MBTA to shut down parts of Red Line for 16 days in October

Local News

There’s good news and bad news for Red Line riders frustrated with speed restrictions.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Passengers board the Red Line at Ashmont in Dorchester. Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff, File

The MBTA will shut down the Red Line’s Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line for 16 days in October as part of a plan to address some of the line’s worst speed restrictions, the T announced Thursday. 

From Oct. 14 to Oct. 29, free shuttle buses will replace trains and trolleys from JFK/UMass through Ashmont and Mattapan stations, the transit agency said in a press release. The closure will not impact service on the Braintree Branch or the section of the Red Line leading north to Alewife.

The Ashmont Branch serves about 40,000 riders per day, while the Mattapan Line carries around 3,700 riders, according to the T. 

The closure will help expedite repairs on some of the oldest tracks in the MBTA’s system, eventually alleviating 28 speed restrictions, the release explained. By working around the clock for 16 days, the T said it will be able to accomplish work that would have otherwise taken six months of night and weekend repairs.

“This work is critical … because of the age and the conditions that we’re seeing,” MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng told the agency’s board of directors Thursday. “That’s why we’ve prioritized it from a safety perspective.”

There were 111 slow zones along the Red Line on Thursday, according to the MBTA’s speed restrictions dashboard. An accompanying map showed at least 30 restrictions across the Ashmont and Mattapan branches. 

Eng said the upcoming closure is modeled after a 12-day shutdown of the Green Line’s B Branch in July. 

“We are going to get in, we’re going to get it done, and we’re going to get out and give improved service to our riders there,” he said. 

Wheelchair-accessible shuttle buses will stop at all stations along the affected branches, operating every 5-6 minutes during peak weekday hours and every 10-15 minutes during off-peak weekday and weekend hours, according to the T.

The T encouraged Red Line riders to allow extra travel time during the closure, and to utilize local bus routes and the Fairmount Line on the commuter rail.

The transit agency will host four open houses in September to share details about the construction and hear thoughts, comments, and concerns from members of the public. The dates, times, and locations will be posted on the MBTA Public Meetings webpage, according to the release. 

Riders can also learn more information at mbta.com/alerts.

“We understand service changes can be frustrating, and I want to thank the public for their patience while we perform this critical and targeted work between JFK/UMass and Ashmont Stations and on the Mattapan Line,” Eng said in a statement.