Reasonable Transit Pitches

Charlie_mta

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The Chicago elevated/subway lines have several grade crossings out in the suburban areas. Couldn't the Orange Line cars be modified to fit the FTA safety requirements?
 

George_Apley

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The Chicago elevated/subway lines have several grade crossings out in the suburban areas. Couldn't the Orange Line cars be modified to fit the FTA safety requirements?
Pretty sure that's a legacy thing that wouldn't even be proposed for responsible new development. Didn't Chicago separate most of those HRT grade-crossings some time ago?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The Chicago elevated/subway lines have several grade crossings out in the suburban areas. Couldn't the Orange Line cars be modified to fit the FTA safety requirements?
CTA's are all grandfathered, and the last in North America on HRT mode. They've been trying hard to get rid of the remainders, but neighborhood negotiations have deadlocked on each of them. It's verboten for any new construction, including there.

Since it's illegal and non-waiverable, it's moot what you could structurally attempt with the cars because they wouldn't be permitted to traverse a public crossing. The current cars have too high a center of gravity to mod that way, and no known builder makes HRT cars that way because it's just as illegal to build new HRT grade crossings in most countries.
 

Tallguy

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According to the FTA(per a recent info request) at grade crossings are possible.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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According to the FTA(per a recent info request) at grade crossings are possible.
That news hasn't reached the MTA's ears yet, as the Staten Island Railway North Shore Line reactivation still cites prohibition on HRT grade crossings and requirement for contiguous fencing as starting conditions for the HRT Alternative in the study. It's why that build is still a tossup with the LRT Alternative that breaks thru-routing with the existing SIR line.

The FTA and FRA have jointly loosened up onerous fencing/spacing restrictions on shared-use ROW's to direct benefit of projects like GLX, which can now pack closer to the envelope of passing RR trains. And the same joint regs have allowed generous expansion of other systems via waiver process into close-proximity yard space and/or diamond crossings of RR tracks that weren't previously allowed by interagency turf battles. But it's mostly for LRT because--with rare exceptions like an un-fenced 60-year-old Cleveland grandfathering--the HRT lines constructed next to RR's were extra-separated from the beginning. Sometimes the term "heavy rail" will get tossed around interchangeably to mean the commuter or freight train that is physically many times "heavier" than the adjacent-running trolley. But in the feds' own literature they still define the HRT as operation by higher-speed trains on full grade-separated corridor with 'sealed' ROW fencing. Not a single transit agency has yet challenged that definition with a pitch for unsealed HRT, because even if some procedural change gave such a proposal nonzero chance of funding...the odds of an award would still be very nearly zero vs. a pigpile of competing orthodox pitches from other cities. Cities gave mainly been saving their envelope-pushing for trying to amp up LRT's capacity and performance when they can't/won't grade separate...since LRT is where the Joint Reforms are serving up the biggest windfall.

If the bell tolls for the gimp-capacity Reading Line under NSRL, we get further along on the Orange replacement quest doing it by-the-book rather than parading the most contrarian HRT construction in half-century in front of fed pursestrings. It's a no-fill/no-wetlands corridor of remarkably alike crossing angles. Cut-rate engineering of template-able cut and/or rise techniques applied cookie-cutter throughout Melrose and Wakefield can make 10 crossing eliminations cost as little as 5.
 

Siobhán

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Put fare gates at Back Bay Station at the brick head house on the corner of Clarendon Street and Columbus Ave.

Honestly, the options for accessing a lot of the Orange Line stations on the Southwest Corridor can be irritating. Like, the only entrances to Jackson Square and Stony Brook are on the east so you have to walk around the entire building when coming from the west. Or Green Street and Mass Ave only have entrances are at the very north of their platforms.
 

The EGE

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That's a brilliant idea. And while we're at it, the adjacent CR exits (and perhaps the Berkeley Street emergency exits too) should be entrances.
 

Arlington

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Rug
Put fare gates at Back Bay Station at the brick head house on the corner of Clarendon Street and Columbus Ave.

Honestly, the options for accessing a lot of the Orange Line stations on the Southwest Corridor can be irritating. Like, the only entrances to Jackson Square and Stony Brook are on the east so you have to walk around the entire building when coming from the west. Or Green Street and Mass Ave only have entrances are at the very north of their platforms.
Agreed. I'd add Ruggles. It needs a full-service entrance on Ruggles St. The "mid-block/mid-platform" entrance so bus-centric, the station ends up not being walkable to the neighborhood. Ruggles is the bus version of putting the station entrance in the middle of a sea of asphalt.
 

Siobhán

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Yeah Ruggles is great if you're a Northeatsern student but every time I have to use it I feel like I'm trespassing on their campus. I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a resident of a nearby neighhborrhod, which the university has a frankly hostile relationship with.
 

George_Apley

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Yeah Ruggles is great if you're a Northeatsern student but every time I have to use it I feel like I'm trespassing on their campus. I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a resident of a nearby neighhborrhod, which the university has a frankly hostile relationship with.
That's an interesting perspective. Ruggles is such a major bus hub that many many non-NU students use it. I've never felt like a trespasser, personally. I agree that it should have a more welcoming facade for pedestrians on Ruggles Street.
 

tysmith95

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Add a Cummings Center station on the Newburyport Line in Beverly. I know it's sort of close to Depot, but it's still a mile.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Add a Cummings Center station on the Newburyport Line in Beverly. I know it's sort of close to Depot, but it's still a mile.
Doesn't Beverly have enough stations already between Depot, North Bev, Montserrat, Farms, and the all-time useless Prides Crossing? It's the last town on earth that's in need of more infills. Cummings is direct-served by bus 451 hitting Salem, Bev Depot and North Bev...and it's in walking distance to Montserrat. Work the frequency angle on both Purple and Yellow modes and it'll have luxurious service levels for its suburban locale at not a ton of effort/expense.
 

cbrett

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Doesn't Beverly have enough stations already between Depot, North Bev, Montserrat, Farms, and the all-time useless Prides Crossing? It's the last town on earth that's in need of more infills. Cummings is direct-served by bus 451 hitting Salem, Bev Depot and North Bev...and it's in walking distance to Montserrat. Work the frequency angle on both Purple and Yellow modes and it'll have luxurious service levels for its suburban locale at not a ton of effort/expense.
I agree with you, but semantics wise it is actually closer to Beverly Depot (0.8 miles vs. 1.4 miles if using dead center at Cummings Center).

Given that Cummings Center is developing just fine on its own, and all the redev surrounding Beverly Depot Rantoul Street, I think reconfiguring and scaling up bus service in Beverly is much more important. As a former Danvers resident I also wish there was some way to handle the increased 62 traffic from the Cummings Center and new developments to the north/west of town. Given the abyssmal ridership of the CATA lines in the area, I'm not sure how to best revamp the bus system in that area though.
 

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tysmith95

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Doesn't Beverly have enough stations already between Depot, North Bev, Montserrat, Farms, and the all-time useless Prides Crossing? It's the last town on earth that's in need of more infills. Cummings is direct-served by bus 451 hitting Salem, Bev Depot and North Bev...and it's in walking distance to Montserrat. Work the frequency angle on both Purple and Yellow modes and it'll have luxurious service levels for its suburban locale at not a ton of effort/expense.
Yes I agree they need to get rid of Prides Crossing.

I was just pointing out Cummings because I believe it would open up some reverse commutes. Anyway, i'd build a South Salem/Salem State station first. Anywhere along Canal Street would work. Then to keep train times the same I'd get rid of the GE stop until that area is redeveloped.

Something near Salem PD would work too. That area is a dense urban neighborhood, and would have lots of walk up ridership.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yes I agree they need to get rid of Prides Crossing.

I was just pointing out Cummings because I believe it would open up some reverse commutes. Anyway, i'd build a South Salem/Salem State station first. Anywhere along Canal Street would work. Then to keep train times the same I'd get rid of the GE stop until that area is redeveloped.

Something near Salem PD would work too. That area is a dense urban neighborhood, and would have lots of walk up ridership.
The problem is in an RER universe you have to strike a delicate balance between densifying with infills where they're supportable, and keeping 128-turning schedules to about 30 minutes on the clock + 495-turning schedules to about an hour on the clock. On a hetereogeneous system that'll require a lot of compromises to maintain a balance of catchment coverage and travel time. But one of the MUCH easier calls to make on that bundle of compromises is "Beverly already has too damn many stops". Other municipalities simply need the infills more badly, and the presence of MBTA buses in Beverly pretty much seals that call by offering another mode to leverage.

One very important thing to consider re: Yellow Line on the North Shore is how much a difference BLX-Lynn makes by ending the bus equipment siphon to downtown. Lynn Terminal being able to be a real terminal frees up dozens of buses otherwise trapped on 1A to/from Haymarket and Downtown Crossing and lets them be re-deployed on the purely local routes to densify service. That has an echo effect on Salem mini-terminal by cranking up service on the Beverly and Danvers routes, and allowing more routes to be added out of Salem to expand the thin map up there.

Taken together (RER + North Shore bus reboot post-BLX) this is a job where bus service densities fit the bill for expanding transit access around Beverly while commuter rail infills are going to be ham-fisted for maintaining nice round travel times when Salem and possibly others down on the mainline need new stops much more badly.


RE: River Works...don't forget that apartment developer there is offering to pay for a rebuilt ADA stop so he can move his several hundred residential units. That stop may get swallowed whole by BLX (raising trackbed and shortening the platform ends works as a CR-to-Blue conversion of a pre-existing build), but the plan is already in place for refitting that area with new demand whenever the T gets around to approving that guy's plan.

South Salem would be at Jefferson Ave. closer to Salem State U. with a tie-in to the Marblehead Rail Trail for directly reaching campus. The old pre-1987 stop in the pit along Canal St. would need lots of work for ADA. That includes very difficult stuff like notching retaining walls to achieve accessibility-compliant 6 ft. platform widths in addition to replacing the stairs with ramps/elevators. Safe to say they're not touching that site until a very far-future BLX + CR downtown superstation is needed because of the construction invasiveness.
 
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tysmith95

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^With River Works, you can reopen it when it starts to get developed, but as of now busy rush hour trains stop to let on/off less than 5 people. At that point the extra stop hurts ridership more than it helps it.

Commuter Rail stops should only exist if they're open to the public, River Works is currently only open to GE employees.

Looking at morning trains, at 7:48 a train with an average of 677 people on board stops at River Works to let 2 people off. At 8:17 there is a train that stops with an average of zero riders getting off. With ridership that low, the station shouldn't be open as is.

 

DominusNovus

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Suggestion: a train to West Springfield for the two weeks of the Big E. The rail line goes pretty close to the fairgrounds (but its pretty industrial), and the roads in the area can get horribly congested during the Big E. Not quite Cape Cod bridges bad, but definitely bad enough to add a good half hour plus each way.

The Lakeshore Limited is $23 to Western MA (probably varies by date like it did when I took it regularly a decade plus ago), but only runs once each way, and stops in Springfield (which isn’t too bad, but could be better).
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Suggestion: a train to West Springfield for the two weeks of the Big E. The rail line goes pretty close to the fairgrounds (but its pretty industrial), and the roads in the area can get horribly congested during the Big E. Not quite Cape Cod bridges bad, but definitely bad enough to add a good half hour plus each way.

The Lakeshore Limited is $23 to Western MA (probably varies by date like it did when I took it regularly a decade plus ago), but only runs once each way, and stops in Springfield (which isn’t too bad, but could be better).
There is bona fide precedent. Amtrak has previously run fantrips out of New Haven for train shows that have been held there. There's a CSX industrial track spurring off West Springfield Yard that runs right across Circuit Ave. from the fairgrounds accessible from a reverse move inside the yard which could put a makeshift platform across the street.

Problem with that is West Springfield is CSX's busiest yard in New England, and fantrips have to sign a liability waiver for getting deep into yard limits for the train shows. Regular-ticketed service would have a tougher time getting permission from a risk-averse CSX. However, if the state really wants Inland Route service the price for squaring all arrangements with CSX is going to be "Pimp My Yard" quid pro quos at West Springfield to enhance the intermodal truck access there. As part of all the negotiations that go on the state could easily ask for Big E permissions as part of that whole sprawling package.
 

DominusNovus

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There is bona fide precedent. Amtrak has previously run fantrips out of New Haven for train shows that have been held there. There's a CSX industrial track spurring off West Springfield Yard that runs right across Circuit Ave. from the fairgrounds accessible from a reverse move inside the yard which could put a makeshift platform across the street.

Problem with that is West Springfield is CSX's busiest yard in New England, and fantrips have to sign a liability waiver for getting deep into yard limits for the train shows. Regular-ticketed service would have a tougher time getting permission from a risk-averse CSX. However, if the state really wants Inland Route service the price for squaring all arrangements with CSX is going to be "Pimp My Yard" quid pro quos at West Springfield to enhance the intermodal truck access there. As part of all the negotiations that go on the state could easily ask for Big E permissions as part of that whole sprawling package.
Cool! Glad that my idea is solidly on the reasonable side of the “reasonable v crazy” divide. A follow up as a potential half-ass trial version: using Union Station in Springfield, and running a shuttle bus between there and the Big E (just under 2 miles each way, and mostly a straight shot). Clunky and still prone to getting stuck in traffic (unless the shuttle is given some sort of priority?), but it could be a decent proof of concept.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Cool! Glad that my idea is solidly on the reasonable side of the “reasonable v crazy” divide. A follow up as a potential half-ass trial version: using Union Station in Springfield, and running a shuttle bus between there and the Big E (just under 2 miles each way, and mostly a straight shot). Clunky and still prone to getting stuck in traffic (unless the shuttle is given some sort of priority?), but it could be a decent proof of concept.
If it isn't a direct, then there's no way you're getting more than a shuttle bus from Springfield Union. It is legit disruptive to CSX to have to keep clear the outermost yard track closest to the fairgrounds when that's the part of the yard that sees the most intensive switching operations. Too big a pain for running a dinky, so if going to the negotiating table with CSX it's pretty much whole-train specials or bust to make it worth anyone's while. A bus is easily going to beat a dinky anyway when all the reverses and safety pauses for hand-throw yard switches are tallied up. The value of the service is more in its "specialness" than efficiency, since the on-the-ground progression from Springfield Union to the fairgrounds-facing side of the yard is clunky as hell (big freight yards being a very atypical destination for passenger trains). But you can bake a Big E week concession into the whole set of deal-making that transfers ownership of the Springfield-Worcester B&A into state hands with "Pimp My Yard" funding going the other way. That's a very small price to pay for CSX having to put up with additional interference several days per year that ends up constraining their switching activity to a smaller part of the yard, so they'll likely go for it if the rest of the self-serving items in the package are lucrative enough. Also. it's an immediate and tangible "Show-me" to Western MA voters re: the value of the Inland Route project to have that yearly pomp-and-circumstance to trot out for PR's sake.
 

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