Shuttle buses provide warm refuge for Green Line commuters left in the cold

Boston, MA., 01/23/13, A fire on an MBTA track shut down the Green Line, forcing commuters into the frigid temperatures as they took shuttle buses. This is in Kenmore Square and commuters waiting for busses. Section; Metro Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
A smoldering cable in an MBTA tunnel forced the shutdown of Green Line service, leaving commuters in the cold in Kenmore Square., waiting for buses.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

With the Green Line out of service due to a smoldering cable in a tunnel, many MBTA commuters ended up at the mercy of the authority’s above-ground transportation on a bitterly cold day.

Dozens of shivering and frustrated commuters stood this morning on Saint James Avenue in Copley Square and cast expectant gazes down the street—looking for buses that would offer them brief shelter from the cold and a way to reach work, school, or appointments.

Buses flashing “Green Line Shuttle” on their electronic signs pulled up often to deposit diverted crowds of students and workers, most of whom were already impossibly late.

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People who wanted to head outbound were told to look for Route 39 buses. But those were rare.

One did approach shortly after 10 a.m., and the crowd was joyous at the sight. But then the bus did the equivalent of a Rajon Rondo sidestep, and continued without stopping. “Did you see that?” yelled Harout Jorekjiam, 19, of Watertown, a freshman at the Mass College of Pharmacy. “Just passed us by!”

Jorekjiam was so late to class that he said he was considering turning around to head back home. Some commuters waited as long as a half-hour to catch a shuttle. Noses were red, arms were tightly clasped together, and patience was fading.

“They keep telling us the 39 is coming, but it’s not coming, and this is outrageous,” exclaimed Dana Harmon, 30, who works at Northeastern University.

A Boston police officer at a Green Line stop at the intersection of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets met commuters. “Sorry, the trains aren’t running here, you have to catch a bus over there,” she said, pointing to the crowd of shivering commuters standing on Saint James.

Some had little time to talk.

“I’m so sorry,” said one woman, asked to talk about her experiences on a shuttle bus. “You can’t imagine how late I am.”

An MBTA Transit Police officer, asked how people had been taking the news that their commute was disrupted, started to answer when two women walked up to him, demanding to know what was wrong with the trains. After explaining that they would need to step onto the shuttle waiting nearby, the two women groaned dramatically before hustling toward the open door of the bus.

“How are they taking the news?” he repeated. “Like that, generally.”

At about 11:10 a.m., the doors to Copley Station were once again opened, and riders shuffled inside.