Orient Heights (MBTA station)

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Train at Orient Heights, November 2013.JPG
Newly reopened station in November 2013
Location 1000 Bennington St,
East Boston, Massachusetts 02128
Coordinates 42°23′14″N 71°00′15″W / 42.3871°N 71.0042°W / 42.3871; -71.0042Coordinates: 42°23′14″N 71°00′15″W / 42.3871°N 71.0042°W / 42.3871; -71.0042
Owned by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 2
Parking 434 spaces
Disabled access Yes
Opened 1875, January 5, 1952
Closed 1940 (BRB&L station)
March 23, 2013
Rebuilt November 26, 2013
Passengers (2013) 2,833 (weekday average boardings; may be affected by 2013 closure)[1]
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
toward Bowdoin
Blue Line
toward Wonderland

Orient Heights is a station on the MBTA Blue Line in East Boston, Massachusetts. It is located on the above-ground section of the line that uses overhead lines instead of third rail. The 1952-built station was closed in March 2013 for a complete rebuilding to provide full handicapped accessibility. The new station reopened on November 26, 2013.[2]

Orient Heights station is the primary rapid transit connection for the Orient Heights neighborhood of East Boston, as well as for Winthrop. It also serves as a bus transfer station, with several routes connecting Winthrop and the surrounding area.

Orient Heights Yard, the main Blue Line yard, branches off the main line just north of the station. Because of the proximity, Blue Line employees report to work at Orient Heights station.


BRB&L era[edit]

Orient Heights, along with much of the Blue Line, is built along the right-of-way of the narrow gauge Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad, which ran from 1875 to 1940. The BRB&L operated a Winthrop Junction station, located at the intersection of Bennington and Saratoga Street, which served as a transfer point between the main line and the Winthrop loop.[3] The station was renamed as Orient Heights in April 1892.[4] The narrow gauge was abandoned in 1940, and the M.T.A. (predecessor to the MBTA) acquired the right-of-way.[5]

MBTA era[edit]

The 1952-built station in 2006

The East Boston Tunnel route (renamed as the Blue Line in 1967) was extended along the former line, with construction beginning in 1950. Orient Heights station opened on January 5, 1952, along with Day Square station (later renamed Wood Island) and Airport Station.[6] The station was the terminus of the line until April 21, 1952, when Suffolk Downs station opened. Until September 1972, some trains terminated at Orient Heights rather than Wonderland to provide more frequent service on the inner part of the line.[6]

During temporary construction and track work on the outer section of the line and during severe weather conditions, Orient Heights is sometimes used as the terminus, as its busways can accommodate the replacement bus service. From June 25, 1994 to June 24, 1995, Orient Heights was the terminus at all times to permit reconstruction of the outer stations as part of the Blue Line Modernization Program.[7][6]


Construction in September 2012
Construction in July 2013

Until 2012, Orient Heights was the only Blue Line station in East Boston that had not yet been fully rebuilt (since its 1952 opening) for better accessibility. (The only others on the line are Government Center and Bowdoin, both in Boston proper). Due to this distinction, until then it was the last remaining station in the MBTA that still had a 1967-1969 system map, which showed the Charlestown and Washington Street Elevateds on the Orange Line and the Green Line "A" Branch.[8] The station was literally falling apart, with the sagging platforms held up by 2x4s.

On October 5, 2011, the MBTA announced a $51 million ground-up rebuild of the station. The $51 million reconstruction of the crumbling station was expected to be paid for mostly by the Federal Transit Administration.[9][8] Construction began in earnest in mid-2012 with the demolition of much of the 1952 station and the erection of temporary platforms. The first inbound elevator shaft was built in November 2012, with the first outbound shaft following soon after.

The station closed on March 23, 2013, so that the remainder of the old station could be demolished and the new station built. Bus shuttles operated from Suffolk Downs during the closure, which ended on November 23, 2013.[2]

Bus connections[edit]

Bennington Street busway, used by the #120 bus

Three bus routes operate out of Orient Heights. The #120 route, which uses the Bennington Street busway on the inbound side of the station, connects the Orient Heights neighborhood with East Boston. The #712 and #713 routes, which use the Saratoga Street busway on the otubound side, are privately operated lines that serve Winthrop.

  • 120 Orient Heights Station - Maverick Station via Bennington Street
  • 712 Orient Heights Station - Point Shirley or Winthrop Beach via Winthrop Highlands
  • 713 Orient Heights Station - Point Shirley or Winthrop Beach via Winthrop Center

Platforms and tracks[edit]

Platform level Side platform, doors will open on the right
Southbound Blue Line toward Bowdoin or Government Center (Wood Island)
Northbound Blue Line toward Wonderland (Suffolk Downs)
Side platform, doors will open on the right
Ground - Exit/Entrance



  1. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14 ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Rocheleau, Matt (25 November 2013). "MBTA set to reopen Orient Heights subway station after 8-month closure". Boston Globe. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  3. ^ G.W. Bromley and Co. (1912). "Charlestown & East Boston 1912 Index Plate". Atlas of the City of Boston: Charlestown and East Boston. WardMaps LLC. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Cheney, Frank (2003). Boston's Blue Line. Arcadia Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9780738535760. 
  5. ^ Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. p. 271. ISBN 0942147022. 
  6. ^ a b c Belcher, Jonathan (31 August 2012). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). TransitHistory.org. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Blake, Andrew (20 March 1994). "MBTA to begin $467 million Blue Line project". Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 January 2014 – via Highbeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ a b Moskowitz, Eric (6 October 2011). "MBTA board OK’s millions for stations". Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Rocheleau, Matt (25 February 2013). "MBTA to close Orient Heights subway station on Blue Line for nearly 7 months". Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 

External links[edit]