Crazy Transit Pitches

Riverside

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In an alternate universe where the US maintains UK-style branch lines with cute little dinkies, you could reactivate the Central Mass with diesel LRT vehicles that terminate at Weston/128 and share a yard with the Green Line. In the real world, that's an answer asking for a question, alas.

Alternate universe musings aside: In some ways, what we're discussing here (GLX to Waltham) is the same idea that was had with the Riverside Line 70 years ago, except about 100 years later. Moderate density suburbia, historically running mainline rail, whose frequencies have steadily increased over time, eventually get converted into LRT. (Cue *Circle of Life* soundtrack.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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In an alternate universe where the US maintains UK-style branch lines with cute little dinkies, you could reactivate the Central Mass with diesel LRT vehicles that terminate at Weston/128 and share a yard with the Green Line. In the real world, that's an answer asking for a question, alas.

Alternate universe musings aside: In some ways, what we're discussing here (GLX to Waltham) is the same idea that was had with the Riverside Line 70 years ago, except about 100 years later. Moderate density suburbia, historically running mainline rail, whose frequencies have steadily increased over time, eventually get converted into LRT. (Cue *Circle of Life* soundtrack.)
CM reactivation to West Berlin has a full 1996 feasibility study on the books: http://www.mapc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Central-Mass-Commuter-Rail-Feasibility-Study-1996.pdf.

It's very of-its-era dated on study metrics, favoring parking sinks over traditional station sitings in walkup areas...noteably the Hudson station site moved out of downtown density. But several down notes sounded wouldn't hold up to scrutiny under fresh study, either:
  • ROW is askew from the traditional downtowns of Weston, Wayland, and Sudbury. Study only included Wayland and South Sudbury and skipped old Weston Depot, but all 3 suffer from walkup being 1/3 to 1/2 mile from what passes for village centers, with spotty sidewalk coverage sharply limiting the catchment radius. No buses, either. Wayland at least has an asphalt-special strip mall with Stop & Shop and misc. to terraform nearby for TOD, but Weston is still 49 years later a little Kendal Green-type zit stop and S. Sudbury likewise an unchanged time warp (though that was the highest-ridership of the group pre-'71). Ridership would be way anemic at all of these. Weston would probably slug considerably higher transit shares at the 128 superstation via just one bus route pinging down US 20 to village center, matched to the supremely better headways at the superstation.
  • No other intermediates worth bringing back. 1964-71 T-era stops Cherry Brook, Tower Hill, East Sudbury, Ordway, and Gleasondale were a bunch of sub- Silver Hills with more deer than humans for catchment.
  • Only Hudson hit the ideal mix of dense, walkable downtown in transit-starved area (yet this is the one the study relocated out-of-town to a forlorn parking sink!!!). Downtown of a town of population 19K is the selling point. That's not nearly enough. Not when a bus off the MA 85 stub of the I-290/495 interchange out of Northborough Station on Fitchburg Secondary commuter rail can adequately serve the town if bus schedules are timed well enough with what projects to be a highly-utilized and RUR-caliber branch.
  • West Berlin (ROW directly behind the guardrail at this P'nR lot @ 495 Exit 26) is in a desolate forest. No TOD...just a parking lot. Stop siting is exactly 5 miles and 2 exits via 495/290 from Northborough stop on the Fitchburg Sec., which is in a TOD-rich industrial park ripe for supersizing. As w/ Hudson, the much higher-priority Fitchburg Sec. CR kicks the primary legs out from the Central Mass' value proposition with plenty good enough approximations for the only catchments worth a damn.
  • If pursuing the option to direct-connect the CM to Fitchburg Sec @ MA 62 in Berlin for run-thru to Clinton the above-and-beyonds aren't super. North Station-Worcester didn't study out in the Grand Junction/Metrowest feasibility study with much demand outside of tippy-top peak when Orange Line suffers the most under load; fixing Orange and pumping up trunk B&A frequencies is the all-day solution there. So you're not going to net anything special bending back down from Clinton Jct. on the PAR Worcester Main. Travel times of 53 min. to West Berlin and maybe 1:00-1:05 to Clinton also aren't stratospherically better enough than the curvy Fitchburg Sec. to matter. You can always goose the Fitchburg Sec. travel times to Boston with liberal skip-stopping on the B&A main since the Worcester Line service layer cake backstops headways on the main.
  • And the Fitchburg Sec. would be a first candidate to trial a shuttle dinky if Worcester Union-Framingham were a MetroWest-exclusive sweep-up pattern of local stops with cross-platform transfers to dense RUR service at both endpoints. While thru-Boston service on the branch terminated at Northborough or Clinton for the sake of acceptable schedules. If the CM is slightly faster into Clinton for making the Worcester Union bend-back and thus theoretically doesn't need to be a shuttle...the fact that it whiffs on the biggest intra- MetroWest stops makes it less-overall useful than the shuttle for all the extra money.
  • Nothing is ever going to go past Clinton to Sterling or Leominster on the Fitchburg Sec. Too excruciatingly long. Leominster is already in the MRTA bus district with fast service to North Leominster on the Fitchburg Line. Simply graduate Sterling into the MRTA district and extend the bus on MA 12 down to I-190 and you've pretty much captured it. So thru-routing the CM to Leominster/Fitchburg does nothing, as N. Leominster and the Fitchburg Main will slug higher frequencies.

I mean, it's not useless...but for such a straight-looking ROW it's got an awfully low on-base percentage and no real tools to carve it a role on your transit ballclub. When your bench already has some very useful sluggers like Fitchburg Sec. waiting for at-bats and hyper-targeted bus augmentation from there to play the matchups, it really looks like a waste of a roster spot...even if you were willing to pay the league's Luxury Tax for carrying an elite payroll.
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F-Line to Dudley

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Last one in the series...just your basic A-Line restoration to Oak Sq. No warranties in case I missed one traffic signal that should be depicted on these renders.

Now...up-front prereqs:
  • We are assuming the Urban Ring build with bi-directional BU Bridge junction to Kendall or West/Harvard with filet patterns from Kenmore to either destination or Kendall<=>Harvard alt-route. We are assuming the prereq subway extension to BU Bridge with 3 surface stops consolidated into 1 BU subway stop, new B portal at St. Paul St., and only 3 remaining surface stops between there and Packards Corner. The majority of service through this new subway will be Ring-oriented.
  • We are assuming that Comm Ave. Phase III reconstruction terraforms the B reservation between Packards and Warren into the center of the road with wider platforms, stop consolidation, traffic light consolidation, and signal priority. And that up-the-hill and to BC will get a nip/tuck on-footprint.
  • The remaining B will take substantially fewer trains to run at its 6-min. headway in this new universe, as what's now a 10+ minute trip Kenmore-St. Paul rife with bunching will probably take closer to 3 minutes and the outlying stops will run marginally faster from optimization. Such that tri-branch patterns in the subway extension won't be any constraint.
  • We also assume some other alt-routing augmentation, like wraparound E's-to-D's using Kenmore Loop because of the heightened need for Longwood headways from the Ring patterns. This decongests Kenmore loading, especially because the C/D-accessible loop does not cross any dispatch paths with B/Ring trackage on the other side of the platform.
  • We assume that a Brighton appendage probably is far enough down the priority pile that other interconnects like E relocation off Copley Jct. are higher-priority.
  • No way will the B ever be fast enough through BU to bury this inocuously enough in the mix if we don't assume most of these pre-conditions.

And this set of service rules for Oak vs. BC:
  • In the old days the A & B were evenly balanced. Service levels through BU were equal-or-better than today, but more diffuse than today's 6-min. baseline frequency after the Packards split. This is because of the way the audience divided down the middle.
  • Unlike the old days the current/to-be-stop-consolidated B and the A revival have many fewer stops and take less overall time. As with before, this means fewer trains have to be occupying a branch at any given time in some stage of bunching in order to cover the baseline headway...meaning frequencies won't take as much equipment or as many trains passed thru the Kenmore squeeze to attain representative service. So what we have here is not an analogue of 1959-69 when the D's voracious appetite was complicating a mix unprepared for that service to take off like it did.
  • It is still expected that there will be some division of headways at Packards, however minor. But because ridership drops off significantly @ Harvard Ave. on both flanks, that's not the most vexing problem in the world.
  • The hill on the B has the largest dropoff relative to any past-Harvard Ave. point on the 2 branches. It is therefore a potential solution to weight 2 out of every surface frequencies to the Oak side of the split (maybe with 4.5-5 min. 'trunk' frequency)...but then permanently extend C's over Chestnut Hill Ave. to BC to re-boost at the endpoint so it's only the hill that sees any de facto service diffusion.
  • YMMV...but different multipliers could achieve an equitable split here. At any rate we are not running 3 min. headways between St. Paul and Packards then dividing in half to 6 mins. like a prototypical Green Line service increment, because that's overkill that would vulture a little something off the top of the kingmaker Urban Ring patterns diverging off the subway extension. Find some more finely-tuned multiplier.
  • Oak Square has to be the locus for the core build, because Tremont St. in Newton is still a giant ridership crater and crossing the Pike rotary into Newton Corner still manifold difficulty. However...if Allston is served and the UR patterns siphon off a lot of the crosstown audience, what ends up left under-served with the 57? This may not be the most satisfying solution around, but you have to contend with the fact that you probably won't have enough thru-to-Watertown-from-Kenmore capacity to be had until the Blue Line implants itself there via Charles and you have choose-your-adventure future considerations to mull. If in the meantime the local audiences are portioned off largely to other services do we end up blunting the edge on the problem such that an express bus can act like a true express bus?
  • No killshots. To fit any more service here with big mouths to feed it has to live within some limitations...such as being narrowcast as strictly local-yokel and not a drop-in 57 replacement. You're looking for a different megaproject altogether if this thing needs to pump a load higher than just filling out the fringes. We aren't doing this to induce some great crisis of conscience.

But that said, you can do it for relative cheap as a low-priority appendage to the greater Green Line Reconfig...so here we go. . .

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1. Packards to Union
Aln-1.jpg


Packards platforms flip to the pre-split side of the intersection. The "Menino Memorial Bang-your-Knee Median" built as monument to killing the trolleys comes back to ground for some semblance of the old pole-supporting median. Brighton Ave. gets re-striped not for a full reservation, but for in-street tracks running left of the yellow paint for traffic separation. Left-turn lanes can be reaccommodated by banning parking at the requisite corners. Harvard Ave. gets "San Fran-style" transit-left/traffic-right platforms. And since service will be fileted a little bit it might be convenient to put each H.A. stop's countdown timers at the other stop down the block. Union Sq. bulks up the concrete side plaza into a barriered turnout median station. Cambridge St. is full-on mixed traffic street-running...no room for stripe priority.

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2. Brighton Center
Aln-2.jpg


St. Joe's Prep has reoccurrence of a fat median, and just so happens to be spaced right enough for an intermediate stop between Union & St. Elizabeth's. Reshape the median into a platform setup. Traffic light in front of the Academy needs to stay (though it's only super-busy at open/close of school), so target Dustin St. on the other side for a possible signal consolidation. Might be pulling teeth with the neighborhood, but left-lane prohibitions (even by time-of-day if that's all you can swing) from the least-most side streets will help. We have a relatively taut paucity of traffic signals to begin with on this corridor, so little touches like that could be the difference between an a'ight schedule and "Wow, that was faster than I thought it would be!"

St. Liz block needs some widening to fit platforms...but there's grass on the sides of the buildings so if you judiciously bulbed-out you could have offset platforms framed by where the central ped crosswalk currently is. This will definitely be a high-ridership stop. Chestnut Hill Ave. is a San Fran-style platform setup.

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3. Oak
Aln-3.jpg


1 more spacer at Lake St., similar transit-left/traffic-right platforms. Can't think of any side streets unworthy enough to get slapped with left-turn prohibitions. If any are that minor, it helps. Note how few overall traffic signals we have to deal with.

Oak is (much like the old days when the Y had a grubby little yard in it) a cramped turnaround. Use the sidewalk around the block and the Y parking lot to fullest effect: 2 simultaneous platforms to berth at for baking in a layover, and a loop that can bake parking spots around the block. The platforms have the option to loop...or reverse on-platform based on how many extra trainsets need to be stuffed in storage. For example, right before start of rush shift you might pack the loop tracks full of as many as 4 trains around the block...but if you reverse service instead of looping you can still berth 2 in-service consists on the platforms. So it's intrinsically more flexible than, say, loop-only Heath St. in spite of the incredibly cramped confines.



That's it. This is obviously a way simpler affair than all the other renders and a lot lower-stakes. Don't y'all kill yourselves staring too hard into the abyss here; nobody's claiming this is top-flight or a gamebreaker. Just a nice-to-have that, if certain service-level rules are obeyed...can fit into the very busy mix.
 

lexicon506

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Last one in the series...just your basic A-Line restoration to Oak Sq. No warranties in case I missed one traffic signal that should be depicted on these renders.
F-Line, it would be great to have this entire series (and any other similar proposals that you've sketched out.. I remember one for LRT UR through Kendall) live somewhere where we can easily revisit. I find these to be incredibly well done and informative and know I would make good use of a dedicated website or thread.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-Line, it would be great to have this entire series (and any other similar proposals that you've sketched out.. I remember one for LRT UR through Kendall) live somewhere where we can easily revisit. I find these to be incredibly well done and informative and know I would make good use of a dedicated website or thread.
Check the Green Line Reconfig thread. They're all uploaded straight to the aB board host so the image links won't break.
 

Riverside

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But this is a good place for us to raise an important question -- given the varying double vs quad tracking, etc, what is the theoretical maximum capacity of the various sections of the Central Subway? (Assume no F Line to Nubian or Huntington Subway)
  • Kenmore-Copley Jct (assuming flat junction remains)
  • Copley Jct-Boylston crossovers (north of the station)
  • Boylston-Park Street
  • Park Street-Government Center
  • Government Center-North Station
  • North Station-Lechmere/Brickbottom
Want to circle back to this. In theory, at rush hour, each branch of the Green Line runs 10 tph, meaning that Copley to Park Street sees 40 tph. Does that mean that any stretch of Green Line double track can support the same?

Once upon a time, I thought I read that Park-Gov't Center is a bottleneck because it drops down to 2 tracks. But why would that stretch of two tracks be different from that between Copley and Arlington? Is it because the stations are closer together and therefore can't fit as many signal blocks?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Want to circle back to this. In theory, at rush hour, each branch of the Green Line runs 10 tph, meaning that Copley to Park Street sees 40 tph. Does that mean that any stretch of Green Line double track can support the same?

Once upon a time, I thought I read that Park-Gov't Center is a bottleneck because it drops down to 2 tracks. But why would that stretch of two tracks be different from that between Copley and Arlington? Is it because the stations are closer together and therefore can't fit as many signal blocks?
Yes. Closer packed, so the signal system is nearly out of block-segmenting rope. Longer dwell times because of the wholesale ridership turnover at the transfers. Inability (for now...to-be-fixed for GLT) on the inbound side to wave thru trains ahead of short-turning trains in the queue @ Park for slotting back-to-back near vs. far GC platform berths, which means a mis-timed branch schedule at Kenmore starts progressively causing more trouble as it goes inbound until the festering sore bursts open @ Park/GC. It doesn't handle chaos well, and more chaos is what the current Central Subway features compared to the 1950's when it juggled many more trains from many more branches...but at night-and-day better predictability.

These problems are fixable by overall GLT-driven chaos taming, the enacting of Park inbound fence crossovers, and dwell-taming relievers like Red-Blue taking double-transferee loads off both GL stations and GL-Seaport taking a huge chunk off the stampedes to the Red stairs such that more riders are going to stay on at these stops rather than wholesale-turnover to longer dwells. You can add lots more service from those changes. We're already getting a majority share of them with GLT and (hopefully) Red-Blue even if Seaport connection is still a long gestation period away. Others such as E relocation off Copley Jct. gives the Kenmore mash-up luxurious # of signal blocks Kenmore-Boylston to settle out any bunching, so that's a key one when the Urban Ring patterns are fully grown.

As a final killshot, you can mod GC station to split tracks from the 2-track western approach and trench across the wedge to the separate Brattle Loop tracks making them thru-service platforms instead of loop-only bit players. That way only the 2-tk. running tunnel is double while all bookending platforms are quad, making it so that anything touching the 2-tk. tunnel is in constant motion and never needing to brake behind an upcoming stopped train. It would radically change ped flow across the GC wedge so is semi-invasive at nneding to do new egress tricks (like a catwalk crossing up by the skylight and widened up/down staircases to the Blue level for changing sides of the wedge) and having the dwell-relievers like Red-Blue pre-built...but the station is structurally up to doing it without needing to relocate load-bearing columns. That's kind of a final capper for the more 'exponential' expansions, so wouldn't be needed for a long time...but is a big trick to pull out of the hat when it gets to that point.
 

Massachoicetts

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You see F LIne's proposals could never actually be implemented.. they make too much sense, and that's something the MBTA is not good at right now.
 

Riverside

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Nice. Yeah, I knew that a lot could be done just with that modification to the loop at Park Street.

It hadn't occurred to me that Gov't Center could be converted into a four track station, but you're not wrong -- it would indeed be transformative. And there certainly is the space.

So is the bottom line basically, "Most of the Central Subway (Kenmore to Lechmere) has a capacity of 40 tph; Park-Gov't Center is a bit lower at 30 tph today, but, with modifications at Park, can be brought up to 40 tph as well." Yeah?
 

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Was thinking... how realistic would be digging in Grand Junction? Obviously it would bloat the cost sky high but then the Cambridge NIMBYs can't complain and get to keep their path. It also would mean that there wouldn't be that many stops but Kendall is the whole point anyway so I think it would be okay if there was only two additional Green stops, Kendall and West Station.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Was thinking... how realistic would be digging in Grand Junction? Obviously it would bloat the cost sky high but then the Cambridge NIMBYs can't complain and get to keep their path. It also would mean that there wouldn't be that many stops but Kendall is the whole point anyway so I think it would be okay if there was only two additional Green stops, Kendall and West Station.
We've covered this many, many times before. Extremely, extremely unrealistic because of the waterproofing issues in Charles landfill and risk of catastrophic "storm drain effect" where it underpins Red Line. And if you're Urban Ring'ing this thing you aren't passing up the intermediate stops at Cambrideport, Mass Ave., and Cambridge St. because of the Ring's critical bus transfers (1, CT1, 47, etc.).

Genuinely wretched idea when Mass Ave. is easily overpassed on LRT and trolleys can easily share signal phases @ Main/Broadway.
 

Java King

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I was driving around the Seaport and South Boston on Monday, and this idea came to me.

If we EVER did get a North-South Rail Link, I've always seen a Back Bay tunnel alignment and approach to South Station plus an Old Colony/Fairmount alignment and approach to South Station. What if the Old Colony/Fairmount tunnel started MUCH earlier and was routed through South Boston & Seaport to ultimately hook up to the tunnel from the Back Back and then continues on to North Station? This would give a major urban rail hub accessible as a one-seat ride from all North Station service and Old Colony/Fairmount/South Coast service. Maybe some service from Framingham, Providence, Needham, Franklin could loop around and terminate at the new underground Seaport station instead of continuing to North Station? Or maybe there is a Newton-Fairmount alignment through South Station and Seaport Station that runs every 10-15 minutes like a major trunk line and all other regional rail services is 30 minutes via the South Station-North Station alignment. The Newton branch to Fairmount branch would act like a big U loop similar to the Toronto subway line through Union Station.

I know it's expensive and may be operationally difficult, but I was thinking how to solve the Seaport transportation problem. This would give Boston 3 major downtown rail stations with North Station, South Station, and Seaport Station. Plus, I threw in a South Boston station for good measure.

Seaport_Option.jpg
 

F-Line to Dudley

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1. Those curves are a huge performance bottleneck. It's going to take forever to get from one end of that thing to another, which dulls the utility of thru-and-thrus.

2. The Seaport is NOT hard to get to from SS in the slightest, so distorting the build for one-seat convenience really isn't wise allotment of resources vs. simply having a couple stations with maximal swath of easy transfers.

3. Waterproofing is harder with more tunnel feet under centuries-old fill.

4. The Seaport is big but it's not THAT big that the regional gravity well is screaming for a one-seat par with Downtown. Severe overrating not backed up by enough ridership ROI for the extremeness in extra expense.

5. Tunneling under property lines extremely more precarious for budget blowouts than tunneling under 95% extant RR tracks and pre-prepped Big Dig fill.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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One note from that build. . .

The current Fairmount Line diverges from its original 1855 NY&NE Midland Route alignment through Dorchester at roughly Norfolk Ave., where it passed through the current Eversource property and backlots of South Bay to merge in with the Old Colony main at Boston St. about a mile south of the current merge inside of Southampton Yard. A lot of that original ROW is still visible in the form of Allstate Rd. and the alignment of properties facing I-93 @ South Bay, which grew organically through multiple generations of redev to trace a vestige of the old-alignment tracks that have been gone for ~120 years. The line was realigned through Newmarket in prep for South Station's 1899 opening to move the junction inside newly-graded Southampton Yard and simplify ops in the last couple years of true southside RR competition before NYNH&H united the NEC/Midland/OC under one corporate roof.

Now...because of maximal allowable inclines vs. running room on a RR it isn't possible under any current NSRL plan to do a uni-portal for Fairmount + Old Colony. They have to split at shallow depth and pop up on either sides of the Amtrak Southampton building complex...much like the Fitchburg Line vs. Eastern/Western/NH Main have to fork in half just before their portals on either side of Boston Engine Terminal. Some very early NSRL scoping studies toyed with the idea of uni-portaling the Fairmount + Old Colony by reanimating the original 1855 alignment through South Bay (though note South Bay was a little less built-over 20 years ago when that re-use alignment was studied vs. now), merging there at Boston St., and having the lone OC portal at Southampton take the whole mashup underground. In the end it wasn't seen as necessary because the shallow-level forked portals underneath all-Amtrak property was flat-out cheaper than a 3000 ft. ROW re-realignment, complicated underpassing of 93/Southampton St., and flip-flopping of Red Line leads vs. Old Colony main alignments around Southampton to spatially maximize track layout. It's just not enough tunneling feet in total alongside Southampton Yard to bother with a more complex surface merge (ditto the shallow Fitchburg v. all-else Northside split around BET), so they opted for the shallow underground split.


Therefore that small part of your render was indeed true-to-life studied and vetted, albeit not for purposes of wild off-ROW'ing schemes that are certainly D.O.A. under the narrowish Southie residential street grid.
 

Java King

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F-line, thanks for the interesting history! Well, it is a "Crazy" transit pitch! It just seemed to me the mainline OC and Fairmount were so close, yet so far from Seaport. I'm just trying to think of the best idea to solve some of the Seaport transportation issues, especially since I see a HUGE amount of lab proposals around the Marine Park/Southern Edge of Seaport near South Boston. Plus the whole redevelopment of the Power Plant on Summer street will spur more development. It seems clear to me that the Silver Line is overburdened now. I thought the idea of a small streetcar system might be beneficial, but I know you didn't like that idea. :) What's your best thoughts to improve transportation in that area between the Convention Center and the Reserve Channel that is a little too far to walk from South Station on a cold day?

I'm mainly thinking of this area that is Seaport South-East. I see SO MUCH lab and research development, and the Innovation & Design Building, Cruise Port, and Power Plant redevelopment.

Seaport-South East.jpg
 
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Riverside

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The Seaport really is an interesting set of problems. It's close to Downtown, but not quite close enough. It has a lot of transportation infrastructure (Transitway, Track 61, Mass Pike + Ted Williams, South Boston Haul Road), but none of it is quite "right". Plus, it is unusually three-dimensional for Boston, in that Summer Street is elevated above the levels of Congress St and Seaport Blvd.

Boston already has three mainline rail stations (North, South and Back Bay) -- I don't think it needs a fourth in the Seaport. Rather, the Seaport needs to be better stitched into the city overall. For my part, I think this can be done through three major projects:
  1. Convert the Transitway to LRT and connect it to the Green Line (exact path TBD). This would address the crowding on the Silver Line, and would allow for faster service through the Transitway (as railed vehicles will be able to navigate those tunnels more rapidly than unguided tired vehicles). This would also reduce the transfer burden at South Station and open up one-seat rides to the Seaport from other parts of the city -- again, "stitching things together".
  2. Aggressive bus lanes on Summer Street (and/or Congress St). I'm talking physical separation, signal prioritization, and serious enforcement. These would have two uses:
    1. Improve reliability on the 7 and enable it to be extended through the CBD along Congress St to Haymarket/North Station (and consolidate with the 4).
    2. Offer a faster route for South Station-Seaport-Airport buses, which would express from South Station to a new transfer location around World Trade Center/Silver Line Way before heading on to the Airport and beyond
  3. Addition of BRT to the South Boston Haul Road, with an eye toward future addition of LRT tracks; run high-frequency service to Nubian (and optionally Longwood) via aggressive bus lanes on Melnea Cass Blvd
With these three projects, you'd get one-seat rides to the Seaport from the Financial District, North Station, South Station, South Boston, East Boston, Chelsea, Nubian and potentially Longwood, in addition to whatever locations the Green Line offers connections to.

But yes, specifically to your question about that stretch between South Station and the Convention Center: aggressive bus lanes on Summer St, Congress St or both, each of which have at least four lanes (including parking). Frequent bus service -- walk up and go.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-line, thanks for the interesting history! Well, it is a "Crazy" transit pitch! It just seemed to me the mainline OC and Fairmount were so close, yet so far from Seaport. I'm just trying to think of the best idea to solve some of the Seaport transportation issues, especially since I see a HUGE amount of lab proposals around the Marine Park/Southern Edge of Seaport near South Boston. Plus the whole redevelopment of the Power Plant on Summer street will spur more development. It seems clear to me that the Silver Line is overburdened now. I thought the idea of a small streetcar system might be beneficial, but I know you didn't like that idea. :) What's your best thoughts to improve transportation in that area between the Convention Center and the Reserve Channel that is a little too far to walk from South Station on a cold day?

I'm mainly thinking of this area that is Seaport South-East. I see SO MUCH lab and research development, and the Innovation & Design Building, Cruise Port, and Power Plant redevelopment.

View attachment 9411
That's mainly the area helped by bringing the Green Line into the Transitway. As primary service pattern SL2 would be terraformed from BRT to 2-car Type 10 'supertrains' (seating equivalent of slightly higher than 3-car train on the current GL roster) making the around-block Black Falcoln + Drydock Aves. superloop before heading back. Figure on an upgraded curb-bolted reservation for better traffic separation (likely with targeted parking reductions on one side of each street for fitting in LRT-caliber reservation), 1 unidirectional (if reversible) track plus flex turnouts for managing the super-loop, and side-street "crossovers" at the Design Ctr. Pl. midpoint. Keep similar or *slightly* consolidated stop roster as current SL2, and for the primary Downtown-Transitway pattern it ends up a ginormous capacity increase for handling all that growth.

This is in part why all those Shiny-ball Syndrome Track 61 proposals just don't have any 'there' there. In addition to the capacity constraints of getting on that ROW in the first place from its junction, the frequencies just don't compare to 6 min.-spec GL branch 'supertrains' and it's a way slower slog through a whole lot of the Seaport's lowest-density trajectory along Haul Rd. to even capture a slice of the growth area. And that's just wretchedly inefficient when the GL 'supertrains' can terraform SL2 out-of-box. For NSRL 'crazy' schemes...similar nonstarter because the South Station-to-Transitway transfer is too dead-on easy to make reaching the LRT'ified SL2 any tangible mobility challenge from anywhere on the whole of southside commuter rail. That's honestly the least of all concerns for augmentation. Just get the trolleys into the Transitway in the first place to:
  1. transform SS-Transitway platform dwells, removing all the double-transferee crowds on that platform via Park/DTX who will now be staying onboard a thru trolley from Park/Boylston and/or making their Orange transfer at NS/Haymarket or South End/Tufts.
  2. terraform SL2's surface superloop with vehicle capacity and reservation amenities befitting the area of maximal neighborhood growth
  3. use the high-capacity trolleys as a 'psychological' re-wire for intra-Seaport transit...i.e. if you're traveling inside the Seaport you stick with the thru trolleys and leave the remaining SL1 buses alone. This segregates-via-behavior the baggage-carrying Airport transit from local transit more thoroughly, and dramatically slashes problematic SL1 dwell times on the platforms to the betterment of all co-mingled traffic.
  4. build out other appendages accordingly. For example, northside CR to Seaport access pre-NSRL can be usefully augmented by building out the Urban Ring NW & NE quadrants, then running representative number of thru-Lechmere Ring frequencies via Boylston/Seaport. Most obviously as the eventual drop-in replacement for SL3 Chelsea buses in the Transitway, since those are at their intrinsic limit for frequencies & OTP run thru the Ted with few available tart-up options on its native busway; that service would probably be more overall-robust run the opposite direction as an interlaid 6 min. trolley headway doubling-up the overall Transitway rather than keeping it through the Ted as permanently brittle BRT.
  5. Think holistically. Assume that a properly dwell-optimized Transitway can take 4 service patterns total: 2 interlaid LRT running thru from Downtown (6 + 6 = 3 min. frequencies on the 'trunk'), and 2 interlaid BRT looping @ SS. For the trolleys: your SL2 run-thru replacement probably gets paired to one of the GLX branches like Medford for starters as one 6-min pattern. The second interlaid 6-min. trolley pattern then gets initially sourced from available short-turn flotsam (Lechmere or North Station via Brickbottom Carhouse to Silver Line Way loop)...but eventually breaks out to take the subway run-thru Urban Ring NE 6-min. patterns to wholesale-replace SL3 with higher capacity and better schedule-keeping. You can then study a Seaport-side breakout like City Point streetcar distinct from the other SL2 run-thru as the corresponding Seaport-side piece of the extra 6-min. trunk pattern. And finally, with multi-directional junctions being spread across the reimagined Green Line system you can further augment the 3-min. 'trunk' with filet alt. patterns from a variety of places to enrich the diversity within service footprint. On the BRT side the much cleaned-up SL1 holds down one permanent slot. SL3 can then malinger until superior Urban Ring NE is built to replace it...and afterwards a new trunk BRT service like Urban Ring SE fileted from Nubian or JFK can take up residence as the permanent 'other' slot.
So simply following the incumbent service template offered up by some/any form of Silver Line Phase III replacement LRT build from Boylston-to-Transitway ends up perma-fixing Seaport transit access from any direction. You can co-run more service patterns than today in a dual-moded Transitway that cleans up its current station dwell problems via Downtown run-thrus whacking the SS double-transferee crowds and mode dilineation intra-Seaport vs. Airport audiences cleaning up the SL1 door dwells that make that one service pattern clog up so much of the current tunnel's throughput. Connect tinker toys accordingly and every conceivable audience will be able to quickly/cleanly get to the points of maximum ridership growth, while forging a new transit map that alleviates the need for any tactical nuclear strike projects of dubious value like off-center NSRL's or next week's futile exercise in Track 61 Shiny-ball Syndroming.
 
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The EGE

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One note from that build. . .

The current Fairmount Line diverges from its original 1855 NY&NE Midland Route alignment through Dorchester at roughly Norfolk Ave., where it passed through the current Eversource property and backlots of South Bay to merge in with the Old Colony main at Boston St. about a mile south of the current merge inside of Southampton Yard. A lot of that original ROW is still visible in the form of Allstate Rd. and the alignment of properties facing I-93 @ South Bay, which grew organically through multiple generations of redev to trace a vestige of the old-alignment tracks that have been gone for ~120 years. The line was realigned through Newmarket in prep for South Station's 1899 opening to move the junction inside newly-graded Southampton Yard and simplify ops in the last couple years of true southside RR competition before NYNH&H united the NEC/Midland/OC under one corporate roof.
That's not true - the Midland always ran through Newmarket (originally mudflats of the Bass River) and continued along what is now Track 61, then curved across the channel to a terminal near the modern South Station site. (See this 1865 map for example). I think you're probably confusing two separate relocations:

One, the Old Colony mainline was realigned several times. A realignment near Broadway took place around 1865 and is shown on that 1865 map. In 1897-98, the mainline was relocated substantially west from Columbia to Broadway for grade separation (including a bridge over the NY&NE); the old ROW became Old Colony Avenue.

Two, the Midland (NY&NE) terminal was closed in August 1896 to allow South Station to be constructed; trains were rerouted to the Old Colony terminal and then to South Station. The old Midland line in Southie remained in freight use, serving the huge yards there - hence the grade separation from the Old Colony mainline.
 

Bananarama

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I love the effort and ideas in these posts.

But hot damn does this just highlight how absolutely stupid the rail layout is in Boston. Just look at all those roughly parallel lines... radiating into downtown as if it's the center of the universe. Way too East-West dependent. Good luck going north or south (let alone across the river) in any reasonable way.

And screw the Silver Line. Stuck in traffic way too much and possibly the bumpiest experience in a vehicle I've ever experienced. I'd love to know the break-down rate of those things having to deal with garbage roads (funnily enough, the last SL1 bus I took had engine start issues at Silver Line Way). -- which actually leads me to a separate question of why does the switch from electric line to diesel require a human attendant? Did the city really skimp on an automatic pole stowing/deploying mechanism? Is that just not physically feasible? Or is this a fleetwide malfunction they're just living with now?

Sorry this is devolving off-topic. This talk about a line along Essex is interesting and more sensible as a layout imo.
 

George_Apley

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I love the effort and ideas in these posts.

But hot damn does this just highlight how absolutely stupid the rail layout is in Boston. Just look at all those roughly parallel lines... radiating into downtown as if it's the center of the universe. Way too East-West dependent. Good luck going north or south (let alone across the river) in any reasonable way.

And screw the Silver Line. Stuck in traffic way too much and possibly the bumpiest experience in a vehicle I've ever experienced. I'd love to know the break-down rate of those things having to deal with garbage roads (funnily enough, the last SL1 bus I took had engine start issues at Silver Line Way). -- which actually leads me to a separate question of why does the switch from electric line to diesel require a human attendant? Did the city really skimp on an automatic pole stowing/deploying mechanism? Is that just not physically feasible? Or is this a fleetwide malfunction they're just living with now?

Sorry this is devolving off-topic. This talk about a line along Essex is interesting and more sensible as a layout imo.
Copying this here so questions can be addressed without knocking the GLR thread off-course.
 

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