.
The subway closure will come just as students are starting classes, many workers are considering a post-summer return to downtown offices, and voters head to the polls in the state’s primary elections.
At least eight Boston Public Schools high schools are located near the Orange Line, serving nearly 6,000 students, a Globe analysis found. Community colleges and universities also dot the route, including Northeastern University, Roxbury Community College, and Bunker Hill Community College.
The shutdown payoff for riders could be big if things go according to plan, including the elimination of years-long speed restrictions that have long plagued the Orange Line and kept service slow.
The T said it will replace 3,500 feet of 38-year-old track, repair track, ties, and concrete along the route, and upgrade signals at Oak Grove and Malden stations.
All alternative travel options can be found on the MBTA’s website: www.mbta.com/projects/building-better-t-2022