Dorchester, Mattapan Lose Red Line Service Starting Saturday – Here’s What You Need to Know
12:45 PM EDT on October 13, 2023
The MBTA's 16-day closure of the Ashmont and Mattapan branches of the Red Line begins on Saturday. And while it won't be quite as long or disruptive as last year's Orange Line shutdown, it's still going to be a major headache for the over 40,000 riders who typically use these stations.
Here's a quick guide to alternative travel options for the next two weeks:
Red Line shuttles and a fare-free 18
As with other subway shutdowns, the T is providing free shuttle buses to serve the closed stations on the Ashmont and Mattapan branches. According to itineraries on the MBTA's trip planner site, the T plans to run shuttles up and down Dorchester Avenue, so if you're used to riding from the Shawmut or Savin Hill stops, you'll have to walk a couple blocks away from the station to catch the shuttle buses.
The T says that its shuttles between Ashmont and JFK/UMass will run every 2-3 minutes during peak hours, and every 7-8 minutes at other times.
Mattapan Line shuttles will run less frequently (every 12-15 minutes) and will follow a longer, more circuitous route, via Eliot Street in Milton and Adams Street in Cedar Grove, before proceeding from Ashmont to JFK/UMass on Dorchester Avenue. That trip is expected to take a full hour, according to the T's trip planner.
The T will also offer fare-free service for the next two weeks on its Route 18 buses, which also run up and down Dorchester Avenue. Unlike the Red Line shuttles, though, the 18 connects to the Red Line at Andrew Square instead of JFK/UMass, and it only runs once an hour.
During last year's Orange Line shutdown, the city was able to implement several quick-build bus lanes to help shuttle buses avoid getting stuck in traffic.
But those bus lanes were on wide, multi-lane streets like Columbus Avenue and Boylston Street. The city has fewer options where it comes to Dorchester Avenue, a congested two-lane street, so it's likely to be a slow bus ride – especially if more people start driving because the subway is closed.
During a press conference at Boston City Hall yesterday, Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said that the city would implement short-term curb regulation changes (like no parking zones) and put up signage to encourage drivers to avoid the shuttle routes.
The fare-free Fairmount Line
The Fairmount Line, which runs roughly parallel to the Ashmont Branch, will also be free to ride these next two weeks. Its Talbot Avenue and Four Corners/Geneva stations are about a 20 minute walk west of the Red Line's Shawmut and Fields Corner stations.
The Fairmount Line runs roughly parallel to the Ashmont Branch, and its Talbot Avenue and Four Corners/Geneva stations are about a 20 minute walk west of the Red Line's Shawmut and Fields Corner stations (see map above).
The City of Boston is also adding new Bluebikes docks at some Fairmount Line stops to make it easier for people to bike to those stations from the surrounding neighborhoods (more on that below).
Riders can simply show their CharlieCard to the Commuter Rail conductor while onboard the Fairmount Line to ride for free during the closure. Current Fairmount Line schedules are available at mbta.com.
More Bluebikes stations
The city and MBTA have also been adding a handful of new Bluebikes docks in the neighborhoods around the Red Line, both to facilitate north-south trips along the route of the Ashmont branch, and for east-west trips to connect with the free Fairmount Line.
The City of Boston, MBTA, and Bluebikes have activated new docks at the Cedar Grove stop on the Mattapan Line, and also at the Four Corners/Geneva and Talbot Avenue stops on the Fairmount Line. A new dock at the corner of Freeport and Beech Streets (east of Fields Corner) should come online within the next few days.
Bluebikes is also adding more docking capacity at the JFK/UMass station, where people will be able to transfer to the still-active Quincy branch of the Red Line.