Crazy Transit Pitches

Wash

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They'd lose $670m+ of the 770m+ they make in operating revenues, and probably not save much long term in terms of paying employees by abolishing fares.

AFC 2.0 is about $700 million, though and will probably balloon following all these delays..
This means that the system will take more than a year after it's operating just to pay for itself. That means that in the short term anyway, the project will actually save the MBTA money exactly when it needs money the most.

Plus, if we build AFC 2.0, we saddle the T with an expensive system that it has to maintain for 20 years. We don't have 20 years to double T ridership if we want to meet the city's carbon goals.

Why not work on removing fare machines when we're already removing the fare machines?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The system then won't even pay for its own R&D and development costs after the first year of operation. Plus, it saddles the T with an expensive system that it's saddled with maintaining for 20 years. We don't have 20 years to double T ridership if we want to meet the city's carbon goals.

Why not work on removing fare machines when we're already removing the fare machines?
Because the T charter would have to be completely amended for the fareless New World Order, as would lots of passed legislation have to be tweaked to substitute different revenue shares if they're explicit in reference to fare collection. Every member municipality is paying an assessment to the district and has a vested interest in the revenues formulation. Revamp by taking fares out and whether the town levies end up changing or not the resulting change is different enough that you've got to square the legalities with some major required votes.

It can be done if the state wants to get bold about a new kind of transpo funding scheme. They clearly don't want to anytime soon, but forever is a long time so you can never say never. But this will never be something they can feasibly enact by stopping on a dime. The solve for AFC 2.0 shitting the bed is never going to be to explode the very idea of fares instead and somehow substitute that onto AFC 2.0's implementation schedule. Too much legislation with too many fingers in the pot has to change first. Which means to have the juice for moving that much legislation this has to have been hotly debated for years prior.

Timetables don't come within 10 years of matching if you want to push that much legalese in time for an AFC 2.0 substitution. Hell, Wu only made news in the last 6 weeks with her fare-less proposal. I fully believe we'll be funding transit by a very different formula (whatever that may be) as we approach midcentury, but in no way is it going to come mirroring Procurement Dept. timetables.
 

Wash

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Because the T charter would have to be completely amended for the fareless New World Order, as would lots of passed legislation have to be tweaked to substitute different revenue shares if they're explicit in reference to fare collection. Every member municipality is paying an assessment to the district and has a vested interest in the revenues formulation. Revamp by taking fares out and whether the town levies end up changing or not the resulting change is different enough that you've got to square the legalities with some major required votes.

It can be done if the state wants to get bold about a new kind of transpo funding scheme. They clearly don't want to anytime soon, but forever is a long time so you can never say never. But this will never be something they can feasibly enact by stopping on a dime. The solve for AFC 2.0 shitting the bed is never going to be to explode the very idea of fares instead and somehow substitute that onto AFC 2.0's implementation schedule. Too much legislation with too many fingers in the pot has to change first. Which means to have the juice for moving that much legislation this has to have been hotly debated for years prior.

Timetables don't come within 10 years of matching if you want to push that much legalese in time for an AFC 2.0 substitution. Hell, Wu only made news in the last 6 weeks with her fare-less proposal. I fully believe we'll be funding transit by a very different formula (whatever that may be) as we approach midcentury, but in no way is it going to come mirroring Procurement Dept. timetables.
Could AFC 1.0 still hang on for the number of years we'd need it to if we chose to abandon AFC 2.0 in favor of studying a fare-free MBTA, or would we still need AFC 2.0 for the ten years or whatever between "The subway should be free" and "The subway is free now"?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Could AFC 1.0 still hang on for the number of years we'd need it to if we chose to abandon AFC 2.0 in favor of studying a fare-free MBTA, or would we still need AFC 2.0 for the ten years or whatever between "The subway should be free" and "The subway is free now"?
The latter. You can't set a procurement clock directly to politics when the politics of this is going to take a couple election cycles minimum to thrash its way through. You could face a setback at the hands of risk-averse pols because of one of those political cycles, even if momentum ultimately trends to make it happen.

It's a long game, and Procurement can't base end-of-equipment-life buying decisions on a long game that's unpredictable at sub-decade level. Too many chaos effects cycle-to-cycle.
 

HenryAlan

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This means that the system will take more than a year after it's operating just to pay for itself. That means that in the short term anyway, the project will actually save the MBTA money exactly when it needs money the most.

Plus, if we build AFC 2.0, we saddle the T with an expensive system that it has to maintain for 20 years. We don't have 20 years to double T ridership if we want to meet the city's carbon goals.

Why not work on removing fare machines when we're already removing the fare machines?
It doesn't work that way, though. The MBTA will amortize the cost, so the operating budget impact will be something more like $100M per year. Part of the theory of AFC 2.0 is improved farebox recovery, so perhaps half of that $100M is recovered, making the annual cost $50M for seven years. If they didn't do it at all, then the cost would be $700M per year, every year, forever. Do you think they can come close to saving that much on operating efficiencies gained by eliminating fares?
 

Wash

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Do you think they can come close to saving that much on operating efficiencies gained by eliminating fares?
No. But, operating efficiencies will be gained that will save the T some money. Therefore, instead of loosing the full $700m a year forever, they might only be effectively loosing $500m a year forever. I personally think that the benefits for the wider Commonwealth would be worth spending that kind of money.
 

dmdogs900

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In the South shore Quincy-Boston book by Boston Street Railway Association about the red line extension, it is mentioned the EMSR and the MTC proposed a busway along the Old Colony ROW, does anyone know more about this.
 

Siobhán

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Ari's got as post about tunnels in Boston on his blog. He lists out the Red-Blue Connector, Green Line to Seaport, a Grand Junction tunnel, a Dudley to Grove Hall Tunnel, and an eastern tunnel for NSRL as top priority tunnels.

For the Dudley to Grove Hall tunnel, it is probably necessary to tunnel it under Dudley just for avoiding the impacts on all the bus traffic that goes through there let alone the ROW constraints. However, Warren Ave seems to have plenty of room between Dudley and Townsend Streets for the train to come back to the surface and maybe save on tunneling costs?

For GJ, I think the argument for a tunnel rests a lot on the argument for specifically routing regional rail (or a BLX?) through Kendall. Light rail seems a lot easier and cheaper but I never really wrapped my head around what routing Green Line trains through there would look like from a functional perspective.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The GJ tunnel idea is nuts. It's already been brought up in article comment #1 what his objection to surface Urban Ring light rail is, since he similarly ignored that in his post a few months ago demanding that the Blue Line be plowed under the river into the Volpe basement for a similarly extreme sum of money.

Extreme expense to do a RR mode tunnel at RR dimensions and RR grades on the inclines. Extreme waterproofing concerns because the entire length from BU Bridge to Main St. is on 1905 landfill, and the Binney St. area through the fill remnants of Broad Canal. And doubleplusextreme waterproofing concerns at the Red Line slip-under. The Red tunnel is anchored on an extremely narrow seam of high-and-dry bedrock that normally wouldn't be too vulnerable despite portal proximity to Charles basin, but boring below it in a tunnel channeling through nothing but fill--at very long incline grades because of the RR mode--creates risk of the 'storm drain' effect inducing a catastrophic breach of the Red level that takes out everything halfway to Harvard. Weapons-grade flood protection needed there. You can do it for unlimited money...but why??? And why on a mode where that obscene sum of money is only going to buy you 15 min. headways because of the same junction and terminal district congestion as before. LRT can do 3 minutes if two different GL branch-equivalent service patterns are layered together...that's already 5x better. And on a real studied proposal, to boot.

Ari's got to start explaining his aversion to the obvious here. That's twice this year he's pretended the UR scoping studies never existed while dumping a lot of verbiage in favor of civil engineering strongman tactical nuclear strikes. A passing attempt at comparing the two isn't too much to ask for; at minimum it would put some logic to why he thinks these Kendall-land money dumps of his are supposed to be so superior.


Big NO on NSRL2: Cross-Harbor Bugaloo. RR airport connectors are always hideous money-wasters that never draw close to the ridership conventional wisdom claims; I'm sure Alon Levy is already Twittering up ten lashes' worth of criticism at him for taking that bait. The cost for tunneling RR dimensions and RR weight ratings in underwater flexi-tubes is ghastly when avoidable...and it most definitely is avoidable by just building the CA/T Link alignment solo. Yes, it was a sorely missed opportunity to not do a transit tube when they were building the Ted...but rapid transit is where that opportunity is missed, not RER. We're missing the due-east chunk of Urban Ring connected through the Seaport...not a one-seat ride from Logan to Rockport that would already be extremely well-covered by an RER-to-Blue transfer at Lynn. If you absolutely have to add another cross-Harbor transit bore, spend far less money doing it at rapid transit dimensions and weight rating then interline Green Line-Seaport and Urban Ring-Chelsea through it at closer train spacing than you'd ever get on a RR to begin with. If said tunnel is even necessary before 2050, since Transitway-to-Logan coverage can easily be load-spread in both directions: to flush downtown: east by SL1 buses starting @ SS and north by GL trolleys starting @ SL Way to Downtown.
 
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Deetroyt

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In some of the Urban Ring discussions of having the Greenline on the Grand Junction thru Kendall, F-line you've talked about burying the B line from Blandford to BU, and having the Grand Junction/Ring section connect at the grassy knoll between BU Bridge and the Pike. As a phase 1 to reduce cost, would it make sense or be feasible to just have it connect to the B line on the surface? In other words once it crosses the river having it turn east onto the B line tracks towards Kenmore. With the growth at Kendall I'm starting to think this is going to be a very important project, better suited to greenline than BRT. If avoiding a tunnel down Comm Ave saves cost and gets it going sooner, I'd think this might be the next highest priority project after R/B and BLX-Lynn. Is a tunnel down Comm ave the only way to make this work from a logistics/ops standpoint?
 

George_Apley

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In some of the Urban Ring discussions of having the Greenline on the Grand Junction thru Kendall, F-line you've talked about burying the B line from Blandford to BU, and having the Grand Junction/Ring section connect at the grassy knoll between BU Bridge and the Pike. As a phase 1 to reduce cost, would it make sense or be feasible to just have it connect to the B line on the surface? In other words once it crosses the river having it turn east onto the B line tracks towards Kenmore. With the growth at Kendall I'm starting to think this is going to be a very important project, better suited to greenline than BRT. If avoiding a tunnel down Comm Ave saves cost and gets it going sooner, I'd think this might be the next highest priority project after R/B and BLX-Lynn. Is a tunnel down Comm ave the only way to make this work from a logistics/ops standpoint?
I think that trying to do an at-grade surface junction would be a complete logistical disaster and traffic nightmare. The tunneling from Kenmore to BU Bridge would be some of the easiest tunneling we can do in the area given the existing reservation is already cleared. The hardest tunneling would be ducking under the Pike at the Bridge.
 

Siobhán

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I forgot to ask this when I posted the blog post, but Ari also proposed a Red Line infill near Kendall. Ignoring the potential transit connections under/on the GJ, would there still be utility for a station near Portland/Albany Street in relieving station congestion or boarding/alighting times at Kendall?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The state wants to put a Reading Line infill at the hinterlands of I-93 for the Rail Vision, but not build the much more badly needed 128 infill at Quannapowitt. Their Pn'R strategy needs work.

Presenting: the Reading Line to Anderson RTC...the best of both worlds because it assumes a Quannapowitt infill in Wakefield and throws down a for-real connection to Anderson to boot.

Materials:
-- Wilmington Industrial Track (kinda-sorta active inductrial spur approx. 2500 ft. north of the Anderson platform).
-- 1 property taking of Fraen Machining Corp. on Woburn St. to build a southbound wye onto the Wil Ind.
-- 1 grade crossing upgrade @ Woburn St.
-- 1700 ft. of track upgrades.
-- +3400 ft. track extension of the Wil Ind. over I-93 on a new rail bridge, on power line ROW. Very slight realignment of Inwood Dr. to slip under the rail bridge next to I-93 NB and avoid inducing a grade crossing.
-- 1500 ft. new ROW grading from ulility leads along Aberjona River, bordering Little League fields. (Moderate-difficulty EIS'ing, but easier if done electrified.
-- Junction with Reading Line approx. 700 ft. past Willow St.
-- Additional platform at Anderson + layover yard.

Reading-Anderson connector.jpg



Opportunity to survey another optional industrial park-serving infill by the rail bridge with collector/distributor exit off I-93. Probably not needed since Quannapowitt + Reading + Anderson cover the spread very well, but may as well do a study to see if anything pops.

For service patterns, all Reading Line service would thru-route over the connector to terminate at Anderson...possibly enabling 'circuit' service. 2.8 extra running miles; the curves on/off the connector might induce a little bit of schedule drag, but for a strictly 128-turning schedule the drag would be minimal. As before the line segment through North Wilmington would go largely disued as thru Haverhill trains revert to a regular Lowell Line routing and only trace extras go up the current routing. Add'l benefits to the Lowell Line by being able to task the Reading 'circuit' service with intra-128 demand so NH and Haverhill trains don't have to make an excessive number of stops on their longer runs (incl. Haverhill with its ample outer-half infill stop potential).

Someday bonus: Orange Line to Anderson. You'd have to zap the Ash St./MA 28, Washington St., Woburn St., Willow St., and Woburn St. II crossings in addition to all the ones Melrose-Wakefield, but if you aren't keen on the rapid transit density on the Lowell ROW through Medford and Winchester this is a way to 'backdoor' rapid transit to Anderson. Reserving the ROW is cheap because the Wilmington Industrial extension is not a big production and if that service is well-established at the time NSRL forces a will-they/won't-they decision on Orange-Reading, it's not much mission creep to see the conversion through all the way.


I'm not entirely sold on the true demand for this connector, but it definitely is inexpensive enough if the Rail Vision ever wanted to pursue it.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is it possible to build a T-platform near the Encore Casino?
No. The grade coming off the bridge is too steep for ADA compliance on platform slope, and the entirety of the area between where the grade levels out and the sharp Sweetser Circle curve is taken up by the Everett Jct. freight switches. Nearest place to plunk a platform ends up uselessly close to where the new Chelsea Station is going, and requires a shuttle bus trip all the same to get to Encore.

Before anyone suggests a tactical nuclear strike to change the bridge grade...stop. We already covered that to death in the Encore thread. It's implausible on cost and risky EIS'ing for disturbing the dirty dirt in the Monsato landfill cap. There won't be a directly adjacent transit stop until the Urban Ring crosses the river on a BRT or LRT mode that can do ADA platforms within the grade.
 

Wash

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With NJ Transit and Metra painting herritage locomotives, what about the MBTA painting a Northside locomotive up in B&M paint (I'd vote for 1940's maroon and gold with the Minuteman statue), and a South side locomotive in McGinnis New Haven paint?
 

George_Apley

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RER levels of service to the I-93 park and ride. No trains laying over in Reading center (political benefit). More service pattern possibilities in disruptions. F-line’s “circuit” concept gives both Reading and inner-Lowell RER frequencies.

Who knows if that benefit is worth it. I don’t see another I-93 park and ride, or kiss-and-ride being very viable at the new extension’a highway crossing.
 

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