Two nearby Boston stops, including a crucial medical campus, were notably left out of the shuttle bus route on the MBTA’s transit diversion plan for the 30-day Orange Line shutdown.
Tufts Medical Center and Chinatown stations, located just minutes from each other, were two of the four stops that were excluded from the shuttle bus diversion route for alternate service on the Orange Line, which will be closed from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18 for track repairs.
“I think that there really should be either Chinatown or Tufts Medical Center,” said Karen Chen, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association. “We work with a bunch of home care workers. They care for elderly in Chinatown. Either Tufts or Chinatown is where they stop.”
Chen said that while she understands there’s a lot of traffic in Chinatown — which may have deterred the MBTA from including the station as a stop on a bus shuttle route that is already expected to exacerbate congestion — Tufts should have been included because “Tufts to Back Bay is a long walk.”
“You don’t need both, but you need one,” Chen said.
The other two stations excluded from the route are State Street and Downtown Crossing. The T suggested that people connect to Tufts, Chinatown and Downtown Crossing via the Silver Line bus system, or use Green Line service at nearby stations to travel through downtown Boston.
However, the Silver Line is not a solid option for many staff members, physicians and patients traveling to Tufts Medical Center, said the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer Diana Richardson.
The Silver Line buses come to Tufts from the south, and that system, along with the Orange Line, stops directly at the downtown hospital, but “if you’re coming from the north, it’s much more challenging, because there’s no Silver Line that connects,” Richardson said.
“We have about 2,000 employees and physicians that take the MBTA to work,” she said. “The vast majority take the Orange Line. In addition to getting staff and physicians here to care for patients, we are equally concerned about the patients who use the services to get to us.”
For past Orange Line diversions, the language barrier for Chinatown residents was among the biggest challenges. It was difficult for people who weren’t proficient in English to understand how they were going to get around while part of the line was closed for repairs, Chen said.
City Council President Ed Flynn, who represents the area, said he has been concerned about a lack of coordination with the residents of Chinatown.
“Many also do not receive information on social media so the communication plan has to be a critical part of this outreach to residents,” Flynn said.