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Old 07-24-2006, 09:45 AM   #1
KentXie
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Silver Line - Phase III / BRT in Boston

Neighborhood Groups Not On Board
MBTA Says Silver Line Proposal Is Popular But Some Neighborhood Groups Protest Plan
Jul 21, 2006

by Adam Smith

According to the MBTA, its newest Silver Line bus route proposal for Tremont and Charles Streets has been met by community members with open arms.

The plan has "widespread support among many elected officials and community groups," said Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman.

But judging from a press conference held July 17 by a diverse group of critics of the bus route, the mass transit proposal also has widespread opposition.

Claiming that the MBTA has failed to hear them out, the community activists, politicians and university representatives told local news media gathered at Elliot Norton Park that the MBTA's plans are "unacceptable" and "disruptive" to several Boston neighborhoods.

Shouting over the buzz of buses and cars whizzing down nearby Tremont Street, Lai Kim Fung of the Mass Pike Towers Tenants Association said the project "will have a (negative) impact on our life and our health."

The Silver Line project would likely necessitate the demolition of two buildings in the Mass Pike Towers apartment complex, which offers federally subsidized housing to its low-income residents. Mark Slater of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association, who fears the bus route's tunnel would upset groundwater levels and harm historic homes, called the planned bus route "a complete sham." Other critics included Emerson College, New England School of Law and state representative Byron Rushing.

But Pesaturo of the MBTA -- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority -- suggested the opposition was premature. He maintains that the MBTA has completed only "one percent" of the proposed route's design, and that the authority will work with residents and community groups to retool the plans if needed.

"We're just in the early stages of the public input process," said Pesaturo during an interview after the press conference. "There is ample time for discussion of this proposal."

The MBTA unveiled its most recent Silver Line Phase III proposal in March, several months after tabling an earlier set of proposals in August that Pesaturo acknowledges proved unpopular. The new plan would create a bus portal at Tremont Street and Marginal Road, near Mass Pike Towers, and dig a tunnel under Charles and Boylston streets.

The underground bus route would connect to a station underneath the Boylston Street T stop and link the Silver Line's existing service from Dudley Square in Roxbury to Downtown and service from South Station to Logan Airport and the Boston Waterfront.

The MBTA maintains that the final phase would be crucial to the completion of the entire Silver Line bus route and would allow continuous service from Dudley Square to the airport. Once completed, the line would serve more than 160,000 riders daily, the MBTA says, and relieve congested subway lines and streets.

Pesaturo said that key supporters of the proposal include the Artery Business Community, also known as the A Better City and Congressman Michael Capuano.

But the line's critics say the bus route and its construction are unwanted.

While some called for a reworking of the proposal, others said the entire Silver Line is flawed. Bob Terrell, a longtime activist with Lower Washington Street Taskforce, said the bus line should be scrapped and converted to light rail. Members of the Roxbury Neighborhood Council echoed the call for light rail instead of the currently used buses that stretch up to 60 feet in length.

Pesaturo indicated that light rail is out of the question, and called the Silver Line "the most popular bus route in the MBTA system. It's very clear that people are satisfied with the service and that most people do not care if it's on steel or rubber as long as it's safe, reliable and frequent, and that's what the Silver Line is."

In Chinatown, however, there is another concern. Many fear that the construction of the Phase III portal at Tremont Street would push out residents and businesses indefinitely from the Mass Pike Towers apartment complex. To build the portal as planned, two buildings at the residential towers would need to be demolished, according to the MBTA. When asked about plans to relocate the residents and businesses of those buildings, Pesaturo said: "Those are questions that would be answered if it ever came to that." When pressed further, he said: "Those are things that we can talk about at length as the process moves along."

The critics of the bus route plan said they timed Monday's press conference to show to federal officials that the proposal is opposed by many in the community.

In August, the MBTA will apply for funds from the Federal Transit Administration, or FTA, to help pay for the Phase III project. After the previous set of proposals submitted last year proved unpopular, the MBTA pulled an earlier application for funding, and it hopes to get approval for this round.

Pesaturo appeared to downplay this year?s application to the FTA.

"We're just looking to get a thumbs up (telling us) that we're headed in the right direction from the FTA," said Pesaturo.
He declined to disclose the amount the MBTA is seeking from the FTA or to give a cost estimate for the Phase III project as it now stands.

When asked why the MBTA plans to step up the community process for the proposal after seeking federal funding instead of before, Pesaturo said the MBTA has already met with "dozens" of interested community groups and that it is waiting until the proposal is "formalized.?



I think that this plan could only go forward if they can somehow replace those subsidized housing to somewhere else. Anyway, I hope this project will go through. I also hope that instead of the Silver Line being a BRT, it should become a light rail. Silver Line buses clogs up the road along Washington Street especially in the area from DT to Chinatown where the road is really narrow.
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:33 PM   #2
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I dont understand how light rail would be a better option. Same tunnel, same route, just more costs (laying rail). And youd have to wire washington street, silver line can change from electric to diesel.
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Old 07-31-2006, 10:03 PM   #3
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Light rail is better because it would be a branch of the Green Line, joining the other branches at Boylston.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:31 PM   #4
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And the buses have to be driven slowly through the narrow tunnels. Trolleys on their tracks could zip right through.
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Old 08-01-2006, 01:05 AM   #5
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Great, let's add to the already overburdened Green Line. Why not an entirely new light rail line with transfers? We all have to do it.
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Old 08-01-2006, 01:26 AM   #6
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If the Silver Line Waterfront became a branch of the green line it wouldn't necessarily have to add any burden to the existing green line. A branch, say E, could become Heath/Logan, instead of continuing to Park or beyond.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:09 AM   #7
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The Green Line historically has had many more branches than it does now. If it could handle them 70 years ago, it can handle them now.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:21 AM   #8
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And the green line could increase its capacity by 50% by running three-car trains.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:53 AM   #9
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Whatever they do, it needs to be in a tunnel. The tunnel needs to stay underground, going UNDER the MassPike, and then coming to the surface.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:58 AM   #10
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Or they can try to make all stops from government to boylston be like the Park Street Station where they each have 2 rails for inbound and outbound.
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Old 08-01-2006, 11:18 AM   #11
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The problem isn't what it could handle historically. The problem is about branching. When you start adding too many branches to a track system, then the main line gets too many trains, while each of the branches get too few. It already happens now.
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Old 08-01-2006, 02:08 PM   #12
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...

but at least the main branch would have plenty frequent service...
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Old 08-01-2006, 03:00 PM   #13
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It's not the main trunk that is the problem, it's all of the branches that will see less infrequent service. A new line, preferably heavy rail is the real answer (and dream).
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBostonian
And the buses have to be driven slowly through the narrow tunnels. Trolleys on their tracks could zip right through.
You mean sort of like the green line trains zip into Boylston now at 5 miles per hour?

Or even worse, when they stop in the tunnel. "This train is now on standby".


I just dont understand how light rail can be a possibility.

Logan-Silverline Way has to be bus, because of the tunnel.

Boylston-Dudley has to be bus, unless you want to rip up Washington Street for a streetcar that offers absolutely no added benefit.

That leaves the Boylston-South Station-Silverline Way area. Why make that light rail?

If we could make Dudley-Logan completely in a tunnel, then yes. But unless massive oil fields are discovered in Cape Cod, that isnt happening.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jass
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBostonian
And the buses have to be driven slowly through the narrow tunnels. Trolleys on their tracks could zip right through.
I just dont understand how light rail can be a possibility.
Again if they can add an extra rail to each side between government where B and D ends to boylston where the silver line route diverts from the rest of the green line then it will work. I think it is fairly easy to do that between Boylston and Park since they already have 4 rails, two to for the inbound and two for the outbound. They just need to construct it for government.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jass

If we could make Dudley-Logan completely in a tunnel, then yes. But unless massive oil fields are discovered in Cape Cod, that isn't happening.
The "Dudley-Logan" is where this whole project has gone wrong. The MBTA combined two separate projects into one silverline. They are legally obligated to provide equal service to replace the old elevated orange line. I've only been in Boston 10 years, but I'm sure the orange line never went to the airport.

The connection to the airport was a necessary component of the convention center. If you are looking to bring in 30 to 50 thousand people into the city and want to get them to their hotels you would need to bring all the cabs in NE to Boston. Or you can offer new public transit that provides door to door service.

Both of these plans are good on there own, but someone at the MBTA came up with this ridiculous "One stop ride from Dudley to Logan" and because our media latches on to any catch phrase without thinking... it stuck. Now people think that was actually the commitment.

If the goal was to people from Dudley to Logan there should have been an new line going through South Bay and South Boston. Continue this to Longwood and now we've got the start of our urban ring (different topic)

The reason light rail is still talked about as an option is because there are existing tunnels that connect to the Boylston Station. They are two narrow for buses, but would work for light rail. This would allow for seemless connection to the existing green line (park, gov ctr, and beyond). And that is what I would call replacement service.

MBTA argues the tunnels can't be used. So fix them. MBTA argues that the silverline is a success because it has the highest ridership. When a bus carries that many riders it's time to consider a transportation upgrade
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:04 PM   #17
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http://www.abandonedsubwaytunnels.co...on_thumbs.html

*Cough* tunnel in same condition as most of the green line minus wiring and track *cough*

I could also see the PO square provision to duck under Boylston down Essex st. to South Station, then maybe using the trolley tunnel above the red line or sharing the Pier's transitway (Silver Li(n)e) tunnel with the silver line couldn't be used to add light rail service to the waterfront and South Boston when the demand picks up.
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Old 08-01-2006, 10:55 PM   #18
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I think the completed silver line with direct connections to the orange and green lines will be a hit. The last time I rode the waterfront section during morning rush hour it was nearly packed. It is already becoming part of the flavor of "New Boston" and the South Boston Waterfront.
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Old 08-01-2006, 11:08 PM   #19
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If they want to keep it as a bus, make a PHYSICALLY separated lane down Wash. St. for silverline and let the buses have COMPLETE control over traffic lights along their route. Last, let them use the emergency lane in the TWT with a direct connection to the tunnel from silver line way. Then I would be more than happy. BRT works just as well as a subway in Curitiba, Brazil because they make the buses the priority on the road. If Boston follows its example, then I'd actually prefer BRT to adding another branch to the green line.
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Old 08-02-2006, 01:18 PM   #20
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^Yes and BRT holds alot of promise in the outer neighborhoods where some main streets can be rather wide by our standards because they once had trolleys.
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