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Old 06-04-2012, 02:47 PM   #21
Commuting Boston Student
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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This continues my question a couple posts above about running the A through Beacon Yards. Does anyone else think that the original routing of the A to Brighton Center as Davem (re-)proposes too closely parallels the B line? Seems to me that every A line stop along this route until about Warren/Sparhawk is in 10 minutes walking distance of a B line stop.
This is why I'm convinced a much better crazy pitch is sending the Blue Line over along the Esplanade -> Storrow -> Soldiers Field -> Cambridge -> Washington into Watertown. Relative proximity to existing B stops becomes a benefit instead of a drawback, you can consolidate stops by going heavy rail instead of light rail (Union Square, Brighton High/St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Brighton Center, Oak Square, Newton Corner, Watertown) and it's probably exactly as likely to get done as restored A branch service is.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:04 PM   #22
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

Well, alternately, here's what I think is a far more reasonable pitch - and I don't think I've ever heard this mentioned before.

Simply, if the aim is to bring GL service to Brighton Center, then forget about branching at Packard's Corner. Instead, branch at Warren Street. Why Warren Street? Because 1) it's the shortest distance to Brighton Center from the existing tracks, and 2) street running on Warren would work perfectly for a number of reasons:
  • Except for a very short segment adjacent to Comm Ave there are no NIMBYs, either residential or retail/commercial along Warren to complain about wires or noise... which also means...
  • No reasons for double-parking... in fact, there's...
  • No parking on either side of the street down most of the length, and...
  • No cross-streets between Comm Ave and Cambridge Street. Furthermore...
  • Despite the lack of residences and commercial uses, stops along the street would nonetheless serve two hospitals and a large high school, in addition to the surrounding neighborhood.

The line would turn at Cambridge into a new reservation exactly as Davem illustrates - necessary for only two blocks to reach the commercial nexus of Brighton Center.

Given that all other points along the former A line along Cambridge/Brighton Aves are already within 10 minutes walk of an existing stop, I think this proposal is eminently reasonable.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:36 PM   #23
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

Question: Isn't the CSX railyard about 100-200 yards to the north, scheduled to close and be shifted to Worcester? Couldn't a portion of the southernmost piece of this parcel be used for a rail line? P.S. I recall that allegedly Harvard University bought the land underneath the Mass Turnpike in Allston, but something perhaps could be accorded to give them air-rights above the rail line?

It may require a slight shift of the Commuter Rail to the next set of tracks over as well.

Harvard buy:
* http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/...cid=sitesearch
* http://chronicle.com/article/Harvard...urnpike/25394/
* http://lubbockonline.com/stories/060...60203035.shtml
* http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2000.../turnpike.html
* http://www.thecrimson.com/article/20...rd-university/

CSX relocation:
* http://www.worcestermag.com/city-des...73859.html?m=y
* http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/ne...-out-of-Boston
* http://www.telegram.com/article/2011...102280386/1116
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:42 PM   #24
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

The problem with restoring the A Line is mostly of economics. Why would you spend all the money, go through all the legal wrangling, and years of construction headaches when the bus does the job just fine as it is?

The point of expanding rapid transit is rarely that of addressing capacity but rather one of increasing demand. Other than in the downtown areas, which have always been and will always be congested, the point of rapid transit is to RAPIDLY get people from downtown to new areas of development outside the city. This has always been the case.

The original subway (Green Line) was built to address overcrowding but the heavy rail was built to siphon off traffic coming downtown from the streetcar suburbs to major transit hubs and thus allowing for expanding service in the newly developing suburbs.

So what does this have to do with the A Line? Where in Allston and Brighton is there land left to develop? Along North Beacon St. The New Balance development is just the beginning. Over the Charles is the Arsenal Mall which is prime land if it had a straight shot to downtown Boston (and not to mention all the college kids in Allston/Brighton).

Imagine what it would actually mean to restore the A Line through Brighton Center? You'd rip of the road, tighten the road lanes, and remove parking. Then you would have to rezone the area which would mean more people and more cars (no matter how much more rapid transit Brighton is still suburban). So the congestion skyrockets.

Now if you build it down North Beacon you already have much more capacity for traffic even with street running trolleys. There is much less NIMBy opposition due to the lower population AND you have the ability to develop mixed use. Washington St will still be there but since most commuters will be siphoned off the traffic will improve.

If you are going to expand the system make sure you get something in return. North Beacon is a highway strip and the perfect place for TOD/transit. The next shot would be to send it to Watertown along the only corridor that can handle the increased development, Arsenal St.

If the citizens of Brighton don't want a trolley in their way why force it? Why not find a better solution?
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:43 PM   #25
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Originally Posted by Digital_Islandboy View Post
Question: Isn't the CSX railyard about 100-200 yards to the north, scheduled to close and be shifted to Worcester? Couldn't a portion of the southernmost piece of this parcel be used for a rail line? P.S. I recall that allegedly Harvard University bought the land underneath the Mass Turnpike in Allston, but something perhaps could be accorded to give them air-rights above the rail line?
The choice between these alignments fully depends on your intentions for the line, IMO. If you're going for short-trip, intra-Brigton service which serves surrounding community to the max, go with the Brighton Ave. alignment. If you're looking to build 1 or 2 Brighton stops on a mass transit line running to either Riverside or Watertown as Heavy Rail, use the railyard. Now, if a trolley through the former CSX property were proposed as a catalyst for a new Harvard redevelopment of that land, then maybe it would make sense (and that might happen anyway as part of the Urban Ring), but it would underserve the Brighton Ave. corridor.

Light rail service is really meant to run in densely-developed corridors. Brighton Ave. has the room to accommodate it.
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:02 PM   #26
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

What about spliting something like the orange line from back bay and have it run parallel to the framingham/worcester line?
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Old 06-04-2012, 06:04 PM   #27
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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What about spliting something like the orange line from back bay and have it run parallel to the framingham/worcester line?
Why branch the Orange Line at all? Why not take the new and improved Fairmount Line, turn those trains in South Station, send them to West Newton or Auburndale and call it the Purple Line?

Even if you don't, forking the Orange Line like that screws Roxbury - Forest Hills, again, for not much benefit, since you just effectively cut their headways in half to send half-frequency trains into Yawkey and Newton.
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Old 06-04-2012, 06:30 PM   #28
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

I kinda just skimmed this but, yeah, the North Beacon Street boulevard is way underserved by public transportation.

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Old 06-04-2012, 06:45 PM   #29
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

I was told once that the MBTA was trying to kill off the 64 bus (which serves N.Beacon). They certainly appear to be trying to do so, with 30-60 minute headways on it.

Quote:
Imagine what it would actually mean to restore the A Line through Brighton Center? You'd rip of the road, tighten the road lanes, and remove parking. Then you would have to rezone the area which would mean more people and more cars
No it wouldn't. It's bad enough when NIMBYs come to meetings and complain about any new development because "it'll bring more people into the neighborhood and that means more cars." If that were true, then the North End would be covered with cars piled 10-deep. The whole point of bringing rapid transit back to this corridor is to cut down on the number of car trips needed. Brighton is no more suburban than Dorchester or Jamaica Plain, where the Red and Orange lines go.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:12 PM   #30
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
The problem with restoring the A Line is mostly of economics. Why would you spend all the money, go through all the legal wrangling, and years of construction headaches when the bus does
the job just fine as it is?
For as much flack as I give the MBTA's train/trolley operations, I have significantly less confidence in its buses. Unless, of course, inconsistency and unreliability are benchmarks for doing just fine.

Quote:
So what does this have to do with the A Line? Where in Allston and Brighton is there land left to develop? Along North Beacon St.
There's plenty of crappy one-story buildings, large industrial buildings and surface lots that could easily be gobbled up in addition to North Beacon.

Quote:
Imagine what it would actually mean to restore the A Line through Brighton Center? You'd rip of the road, tighten the road lanes, and remove parking. Then you would have to rezone the area which would mean more people and more cars (no matter how much more rapid transit Brighton is still suburban). So the congestion skyrockets.
Suburban to the tune of ~15K people per square mile? That is denser than Jamaica Plain and on par with most of Dorchester. The fact that we only have 1.5 light rail lines (considering the majority of the C line is in Brookline) is nothing short of pathetic.

At the end of the day, if there's so much opposition to a street-grade A, it would be worthwhile to spend the money and bury it from Oak Square all the way to connect to an elevated (or buried) B at Packards Corner.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:49 PM   #31
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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I think that's missing a key piece of the picture. That view enshrines current traffic levels as "sacred" and inviolate. Instead it should be viewed as a trade-off. Sure, you could try to keep current traffic levels, but what is it costing you to do that? And I mean cost not only in terms of money, but also more difficult to quantify measures of safety and general "livability".

Is it really worthwhile to preserve Brighton Avenue as a 4-lane road when (hypothetically) we're about to add a light rail line down the middle of it? A line that has the potential of serving 20-30 thousand people per day?

Is preserving Storrow Drive as a grade-separated freeway really worth what it does to the Esplanade?

Traffic levels can go up or they can go down, but if you view current levels as a hard floor, then things will only get worse.
Let's move this to Crazy Transit B(P)itches

First you need to deal with Emergency Arterials associated with Evacuation Routes

Boston is already defecient as per FEMA standards for Evacuation Routes -- you've got to have bus & Emergency Vehicle wide lanes sufficient to evacuate the population in certain specified periods, etc. -- Fagadaboudit!
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:59 PM   #32
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

Nobody has mentioned the downtown express pike buses from Brighton - how do those work out? Anyone take them regularly?
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:34 PM   #33
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Boston is already defecient as per FEMA standards for Evacuation Routes -- you've got to have bus & Emergency Vehicle wide lanes sufficient to evacuate the population in certain specified periods, etc. -- Fagadaboudit!
I'll keep that in mind next time somebody tries to run me over on Brighton Avenue.

We need it to be an over-sized, high-speed arterial road all of the time, for the incredibly small chance that it might be useful as an evacuation route someday.

Never mind that it can't even handle the extraordinary event which takes place every week known as "Saturday."
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:38 PM   #34
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Suburban to the tune of ~15K people per square mile? That is denser than Jamaica Plain and on par with most of Dorchester. The fact that we only have 1.5 light rail lines (considering the majority of the C line is in Brookline) is nothing short of pathetic.
Well if you're going to bring up the relatively low density of the corridor, I would say that what it really needs is signal priority for the 57, and curb bulb-outs to decrease dwell times at stops. And fewer stops (which is coming, the improvement program is in).

All the key bus routes should get that. It shouldn't be thought of as something reserved for "BRT" because it's not sufficient for RT, but it is a lot better than existing conditions.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:20 PM   #35
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Nobody has mentioned the downtown express pike buses from Brighton - how do those work out? Anyone take them regularly?
I've taken the express bus between Copley and Watertown Square, works quite well in both directions. I'd personally favor that over a street running solution.
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:03 PM   #36
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

The express bus works quite well for commuting, but is too infrequent to be effective otherwise in my experience
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #37
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Let's move this to Crazy Transit B(P)itches

First you need to deal with Emergency Arterials associated with Evacuation Routes

Boston is already defecient as per FEMA standards for Evacuation Routes -- you've got to have bus & Emergency Vehicle wide lanes sufficient to evacuate the population in certain specified periods, etc. -- Fagadaboudit!
But enough about I-93. . .
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:56 PM   #38
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Nobody has mentioned the downtown express pike buses from Brighton - how do those work out? Anyone take them regularly?
I took it for five years before I moved and I was at the terminus at Winship Street. 4 minute peak hour headways and I was on Federal Street in about 35 minutes. To me that is EXCELLENT transportation, far better than an extended A-line could provide getting all mucked up on Brighton Ave, Comm Ave and the over capacity central subway.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:40 PM   #39
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

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Well if you're going to bring up the relatively low density of the corridor, I would say that what it really needs is signal priority for the 57, and curb bulb-outs to decrease dwell times at stops. And fewer stops (which is coming, the improvement program is in).

All the key bus routes should get that. It shouldn't be thought of as something reserved for "BRT" because it's not sufficient for RT, but it is a lot better than existing conditions.
I'm confused - averaging 15K people per square mile is not low density in this country. Most of the people in Brighton rely on a combination of (1) the B Line, (2) buses, or (3) their cars, in order to get around. Option one is slow, option two can be pretty unpredictable and option three can be both of those and expensive to boot.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:50 PM   #40
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Re: A-Line Reactivation

The trouble with that list is that it's area-wide, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put Guttenberg, which is a few city blocks in size, on the same list with NYC or Boston.

For transportation purposes, you want to look at more specific levels of density along the corridor of interest. Block-level, blockgroup-level or tract-level (census terms).

I also prefer dwelling units per net acre. Why? Because measuring the number of dwelling units tells you how many people can live comfortably in an area. A higher number of dwelling units per acre usually corresponds to less overcrowding because it is easier to get an apartment, so it is less likely that people are forced to live together unsafely. Net acre means per acre of land zoned for residential use. So this excludes roadways, parks, commercial and industrial zones. I think this is important because it is the land where people live that primarily generates customers for the transit service, not the adjacent park (though of course, it does get users too).

Under this lens, the most densely populated areas of Boston are the Fenway (100-200 dwelling units / net acre), north side Beacon Hill (100-200 du/na) the North End (90-180 du/na), Back Bay Comm Ave (75-150 du/na), Allston/Brighton Comm Ave (60-120 du/na), Southie W. Broadway (110 du/na), and the South End (50-200 du/na).

Most of Dorchester and Roxbury falls in the 10-40 du/na range, as does Brighton Center. Oak Square is 10-20 du/na as is most of JP. Typically, younger suburban towns are under 10-12 du/na, and 10-20 du/na is considered semi-suburban or borderline.

Of course that is only one axis to look at, and there's a lot of different history in the various neighborhoods and patterns of usage and growth to account for too. But fundamentally, you want to build transit where the people are (or where they will be) and Comm Ave has a lot more people living there than the Cambridge/Washington St corridor.
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