Orange Line riders upset, frustrated over month-long shutdown

BOSTON — Every morning, Shawn Harper relies on the Orange Line to get her to work at the St. Francis House downtown. Her normal commute is around 35 minutes, but after Aug. 19, she doesn’t know what will happen.

“I can’t even think of the words. It’s disappointing,” Harper said. “It’s going to change my whole routine. I’m going to be out of money and have to do a Lyft.”

Thousands of riders are finding themselves in the same predicament: dependent on the T and wondering what they’re going to do when the MBTA shuts down the entire Orange Line later this month in effort to complete “critical track maintenance” amid mounting safety issues that continue to plague subway service in and around Boston.

“It’s just going to be a whole disaster,” said Maricela Colon, who commutes from Forest Hills to South Station every day. “I’m going to be lost. I don’t know how I’m going to get to work. I don’t know how I’m going to get home,” Colon said.

Gov. Charlie Baker urged Orange Line riders to work from home during the shutdown if possible, but MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said riders can also use their Charlie Cards to access the Commuter Rail.

“I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s not very good. They’ve got to find some way to get the people to and from work without any problems,” Roslindale rider Awilda Parrilla said.

Many businesses will also suffer, including Hassan Halty’s food stand in the Forest Hills station. Halty said he’s operated his stand for 15 years and was forced to close down for almost 10 months during the pandemic.

“There’s nothing else I can do. I don’t have another job,” Halty said. “Of course I’m frustrated because we’re not going to make any money, and we have bills to pay, family and kids.”

On the bright side, Harper said if shutting it down for a month will make the experience better, then it may be worth it.

“If they’re going to fix the problem, it’s worth it in the long run,” she said.

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