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Old 02-17-2013, 05:24 PM   #21
Commuting Boston Student
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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Originally Posted by jass View Post
The whole point of the studies is to NOT do anything.

Look at SL4 to South Station.

Exclusive bus lanes, removing a ton of parking. A pretty decent new bus shelter.

How many meetings did that go through? How much planning?

It was pretty much "lets do this".
Counter-point:

"BUS LANE OPEN TO GENERAL TRAFFIC DURING CONSTRUCTION."
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:48 PM   #22
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

Chelsea doesn't need another bus.

What are the headways on the 111 during rush now, probably every five or six minutes? And it takes you to a central locale (Haymarket).

Routing a bus from Chelsea through the TWT, even if it's closed door, is taking it far out of the way.

If you're going with buses, a Bellingham Square-Sullivan non-stop by way of the produce market and 99 would be a better use of resources.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:31 AM   #23
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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They can't do street-running heavy rail. A side impact with a Blue/Orange/Red car is much more dangerous to street traffic than a side impact with a trolley because of all the exposed electrical components underneath. They aren't designed for that protection in mind, and that is why you never ever see new-construction grade crossings allowed with any HRT systems...much less street-running. Doubleplusbad news for all the tanker trucks that have to use Chelsea St.

To branch Blue, it would have to be 100% grade separated. Meaning entirely separate parallel movable bridge, and no ability to have grade crossings anywhere else including the nearly impossible-to-eliminate one at Chelsea Station because of overhead Route 1. All of that a cost-killer when a Green Line branch off Lechmere can accomplish the same service sharing bridge traffic and the impacted grade crossings.

I'd say stick to the UR Phase II script here: LRT mode instead of force-fitting Blue. The service difference isn't nearly so great as the cost difference and logistical hurdles.
A few points, F-Line, not that I dispute anything you're saying:

1) You're right that a new parallel bridge for heavy rail would be more expensive than having light rail share the existing bridge - but the latter does have its own complications as well, we should note.

2) In the case of light rail, how would you tie that into the airport?

3) In the case of light rail, you need to traverse a long distance through industrial wasteland which doesn't even bring the train all that close to residential Everett just in order to tie it into the mainline through Lechmere. Seems far less efficient than a short Blue Line spur into the heart of residential Chelsea.

4) I understand about the grade separation by Chelsea Station, but why couldn't you simply build an underpass here for cars? Arlington Street could be made discontinuous (Washington is a very nearby parallel) and 6th Street could run under the tracks?
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:50 AM   #24
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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Chelsea doesn't need another bus.

What are the headways on the 111 during rush now, probably every five or six minutes? And it takes you to a central locale (Haymarket).

Routing a bus from Chelsea through the TWT, even if it's closed door, is taking it far out of the way.

If you're going with buses, a Bellingham Square-Sullivan non-stop by way of the produce market and 99 would be a better use of resources.
I take it you don't ride the 111. Its too crowded. Come ride with me any day of the week, and you'll see that it needs additional service. They cannot add anymore buses because the bunch up. We need a new route.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:10 AM   #25
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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I take it you don't ride the 111. Its too crowded. Come ride with me any day of the week, and you'll see that it needs additional service. They cannot add anymore buses because the bunch up. We need a new route.
These are the exact same problems your new bus is going to be facing no matter what its number is or what color you painted it.

You need increased rail access. You have hit the upper limit of what the bus can do for you. Going after something that we can already say for a fact won't work makes absolutely no sense.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:44 AM   #26
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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A few points, F-Line, not that I dispute anything you're saying:

1) You're right that a new parallel bridge for heavy rail would be more expensive than having light rail share the existing bridge - but the latter does have its own complications as well, we should note.

2) In the case of light rail, how would you tie that into the airport?

3) In the case of light rail, you need to traverse a long distance through industrial wasteland which doesn't even bring the train all that close to residential Everett just in order to tie it into the mainline through Lechmere. Seems far less efficient than a short Blue Line spur into the heart of residential Chelsea.

4) I understand about the grade separation by Chelsea Station, but why couldn't you simply build an underpass here for cars? Arlington Street could be made discontinuous (Washington is a very nearby parallel) and 6th Street could run under the tracks?
LRT would run to the airport on the East Boston Branch ROW, now being repurposed for Eastie Haul Road. Former 4-track ROW, fully grade-separated on the Eastie side of the bridge, and the new road being designed to permit future widening to the ROW property lines by scraping away the side embankments to the retaining walls. Where the road merges back at the surface at the Bennington/Neptune/1A intersection the ROW would keep going below-grade and abut the 1A viaduct along what's now a sliver of the Eastie Greenway, then duck under the ramps at the 1A/Pike interchange to interface with Logan station.

That pretty much is the UR Phase II design sketch. Assuming all other Eastern Route grade crossings were eliminated, the only times it would interface with mixed traffic are at the Chelsea Station grade crossing, and the bridge crossing itself from the Eastern Ave./Chelsea St./Central Ave. intersection to the peel-out on the other side. There really aren't any other complications other than tying in the appropriate signal priority. There are movable LRT bridges worldwide, and bridge openings are requested on specific timetables allowing dispatch to easily make a headway adjustment around one. HRT would be in the same exact boat on a parallel span, since that would also have to be movable (can't subway under the road bridge pilings, can't incline out of the ROW cut high/fast enough for a fixed span).


As a later phase, you could extend the line from Logan station onto a terminal loop built as an elevated structure around Central Parking, shared with SL1 as a grade-separated busway with embedded rails to keep all transit vehicles out of mixed traffic. BUT...that would be a separate Massport project beyond the UR project scope. The T doesn't have a seat at the table to drive new construction or building mods at Logan, so that's going to have to be a Massport initiative de-coupled from the primary UR build (albeit an easy one for the T to get behind).

------------------------------

No, you can't sever the streets around that Chelsea grade crossing. 6th and Arlington are neighborhood thru streets; the 112 and 114 run through there; and there are Route 1 onramps on the corner of 6th/Spruce and 5th/Arlington a block from there. It's a low-volume intersection but still a very necessary one for traversing the neighborhood. And you can't change the elevation of tracks or roads around that Route 1 viaduct. It's too tight a squeeze, and there's not much fiddling possible without jeopardizing dozens of residential properties. I've said it before: don't waste bandwidth trying to figure out a way to force-fit utter grade separation perfection here, because anything that starts impacting 1 and the Tobin approaches starts sailing so cosmically beyond the UR project area that the mission creep turns into a $5B+ megaproject driven four-fifths by the needs of expressway traffic...and there's nothing "transit-oriented" about that. It's not a problematic crossing for RR or LRT, so billion-dollar 'perfect' solutions don't make enough of a difference to get hung up on it.

------------------------------

As for the "industrial wasteland"...that's where the available connecting ROW is there for the taking. A dead-end spur off Blue that sticks a little further into downtown is a nonstarter because it's dead-end. It would get poor headways with the lion's share of the equipment--and equipment growth--needed to serve the Charles/Bowdoin-Wonderland/Lynn mainline. And that sharply diminishes the potential ridership influx. Keep in mind...you're building a whole new movable bridge if it's HRT. If it's not a thru-traffic branch to somewhere farther off there's no way the ridership will justify the extreme expense that'll involve. I would bet that 4-tracking the Mystic bridge on the Eastern Route for LRT and building ALL of the rest as LRT prices out cheaper than the 2-track HRT lift/draw alone. Now consider how much more expensive the spur gets when you have to cut-and-cover subway under very narrow residential streets to reach the densest part of Chelsea. For one...at most two...stops? You're not subwaying through residential Chelsea for the same reason new cut-and-cover construction is nearly impossible anywhere in Boston: the utility relocations and property disruptions kill it dead on value-for-money. "Industrial wasteland" LRT with a thru connection between Lechmere and Logan will slaughter the downtown spur on ridership at one-tenth the cost.

There aren't any more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to this that aren't upended by more severe cost/benefit and logistical issues than they'd solve. UR-Chelsea/Logan kicks ass on ridership projections on every permutation studied. Even the 'no-build' Phase I express bus that this latest set of meetings is more or less a rehash of. This really isn't a corridor longing for alternatives; it'll do what it's supposed to do pretty damn well without overthinking.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:20 AM   #27
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

^ OK, I'm convinced!
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:19 PM   #28
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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These are the exact same problems your new bus is going to be facing no matter what its number is or what color you painted it.

You need increased rail access. You have hit the upper limit of what the bus can do for you. Going after something that we can already say for a fact won't work makes absolutely no sense.
And how do you know this? I don't think it will bunch up at all. The reason the 111 bunches up is because of overcrowding. They try to time them as close together as possible, but all bets are off if they have a wheelchair, or someone who has to buy a ticket, or 20 people getting on the bus at one stop.

The SL route will use a different route that the 111 and 116/117. I would understand if it is like the 39 and the E line where the line is identical, but it is not.

Look, I'm not against rail in Chelsea. In fact, its something I want more than the world. HOWEVER, I'm realistic. Rail just will not happen in my lifetime, not when there are other transit project much higher on the priority list.

My point is, you need to take what you can grab. If they want to give us a SL extension, I'm all for it. It is more than likely that this will happen far sooner than an rail extension. A SL extension is far better than the alternatives, which according to the T is "do nothing".

I like this board. I do. But sometimes people on here really need to bring it down a few notches and be R E A L I S T I C sometimes. Its nice to dream and think about 'what could be' but that is all it is.. a dream.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:56 PM   #29
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

Cybah, what do you mean realistic? This is an architecture and city design board, not the BRA or state legislation or even the MBTA. I think the closest person we have to influence is a real estate guy who lost 80% to 15%. The last time we I seen a thread that talked about forming an advocacy group was just before the Great Recession started. If this board never existed, just about anything that occurred pr did not occurred in MA would be the same.

No scratch that, "our" most influential person might be Ned Flaherty. His involvement in trying to stop construction may have done more to affect this state than the rest of us combined.

Thus everything here is basically commentary and speculation. A board to discuss developments and trade thoughts on architecture and urban design. It doesn't matter if we talk about a bus line or a mother****** mag-lev monorail. If we listen to you and spend our energy to drawing out a nice idea of a new Silver Line and not debating if the Blue Line or light rail is better, all we done is gain a nice amount of information about the Silver Line and possible designs to know in our heads from the exercise.

If the MBTA is going to expand the Silver Line or build a light rail or extend the Blue Line or Orange Line - all of those scenarios would be done or not with no input or influence from this board. Maybe one day that would be different and all the knowledge we pass to each other will be used to improve the state, but until then, there's no differentiation whether we debate about a building heavy rail bridge to Chelsea or extend the Silver Line.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:36 AM   #30
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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These are the exact same problems your new bus is going to be facing no matter what its number is or what color you painted it.

You need increased rail access. You have hit the upper limit of what the bus can do for you. Going after something that we can already say for a fact won't work makes absolutely no sense.
How on earth is it at the upper limit?

They dont use articulated buses, for one. Thats a 50% capacity improvement for you.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:46 AM   #31
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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How on earth is it at the upper limit?

They dont use articulated buses, for one. Thats a 50% capacity improvement for you.
Okay, to be fair, adding the extra seats might help a little with crush loads on the buses - but the bus gets stuck in the same traffic no matter how large it is, rolling down streets that don't appear to be wide enough for bus lanes (which have a funny way of being totally disrespected anyway), with three-minute headways that are really probably "three buses at the same time every ten minutes" more often than they're one bus every three.

Sure, some last little improvements make themselves apparent on close inspection - but, there's really no substitute for rail. It's necessary. It must happen. Pursuing a new bus route is ultimately a waste of everyone's time. Everyone who's invested - or even pretending to be invested - in improving Chelsea's transit options should be pursuing LRT to the exclusion of all else.

That they've chosen to aspire for less is really, frankly, a huge disappointment.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:05 PM   #32
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

If theres no room for a bus lane, theres no room for rail.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:38 PM   #33
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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Okay, to be fair, adding the extra seats might help a little with crush loads on the buses - but the bus gets stuck in the same traffic no matter how large it is, rolling down streets that don't appear to be wide enough for bus lanes (which have a funny way of being totally disrespected anyway), with three-minute headways that are really probably "three buses at the same time every ten minutes" more often than they're one bus every three.

Sure, some last little improvements make themselves apparent on close inspection - but, there's really no substitute for rail. It's necessary. It must happen. Pursuing a new bus route is ultimately a waste of everyone's time. Everyone who's invested - or even pretending to be invested - in improving Chelsea's transit options should be pursuing LRT to the exclusion of all else.

That they've chosen to aspire for less is really, frankly, a huge disappointment.
Well, I wouldn't say the plan itself is a disappointment. This is more or less the originally intended Urban Ring Phase I crosstown bus. The whole Phase I is a 'no-build' array of CTx Yellow Line surface routes applied in the Key Bus Improvements plan template: signal priority, fast-loading ADA/curb-jut stops, real-time tracking. There's nothing particularly unique about that except the branding and the potential mission creep stemming from the sexy BRT/"Urban Ring" branding (...now downsized into mission creep from the merely-attractive "Silver Line" branding). UR Phase I isn't even a contiguous ring...just a massive expansion of the existing Crosstown route system. Or, more accurately, belatedly finishing the originally planned CT system after all the momentum stalled out of that mid-90's rollout.

Going back to basics and targeting one high-need flank of the original UR/crosstown system is the right thing to do. It lets the UR route-priming begin without project dependencies to the other pieces they don't have the funds to move forward on. Potentially scrapes away a lot of bureaucracy to de-couple these routes from each other and build asynchronously.


Problem is, nobody has any faith that they actually are trying to be more efficient about it. If they were, you wouldn't even be seeing the words "Ring" or "Silver" thrown about or overhyped fluff meetings spread out over 3 years. If they wanted it done efficiently they'd be calling it "CT4", drafting a plan to graduate the corridor into the Key Routes Improvements portfolio for funding and design, and shooting for a fast start. Then rinse, repeat on the next-highest priority "CTx" making up a piece of UR Phase I. Until there's enough of an overlapping net that active commute patterns start getting shaped along that 'ring' or 'donut' shape. The problem is entirely that they have a pathological aversion to calling a bus a bus. It has to be a quasi-different mode...another color line that can be thrown on the already cluttered rapid transit map. So the sale job ends up being self-defeating.

Think about it...we don't have express buses in this town in any substantial way because of their sheepishness about calling a bus a bus. Hell, existing express buses have taken the brunt of the budget cuts the last 15 years and we've seen once limited-stop routes like the 57 get kneecapped into making all stops. All because of this branding inferiority complex and mode-vs.-mode warfare. Why is it so hard to implement the full slate of Crosstown routes? Aren't those just about the easiest cap improvement projects the agency can swing in this environment? Isn't that what NYC is aggressively investing in--with good results--to do focused, targeted transit improvements? Only in Boston does a frickin' limited-stop augmentation to an existing Yellow Line corridor wind up collapsing in a heap of mutual disrespect like the 28X debacle.



And I fully agree...Urban Ring Phase II is too important to back away from like so many other circulation improvements. Especially on a corridor like this with a readily available ROW for BRT or LRT. But that's an eyes-on-prize longer term goal. There's nothing about UR II that shackles it to the "CTx" rollout of Phase I. Phase I is route-priming on existing streets; route-priming is what produces the corridor ridership justifying the encore investment in real steel, concrete, engineering, and modal separation on a dedicated ROW. Phase I and Phase II are NOT in competition with each other except in the insane minds of Masshole transit bureaucrats who see every mode in a winners/losers battle vs. each other.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:18 PM   #34
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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If theres no room for a bus lane, theres no room for rail.
If there's no room for a bus lane, there's no room for streetcars or street-running rail either, fortunately, there's still more than enough room for rail. This is because rail does not have to conform to the street grid. It can, but it doesn't need to in order to function - quite unlike a bus, which must always be running on pavement.

In fact, there's a perfectly serviceable railroad running right through Chelsea with enough room to spare for two more tracks. There's also a perfectly serviceable and intact branch that peels off of this "Eastern Route", heads south to cross the river where Chelsea Street is, and is pretty much on-point from then on to reach Airport Station.

Now, we could pave a brand-new busway along this right of way, but that would either cost the same or be in fact more expensive than simply running two new tracks for LRT.

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Well, I wouldn't say the plan itself is a disappointment. This is more or less the originally intended Urban Ring Phase I crosstown bus. The whole Phase I is a 'no-build' array of CTx Yellow Line surface routes applied in the Key Bus Improvements plan template: signal priority, fast-loading ADA/curb-jut stops, real-time tracking. There's nothing particularly unique about that except the branding and the potential mission creep stemming from the sexy BRT/"Urban Ring" branding (...now downsized into mission creep from the merely-attractive "Silver Line" branding). UR Phase I isn't even a contiguous ring...just a massive expansion of the existing Crosstown route system. Or, more accurately, belatedly finishing the originally planned CT system after all the momentum stalled out of that mid-90's rollout.

Going back to basics and targeting one high-need flank of the original UR/crosstown system is the right thing to do. It lets the UR route-priming begin without project dependencies to the other pieces they don't have the funds to move forward on. Potentially scrapes away a lot of bureaucracy to de-couple these routes from each other and build asynchronously.


Problem is, nobody has any faith that they actually are trying to be more efficient about it. If they were, you wouldn't even be seeing the words "Ring" or "Silver" thrown about or overhyped fluff meetings spread out over 3 years. If they wanted it done efficiently they'd be calling it "CT4", drafting a plan to graduate the corridor into the Key Routes Improvements portfolio for funding and design, and shooting for a fast start. Then rinse, repeat on the next-highest priority "CTx" making up a piece of UR Phase I. Until there's enough of an overlapping net that active commute patterns start getting shaped along that 'ring' or 'donut' shape. The problem is entirely that they have a pathological aversion to calling a bus a bus. It has to be a quasi-different mode...another color line that can be thrown on the already cluttered rapid transit map. So the sale job ends up being self-defeating.

Think about it...we don't have express buses in this town in any substantial way because of their sheepishness about calling a bus a bus. Hell, existing express buses have taken the brunt of the budget cuts the last 15 years and we've seen once limited-stop routes like the 57 get kneecapped into making all stops. All because of this branding inferiority complex and mode-vs.-mode warfare. Why is it so hard to implement the full slate of Crosstown routes? Aren't those just about the easiest cap improvement projects the agency can swing in this environment? Isn't that what NYC is aggressively investing in--with good results--to do focused, targeted transit improvements? Only in Boston does a frickin' limited-stop augmentation to an existing Yellow Line corridor wind up collapsing in a heap of mutual disrespect like the 28X debacle.



And I fully agree...Urban Ring Phase II is too important to back away from like so many other circulation improvements. Especially on a corridor like this with a readily available ROW for BRT or LRT. But that's an eyes-on-prize longer term goal. There's nothing about UR II that shackles it to the "CTx" rollout of Phase I. Phase I is route-priming on existing streets; route-priming is what produces the corridor ridership justifying the encore investment in real steel, concrete, engineering, and modal separation on a dedicated ROW. Phase I and Phase II are NOT in competition with each other except in the insane minds of Masshole transit bureaucrats who see every mode in a winners/losers battle vs. each other.
The same transit bureaucrats who continue to try and skip out on every single transit improvement passed their way, from the ones that were supposed to be legal mandates all the way on down to rudimentary studies that demonstrate local engagement in a federal project.

All I'm going to say is that, while it's certainly nice talk to hear about "route priming" and phased build-outs, North Station - Chelsea is already pretty damn route primed if you ask me. I'd say most of the people crammed like sardines on the 111 would agree with me.

I'm also going to say that if this was in Somerville and the MBTA was proposing a "new branch of the Silver Line" between Lechmere or North Station and West Medford or Tufts University, everyone would be calling it what it really is - an attempt to do less than what's needed and call it "good enough", and STEP would laugh them right out of the room.

Chelsea should be saying "Sorry, not good enough." Chelsea ought to be looking over at Somerville and asking themselves "how can we be more like them?" They aren't, and that's what's disappointing.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:58 AM   #35
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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The same transit bureaucrats who continue to try and skip out on every single transit improvement passed their way, from the ones that were supposed to be legal mandates all the way on down to rudimentary studies that demonstrate local engagement in a federal project.

All I'm going to say is that, while it's certainly nice talk to hear about "route priming" and phased build-outs, North Station - Chelsea is already pretty damn route primed if you ask me. I'd say most of the people crammed like sardines on the 111 would agree with me.

I'm also going to say that if this was in Somerville and the MBTA was proposing a "new branch of the Silver Line" between Lechmere or North Station and West Medford or Tufts University, everyone would be calling it what it really is - an attempt to do less than what's needed and call it "good enough", and STEP would laugh them right out of the room.

Chelsea should be saying "Sorry, not good enough." Chelsea ought to be looking over at Somerville and asking themselves "how can we be more like them?" They aren't, and that's what's disappointing.
And if the answer to "Sorry, not good enough" is "This is further behind Red-Blue in line for funding, so what now?"...what happens then? Do nothing because it's not full-build and you won't settle for less? Can't have all the things, so we have no things? Call route-priming a dirty word because it draws one brain cell away from the 100-year solution that nobody can physically accelerate for another 20 years?

Congratulations: you just fell hook/line/sinker for a pre-set trap and took sides against transit improvements writ large and turned it into a mode vs. mode turf war where somebody has to win in-total and somebody has to lose in-total. The T is counting on the most vociferous pro-transit (esp. when it comes to pro-rail) advocates to do just that to aid and abet them into slipping out of any responsibility for lifting a finger. Just as they do the most vociferous anti-transit to do what comes naturally.

The end result is everybody's so factionalized that they ALL end up becoming NIMBY's within their own causes at the notion of anything else. No such thing as non-preferred alternatives, intermediate (and sometimes necessary) steps TO the preferred alternative, or notions of realistic-size bites for undertaking a large project. If it's not a monolith build of all I want accelerated twice as fast, then we LOST dammit. And if that other plan steals even one molecule of oxygen from my goal, they DEFEATED us goddamnit...and we can't let that happen! And there you go...preventing the other side from winning becomes more important than giving somebody better transit. Advantage: do-nothingness. Aided and abetted by you.

Want to break that cycle? Drop the pro sports mentality and realize that there is no common 'playing field'. Chelsea's stinging transit inequity does not by its own existence put offensive pressure on Beacon Hill. Factionalizing the various solutions to Chelsea's transit inequity most definitely doesn't generate any political pressure. Pols move political capital around on their own turf, responding to threats on that turf. There's nothing for them to bat an eye at if Chelsea's most transit-reliant citizens are stuck with shitty transit forever.

You know why Somerville is getting shit done? Because STEP plays the game entirely with political capital. Every local pol, right up to Capuano, got held feet to the fire from their first local campaign to their highest state campaign...and off-message slip-ups (right up to Capuano ) got slapped back hard. For 20 years now. It's become its own form of advocacy 'machine' politics...nobody gets elected if they aren't full-throated for GLX. They're relentlessly on-point when the T starts throwing in curveballs, obfuscations, trapdoors, and other ways out. How many times did the state get raked over the coals with withering and very specific inquisition when they started getting squishy about finishing the job all the way to Route 16? Enough so that the promises to finish the job got progressively more ironclad. It was packaged as more than just transit equity for 1 transit line...economic growth and redevelopment, cross-border collaboration with Cambridge and Medford, tie-ins to related advocacies like remaking Assembly Sq., Brickbottom, the McGrath corridor, etc. Stuff that offered up lots of motivation on purely political turf to muscle resources around.


It's a whole hell of a lot more encompassing and square on what motivates pols who'll rarely if ever visit the actual area to do their work pushing influence and resources to the right spot. If a faction believes so strongly that their transit plan is right and just, they better be able to articulate it in a way that makes the neck hairs of elected officials with no skin in that game (and who probably will never set foot on a bus or trolley in their careers) stand at full attention. The forces that are getting GLX built worked those levers. So did the forces in and out of City Hall that got half-assed BRT stamped on the rapid transit spider map as "equal or better" on Washington St. Each one that did get built--the good, the bad, and the ugly--did have a political endgame that forced the build whereas everything else never got that far.

Ironclad control of the messaging seems to have been a key factor in the ones that did get built. With GLX that message control was STEP's rigorous discipline. With Silver Lie it was a whole lot of magic BRT marketing pixie dust being shouted on-point from the right bully pulpits. But in both cases the message was in full control FOR a build that didn't succumb to the same divide-and-conquer tricks.

I'm not seeing a real strong pulse behind improving Chelsea's transit if sides are already getting so factionalized that a no-build crosstown express bus they could feasibly roll out in 2-4 years in a tight funding environment if they meant it is somehow seen as in forever-and-ever direct competition with a theorized rapid transit ROW that is so far away from completing a prelim design that it couldn't be fast-tracked to appear in fewer than 15-20 years. For chrissakes, it's the same old trick all over again. They're playing branding games with it to force that false dichotomy. BRT/LRT on the Eastern Route isn't precluded or placed on a longer timetable by the "CT111" any more than the CT1's existence is holding up construction of the mythical Mass Ave. Subway. But we're goaded into fighting about it like they were in mortal combat with each other by the words "Silver" or "Urban Ring Phase X" heading the PowerPoint slide. And we collectively fall for it so easily every time it's sad.

All that matters is the aggregate improvements. "CT111"...that can meaningfully help today if it was a properly-calibrated express with enough Key Routes Improvements features. If they're proposing something so tarted up it takes 10 years and a wedge issue the size of the 28X to accomplish, there's as good a place as any to start the shakedown that stands pols' hairs on end. i.e...WTF is so complicated about an express bus on unmodified streets that takes more than 2 years to get right???

And then anybody who wants to dedicate their life's work to getting LRT built on the Eastern Route can push that along--and push the right buttons--with singular focus. Without feeling the least bit threatened by the "CT111", because there's nothing about an on-street express bus that compromises the need for a dedicated ROW or steals long-term resources away from it. It's only a dilemma for those who want to fall into the same messaging trap that so successfully divided and conquered the advocacy on so many other projects.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:16 AM   #36
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

I have to wonder if validators would work at particularly high volume stops in Chelsea. Just show your POP ticket and get in the damn bus. Also, curb bump outs so the bus stays in the roadway, doesn't have to pull off, nor fight to get back out, etc. All of this would do wonders for Chelsea. So I think the whole "demand rail or nothing" is a bit much. Rail will come in its due time, likely in the form of Urban Ring.
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forget it ever happening, its too great an idea.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:35 AM   #37
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

Right, but that's the problem. They are branding this the way they are and pushing the "Silver Line" the way they are because they have absolutely no intention of doing... honestly, they probably have no intention of doing anything, but certainly not rapid transit.

I would settle for a CT4, and not even just for the fact that any serious roll-out of a CT4 could start tomorrow morning as a no-build, extremely limited investment, any-frequency-you-like bus from Maverick to Alewife via Chelsea and Wellington. That's the beauty of a bus: as long as we have two spare buses and two spare drivers hanging around, we could easily run hour frequencies on a bus route with a nominal end-to-end travel time of 37 minutes (let's be pessimistic and call it 50). "Guess what! New bus route. Complain away."

Give your new bus that you surprised everyone with a month - or, hell, even two weeks - and then start talking about improvements. Get an actual route on the pavement before you start talking about bulking up bus shelters for it, or painting bus lanes, or grabbing more resources to run at half-hour or quarter-hour frequencies. CT1, 2, and 3 don't have specially-colored buses, as far as I'm aware, they aren't running articulated buses, I'm fairly sure exactly none of those routes enjoy a bus lane to travel on at any point in time. They are, with the exception of the "limited" stopping and 'CT' prefix, completely identical to any given 'average' bus route in the system. Nothing is stopping them from introducing a CT4 route and letting people like me bitch and moan about how it's inadequate after it's happened (or how the community "wasn't engaged properly"), as opposed to holding round after round of public hearings so that people like me can yell at them well in advance of the project.

It also seems simple, at least in my mind, to look at the song-and-dance going on over "Silver Line BRT to Chelsea!" and deduce, based on context clues and past behavior by the MBTA, that the game plan is to just drag this out and spend money on nothing until someone or something provides an "adequate" reason to fold. How many studies have we had for this thing so far? How many public hearings, meetings, what have you? There's three ways this ends - enough anti-bus advocacy shows up for the MBTA to claim insufficient public interest and cancel or table the project, the MBTA discovers a "legitimate" barrier to progress and uses that to cancel or table the project, or the MBTA concludes the latest round of civic engagement and proceeds to either do nothing or schedule more hearings and waste more money in the hopes of having option #1 or #2 happen next time. Notice how none of those options end in a new bus route for Chelsea, or really anything other than a lot of time and potentially money wasted on negotiations in bad faith.

So. We know that Chelsea needs better rail connections to Boston. We know that even if the bus was happening, it's a stop-gap measure at best and likely doomed to quickly wind up in the exact same position as the 111, 112 and 114 are in. We know that the bus is probably not happening, anyway - so yes, I've been pretty well 'divided and conquered.' I'm the sucker who aided and abetted the MBTA's bad behavior, but you know what? The people who are desperately clinging to the outside chance that things will be different this time are, in my opinion, bigger suckers.

We might as well shoot for the moon. There's just as much of an outside chance that rejecting the SL6 bus route and demanding real rapid transit will leave us with CT4 and a reaffirmation that maybe possibly Urban Ring LRT will happen in 20 years than there is that "going along to get along" and pretending there's any chance of this really happening means we end up with SL6 at all.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #38
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
Right, but that's the problem. They are branding this the way they are and pushing the "Silver Line" the way they are because they have absolutely no intention of doing... honestly, they probably have no intention of doing anything, but certainly not rapid transit.

I would settle for a CT4, and not even just for the fact that any serious roll-out of a CT4 could start tomorrow morning as a no-build, extremely limited investment, any-frequency-you-like bus from Maverick to Alewife via Chelsea and Wellington. That's the beauty of a bus: as long as we have two spare buses and two spare drivers hanging around, we could easily run hour frequencies on a bus route with a nominal end-to-end travel time of 37 minutes (let's be pessimistic and call it 50). "Guess what! New bus route. Complain away."

Give your new bus that you surprised everyone with a month - or, hell, even two weeks - and then start talking about improvements. Get an actual route on the pavement before you start talking about bulking up bus shelters for it, or painting bus lanes, or grabbing more resources to run at half-hour or quarter-hour frequencies. CT1, 2, and 3 don't have specially-colored buses, as far as I'm aware, they aren't running articulated buses, I'm fairly sure exactly none of those routes enjoy a bus lane to travel on at any point in time. They are, with the exception of the "limited" stopping and 'CT' prefix, completely identical to any given 'average' bus route in the system. Nothing is stopping them from introducing a CT4 route and letting people like me bitch and moan about how it's inadequate after it's happened (or how the community "wasn't engaged properly"), as opposed to holding round after round of public hearings so that people like me can yell at them well in advance of the project.

It also seems simple, at least in my mind, to look at the song-and-dance going on over "Silver Line BRT to Chelsea!" and deduce, based on context clues and past behavior by the MBTA, that the game plan is to just drag this out and spend money on nothing until someone or something provides an "adequate" reason to fold. How many studies have we had for this thing so far? How many public hearings, meetings, what have you? There's three ways this ends - enough anti-bus advocacy shows up for the MBTA to claim insufficient public interest and cancel or table the project, the MBTA discovers a "legitimate" barrier to progress and uses that to cancel or table the project, or the MBTA concludes the latest round of civic engagement and proceeds to either do nothing or schedule more hearings and waste more money in the hopes of having option #1 or #2 happen next time. Notice how none of those options end in a new bus route for Chelsea, or really anything other than a lot of time and potentially money wasted on negotiations in bad faith.
Exactly. It's semantics games designed to obfuscate. The branding is the bait to let this play out on the same divide-and-conquer that's worked so well for them in the past at skirting action on other projects. An express bus is not rapid transit. An express bus also doesn't cost more than the equipment/ops to run it. And conceivably could initiate on an ultra- low-risk trial before they even get the corridor equipped with Key Bus Route Improvements station/signal-priority features. So why's an ops-side project being pitched as a steel-and-concrete capital project and a color "line" on the spider map.

You can believe the T's hype that the thing won't matter unless it has fancy Washington St.-style shelters and that transit riders choose where to ride based on the prettiest color on the spider map. Which is what the hangers-on who wouldn't actually use the service would get distracted by. Or you could force the conversation on-point: "Hey, this looks like a hell of a lot crisper a ride than the 111. Let's have some more where this came from, please? People might actually start visiting downtown Chelsea if this thing were on."


So how do we short-circuit this tired old wind-up tactic? Getting disciplined about stripping away the branding and calling a bus a bus a bus is a good way to start. They don't have as much of a cloak for self-defeating project gunk if the constituents are controlling the messaging. "Enough with the eye candy; just give us a 111 express with the most efficient schedule the corridor will bear and a leg to stand on, and game out the future from a 'live service' baseline." Shape the line of questioning as to why their so-called BRT shrink-wrap has to cost X times as much, take Y times as long to implement, and include all kinds of other superfluous crap. There's 2 outcomes to this. 1) They'll disappear and never hold another meeting about it again, because they truly don't intend to build and also don't have enough talking points left to string it out. Or 2) The conversation gets shaped along a pure ops-side rollout and the pace accelerates with all that branding veneer sidelined. The more they talk about ops--stops, schedule, frequencies--and the less they talk about frills...the less there is to talk about period before a git-'r-dun decision. Make them choose...either which way...and everyone gets to move along with their lives sooner.


Quote:
So. We know that Chelsea needs better rail connections to Boston. We know that even if the bus was happening, it's a stop-gap measure at best and likely doomed to quickly wind up in the exact same position as the 111, 112 and 114 are in. We know that the bus is probably not happening, anyway - so yes, I've been pretty well 'divided and conquered.' I'm the sucker who aided and abetted the MBTA's bad behavior, but you know what? The people who are desperately clinging to the outside chance that things will be different this time are, in my opinion, bigger suckers.

We might as well shoot for the moon. There's just as much of an outside chance that rejecting the SL6 bus route and demanding real rapid transit will leave us with CT4 and a reaffirmation that maybe possibly Urban Ring LRT will happen in 20 years than there is that "going along to get along" and pretending there's any chance of this really happening means we end up with SL6 at all.
See...this is the kind of word choices that belie falling prey to mode-vs.-mode factionalization: "stop-gap", "doomed to wind up in the same position...", framing a modal augmentation instantly in terms of surrender. I know that's not your intent, but those are EXACTLY the kinds of reactions the bullshitters-in-chief want to hear coming from the more staunchly pro-transit factions. They're conditioned negative responses shaped around this artificial wedge that a bus has to defeat a train or vice versa...i.e. one mode's win has to comes at equal/opposite loss to some other mode. It has no objective basis in reality, but it ends up getting pro-transit interests speaking the same NIMBY-like complaints and splintering along modal warfare lines. Compromise and (the bullshitters' notion of) consensus becomes "do nothing".

Resist the urge. You said it as much a couple paragraphs earlier: it could start figuratively-tomorrow on a "we're doin' it" limited roll-out and get beta-tested until it rounds into shape as an eminently useful express bus. It's awfully hard to get hot and bothered about a numbered Yellow Line bus undermining LRT on the Eastern Route when you keep it that hard-boiled down to its essence. So resist the urge to cast several degrees of aspersions off that bottom-line. History only ends up repeating itself when you take that bait. When the planners are given no wiggle room to repackage the "CT111" into something it isn't and are pinned in to talking turkey about nuthin' else but the core service plan...that's where they lose their cover to bullshit around and things start going places.

You're free to mount the long-term advocacy for LRT unencumbered by any distractions from the "CT111". When everyone is on the same page that a bus is a bus is a bus, there's no modal warfare. Everybody understands that Chelsea needs a fixed route. So go full-on STEP about the fixed route and maybe the 2020's will see it inching forward. Everybody also understands that Chelsea needs aggregate transit improvements...you said it as well yourself about the limited-stop service that could start tomorrow. Why are those in competition with each other? The bus-that's-a-bus-that's-a-bus only matters as an either/or to the train-that's-a-train if you walk into the divide-and-conquer trap and start buying the T's hype that a bus is somehow not a bus.

Otherwise...who's to say once passengers are boarding luggage rack-equipped trolleys at North Station bound for the airport that the "CT111" isn't still going to have enough ridership on its more downtown-serving route to stick around? After all, by getting a jump on it with a fast start it did build up close to 2 decades of its own patronage before the first train started running. And it is an ops-only build, so there's no either/or financial dilemma about maintaining the route if the farebox recovery post-LRT remains robust enough to keep the route running. So why are we jumping to any conclusions 2 decades out that there's modal competition? Doesn't flushing a ridership influx down a key corridor end up sweeping nearly every related route up in the general growth curve? Hell...STEP's been making that point that GLX is a springboard to better bus frequencies and more bus routes, not a displacement for them.

Don't take that bait. Better aggregate transit is the goal, and mutually-supporting transit advances the goal. Hell, I wouldn't even buy the phasing hype about the Urban Ring. No-build Phase I--the crosstown routes--isn't a "stopgap" that'll just get instantly scrapped the second fixed-route Phase II goes in. It's just a bunch of CTx buses. They'll morph, reshape, and repurpose over time as non-fixed routes are wont to do, but Phase II isn't a 1:1 replacement. A lot of those street routes will stick around or shift to other purposes because they succeeded in flushing the corridors full of radial commuters who spread out a lot more diffusely than rail alone will take them. It's only if you lead with the belief that they are either/or that it's possible to get tripped up on the BRT myth as a Goldilocks mode in direct competition with rail. So call it what it is and exert control over the messaging: UR Phase I = Crosstown Bus Phase II, coherently organized express buses doing things that un-fixed routes do well; UR Phase II = Green Line Reimagined (or whatever)...LRT coherently organized/augmented as a radial fixed mode. Not the same project at all, not in competition with each other, mutually supporting...and most definitely NOT an "X" mode gets ripped out by "Y" mode win/loss proposition forcing people to take sides.

Resist the urge to buy into that framing.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:28 AM   #39
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

Before we start CT4 and CTthat, how about improving the Cts that we have?

The headways suck. The hours suck. They dont even have branded buses anymore.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:09 AM   #40
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Re: Silver Line to Chelsea (Study Meeting)

There needs to be a #1 and #66 limited, with stops only at major destinations. The stop spacing of both of these routes is ridiculous and it just causes lots of delay. They should run every 10-15 minutes every day of the week. I wonder if it would be possible to reduce the service of the standard #1 and #66 routes and use some of the same buses for the limited runs.

I wonder if they could do the same with a bus to Chelsea as well. Unfortunately I don't know the current routes very well.
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