The MBTA will fully close down the Blue Line from Airport to Bowdoin stations and run shuttle busses instead of train service until May 31.
The goal of this is to allow for accelerated track and infrastructure work to take place while ridership and traffic is at an all time low due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work was originally going to be spread out over a longer period of time and only on weekends.
According to MBTA’s General Manager Steve Poftak, during this accelerated work, shuttle buses will replace service between Bowdoin and Airport stations for fourteen consecutive days, including both weekdays and weekends, beginning at the start of service May 18 through the end of service on Sunday, May 31.
“The work accomplished during this closure will lead to numerous benefits, including increased train speeds, shorter travel times, and a more reliable service schedule,” said Poftak. “Our main focus continues to be safety, especially during the COVID-19 situation, with the MBTA’s shuttle plan including measures that promote social distancing. We know these diversions can be an inconvenience, but the service suspension allows us to expedite critical track and tunnel infrastructure work and remove the restrictions that currently limit train speeds.”
Poftak said this work comes as part of the MBTA’s plan to quicken the pace of infrastructure projects in 2020 and the MBTA is assessing whether other projects can be further accelerated. This Blue Line work was previously scheduled to be accomplished through a series of weekend diversions later this year, and doing the work now allows its completion at a time when both transit ridership and traffic on the roadways that shuttle buses will use is much lower than it is likely to be by the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Poftak said the MBTA recognizes that many essential riders do continue to use the Blue Line and that ridership may rise as the Commonwealth begins to consider reopening opportunities within the coming weeks.
Addressing the ongoing pandemic, Poftak said the MBTA’s shuttle plan includes measures to promote social distancing that protect MBTA workers and riders, and the MBTA will carefully monitor ridership levels on the shuttle buses, adjusting service levels if needed.
In compliance with the Executive Order that went into effect on May 6, MBTA customers must wear face coverings while onboard shuttle buses. Additionally, in an effort to promote social distancing efforts and protect the health and safety of MBTA riders and bus operators, ridership on shuttle buses will be limited. The MBTA will also operate additional shuttle buses than originally planned with a robust fleet of shuttles on standby to accommodate ridership demands as needed.
Due to the road geography around most Blue Line stations within the diversion limits, accessible shuttle buses will stop at stations between Bowdoin and Airport in a loop configuration. Buses will travel from Bowdoin to Maverick to Airport to Maverick again to Aquarium to State to Government Center before returning to Bowdoin to repeat the loop.
In an effort to save time and expedite trips for essential riders, an express shuttle bus will operate between Airport and Government Center that makes select stops. Customers seeking the express bus should see station personnel and/or station signage for more information and pick-up/drop-off areas.
For more information, please visit mbta.com/BLwork, www.mbta.com/BBT2020, or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, Facebook /TheMBTA, or Instagram @theMBTA.