The Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Orange Line

Have your hand sanitizer ready.

Welcome to the Curmudgeon’s Guide to the MBTA, where we examine the bane of your Boston existence, one line at a time.

Photo by Meredith Foley

Photo by Meredith Foley

Welcome to the Orange Line, where everything is sepia-toned and coughing.

Opened in 1901 as Boston’s first elevated rapid transit, the Orange Line now fills with smoke with such frequency that the T would be better off stashing some hickory chips underneath the cab so this city can finally get some decent brisket. Designed with all the charm of your Uncle Dave’s unfinished rumpus room, the Orange Line’s rolling stock is outfitted with luxurious wood paneling and carpeted seats soaked with nether-sweats, and patterned with a design that can only be described as “cosmic potato stix.” The T is apparently so enamored of this design that they bought it in bulk and upholstered the Red Line with it, too.

While an empty seat may be a godsend on the Green or Red Lines, on the Orange Line, it’s like the Russian roulette scene from Deer Hunter, but with wet stuff of unidentified origin. Orange Line riders are evidently so bemused by the abundance of bodily fluids that in April, the MBTA had to install green and red arrows on the platform to help them detrain in an orderly fashion.

The Stops

North Station almost always smells like sulfur, which is an odd juxtaposition considering the harpist busker and the Jehovah Witnesses. If you can fend off Back Bay Station’s hordes of diesel fume-resistant pigeons, treat yourself to a roof-of-your-mouth-obliterating cup o’ joe at either of its two Dunkin Donuts locations, situated mere steps from one another. State Street’s Forest Hill platform is accessible upon answering the sphinx’s riddle.

During the Snowpocalypse of 2015, when the T’s newly installed countdown clocks all read “NOW I AM BECOME DEATH” and workers had to literally set the rails ablaze to keep them from freezing, the line for a shuttle out of Malden Center extended halfway to Great Barrington, and as you read this, riders are just now arriving in Sullivan Square.

The Characters

This modern-day Abelard and Heloise, Jamaica Plain dads in fedoras listening to “Banana Pancakes,” raversfitness enthusiasts, Bootleg DVD Guy, furries, the clergy.

The Bright Side

Believe it or not, the Orange Line is consistently one of the more reliable lines, often tying with the Blue Line for top honors, according to the data available on the T’s performance dashboard. During peak hours, the Orange Line is usually a better option than the Green Line.

You will find no finer funk than that laid down by the keyboard-and-spoons duo in North Station after a Bruins games. And for all the horrors that call Back Bay Station home, Jugos has some damn good acai bowls.

Also, all stops on the Orange Line are handicap accessible. Which is good.

Let’s see what the people are saying: