The MBTA’s announcement that it will shut down the Orange Line for 30 days coincides with the first day of school for Boston Public Schools on September 1, forcing many students to change the way they go to school.
The Orange Line will be closed from the night of August 19 to the night of September 18 and will reopen at 5 a.m. on September 19.
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper commented on the situation during a press conference following the announcement.
“We will remain in ongoing dialogue with the MBTA with [the] full support from our mayor and our city to ensure we communicate with our parents when we have changes,” she said.
This is Skipper’s first school year as Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, having previously served as Superintendent in Somerville.
She pointed to shuttle buses as “important for us to work between the MBTA and our central transportation department,” and said more information would be forthcoming.
The announcement came after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu called for lengthy shutdowns to work on the MBTA on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” and on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”
When Wu argued for lengthy closures, she promised the city of Boston would be involved in establishing fast, reliable bus services, saying, “I think the public will understand if we can do it right.”
Skipper noted that this problem affects not only students, but also employees.
“Our staff come from all over and in some parts of the city where there are schools, parking can be difficult,” she said. “We need to look at it not only from the student and family, but also from the staff so that our classrooms are well staffed.”
Boston Public Schools aren’t the only concern, with two community colleges and Tufts Medical School also served by the Orange Line.
“Tufts University is reviewing the information the MBTA has just released and is working to determine how it will affect members of the Tufts community,” said Lisa LaPoint, a spokeswoman for the medical school.
Thousands of students attend Roxbury Community College and Bunker Hill Community College, both of which are on the Orange Line, and as commuters, many require the services of the MBTA to attend school.
Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger said she is concerned about the timeline of the closure. She told MassLive she’s not sure if the repair will actually take 30 days. The MBTA just announced the closure of a stretch of Green Line service because their work on the Medford branch of the Green Line extension is taking longer than expected.
But Eddinger remained optimistic and agreed with Wu on the productivity of a prolonged shutdown rather than solving things in small spurts.
“The fact that it will be shut down and all the work done at once is in a sense the longer term solution, is the better solution,” she told MassLive. “The issue of dealing with alternative transport is a moment in time. And we still have some time to plan. So as long as there are [ultimately] buses that are available, I think it will be fine.”
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