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Old 03-28-2015, 01:41 PM   #1
davem
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Green Line Reconfiguration

So since it keeps coming up in Crazy Transit Pitches, I thought I'd attempt to assemble the majority of posts on reactivating the Tremont St Tunnel to tie in the Silver Lines (converted to light rail) as well as extending the E along the Pike, through Back Bay Station, to South Cove.

Mods - If you'd like to move the posts over here that would be dandy, but since I'm sure it's a lot of work I'm just linking for now.

I can't remember where it first came up, but F-line had been talking about it for a while. I first tried to map it out to scale on Page 94, starting at post #1866, until about page 96.

Then Van brought it up again on Page 104, post 2066 until post 2074.

Some Stuart St vs Marginal Street analysis, plus indepth conversation on doing the D-E connector starting on Page 109 until page 111

Rehashing of the South Cove plan on Page 122 to page 124


Related after going through so many pages, we should really have a separate Fantasy Maps thread and Charlesbank Subway thread. There is SO MUCH information in Crazy Transit Pitches, but it's a mess.
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Old 03-28-2015, 02:11 PM   #2
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

I really think it's two separate levels of proposal. Tremont Street to Dudley and thence Forest Hills and/or Mattapan via Blue Hill is a mostly at-grade light rail project, railstituting the city's busiest bus lines. The equivalent of that in the existing Green Line system is restoring light rail service to Arborway via the E branch, in dedicated lanes. All of these belong in the reasonable thread, not the crazy thread. To me, a good rule of thumb is, "would you build this ahead or behind the NSRL and commuter rail electrification?" If it's ahead, then it's reasonable; if it's behind, it's crazy.

By that standard, the D-E connection and the Back Bay reroute are in the crazy basket. There's a lot more tunneling involved, in a constrained environment, so the costs are much higher. The main goal is not new service, but additional capacity, since the Green Line and its flat junctions are having some difficulties maintaining constant headways on each branch.

I'd argue that the D-E connection is counterproductive in this context. If the E branch is rerouted to Tremont, then there's a beautiful separation of the Green Line's four-track main into a track pair that goes to Boylston and thence the B, C, and D branches, and a track pair that continues on Tremont and goes on Huntington, Washington, and Blue Hill. Each branch can be expected to have about the same traffic - if anything, the Tremont branch might have a bit more, because of the high ridership of the SL4/5, 39, and 28(/23) buses compounded with rail bias. This is good: the D branch should be split in two anyway, with a D' branch diverging to serve Needham from the north, replacing the Needham Branch of commuter rail, while the Orange Line (or a Green Line branch from Arborway/Forest Hills) is extended to West Roxbury.

The combined D-E connection and the E to Back Bay shifts too much ridership to Tremont, leaving Boylston with just the B and C. This is wrong. The Boylston Green Line stations have between them more than twice the ridership of the Back Bay Orange Line station. The Orange Line is good for the commuter rail connection, but the core of Back Bay is on the Green Line. So it's important to leave as much light rail as possible on Boylston, and only move to Tremont things that are required to balance ridership for capacity reasons. Other than Needham, there's no commuter rail branch that needs to be connected to Boylston. The A branch isn't useful for restoration: the 57 bus is not one of the system's busiest, and service to Watertown should use the deactivated Fitchburg Line branch as a GLX hooking into Cambridge and Union Square, a mirror image of the D branch.
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Old 03-28-2015, 03:26 PM   #3
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

Alon, that assumes that restoring the A branch as it was is the best idea, which it isn't. Creating a new A branch that runs through Allston to Harvard would be a much better idea both in terms of ridership and contributing to the growth of Allston.

In all of my D-E subway plans I've always included a shuttle service from Brookline Village to Kenmore Sq because I know that service would still be needed along Boylston St. Splitting the D-E off along Huntington to Tremont would open up more capacity along Boylston for more trains along the B and C. If you add an A branch (as I described) then you'd have just as many trains along Boylston AND more trains along Comm Ave through BU territory. That would cover you.

If there is ever a branch to Needham it might be safe to assume D branch headways would stay the same or be slightly increased and service to the terminals (Riverside and Needham) would be split. If need be one branch could use Boylston and another Huntington.

Obviously tunneling through the Back Bay, under Stuart St or hugging the Pike, would be difficult and costly. But the alternative is what, the Blue Line? That would cost just as much and still not address the Green Line junction/capacity problems. The beauty of the D-E to Tremont connection is that it utilizes existing tunnels along Huntington and Tremont Sts thus keeping costs down.
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Old 03-28-2015, 04:02 PM   #4
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

Hey there. I'm a very long time lurker and first time poster. Firstly, let me thanks Davem for consolidating the postings regarding the Tremont St. Tunnel/F-line to Dudley/second trunk tunnel/green line to the seaport discussion. The proposals that have come up on this subject have been the most interesting that I've real on all of AB.

I actually have been calling this sort of proposal the "Green Line Solution" because it basically addresses some of the most fundamental issues holding the green line back while appreciating that this mode provides an outstanding, locality appropriate mobility solution. In short- this could solve a great number of Boston's transit issues.

I have my own version of how I would like to see this proposal go which would largely follow more or less what has been described by F-Line to Dudley (the prolific AB transit poster who seems to have been taking a hiatus of late) but with a few key changes. However, rather than outlining my concept in its entirety I just want to mention a few things that have been written about here.

Let me preface this by saying- Alon- I'm sincerely glad you've started posting to AB. I've read a massive amount of your blog and your observations and transit proposals are very insightful. I look forward to your continued participation on forum topics as well as future blog posts. However, I disagree with your appraisal that the D-E connection in this proposal is not practical. Here are my reasons why:

1. Iíve seen you post before that you think that a green line branch down Washington Street that utilized the Tremont Street tunnel should continue onward either to Forest Hills or to Mattapan Square. With regard to the former, I believe the only appropriate way to reach Forest Hills is with an E-line restoration. I think maintaining the historical transit pattern and utilizing the existing infrastructure (the trolley polls are still there and the electrical conduit is still in place) is the most sensible thing. Moreover, I think the neighborhood would be much more receptive to restoring rail service to these areas along this alignment.

Now a D-E connector facilitates that. If I recall I believe that F-line believed creating portals to tie in the E-line (restored to Forest Hills) to a newly created Huntington street tunnel would be needlessly expensive. While I acknowledge the cost implications I believe that if they are going to be tearing up that area they might as well include portals for the E-line. That is a way to justify street running from the portal at Huntington to Forest Hills.

I noticed that you mentioned that the E-line restoration to Forest Hills would need its own reservation. I disagree on this point. Once one acknowledges that a green line trolley can street run on this route (because it has before) then the argument for a reservation becomes one of ops and aesthetics. However, I think peopleís attitudes are changing and therefore it is not unlikely that the E-line will be restored to Forest Hills as a street running route without any tunnel on Huntington. Add in the tunnel and this becomes a foregone conclusion.

As for having the Washington Street green line run all the way down to Mattapan Square I will say that makes sense but might not be feasible from a cost standpoint. I know F-Line to Dudley doesnít believe it can be done from an ops perspective. My perspective is that it can be done but that the narrow portion of the alignment (basically from Melnea Cass, through Dudley and then down until where Blue Hill Ave becomes wide) would have to be a tunnel. F-Line has said that better bus service (28X and other enhancements) as well as a fully unleashed Indigo Fairmont Line would be the sufficient (dragging the true red line to mattapan square would be nice too). I tend to agree that these other changes should be made to address the mobility issues in that area because I think when you start to try to go past Dudley the cost of an extension just balloons too much.

2. Additionally, you make the assumption that once a D-E connector is in place that all D trains will go through the Huntington tunnel. I donít think that makes sense nor do I think that is politically feasible. The riding public on the D will be up in arms if they completely lose access to the Boylston tunnel (the E-line riders will too to a certain extent but since they lose ďlessĒ of the Boylston tunnel stops and the enhancement of a tunnel on Huntington I think they will be ok) so it doesnít make sense to do that to them if one wants to get this proposal done.

As a solution you could run half the D-line trains down the new alignment on Huntington and half the train on the current alignment. However, in my proposal you would include a Needham branch on the D-line contemporaneous with the creation of the Huntington street tunnel. I would dub this branch to Needham the ďN-lineĒ. Since Needham has never had green line service and arenít used to a particular service pattern diverting them down the new Huntington tunnel would not be controversial (especially since Needham commuters are accustomed to going to Back Bay to access Copley Square). Any D or N riders that want to transfer could do so at Brookline Village.

I think this approach has multiple benefits. 1. It accounts for established riding habits (i.e. itís cognizant of the politics of the proposal), 2. It allows load spreading between the two trunk tunnels into Boston, and 3. It creates operational redundancy.

Some other comments about this proposal in general:

1. Huntington Ave is unfortunately a nightmare. It has small sidewalks (3ft in some areas), it lacks pedestrian appeal, bikes have trouble going down it, where the trolley starts street running is chaotic, etc. In short, it just lacks the proper width- unlike Comm Ave and Beacon Street- to be able to address the trolley reservation in addition to other uses.

I think a Huntington tunnel (or more properly extending the Huntington tunnel) that connects to the D-line makes sense because we need to increase the capacity on the system and create essentially another trunk line into Boston. However, once the green line is underground the ability to remake Huntington Ave as showcase complete street city boulevard is really exciting.

2. The Seaport area needs rail access. Everyone more or less recognizes that but they donít know how to advocate for it. Unfortunately the only proposal is the stupid BCEC dinky. When an area is filling up with that much money and business interests itís only a matter of time before some rail project is brought in to appease that constituency. One thing I love about this proposal is that a project brings rail access to one of the most tony areas of Boston (the Seaport) at the same time as addressing the needs of a lower income area of Boston (Dudley Square and the riders on the SL4 and 5).

3. Phasing. Letís not forget that this can be easily broken into phases that each by themselves would add major enhancements to the system so long as Phase I includes reactivation of the Tremont Street Tunnel, the creation of the new green line stop at the New England Medical Center, the extension of the green line down Washington street to Dudley Square and the connection of the green line to the South Boston waterfront tunnel for combined use by silver line busses and the green line.

Thatís it guys. I hope that Iíve contributed to the conversation. I hope we can continue to discuss this particular proposal because, as I said above, I truly think this is the ďGreen Line SolutionĒ.
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Old 03-28-2015, 04:15 PM   #5
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

davem: I changed the name to something a bit less unwieldy.
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Old 03-28-2015, 04:29 PM   #6
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

The two proposals that I just don't see happening are Arborway restoration and Green Line past Dudley. If the Huntington Ave subway is expanded then they should be a turn around at Brigham Circle but E trains could just be extended to Reservoir, Riverside, or Needham.

Green Line to Dudley could work given that Washington St is wide enough for lane segregation for most of the trip. But anything south of Dudley would require a full subway just to make it worth the effort. It would be much cheaper to beef up bus and Fairmont service instead.

So with that in mind any service coming up through Tremont St would be a combined D-E and F (Dudley) which would run though to Union Sq and College Ave. That is not enough to overwhelm the Tremont tunnels.

That brings us to the Seaport. I'm a firm believer in using the old Post Office Sq branch route to get to South Station, taking the C branch and sending it to connect with the Silver Line. Expensive and tricky, yes, but ultimately the best route. It would require a deep bore under Chinatown but unlike the Silver Line Phase 3 route there would be no complicated loop no would you have to destroy existing tunnels. The tunnel would run 2/3 of a mile from between Arlington/Boylston to Atlantic Ave with one station a Boylston/Chinatown. Taking one branch from Boylston out of Park St would help with congestion as then you can just turn B trains at Park and send the rest through.
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Old 03-28-2015, 06:32 PM   #7
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

The E line could easily be extended a far as Hyde Square in JP. There's plenty of space on South Huntington to fit the trains. It's just the complete lack of desire on the part of the city that keeps it from moving forward. Remember, Mayor Menino didn't want streetcars, and that's what killed the Arborway when we were so close to restoration back in the '00s.
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:52 PM   #8
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
Alon, that assumes that restoring the A branch as it was is the best idea, which it isn't. Creating a new A branch that runs through Allston to Harvard would be a much better idea both in terms of ridership and contributing to the growth of Allston.
Of course it isn't! But I'm also not sold on the branch to Harvard. Allston-Cambridge service is circumferential, so it's better to just go the whole way on a circumferential line and build one, underground, all the way from Harvard (or Sullivan, even) to Dudley (or JFK-UMass, even). It railstitutes the 66 and the 1, and, if it goes to JFK-UMass, offers a rail-rail connection that can take some ridership off the 23. The point here is that travelers from Harvard to most points that your proposed A branch would serve would have a faster trip on the Red Line with a transfer at Park Street; the branch would be great at connecting Harvard with Allston, but there's also demand to the other stations intersecting the 66.

Quote:
If there is ever a branch to Needham it might be safe to assume D branch headways would stay the same or be slightly increased and service to the terminals (Riverside and Needham) would be split. If need be one branch could use Boylston and another Huntington.
I really dislike that last idea. It creates a situation in which the inner segments have less frequency than the combined one between Brookline Village and Newton Highlands. If there's a D-E connection, pick one route to use, Boylston or Huntington, and reduce the other one to a frequent short-turn (not a shuttle - it should go all the way to Park Street). If the capacity relief is enough that it's possible to time the shuttle to meet trains at Brookline, then all the better.

Quote:
Obviously tunneling through the Back Bay, under Stuart St or hugging the Pike, would be difficult and costly. But the alternative is what, the Blue Line?
The alternative is to do nothing - let the Worcester Line provide some extra capacity (remember, the trains are longer, so 15-minute service provides equivalent capacity to 5-minute Green Line service), and build new light rail capacity toward Dudley instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Transitmass View Post
Let me preface this by saying- Alon- I'm sincerely glad you've started posting to AB. I've read a massive amount of your blog and your observations and transit proposals are very insightful. I look forward to your continued participation on forum topics as well as future blog posts. However, I disagree with your appraisal that the D-E connection in this proposal is not practical. Here are my reasons why:
Awww, thanks!

Quote:
1. Iíve seen you post before that you think that a green line branch down Washington Street that utilized the Tremont Street tunnel should continue onward either to Forest Hills or to Mattapan Square. With regard to the former, I believe the only appropriate way to reach Forest Hills is with an E-line restoration. I think maintaining the historical transit pattern and utilizing the existing infrastructure (the trolley polls are still there and the electrical conduit is still in place) is the most sensible thing. Moreover, I think the neighborhood would be much more receptive to restoring rail service to these areas along this alignment.

Now a D-E connector facilitates that. If I recall I believe that F-line believed creating portals to tie in the E-line (restored to Forest Hills) to a newly created Huntington street tunnel would be needlessly expensive. While I acknowledge the cost implications I believe that if they are going to be tearing up that area they might as well include portals for the E-line. That is a way to justify street running from the portal at Huntington to Forest Hills.

I noticed that you mentioned that the E-line restoration to Forest Hills would need its own reservation. I disagree on this point. Once one acknowledges that a green line trolley can street run on this route (because it has before) then the argument for a reservation becomes one of ops and aesthetics. However, I think peopleís attitudes are changing and therefore it is not unlikely that the E-line will be restored to Forest Hills as a street running route without any tunnel on Huntington. Add in the tunnel and this becomes a foregone conclusion.
What do you mean by reservation here? If you mean a grade-separated ROW, then it's unnecessary - in fact, the only point of subway-surface service is that it can run at-grade, on the street, outside city center.

However, dedicated lanes for light rail are a must. Mixed-traffic streetcars are a terrible idea on so many levels: they get stuck behind stopped cars, and they are supposed to carry many more passengers than a car but don't even get priority. It's something that's come out of discussions on a few transit blogs, mainly Human Transit: streetcars do not actually provide an improvement over buses. There's rail bias, coming from factors like a smoother ride, but ultimately, a mixed-traffic streetcar is slower than the bus it replaces. When there are dedicated lanes, the situation changes completely: the streetcar can then maintain a higher speed at equivalent level of passenger comfort, and, in a subway-surface configuration, feed into a downtown tunnel that skips traffic.

Yes, historic streetcars in the US ran in mixed traffic. They worked only when car ownership was so low they didn't get stuck in traffic. Once they did get stuck in traffic, they were no longer usable. Good transit plans need to take into account the situation of 2015 and not attempt to replicate 1925; they should learn from modern-day projects in countries that get transit right (i.e. certainly not the US), and not from projects that are three generations past their sell-by date.

Quote:
As for having the Washington Street green line run all the way down to Mattapan Square I will say that makes sense but might not be feasible from a cost standpoint.
I think it's penny-wise and pound-foolish to complain about the cost of a few kilometers of light rail but then propose several km of Huntington tunnel.

Quote:
Some other comments about this proposal in general:

2. The Seaport area needs rail access. Everyone more or less recognizes that but they donít know how to advocate for it. Unfortunately the only proposal is the stupid BCEC dinky. When an area is filling up with that much money and business interests itís only a matter of time before some rail project is brought in to appease that constituency. One thing I love about this proposal is that a project brings rail access to one of the most tony areas of Boston (the Seaport) at the same time as addressing the needs of a lower income area of Boston (Dudley Square and the riders on the SL4 and 5).
Does it? It's not a huge destination. SL2 is not one of the busier buses in the system. The busy buses are neighborhood workhorses like the SL4/5 reverse-branch, the 39, the 28, and the 23, and the 66 and 1 circumferentials.

The Seaport itself is the type of neighborhood American cities love to overserve with core connectors. It's barely a kilometer from South Station along Summer Street. It's not between the CBD and anything else, unless you count SL1, also not a particularly busy bus, serving a globally overrated destination, i.e. the airport. It reminds me of discussions like Providence's Core Connector, which ignores what are by the busiest two buses in the region (the 11 on Broad, to South Providence, and the 99 on Main, to Pawtucket), and instead focuses on the East Side (=rich people) and the Jewelry District (=the new area the city wants to develop).

The only reasonable way to connect the Seaport to the CBD better is to make the walk more pleasant. This means developing the parking lots and reconfiguring the intersections between Summer Street and the Service Roads to be at-grade, so pedestrians can walk from the new waterfront developments to South Station. It would also help people visiting the Convention Center.
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Old 03-29-2015, 12:25 AM   #9
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Alon, I'd be interested to hear whether you believe Green to Seaport is "crazy" or "reasonable" based on your standard of post/pre NSRL. Seems the route we have most agreed on here would branch off the Dudley-bound Tremont St Tunnel branch and follow the pike up to the Essex/Atlantic SL loop (new portal). Thus early phase it is north station to seaport - in other words, two seat ride via OL between seaport and Back Bay. Next phase - arguable whether necessary - would be the new Back Bay tunnel to make the direct routing.
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Old 03-29-2015, 01:17 AM   #10
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Alon, I'd be interested to hear whether you believe Green to Seaport is "crazy" or "reasonable" based on your standard of post/pre NSRL. Seems the route we have most agreed on here would branch off the Dudley-bound Tremont St Tunnel branch and follow the pike up to the Essex/Atlantic SL loop (new portal). Thus early phase it is north station to seaport - in other words, two seat ride via OL between seaport and Back Bay. Next phase - arguable whether necessary - would be the new Back Bay tunnel to make the direct routing.
My standard only applies to things with positive transportation value. I don't think light rail to the Seaport has any transportation value, and if it diverts Green Line trains from the Tremont Street four-track trunk then it has negative transportation value. It's Boston's equivalent of the 7 extension, and I don't mean it in a positive way.

A good rule of thumb: urban rail extensions should more or less follow the busiest buses. Now, it's okay to put your finger on the scale if some routes are particularly bad for buses - maybe the streets are narrow, or there isn't even a continuous street, so buses have to zigzag - and then say the rail bias is higher there. But even then, there should be some indication of existing demand. Even in Vancouver, which pioneers the shape-rather-than-serve model of rail construction, the first line was built concurrently with the TOD and not before, and subsequent lines follow key travel corridors. Summer Street east of South Station is not a major bus corridor. It has no reason to be when able-bodied people can walk from the new developments to South Station. It's the same distance from South Station as the West End is from Downtown Vancouver, whose public transit connections consist of trolleybuses.

And what of new development, you may ask? Well, look at a map: the big parking lots - i.e. where the developments can go - are between the convention center and Fort Point. That's even closer walking distance to South Station. This is great! It's a great sell to the upper middle class: a good sea view, a short walk to the CBD and the train station, and a 10-minute taxi ride to the airport. I still would rather live in Cambridge, close to the university (not that I am employable there, yes?), but I can see the kind of people who don't participate in the MIT puzzle hunt want to live in new Seaport condos. Light rail has nothing to do with it.
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:42 AM   #11
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

I'm not sure it's accurate to say there isn't existing demand. The Silver Line is top of the T's bus route fare recovery tables, segments of which are positive. The amount of people it moves a meager 1-2 miles is pretty high. Not to mention the amount of development in the area served is set to triple in the next decade. Some of this is within the crucial half mile mark from south station, but not all.
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Old 03-29-2015, 10:28 AM   #12
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

I very much agree with the above and also dispute that it's transit negative. Much of the new development is not in easy walking distance of SS. The SL, by the standards you have given, is a very well traveled bus route. And - this is the kicker to me - it is particularly an ineffective bus route because it stub ends at SS which precludes any connections outside of the RL and CR. Enable those additional connections and SL ridership would quadruple. It would also in effect be the pre-NSRL-build "north south one seat rise link!" Furthermore, a light rail SL need not end in the Seaport. It can continue onwards to City Point, a dense bus-dependent residential area. (It's true the SL route that went to City Point failed but that's because it skirted the light industrial outskirts as opposed to the real residential center. )

Anyway I've made a bunch of points here. Hopefully in aggregate this will be a convincing case for Seaport green line.
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Old 03-29-2015, 12:33 PM   #13
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Originally Posted by Alon View Post
My standard only applies to things with positive transportation value. I don't think light rail to the Seaport has any transportation value, and if it diverts Green Line trains from the Tremont Street four-track trunk then it has negative transportation value. It's Boston's equivalent of the 7 extension, and I don't mean it in a positive way.

A good rule of thumb: urban rail extensions should more or less follow the busiest buses. Now, it's okay to put your finger on the scale if some routes are particularly bad for buses - maybe the streets are narrow, or there isn't even a continuous street, so buses have to zigzag - and then say the rail bias is higher there. But even then, there should be some indication of existing demand. Even in Vancouver, which pioneers the shape-rather-than-serve model of rail construction, the first line was built concurrently with the TOD and not before, and subsequent lines follow key travel corridors. Summer Street east of South Station is not a major bus corridor. It has no reason to be when able-bodied people can walk from the new developments to South Station. It's the same distance from South Station as the West End is from Downtown Vancouver, whose public transit connections consist of trolleybuses.

And what of new development, you may ask? Well, look at a map: the big parking lots - i.e. where the developments can go - are between the convention center and Fort Point. That's even closer walking distance to South Station. This is great! It's a great sell to the upper middle class: a good sea view, a short walk to the CBD and the train station, and a 10-minute taxi ride to the airport. I still would rather live in Cambridge, close to the university (not that I am employable there, yes?), but I can see the kind of people who don't participate in the MIT puzzle hunt want to live in new Seaport condos. Light rail has nothing to do with it.
the transit needs in the seaport arent for the people moving into the new condos there, theyre for the commuters who work there. that's why there's value in extending the SL beyond south station. you reduce the number of transfers from two or three (green>red>silver for western burbs and allston, orange>red>silver for malden, JP and roxbury, and blue>orange>red>silver for east boston) to a one seat or single transfer ride (orange line now changes at seaport bound green, blue to green at govt ctr). edit - for some of the east boston crowd, the SL extension will take care of some of these folks, but not all of them).
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:31 PM   #14
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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I'm not sure it's accurate to say there isn't existing demand. The Silver Line is top of the T's bus route fare recovery tables, segments of which are positive. The amount of people it moves a meager 1-2 miles is pretty high. Not to mention the amount of development in the area served is set to triple in the next decade. Some of this is within the crucial half mile mark from south station, but not all.
The only positive routes are the SL shuttle, SL1, and SL5 (and SL1 is free in one direction, but the MBTA still gets paid, by the airport); see data here. SL2 is not fare recovery-positive, although to be fair it's the least fare recovery-negative among the fare recovery-negative routes.

However, it's a short route. The buses that serve the West End in Vancouver have some of the lowest costs per rider as well - and nobody in Vancouver proposes to extend SkyTrain there, because workhorse routes like Cambie and Broadway are more important. When buses serve very short trips, the cost per rider is low. The second least recovery-negative bus route in the MBTA system is the 21, which isn't a major bus route but is shorter than busier, longer routes like the 23 and 28. Does this mean there should be light rail between Forest Hills and Ashmont? Of course not; light rail in that area should follow the ridership.

Short trips are also the kind that rail is not good at serving: the point of rail is that it is faster than buses, which means the advantage is larger for longer trips than for shorter ones. In the same way that zigzagging bus routes are better candidates for rapid transit than straight ones at equal ridership, long ones are better than short ones. This on top of the fact that, again, the ridership isn't equal - SL2 only gets 6,000 weekday riders.

Also, there's no sharp demarcation line at 800 meters. I live a kilometer from the university, where the subway station is located. My small group of blocks is the single densest area in Stockholm. There's no subway station closer than the university, and if I understand future plans correctly, there never will be. People walk to the university station all the time; there's not possibly enough car parking for more than a fraction of the residents, and I know tenured professors who live on this or maybe an adjacent block who don't own a car.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:39 PM   #15
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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The only positive routes are the SL shuttle, SL1, and SL5 (and SL1 is free in one direction, but the MBTA still gets paid, by the airport); see data here. SL2 is not fare recovery-positive, although to be fair it's the least fare recovery-negative among the fare recovery-negative routes.

However, it's a short route. The buses that serve the West End in Vancouver have some of the lowest costs per rider as well - and nobody in Vancouver proposes to extend SkyTrain there, because workhorse routes like Cambie and Broadway are more important. When buses serve very short trips, the cost per rider is low. The second least recovery-negative bus route in the MBTA system is the 21, which isn't a major bus route but is shorter than busier, longer routes like the 23 and 28. Does this mean there should be light rail between Forest Hills and Ashmont? Of course not; light rail in that area should follow the ridership.

Short trips are also the kind that rail is not good at serving: the point of rail is that it is faster than buses, which means the advantage is larger for longer trips than for shorter ones. In the same way that zigzagging bus routes are better candidates for rapid transit than straight ones at equal ridership, long ones are better than short ones. This on top of the fact that, again, the ridership isn't equal - SL2 only gets 6,000 weekday riders.

Also, there's no sharp demarcation line at 800 meters. I live a kilometer from the university, where the subway station is located. My small group of blocks is the single densest area in Stockholm. There's no subway station closer than the university, and if I understand future plans correctly, there never will be. People walk to the university station all the time; there's not possibly enough car parking for more than a fraction of the residents, and I know tenured professors who live on this or maybe an adjacent block who don't own a car.
I think you're missing part of the point... The fact that it's a short route does keep ridership constrained. But the extension makes it part of a longer and much more valuable route that includes both a SS and NS connection as well as a single transfer to BBY. See my post above. We we not talking about a simple 1:1 railstitution of the SL stub line as it currently exists.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:27 PM   #16
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

^+1

The South Boston Waterfront Transitway is a potentially game-changing piece of infrastructure that unfortunately had its knees cut out from under it because the politicians and transit officials at the time committed themselves to a mode instead of committing themselves to a service. It should have been rail from the beginning but we were told a bus is better even though that bus required expensive tunnels that weren't connected to any of are already existing expensive tunnels. Frankly, I'm surprised by ridership on the line as it stands in light of the fact that the silver lines buses inadequately integrate with the rest of the T's system. There's just too many frustrating three seat rides which turn off commuting workers (and there are a lot of commuting workers, it's basically another CBD and many more jobs are slated to be coming to the area in the future- as stated above all the developments aren't condos).

Case in point- the thriving private shuttle system which carries a lot of non-car commuters to the area. One must account for those to truly account for ridership potential a light rail connection could provide.

In short, the silver line transitway is a job half-finished that's crying out to be connected to the rest of the system in a coherent way. Phase I of the plan as discussed here does this in potentially cost-effective way (as well as providing a sorely needed light rail connection to Dudley to boot!). Once Phase I was built I think we'd see much higher ridership on this route and significant modal shift away from cars for trips to that area. A transit positive project by my reckoning.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:50 PM   #17
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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I think you're missing part of the point... The fact that it's a short route does keep ridership constrained. But the extension makes it part of a longer and much more valuable route that includes both a SS and NS connection as well as a single transfer to BBY. See my post above. We we not talking about a simple 1:1 railstitution of the SL stub line as it currently exists.
Precisely.
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Old 03-29-2015, 05:17 PM   #18
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

This is why I've advocated for a Boylston to Seaport Green Line route (rather than a North Station-South Station-Seaport route) because connecting the hotels and convention halls of the Back Bay and the Seaport would be a winner in terms of new ridership AND it would take significant pressure off of Park St/ DTX as it would be a one seat ride from the FiDi and South Station to Allston/Brighton.

It's not fair to judge the Seaport transit on just what's there now. The area is growing by the day and will grow for another 20 years, at least. Saying the Silver Line is all that's needed is very short sighted.
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Old 03-29-2015, 05:38 PM   #19
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

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Of course it isn't! But I'm also not sold on the branch to Harvard. Allston-Cambridge service is circumferential, so it's better to just go the whole way on a circumferential line and build one, underground, all the way from Harvard (or Sullivan, even) to Dudley (or JFK-UMass, even). It railstitutes the 66 and the 1, and, if it goes to JFK-UMass, offers a rail-rail connection that can take some ridership off the 23. The point here is that travelers from Harvard to most points that your proposed A branch would serve would have a faster trip on the Red Line with a transfer at Park Street; the branch would be great at connecting Harvard with Allston, but there's also demand to the other stations intersecting the 66.
I agree with you on paper but given how hard it is to get transit expanded in Boston (and the US) I'd be happy with a piece meal approach with a new line serving Harvard-Allston that can be expanded later on.


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I really dislike that last idea. It creates a situation in which the inner segments have less frequency than the combined one between Brookline Village and Newton Highlands. If there's a D-E connection, pick one route to use, Boylston or Huntington, and reduce the other one to a frequent short-turn (not a shuttle - it should go all the way to Park Street). If the capacity relief is enough that it's possible to time the shuttle to meet trains at Brookline, then all the better.
Now that I think about what I was proposing I have to agree with you here.


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The alternative is to do nothing - let the Worcester Line provide some extra capacity (remember, the trains are longer, so 15-minute service provides equivalent capacity to 5-minute Green Line service), and build new light rail capacity toward Dudley instead.
The Worcester Line can't fix the bottlenecks in the Green Line tunnels and it can't provide enough alternative service to take pressure off. I'm all for increased service, DMU/EMU with infill stations so long haul trips can bypass inner-128 stations, but that still only helps Newton and Brighton residents.
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Old 03-29-2015, 07:05 PM   #20
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Re: Tremont Street Tunnel, the Silver Line, D-E and retiring Copley Junction

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I think you're missing part of the point... The fact that it's a short route does keep ridership constrained. But the extension makes it part of a longer and much more valuable route that includes both a SS and NS connection as well as a single transfer to BBY. See my post above. We we not talking about a simple 1:1 railstitution of the SL stub line as it currently exists.
You're extending it in the wrong direction. If you're trying to connect the convention center with South Station, North Station, and Back Bay, the correct way to do that is to have people walk from the convention center to South Station and Downtown Crossing. All of this is walking distance. The only way rail makes sense is if there's something farther out that's worth connecting to, and there isn't.

This is where the Vancouver West End comparison comes from - it's a very dense neighborhood, with about 20,000 people per km^2, but it's right next to the CBD, and the only things at the other end are a park and the Strait of Georgia. Somehow, developers have been building residential high-rises there even without a rail stub. Somehow, when Metro Vancouver's looking for game changers, it builds Metrotown from scratch, or plans a subway under its busiest bus corridors, rather than building light rail stubs to the West End.

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I agree with you on paper but given how hard it is to get transit expanded in Boston (and the US) I'd be happy with a piece meal approach with a new line serving Harvard-Allston that can be expanded later on.
Then don't build it until you can build the whole thing. A lot of projects are actually counterproductive if only partially built, or downgraded. There's a lot of demand for circumferential service on the 66 route; if you railstitute part of it, you make things harder on people riding through to the other parts because of loss of service frequency.

But it's kind of weird seeing you say "it costs too much" about a subway ring... and then propose Blue Line extension alternatives.

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The Worcester Line can't fix the bottlenecks in the Green Line tunnels and it can't provide enough alternative service to take pressure off. I'm all for increased service, DMU/EMU with infill stations so long haul trips can bypass inner-128 stations, but that still only helps Newton and Brighton residents.
Why can't it provide enough alternative service? It's a piece of cake to fit EMU service with the same train length per unit of time as on a Green Line branch. No concrete pouring is required, except for high platforms at several locations in Allston and Brighton, and maybe Hynes. The stations would be in high-demand areas: the Worcester Line actually comes closer to Allston's Union Square than the B branch does. Closer in, the Worcester Line is very close to the Green Line, and infill stations could take some pressure off.

Bypassing inner-128 stations prioritizes Boston-Worcester intercity trips at the expense of frequent service to inner stations, where transit demand is much higher. Every regional train going to Worcester should be making these Allston and Newton stops, and it's possible additional short-turn trains are justified, giving twice the frequency to the urban and inner-suburban stations.
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