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On D line, A for effort, D for delay

Many riders cite longer commute

For some commuters, it may finally be time to invest in that parking space in the city.

Since last weekend, the MBTA has shut down service on the Green Line between Riverside station in Newton and Reservoir station in Brookline, leaving many students and workers with more commuting and less sleep.

One of them is Kenneth Elliot, who says he lost his license after driving under the influence and now uses the T to get from Braintree to his job in Newton. The 23-year-old carpenter said his normal two-hour commute now takes 20 to 35 minutes longer.

Expressing his displeasure during a cigarette break in the Riverside parking lot Monday afternoon, Elliot said, "I'll walk before I take the Green Line once I get my license back" this month.

Buses are replacing Green Line service between Reservoir and Riverside until Aug. 3, while workers do maintenance and repair work on the tracks. They will clear brush and branches, improve ditches and draining, and replace railroad ties. This will allow the trolleys to go as fast as they did in 1993, MBTA general manager Daniel Grabauskas said in remarks posted on the MBTA website. T spokeswoman Lydia Rivera blamed lack of maintenance for the deterioration since '93.

Repairs will also make it possible for the low-floor, easy-to-board cars to traverse the D line. Service between Reservoir and Fenway stations will be interrupted for repairs during most of August.

Dan Youngston, 19, who works in Northborough, didn't have time to stop at home to grab something to eat after work before heading to his evening calculus course at Boston University. He said he might get hungry during class.

"I might just end up driving the whole way in, because I can't be leaving right from work every single day like this," he said. "I'm going to look at getting a parking pass at BU."

Derik Provencher, 19, who works in a Cleveland Circle restaurant, said he had to give himself an extra half-hour to commute from Newton.

But not everyone is dissatisfied.

Joe Losavio, 46, who commutes to his computer networks job in Government Center from Southbridge, said his two-hour ride to work became longer by only 15 minutes in each direction, which "wasn't too bad." Losavio called the MBTA workers "very good," observing that there were plenty of them onhand to direct commuters to shuttle buses. He said the buses picked up passengers promptly, were not delayed by traffic jams, and were not overcrowded.

T spokeswoman Rivera said bus replacement service is running smoothly.

"We haven't heard complaints from customers regarding the service," she said. "We haven't encountered any problems with the service. Obviously, it's an adjustment for the customers."

She said one customer even told the MBTA that it took him less time to get to Boston on the shuttle bus.

At the closed stations, T customers aren't the only ones being affected.

At the Sweet Tomatoes pizzeria in Newton Centre , employee Avi David said customers have been complaining they can't park next to the restaurant on Langley Road. The parking meters have been covered by red plastic bags to reserve spots for MBTA buses.

"People keep coming in and grumbling," David said. "To me it seems ridiculous because they can park only 20 feet away. But people in Newton don't like to walk."

Joe Ghazaly, who works at the Riverside bus terminal in Newton, said Peter Pan and Greyhound bus drivers were angry all day Monday because it's hard for them to turn around in the parking lot with all the MBTA buses parked there.

The change in T service also affected visitors to the city.

Jack Weinacht, an employee of Orlando-based Invivo Corp. who was in Boston for two days to visit hospitals, said he regretted not renting a car.

"We didn't know anything about this interruption going on. We were confused for quite a bit," he said, adding that the commute from his Newton hotel took about an hour.

"We went van to bus, bus to train, feet to hospital," joked his colleague Michael Gemmati Jr. "The only thing we didn't do was fly or take a boat."