Mayors from 3 Orange Line towns urge MBTA to consider express buses, more trains during shutdown

The mayors of three communities bracing for the 30-day Orange Line closure are urging the MBTA to consider implementing express bus service to Boston and increasing the frequency of commuter rail trips as mitigation measures for residents.

“We believe the MBTA can take additional action to make this closure slightly more tolerable for our residents and for your customers,” Medford, Melrose and Malden mayors Paul Brodeur, Breanna Lungo-Koehn and Gary Christenson wrote in a letter to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

The three mayors are asking the T to consider offering express bus service to Boston, from Oak Grove, Malden Center and Wellington stations, for the duration of the closure, which will extend from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18.

The Aug. 4 letter states that station-to-station shuttle buses, which will replace subway service on parts of the Orange Line, “will likely be overcrowded and will be subject to significant and unavoidable delays.”

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“Creating express, direct-to-Boston routes from each of the above-referenced stations using Route 93 will create more efficient and predictable service, and will relieve pressure on the rest of the shuttle and commuter rail system,” the letter said.

“The MBTA has a great deal of experience running this type of service from areas north of Boston, and this unprecedented challenge makes this the perfect time to get creative with express bus service.”

The three mayors are also calling for increased frequency of service on the Haverhill Line, which is one of the commuter rail lines the MBTA is banking on as an efficient alternative during the closure.

Poftak said Wednesday that commuters will be able to pay Zone 1, 1A and 2 fares by flashing their CharlieCards for commuter rail lines that connect to the Orange Line. The Haverhill Line will be making stops at Oak Grove, Malden Center and North Station.

However, the mayors said additional train service will be needed on the Haverhill Line for the anticipated surge in ridership stemming from the month-long closure.

“Adding additional service will help alleviate the strain on existing commuter rail service, and will provide more riders to access a more predictable service that is not subject to many of the challenges the shuttles will experience because of the closure,” the letter said.