Green, Orange Line service halts, local business stalls

On August 5, the MBTA announced the closure of the Orange and Green lines serving the communities of Malden, Medford, Somerville and Boston in an effort to upgrade the 120-year-old express line. An average of 101,000 commuters rely on the Orange Line from Malden to Jamaica Plain each day, with riders and neighboring businesses bracing for a “traffic emergency” starting this week.

Planned projects include track maintenance, upgraded signals, and infrastructure renewal to prevent delays at several stations as part of a 30-day revitalization and safety action plan. Additionally, Green Line service is suspended between Government Center and Union Square until September 18.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said via press release that the decision to close the Orange Line — which was prompted by a Federal Transit Administration safety inspection and followed several train derailments, injuries, a train fire, the death of a passenger, and collisions — was not. taken lightly.

If the double whammy of rising supply costs due to COVID-related financial stress and inflation wasn’t enough, local businesses, especially smaller, non-brand name stores, brace for declining footfall due to a lack of travelers to the area. The proliferation of franchises in Boston has already posed a challenge to local businesses — but now, the closures pose an even greater threat to standalone retailers.

Ana Ramos, manager of Tradesman Coffeeshop, located on Northeastern University’s Financial District campus, noted that while it’s still early for substantial change, the shop is uncharacteristically quiet for a Monday morning. The coffee shop opened in 2015, closed for less than three months during the COVID lockdown in 2020—but soon began to see crowds of students and working professionals. “When schools are out, we still get corporate rush. It’s too early to tell, but I definitely expect shutdowns. [deter] Travelers don’t stop for coffee,” says Ramos, who has been working at the shop since 2019. “We’re coffee fanatics, and we’re passionate about hospitality,” she adds. “The local community trusts us, as do we. them.”

Cafe Vitoria, in the North End, is known for its cannolis and Lavazza coffee. Image courtesy: Cafe Vitoria

In the North End, local guide Tori Eno is skeptical about how long the shutdowns will last and expects construction to last longer than 30 days. “This place is the closest you’re going to get to authentic Genoa cannolis in Boston,” she says of Cafe Vittoria, a rustic mainstay opened in the North End in 1929 that also caters to Boston’s wealthy Italians. American history. She adds, “Covid was already brutal for businesses, and tourists can see this place on Yelp, [MBTA] The closure will prevent the community from discovering hometown gems.”

The closure illustrates “severe” congestion on Greater Boston roadways as riders who rely on the MBTA seek alternative transportation. Last week, Jonathan Gulliver, state highway administrator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, said the closure would have “substantial regional travel impacts beyond just transit users” based on traffic modeling. Along with the closing announcement, the MBTA signed a $37 million contract with Boston’s bus company A Yankee Line to operate 200 vehicles on the Orange Line to transport passengers.

At Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain, Northeastern University graduate student Cheryl Daniels believes the Orange Line shutdown is the result of the MBTA’s negligence and will leave thousands of people of color in limbo. “This is a direct result of the MBTA’s lack of value for brown and black communities. People’s livelihoods depend on the Orange Line. Without it working, how can we have access to our basic needs?” “The first month of school could have prevented another month of chaos,” she says.

The impact of the line closure is expected to have a domino effect on road transport. In recent days, Boston officials have begun preparing for the arrival of shuttle buses in the city, as workers began installing the first temporary bus lanes Sunday night around Copley Square, which will lead to Government Center later this week. Over the weekend, the T published a rider’s guide to planning ahead, outlining upcoming closures, alternative travel options, and accessibility. The guide is currently being translated into eight languages.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.