Crazy Transit Pitches

F-Line to Dudley

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To be fair, Marblehead is close in density to Salem and twice as densely populated as Beverly, and Beverly has 5 commuter rail stops.

But the long lack of rail service has likely sorted North Shore commuters. People that want rail access choose towns like Beverly over Marblehead. One of the planning fallacies is to assume that turning service on will result in people naturally switching commute modes. But people really do factor in available commuting options in their choice of where to live, so there is a natural sorting of interest in rail service, based on the availability of rail service. And changing the interest level with new service will take years, perhaps decades to resort (because real estate turnover is slow).
Marblehead...or at least the portions of it along the Marblehead Branch ROW...are uniformly single-family residential. The Downtown terminus might do some pretty decent numbers during the daytime, albeit somewhat hours-constrained because the place shuts down at sunset. Single-occupancy, owner-occupied (meaning high-end enough demographics to trend very strongly to 9-5'ers rather than shift labor), and spaced-out by half-acre plots. With a big density gap in the form of the country club only mildly made up by a mini-spike from the High School. These characteristics are sort of why that was one of the first branchlines the B&M sought federal permission to schedule-gut down to peak-only; it was total famine on the off-peak and at the intermediates.

The existing low outliers on the HRT system like Savin Hill and Shawmut have similar dearth of commercial property in their walksheds, but are all tight-packed triple-deckers with scattered larger apartment complexes and more shift variance because of the enormously higher middle/low-income rental characteristics. Projecting from there, you can maybe expect...25%?...of the patronage on the Marblehead Branch intermediates and a somewhat muted Downtown terminus because of the early curtain call. Salem, despite having similar population density, is thoroughly mixed-use everywhere outside the Salem Woods conservation cavity. SSU is a giant all-day trip generator, the Downtown has a defined nightlife, and there is a rentals market because of the school. Even the *weakest* possible BLX-Salem intermediate--Essex St./"Hawthorne Crossing"--spacing one end of Salem Woods from the SSU/Jefferson Ave. stop, would probably escape being one of the low outliers because of the walkshed to the very upzonable Mall. No such luck in Marblehead. I doubt it's going to be a strong look to halve Blue frequencies at Swampscott with how much more poorly one branch is going to look than the other.

The only remaining argument is looking for bus troubleshoots. Downtown Marblehead is covered by 2 bus routes (pre-COVID was 4, with separate numbers for the Haymarket-continued vs. Wonderland turns)
  • 441/448 via Swampscott Station ( :30 frequency, :25 to Lynn Central Square).
  • 442/449 via MA 129 ( :30 frequency, :25 to Lynn Central Square)
441 was #92-of-169 in systemwide ridership with 1397 daily riders, 442 was #68-of-169 with 2056 daily riders, 448 was #154-of-169 with 176 daily riders, 449 was #158-of-169 with 158 daily riders. So, 2173 riders mashed together, which would've cracked the Top 60. A little bit sub-"Key Route" corridor, but not bad at all. The richies out here do ride the bus quite very faithfully as an incumbent condition. The frequencies are already pretty outstanding, and the travel times to a BLX-Lynn would be fan-fucking-tastic enough to seriously drive big some transit shares growth. Like with all the 4xx routes there'd be a lot more Yellow Line frills you could deploy here to goose the numbers if the equipment cycling anemia to Wonderland were solved by culling everything to Central Square.

I think in a BLX-Lynn universe Marblehead potentially rates as a corridor worthy of BRT featuring to add capacity and amenities on top of the already outstanding travel times on these fork routes. Then if BLX-Salem then puts a rapid transit transfer @ Swampscott a 12-15 minute trip from Downtown Marblehead?...buff BRT corridor. But the twin-prong BRT corridors stick more to the unbroken density than the rail ROW, and probably do it equal-or-better on travel time because they're straight while the rail ROW does its little neverending sine-wave jiggle the whole route. So that ends up solving all the problem. It would be a very high-ROI corridor for BRT featuring, whereas it would be middling-low ROI for any rail restoration. The sliding scale thus probably dictates that buff-assed BRT is probably the ultimate solution here, because it would rake hard in pretty much any configuration and is more easily time-of-day scalable in service characteristics to the demographics of the corridor. It's actually a quite very nice future for them, without any overthinking required. Marblehead gets swank frequencies and travel times with the BRT augments, while BLX frequencies get rationed a little more usefully for Salem's much more mixed land use and breakaway North Shore bus-hub potential. Everybody wins.
 

AndrewOnTheMBTA

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This is a true crazy transit post that would ignore money, politics, and maybe some level of engineering feasability - but would be possible otherwise.

This would be a replacement for an F line to Dudley (sorry) and would be a branch of the blue line coming off Govt center under Tremont and a tunnel that would go under the red line at Park perpendicular (essentially a 3 level below and parallel to the green line). It would then travel down under the green line ROW past Boylston and have a new stop at Stuart St/Tremont called "Theater District" and have a tunnel connecting to Boylston, as you see between lines in NYC on the MTA. Then the tunnel would use the Pleasant St stub and be a tunnel under the mass pike and then follow the ROW of Washington St with stops at Ink Block, SOWA, Mass Ave/BMC, and Nubian. Then, there would be the prospect of continuing as a cut-n-cover under Warren St and then Blue Hill Ave to Mattapan. I know this is highly unlikely but in a dream world where the population, demand and funds existed, this would be quite the BLX subway.
 

Brattle Loop

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This is a true crazy transit post that would ignore money, politics, and maybe some level of engineering feasability - but would be possible otherwise.

This would be a replacement for an F line to Dudley (sorry) and would be a branch of the blue line coming off Govt center under Tremont and a tunnel that would go under the red line at Park perpendicular (essentially a 3 level below and parallel to the green line). It would then travel down under the green line ROW past Boylston and have a new stop at Stuart St/Tremont called "Theater District" and have a tunnel connecting to Boylston, as you see between lines in NYC on the MTA. Then the tunnel would use the Pleasant St stub and be a tunnel under the mass pike and then follow the ROW of Washington St with stops at Ink Block, SOWA, Mass Ave/BMC, and Nubian. Then, there would be the prospect of continuing as a cut-n-cover under Warren St and then Blue Hill Ave to Mattapan. I know this is highly unlikely but in a dream world where the population, demand and funds existed, this would be quite the BLX subway.
Straddling the line between Crazy Transit Pitch and the God Mode thread here. Government Center's Blue Line platforms are facing the wrong way, meaning if you were to branch to head south on Tremont, you'd lose the GC connection (not necessarily) the end of the world given you'd still have options for connections elsewhere. But the turn from Court Street to Tremont's going to be nasty; I'm no engineer, but I'd wager that if it's possible at all it'd be because the Blue Line's already used to the operationally-problematic slow-as-hell Bowdoin Loop that constrains the car lengths. South of Government Center would mean underpinning more than half a mile of 1897-construction Green Line tunnel not to mention two two-level 1897-construction stations, one of which is a major transfer point. On top of that, the access to this BL platform at Park would be very difficult given the depths and the existing station's already less-than-stellar accesses from the surface down two levels to the Red Line level. The Silver Line Phase III debacle laid bare how truly horrifying it is in terms of cost projections to base your plans on underpinning those ancient stations (somewhere in the Green Line Reconfiguration thread F-Line has a detailed description of the cost projection blowouts that made the Feds flee in terror, which should be required reading for transit planners and advocates on how not to design a project). Eating the old Tremont trolley tunnel would save the costs of underpinning both levels, but would foreclose the option of sending Green to the Transitway (undoing the debacle referenced above) or eliminating Copley Junction by re-routing the E through a new tunnel along the Pike.

Sorry to throw such a cold bucket of water on this, but I'm having a really hard time seeing the "Transit Pitch" here. A Green Line branch to Nubian/Dudley is absolutely feasible today; I'd argue it's absolutely in Reasonable Transit Pitch territory given how much existing infrastructure there is. A GL F-Line would achieve the goal of the transit pitch, which is a suitable replacement for the elevated that hits the transfer stations (inside fare control), and it has no meaningful blockers beyond lack of political interest and money. This subway, on the other hand, would be more expensive, harder to build, presumably have fewer stops given they'd be sub-surface, and would introduce inferior transfers compared to a GL branch. I think in general proposals in this thread have to have at least some meaningful logic to them; here all I can see is the idea that it would be cool to have a Blue branch instead of a Green one, that's fine, but it might be more suited to the God Mode thread than here.
 

jklo

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441 was #92-of-169 in systemwide ridership with 1397 daily riders, 442 was #68-of-169 with 2056 daily riders, 448 was #154-of-169 with 176 daily riders, 449 was #158-of-169 with 158 daily riders.
441 and 442 are pretty long bus routes and I'd suspect that very little of the ridership is coming from Marblehead. To Marblehead, maybe, if there's service workers in Lynn who take it to get to their job there. I'd say the majority get on at Lynn and get off at Wonderland.

448 and 449 got discontinued actually.
 

Riverside

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441 and 442 are pretty long bus routes and I'd suspect that very little of the ridership is coming from Marblehead. To Marblehead, maybe, if there's service workers in Lynn who take it to get to their job there. I'd say the majority get on at Lynn and get off at Wonderland.
And you'd be correct.

According to the Better Bus Profiles for 441-442 and 448-449, they see the majority of their ridership in and around Lynn:

Screen Shot 2021-07-03 at 11.21.36 AM.png


Though I will note that there is a nice pocket of ridership in downtown Marblehead. In a post-BLX-plus world that sees the Blue Line running to Salem or beyond, I can imagine these routes seeing better ridership with the better and more reliable headways that would be provided by curtailing the route at Lynn (or possibly even Swampscott).
 

JeffDowntown

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In a BLX world, I think you have to run these routes to Lynn Central Square, there is too much local feed pickup/drop off between Lynn and Swampscott. (Also Swampscott station is awkward for buses to access.)

You will likely also need a separate route Lynn Central Square to Wonderland (short loop, to service the riders down the Lynnway -- that area is finally slated for some significant waterfront development.
 

Riverside

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Yeah, Swampscott seems like a less likely candidate for a bus terminal, but I think it's become notably more viable with BLX. Probably not viable enough, but I think still a notable difference.
 

BentFryingPan

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This might be a bit of a stretch for Crazy Transit Pitches, but would it be feasible to use the VFW/Boston Providence Highway as a right of way for an elevated (or cut and cover) extension past West Roxbury to Dedham/128? It would require a lot of TOD to make it reasonable, but there's plenty of parking lot area to do it, and frankly that seems to be the best way to upzone in Greater Boston. See my chicken scratch below.

1625745814510.png


If we get better frequency / pricing out of the current Amtrak / Purple line station at 128 I think the part past Dedham Center isn't really needed. Obviously Dedham would have to be 1000% more transit friendly but this wouldn't even be a thought until the Orange Line goes to W. Roxbury anyway.
 

Charlie_mta

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This might be a bit of a stretch for Crazy Transit Pitches, but would it be feasible to use the VFW/Boston Providence Highway as a right of way for an elevated (or cut and cover) extension past West Roxbury to Dedham/128? It would require a lot of TOD to make it reasonable, but there's plenty of parking lot area to do it, and frankly that seems to be the best way to upzone in Greater Boston. See my chicken scratch below.

View attachment 14646

If we get better frequency / pricing out of the current Amtrak / Purple line station at 128 I think the part past Dedham Center isn't really needed. Obviously Dedham would have to be 1000% more transit friendly but this wouldn't even be a thought until the Orange Line goes to W. Roxbury anyway.
I like this routing, and I personally would go for an elevated line along this route. The noise and shadows from an elevated line would be mitigated by the wide highway. The NIMBYs would raise holy hell about cutting down the trees in the median, but new trees could be planted. Something like this would be cool:

 
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Charlie_mta

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I like this routing, and I personally would go for an elevated line along this route. The noise and shadows from an elevated line would be mitigated by the wide highway. The NIMBYs would raise holy hell about cutting down the trees in the median, but new trees could be planted. Something like this would be cool:

On second thought, I'm thinking the population served by the corridor along VFW Parkway is limited. I'd rather see the OL extended to Needham. The VFW Parkway south of this OL extension to Needham could be served by a bus line on the VFW Pkwy.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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How "crazy" of a transit pitch would it be to build an infill station in East Worcester?
Considering it's sub-10 minutes away on WRTA Route #15, not crazy but probably really really pointless. A trip already as long as Worcester can't absorb infinite infill stops. Those bullets have to be rationed to utmost needs only (say, Millbury for the Pike-accessible P'nR loading) and generously traded off with more express layering in the inner zones if you want to knock down end-to-end travel times to something tolerable. EMU acceleration isn't going to pare enough off the local schedule by its lonesome to let you open the floodgates on micro-targeted infilling.

Pulse up the #15 frequencies if there's something left wanting here. This is a job for the bus district whose center of the universe bullseyes right on Union Station.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The curve and hill combo means a slowdown anyways
So does CP 43 interlocking where the T switches off the mainline onto its home turnout for Union Station and passes through a zillion yard and crossover switches in the process. Adding the infill stop means you spend all your time accelerating from recovery out of a dead stop only to immediately hit a mini- terminal district, which ends up de facto distending the East Worcester slow area even further out. It's going to be a pronounced schedule gap between stops only 1.5 miles away. Think about how it takes 7 minutes right now to go 2.5 miles on the curve-a-thon between Franklin and Forge Park. Probably resembles that painful slog up to 4-5 minutes, with EMU acceleration helping less here because the whole CP 43 dispatching complexity is what it is.

Route #15 takes exactly 10 minutes to get from Union Station to UMass Medical Center 2 stops up from Plantation St. Which means it's about 7-8 minutes to the stop abutting this infill. Given what you're dealing with with the infill and interlocking slow zones, if 4 minutes is the best-case travel time between the East Worcester and Worcester Union stop pair you don't end up saving very much at all over the current 7-8 minute bus. Moreover, the walkshed around Plantation St. ends up pretty microscopic because of MA 9 plowing 7 lanes through the very nearest crosswalk for getting anywhere useful. Throw in that UMass Med campus's access roads are likewise sprawly ped-hostile 4-lane parkways all around, and the vast majority of people are forced into an immediate bus transfer instead of walking even when those places are only 2+ bus stops away. That barely saves any time vs. picking up that same bus at Union Station where boardings are nicely integrated and you have the best chance at getting a seat. What's left of East Worcester's walkshed to the south gets pinched by the hill, the Crow Hill Reservation density gap, and the fact that Hamilton and Lake St.'s are faster-served by WRTA #16 out of Union Station than walking from East Worcester.

This is a bus fix, pure and simple. Give #15 and #16 better frequencies for triaging the area and its crosswalk-compromised walksheds, and augment with more (a 'tweener spanning route up Plantation???) if there are any remaining high-demand coverage gaps that stick out. It's pretty much non-optional anyway for the RTA bus districts to step up their coverage once Regional Rail starts pumping the higher frequencies into the gateway cities, so a slate of WRTA improvements exactly like ^that^ would/should be part-and-parcel of any grand corridor plans here. Whatever coverage gaps might presently exist in East Worcester would hopefully get swept up in those rising-tide multimodal coattails and not require marginal/compromised Purple Line touches to do the heaviest lifting.
 

Riverside

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How "crazy" of a transit pitch would it be to build an infill station in East Worcester?
This is my response to virtually any proposed infill on the Worcester Line:

FRA:WOR Summer 2021 schedule.png

Running from Worcester takes over an hour and a half. Running express only saves you 11 minutes. Even when the Heart-to-Hub service was around, it still took over an hour to get to South Station, under basically the best-case-scenario. It is a long journey, that contends with much less favorable operating conditions and terrain than, for example, the Providence Line.

It is true that there are other lines which have similarly lengthy journeys. Providence is 71 minutes and Wickford is 90-110 (!) minutes, depending whether all-stops or express; Fitchburg and Wachusett are a bit under and a bit over 90 minutes respectively; and Newburyport and Rockport were both about 70 minutes (before the bridge went out.)

So, Worcester Expresses, at 80 minutes, are comparable to Fitchburg, Newburyport, Rockport, Providence, and TF Green in terms of journey time.

But, Worcester has unusually high ridership compared to most of these. Consider this graphic from the 2014 Blue Book:

Screen Shot 2021-07-11 at 1.20.46 PM.png


With the exception of the Providence Line, ridership from Worcester trounces all other stations with similar journey times -- nearly twice the ridership of Newburyport, who comes in a distant second place. Hell, Worcester trounces stations across the network regardless of journey times.

Back to the question of infills. The Worcester Line is already at a disadvantage: high ridership combined with looooooong journeys. Are infills always going to be a bad idea? No. But you have to weigh the benefits of a new station against the drawbacks, and, more so than any other line, the Worcester Line is going to be very sensitive to making long journeys even longer.
 

themissinglink

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A trip already as long as Worcester can't absorb infinite infill stops.
Running from Worcester takes over an hour and a half. Running express only saves you 11 minutes. Even when the Heart-to-Hub service was around, it still took over an hour to get to South Station, under basically the best-case-scenario. It is a long journey, that contends with much less favorable operating conditions and terrain than, for example, the Providence Line.
An infill station in East Worcester is clearly out of the question, but is there any opportunity to speed up travel times on the Worcester Line? I seem to remember the East-West rail study mentioning the possibility of speed improvements between Worcester and Boston, but I don't believe it was ever specified exactly what improvements need to be made in order to accommodate faster service.
 

Stlin

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An infill station in East Worcester is clearly out of the question, but is there any opportunity to speed up travel times on the Worcester Line? I seem to remember the East-West rail study mentioning the possibility of speed improvements between Worcester and Boston, but I don't believe it was ever specified exactly what improvements need to be made in order to accommodate faster service.
The third track project they just started will probably help travel times by allowing more expressing. That said, I haven't actually seen any estimates on what sort of travel time reductions we'd actually see, and I suspect we won't until the design is actually complete or close to.
 

Arenacale

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An infill station in East Worcester is clearly out of the question, but is there any opportunity to speed up travel times on the Worcester Line? I seem to remember the East-West rail study mentioning the possibility of speed improvements between Worcester and Boston, but I don't believe it was ever specified exactly what improvements need to be made in order to accommodate faster service.
Split the line after Westborough and redirect it along the Pike to re-merge with the main line by 128. That's a far more direct route than the winding-through-the-suburbs of the Framingham segment, and it cuts out the massive time-sucks of the Framingham/Natick/East Natick loading and unloading. Then you can add in another Worcester local stop and still have a much more reasonable travel time to the city.

(This is Playing Transit God stuff, I know)
 

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