Boston workers frustrated by MBTA’s alternative routes during Orange Line shutdown

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Katie Aucela said she’s studied the MBTA’s diversion plan for the 30-day Orange shutdown and still doesn’t understand it.

“I’m still looking at it, and it doesn’t make any sense to me,” Aucela said.

For three years, Aucela has depended on the Orange Line to deliver her from her Jamaica Plain home to her job at the Elizabeth Peabody House in Winter Hill. It’s normally a 40-minute commute from the Stony Brook T stop to Sullivan Square. But the problem, according to Aucela, is that the MBTA’s diversion plan is too confusing and complicated between Back Bay and North Station.

“There’s no direct throughway. The Orange Line shuttles stop in the middle of the city and skip four stops,” Aucela said. “If the Orange Line shuttle was continuous and went the whole way, I wouldn’t be complaining and wouldn’t be here talking to you, but this doesn’t make any sense.”

The unprecedented closure of the heavily-traveled subway line begins Friday at 9 p.m. and lasts through Sept. 18. Officials have warned the public that traffic congestion on roads across the region will likely be nightmarish throughout the duration of the shutdown.

Aucela feels Boston residents who work outside of the city are getting the short end of the stick.

“I would have to get off at Back Bay, get on another shuttle, get on the Green Line, do another shuttle to get back on the Orange Line to come up here. That doesn’t work for anybody,” she said.

Malaya Hayes has a similar problem, living in Back Bay and needing to get to work in Charlestown.

“I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to get to work after this week,” Hayes said. “It would take me over an hour to walk and I absolutely not bike in Boston. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen, but the bikers here are absolutely crazy.”

Aucela also doesn’t feel safe riding a bicycle from Jamaica Plain to Somerville.

“I would have to go across the Mass Ave Bridge and across back roads in Cambridge to get up here. I’m not confident biking in the city because it’s not protected,” she said.

Hayes said the timing for this shutdown is terrible.

“They had all of COVID to close down [the Orange Line]. They waited until everyone is returning back to the office to decide, ‘Ah, perfect time to shut down the entire line,’” Hayes said.

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