Orange Line trains have been moving very slowly since reopening Monday after a monthlong shutdown for critical repairs to the system, but the pace should start to pick up as early as next week, according to MBTA officials.
“As the General Manager said on Sunday, slow zones will remain in place for about a week after service resumes,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Thursday. “This is because it takes time for the new track and ballast to settle as trains repeatedly run over the areas where the slow zone removal work was done.”
Pesaturo said speed restrictions “are in place between Jackson and Wellington, but they have a broader impact on dispatching the entire line from end to end. The MBTA looks forward to lifting some of these restrictions in the coming days, and the T thanks riders for their patience.”
Still, a number of Orange Line riders have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration over slow-moving trains.
“Can we have a time frame on when the extremely slow #orangeline ‘slow zones’ will change?” tweeted UMass Boston professor Stacy D. VanDeveer on Thursday morning. “I had no idea how slow the #Malden to #Northstation run could take. Should I walk?”
The T promptly responded to VanDeveer via Twitter.
“Good Morning Stacy,” the @MBTA account wrote. “The speed restrictions will be in place a few more days. Track engineers are monitoring how each area is settling, and will increase speeds when each section is ready.”
Good Morning Stacy. The speed restrictions will be in place a few more days. Track engineers are monitoring how each area is settling, and will increase speeds when each section is ready.— MBTA (@MBTA) September 22, 2022
Another man on Thursday cheekily floated a theory that the Orange Line is moving at a painfully slow pace to encourage riders to take up cycling.
“Starting to believe the Orange Line is going extra slow to get people to consider biking to work,” he tweeted.
Starting to believe the Orange Line is going extra slow to get people to consider biking to work— Nicholas (@iamnickye) September 22, 2022
But the slow pace was no laughing matter to one woman who identified herself on Twitter as an attorney based in Massachusetts and Florida.
“@MBTA When are these slow zones going away?” she tweeted Thursday. “12 min to go 2 stops on the Orange Line is cuckoo. My commute from Oak Grove to Downtown is unacceptable, it’s 3x as long as usual. You need to be specific in your info as to how bad these slow zones really are and when they’ll stop.”
.@MBTA When are these slow zones going away? 12 min to go 2 stops on the Orange Line is cuckoo. My commute from Oak Grove to Downtown is unacceptable, it’s 3x as long as usual. You need to be specific in your info as to how bad these slow zones really are and when they’ll stop.— AJL (@AJLinBoston) September 22, 2022
Steve Poftak, the MBTA’s general manager, told reporters Sunday that speed restrictions would remain in place this week but that trains should be able to move at full speed within a week of the line’s reopening.
Officials have said that while trains on the revamped Orange Line will eventually be able to travel faster, and most of them will be new, they’ll be making fewer trips than usual. In response to a finding from the Federal Transit Administration in June that its operations control center was dangerously understaffed, the MBTA cut subway service on the Orange, Red, and Blue lines by more than 20 percent.
The cuts were meant to be in place for the summer, but the MBTA has been unable to hire enough dispatchers to restore service and has said service will be reduced for the fall, too.
Angel Peña, MBTA’s chief of capital transformation, told reporters Sunday that he’s already eyeing the next set of improvements for the Orange Line, including building more access points for heavy construction equipment so that crews can complete their work faster.
“There’s so much more to do,” he said.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.