MBTA Bus & BRT

JeffDowntown

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Seems to me an easy way to make the merge easier for the Silver Line buses is to meter the HOV lane.

I know Bostonians don't understand metered ramps, but they work effectively in other parts of the country.
 

mass88

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Seems to me an easy way to make the merge easier for the Silver Line buses is to meter the HOV lane.

I know Bostonians don't understand metered ramps, but they work effectively in other parts of the country.
It seems as if a large number of people in this area don't understand the concept of merging like a zipper, so a metered on ramp would not fly. Then again, the same could be said for places like New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, etc.
 

JeffDowntown

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It seems as if a large number of people in this area don't understand the concept of merging like a zipper, so a metered on ramp would not fly. Then again, the same could be said for places like New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, etc.
I was reminded how poorly we zipper merge, when driving in Montreal a few weeks ago. Even with bad construction related delays, the drivers were all courteously merging in a zipper fashion.
 

Nakedi

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Streetsblog Mass: The Transit Line That Got Away: Learning From the 28X

Long time reader, first time poster.

I read the above linked article with great interest-- I was not living in Boston in 2009, when the original 28X BRT proposal was made, and this is the first I have learned of it.

I have a few questions that maybe some of the aB experts can shed some light on:

With the MBTA focused (perhaps rightly so) on other major projects, is the 28X a potential project that the City of Boston could undertake? The entirety of the route exists within the city. Certainly the infrastructure called for in the 2009 plan is substantial (real stations with level boarding, running the buses essentially on a reservation, and real signal priority), but if the city can paint and (in theory) enforce bus lanes elsewhere (Brighton Ave, Essex Street), what's to stop them from doing what amounts to a beefed up version of the same here?

Obviously there are political (community process, etc), financing (no idea what the city's borrowing and building capacity or appetite is), and logistical/managerial considerations (is Boston's DOT any better positioned to undertake such a project than MassDOT or the T?). I guess part of my question is what is the controlling consideration here.

This proposal seems like such a net positive for the neighborhood and the city as a whole-- one that has the long term potential to become part of a transformed Green Line network connecting to a light rail'ed Silver Line, as has been detailed in other threads here.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Going it alone isn't something that has a history of administratively working well when jurisdictions are naturally shared. After all, Brookline replaced all Beacon St. traffic signal controls with modern computer ones plug-and-play compatible with trolley signal priority, only requiring the T to buy some photosensors for the ROW and submit its preferred prioritization programming to the town. They wouldn't even accept an invite for a meeting to discuss it. And of course there are plenty of examples where municipal-level and even neighborhood-level balkanization has thwarted an otherwise straightforward bus proposal floated by the T. The 28X was a tragic example of that; tribalism ate it alive at the community input level, and the T couldn't have moved forward if it wanted to because every individual feature was being fought tooth-and-nail on the corridor. Today you have MUCH more of a coalition of the willing at both the T and City of Boston (thank to some degree the Menino era slowly fading into rear view), as well as other towns in the district willing to push for a leading role in bringing along transit improvements, like Everett with its bus lanes. You can definitely revisit improvements on the 28 and pick through a list of easiest-to-implement 28X recs...though the momentum for an all-the-fixins' BRT line like the original 28X proposal has probably passed us by.

BTW...28X is probably not trolley material in the future simply because it would be too long a haul in mixed traffic to be dispatchable from the subway. Dudley Sq. is a pretty short distance from a would-be Herald/Washington Sts. portal and a taut-enough number of stops that it'll do fine on 1.5 miles that includes a mixture of street-running. Adding another 4.3 miles on top of that including that narrow section of Warren which would have to be street-running with no reservation makes it 1.8 miles longer than the B with considerably more stops. I think we can safely rule out "another B, but harder" as very likely more harm than good to subway flow. And I don't know if a pure Dudley transfer trolley is a high-enough value proposition unless the southern-half Urban Ring is also a mixed-traffic streetcar whose quadrants overturn at a Dudley transfer. As is, south-half UR looks like a better bet for BRT because of the lack of leverageable grade separation (unlike the north half), the 60-footer equipment pipe already hits Dudley and will get more robust with time for hooking more/better BRT pieces into that node, and Mattapan can't be counted on to always be there as a trolley storage yard if a proper Red Line extension starts to crest in priority. Trolley is still very much preferred for bringing a subway one-seat to/from Dudley terminal and the downtown transfers (still the only mode that can hit all the major points in non- half-assed fashion), but everything projecting outward from Dudley transfer starts off with better chances at scalability working towards BRT. It's not everywhere on the system where you could say that about mode vs. mode...but here it is definitely an easier fit for running BRT fingers while stiffening the spine.
 

Nakedi

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Thank you, F-Line, for the informative and insightful reply. It's disappointing to learn that this route and Blue Hill Avenue might not be a good candidate for light rail-- but maybe I've just watched too many of Foster Palmers fantastic films of an earlier era.

Even so, I agree that BRT is called for on the 28 route not only for improving transit within Dorchester and Roxbury but because it would connect these neighborhoods to the Longwood Medical Area, a major employment center that's today requires either a long bus ride across town, or a Mattapan Trolley-Red Line-MASCO bus ride from JFK across town.

As an aside, I have wondered if the T or MassDOT accounts for the MASCO buses in its planning (such as it is)-- those buses soak up an awful lot of people and don't necessarily mirror existing MBTA routes. I would guess that the JFK-LMA bus, which does overlap parts of the 15 and the 47 exceeds ridership on both of those routes.
 

whittle

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Took the 71 earlier today and it was a regular bus. Does anyone know if this is routine?
 

Nakedi

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Eversource was doing work under the wires at the corner of Aberdeen and Mt. Auburn today. With the closure of the Harvard Bus Tunnel, trackless trolleys from North Cambridge use Huron and Aberdeen to get to Mt. Auburn and onward to Watertown (and maybe Bennett Street too, I'm not sure-- I've only seen them take the right on Mt. Auburn). The utility work made the route impassable by trackless trolley.
 

sm89

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Eversource was doing work under the wires at the corner of Aberdeen and Mt. Auburn today. With the closure of the Harvard Bus Tunnel, trackless trolleys from North Cambridge use Huron and Aberdeen to get to Mt. Auburn and onward to Watertown (and maybe Bennett Street too, I'm not sure-- I've only seen them take the right on Mt. Auburn). The utility work made the route impassable by trackless trolley.
They access the route from the carhouse via Huron and Aberdeen, but still do the whole route aside from the tunnel. Once in service, they loop at Bennett Alley. With the shorter route (not going through the tunnel), they've actually increased capacity (cut headways) by something like 30-40%. It will be interesting to see what affect that has on ridership.
 

Equilibria

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Just now at FMCB: 3-8 minute average time savings during the SL ramp test, 17 minutes max, compared to prior week. Test was a success. Recommending implementation at rush hour.

Will require messing with a retaining wall and striping changes at the State Police barracks.

Also a warning sign for the bus that would flash when a different vehicle is coming up.

Total schedule is 3 months, beginning today.
 

HelloBostonHi

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They also brought up plans to reduce the raise height of the Chelsea St bridge that can potentially save 5+ minutes on every raise/lower, reducing disruption to SL3. They've already got funding so that's a near term improvement. Also talk about working with coast guard on making scheduled lifts but that's a legislative issue so it's a long term goal. Also long term goal of getting TSP on the airport traffic lights that SL3 has to navigate.

Also unrelated to the FMCB meeting but I couldn't help but notice that the D St/SLW crossing is currently using some temporary traffic lights on the side of the road and the permanent overhead ones got taken down this weekend, saw them working on it... Not sure if that's just routine maintenance or some possible improvements there.
 

JumboBuc

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Just now at FMCB: 3-8 minute average time savings during the SL ramp test, 17 minutes max, compared to prior week. Test was a success. Recommending implementation at rush hour.

Will require messing with a retaining wall and striping changes at the State Police barracks.

Also a warning sign for the bus that would flash when a different vehicle is coming up.

Total schedule is 3 months, beginning today.
This deserves so much attention.

Transit people have been shouting about the SL ramp for years, and the powers-that-be always insisted it was a non-starter. Then the transit people finally put enough pressure on the powers-that-be for them to actually look at the damn thing, at which point it became obvious that, well, gee, the transit people were right!

Moral of the story: listen to the transit people!

Now do the Red-Blue cut-and-cover. And the gradual electrification of the "Commuter Rail" network, starting with the Providence and Fairmount lines..
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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They also brought up plans to reduce the raise height of the Chelsea St bridge that can potentially save 5+ minutes on every raise/lower, reducing disruption to SL3. They've already got funding so that's a near term improvement. Also talk about working with coast guard on making scheduled lifts but that's a legislative issue so it's a long term goal. Also long term goal of getting TSP on the airport traffic lights that SL3 has to navigate.

Also unrelated to the FMCB meeting but I couldn't help but notice that the D St/SLW crossing is currently using some temporary traffic lights on the side of the road and the permanent overhead ones got taken down this weekend, saw them working on it... Not sure if that's just routine maintenance or some possible improvements there.
I'm gobsmacked that they don't already do that. The whole point of building a lift bridge there in the first place was the time savings that supposedly would come from variable-height raisings. This isn't like a firmware upgrade they have to add or something to unlock a feature; the capability has been bloody there from Day 1 of it replacing the old/slow single-leaf bascule. And there's no Coast Guard preemption I know of requiring a maximum raising here or on any other recent bascule-to-lift conversion like Fore River Bridge, the new Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth, and a few Amtrak bridges in Connecticut. Sarah Long and Thames River-Amtrak both variable-raising their way along while parked next to full-blown Navy Bases where the maritime restrictions are otherwise at their most severe.

If MassDOT simply 'forgot' to tell the legislature to amend the opening rules from the old span and retained a singular raising schedule all this time as if it were a bascule-for-bascule replacement, somebody very high up the chain needs to get fired/tarred/feathered as a sacrificial lamb for everyone who's wasted several days out of their lives the last 7 years stuck in traffic hell behind all those unnecessarily max raisings. To think this all along this might not have been the traffic problem we thought (and were told) it was is the kind of facepalm that goes straight through to the other side of the skull.
 

JumboBuc

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Silver Line Ramp slides from yesterday's board meeting are here (pdf). Results show that opening the ramp from just 3-6 pm (3 hours per day) can be expected to save 86 passenger-hours per day on a normal day, or 225 passenger-hours on a "bad day." Results also "suggest that the ramp could be open for a longer period of time" per day than just those three hours.

Sixteen of eighteen bus driver respondents said they felt "very safe" on the ramp; the only two dissenters were supportive of the project and appear to have misunderstood the question.
Seventeen of eighteen said they could see traffic "very well" at the bottom of the ramp, while one said "somewhat well."
Seventeen of eighteen said signs on the ramp were "very easy to understand," while one said "somewhat easy to understand."

Comments from drivers include (all emojis and exclamation points are literally included in their comments):
  • "Very convenient ❤"
  • "please keep it open"
  • "about time"
  • "I just want to say thank you. You saved me a lot of time in traffic great Idea :)"
  • "THE RAMP IS NECESSARY DURING RUSH HOURS - THANKS!!!"
 
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ceo

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I'm gobsmacked that they don't already do that. The whole point of building a lift bridge there in the first place was the time savings that supposedly would come from variable-height raisings. This isn't like a firmware upgrade they have to add or something to unlock a feature; the capability has been bloody there from Day 1 of it replacing the old/slow single-leaf bascule. And there's no Coast Guard preemption I know of requiring a maximum raising here or on any other recent bascule-to-lift conversion like Fore River Bridge, the new Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth, and a few Amtrak bridges in Connecticut. Sarah Long and Thames River-Amtrak both variable-raising their way along while parked next to full-blown Navy Bases where the maritime restrictions are otherwise at their most severe.
I hadn't even realized that they had to always raise it to its full height, and I can see the damn thing from my desk. That's truly mind-boggling.
 

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