Crazy Transit Pitches

bigeman312

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Okay, well, if you assume that demand that makes sense, it just wasn't clear in the initial post. Moreover, while there is theoretically benefit in adding population centers to the route, as I outlined earlier operational considerations are relevant. Amtrak (and everyone else) doesn't make a habit of starting at random locations; their trains generally originate where they have yards and maintenance facilities, for obvious reasons, and Providence doesn't have that (the closest thing they have is the Pawtucket layover). If you're assuming that in an NSRL/Regional Rail world the MBTA and/or Amtrak would have a larger Providence operating base that could source (or at least store) equipment for a PVD-MTL train, that's fine, but it would have to be factored in.
As part of this proposal, Amtrak would share the Pawtucket Layover with the MBTA for this line only.
 

Riverside

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A bunch of reasons! Too many to list, but the biggest reason was to provide a one-seat ride between Providence and Montreal. This crazy pitch is built on the idea that there would be demand for a train between Providence and Montreal (and Providence and VT and Providence and NH), in addition to the obvious demand between Boston and Montreal. By extending to Providence you add another major city to the line, without severing and connections that would exist in a Boston <-> Montreal line. In a world where NSRL exists, extending this line to Providence would be of greater benefit than cost, IMO.
Alrighty, I'll bite. I love crayon maps as much as anyone else on this board, and Lord knows I've put forth some wild unsubstantiated ideas in my time. But responding to the question of "Why?" with "A bunch of reasons, too many to list" is kinda contrary to the point of a discussion board, where the idea is to, you know, discuss things. Moreover, saying "The biggest reason to run a train direct from Montreal to Providence is to provide a one-seat ride between the two" is a bit like saying "The biggest reason to build a bridge here [in some random place] is so that cars can get from one side of the river to the other." Neither of these statements says anything.

I don't mean to be a jerk. If your reason for proposing this idea it because it would be cool, then I'm onboard with that! I honestly don't believe that there needs to be a "better" reason to toss an idea around -- it's important for the ongoing transit discourse to have moments of fun, imagination, and delight, and saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if you could get on a train in Providence and get off in Montreal?" certainly checks all those boxes.

Let me give you some blunt feedback regarding problems I see with this proposal. If you can come up with solutions, awesome! If not, hopefully the feedback is helpful as you imagine other ideas, crazy or otherwise.
  • NSRL: the North-South Rail Link, like the tunnels that run into Manhattan, will be electric only. For your proposal to work, you'd need at least one of three things:
    • A locomotive swap in Woburn. Isn't the worst idea, but will cost you time and increase operational logistics
    • Electrify everything to Montreal. This would be extremely expensive and quite unlikely for any foreseeable future
    • Use dual-mode locomotives. These aren't exactly rare, but they aren't super common, they are expensive, I believe less efficient, and increase operational complexity because it reduces the number of locomotives you can swap in at the last minute
  • Stop spacing: you have a mix of intercity stop spacing and commuter rail spacing -- 50 miles between Montpelier and Lebanon, but 6 miles between Attleboro and Mansfield. Intercity and commuter rail are different problems that call for different solutions, including potentially different locomotives, different passenger coaches, and different schedules. We know from the current MBTA commuter rail schedule that it takes at least 45 minutes to go BOS-PVD with those same stops that you're proposing, while Amtrak is able to do it in just over 30. Aren't Providence passengers going to be annoyed at that extra travel time?
  • Northern Rail: this is a long windy route through the mountains. It is no doubt beautiful, but also will increase your travel times, plus require significant investment to reactivate for passenger use
  • Reverse move at Burlington: this takes a super long time (or has to be planned and carried out with extreme speed and precision every time, including having a second locomotive ready to go)
  • Comparison to existing proposals and existing service: So you have to ask yourself, "Why is this better than more conventional proposals?" Rail service to Montreal typically is proposed originating in Boston and either traveling via Springfield or Manchester. Why is your proposal better than the conventional "Boston-Manchester-Montreal + transfer to Boston-Providence service" idea? (That conventional idea, by the by, avoids the electric/diesel issue, as well as the stop spacing issue.)
 

bigeman312

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Great feedback! Thanks!

Alrighty, I'll bite ... Neither of these statements says anything.
I disagree. I think serving Providence - Montreal is motivation enough, especially when it's just added on top of serving the already agreed upon demand that exists for Boston - Montreal (and all other points in between that are too many to list).

Providence anchors an urban area of 1.2 million people. Montreal anchors an urban area of 3.5 million people. Their train stations are 275 miles apart as the crow flies. Those figures alone justify connecting them with a one-seat ride. Comparably sized and distanced cities throughout the highly developed world anchor inter-city rail lines. When there is an even larger urban area in between, it becomes even more of a justified idea.

I don't mean to be a jerk. If your reason for proposing this idea it because it would be cool, then I'm onboard ...
The response you gave is one I'd expect if the proposal was for a train from Poughkeepsie to Bangor or some other pairs of small cities that don't have any demand to be linked. Providing the best one-seat ride between two major (1m+ person urban area) cities (and obviously all points in between) is the point of this proposal.

Let me give you some blunt feedback ...
  • NSRL: the North-South Rail Link, like the tunnels that run into Manhattan, will be electric only. For your proposal to work, you'd need at least one of three things:
    • A locomotive swap in Woburn. Isn't the worst idea, but will cost you time and increase operational logistics
    • Electrify everything to Montreal. This would be extremely expensive and quite unlikely for any foreseeable future
    • Use dual-mode locomotives. These aren't exactly rare, but they aren't super common, they are expensive, I believe less efficient, and increase operational complexity because it reduces the number of locomotives you can swap in at the last minute
This is where you begin to provide helpful feedback. Thank you. I would prefer to see full electrification to Montreal. Electrification was proposed for every single Commuter Rail line in two of the Rail Vision alternatives. Yes, even the Greenbush Line, the Rockport and Newpuryport Line, everything. Whether or not you think that is reasonable or likely to happen, this is not 'Reasonable Transit Pitches' and electrification of hundreds of miles of intercity rail right-of-way is well within 'Crazy Transit Pitch' territory. It is feasible and could be done if it was a priority. Therefore, fully within the constraints of 'Crazy Transit Pitches' to propose full electrification to Montreal.

Stop spacing: you have a mix of intercity stop spacing and commuter rail spacing -- 50 miles between Montpelier and Lebanon, but 6 miles between Attleboro and Mansfield. Intercity and commuter rail are different problems that call for different solutions, including potentially different locomotives, different passenger coaches, and different schedules. We know from the current MBTA commuter rail schedule that it takes at least 45 minutes to go BOS-PVD with those same stops that you're proposing, while Amtrak is able to do it in just over 30. Aren't Providence passengers going to be annoyed at that extra travel time?
I think you are wrong about this and there are many counterexamples to demonstrate. On the Acela, there is only one track mile between South Station and Back Bay, yet, there are 69 miles between Wilmington and Baltimore. Do you think this demonstrates that South Station passengers would be too annoyed with that extra travel time to use Acela? No, of course not. If you don't think Attleboro would attract enough demand on this line to justify the extra stop, that would be a valid criticism, but it should not be ruled on out stop spacing alone, as clearly demonstrated by the presence of a Back Bay and South Station stop on every single one of Boston's intercity rail lines.

Attleboro could be the first on the chopping block of these stops on this proposed route, but stop spacing alone doesn't show that.

Northern Rail: this is a long windy route through the mountains. It is no doubt beautiful, but also will increase your travel times, plus require significant investment to reactivate for passenger use
70 miles from Concord to White River Junction. Significantly south of the Whites. Characterizing this 70-mile route through the Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee region as "a long windy route through the mountains" is most definitely an exaggeration. I would know having biked the length of this flat route two years ago. You are right that it is no doubt beautiful. The highest point on this route is less than 1,000 feet above sea level and there are no steep grades on any of it.

Yes, it will require significant investment to reactivate (and electrify), but that is well within the realm of a Crazy Transit Pitch. If the funding were available, it would be quite doable. Why should it be done? It will decrease travel times ...

Comparison to existing proposals and existing service: So you have to ask yourself, "Why is this better than more conventional proposals?" Rail service to Montreal typically is proposed originating in Boston and either traveling via Springfield or Manchester. Why is your proposal better than the conventional "Boston-Manchester-Montreal + transfer to Boston-Providence service" idea? (That conventional idea, by the by, avoids the electric/diesel issue, as well as the stop spacing issue.)
Let's take these one at a time.
  • Compared to routing via Springfield
The major difference between the Provtreal proposal and this "conventional proposal" is the Boston - White River Junction segment. So, let's compare travel times on these two options. The Lake Shore Limited is scheduled to take 2h33m from Boston to Springfield and the Vermonter takes 3hr from Springfield to White River Junction. So, for your incorrect assertion that this route would "increase your travel times" to be true, it would have to take longer than 5h33m to get from Boston to White River Junction.

Based on the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Rail Proposal, travel time between Concord and North Station would be 1h34m, with an extra stop. I'll make the most generous estimate for you and assume that removing that (Bedford/MHT) stop would only save one minute. So, for your incorrect assertion that it would add travel time to the more conventional proposal to be true, it would have to take more than 4 hours (5h33m - 1h33m) to cover the flat 70 miles between Concord and White River Junction.

For your claim to be true, trains would have to travel over this flat 70-mile segment, with only one stop, and average less than 17.5 mph. Yes, if I were proposing for trains to run at less than 17.5mph over this flat section then you would have made a good point. But, I think it's reasonable to expect trains to cut significant travel time off of the conventional proposals you named. In 1957, trains traversed this section in 1 hour, 41 minutes, even with three additional stops than I'm proposing. That's an average of 41.6 mph. So, why would you assume that the Provtreal proposal would only travel at a fraction of this speed? Even at 23.3 mph (taking a full three hours over this segment, and well over one hour longer than 1957), it saves an hour over the routing via Springfield. At 35 mph, it saves two hours over the routing via Springfield. At 1957 speeds (even ignoring the time savings from running express), it saves 2 hours and 19 minutes over the Springfield alternative. There is a reason why trains between Boston and Montreal always took this route when the line was active. How did you come to the conclusion that this routing would "increase your travel time?"
  • Boston-Manchester-Montreal + transfer to Boston-Providence service
That is basically what I'm proposing, except through-running to Providence. The Boston-Manchester-Montreal routing proposals are almost always over the Northern Railroad. Usually, this Boston-Manchester-Montreal proposal is predicated on there not being a North-South Rail Link (NSRL). Without NSRL, I 100% agree with you that would be the way to go. But as we've seen with other similar projects, such as the Center City Commuter Connection, through-running is the best operational practice when pairings make sense. If it's helpful for you, you can think of this proposal as a luxury semi-express Providence CR train that continues on to become a true intercity Boston - Montreal train. In the presence of a NSRL, it would be a missed opportunity to not combine the two.

Reverse move at Burlington: this takes a super long time (or has to be planned and carried out with extreme speed and precision every time, including having a second locomotive ready to go)
Valid criticism. I wanted to add a true Burlington stop as it's a city that has such a draw to have a stop right in town and was willing to accept the cost that came with that. I can definitely see an argument against it, but based on what I know it seems worth it to perform this reverse move. I'm happy to be presented with some actual data that shows otherwise.
 

Tallguy

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Great feedback! Thanks!



I disagree. I think serving Providence - Montreal is motivation enough, especially when it's just added on top of serving the already agreed upon demand that exists for Boston - Montreal (and all other points in between that are too many to list).

Providence anchors an urban area of 1.2 million people. Montreal anchors an urban area of 3.5 million people. Their train stations are 275 miles apart as the crow flies. Those figures alone justify connecting them with a one-seat ride. Comparably sized and distanced cities throughout the highly developed world anchor inter-city rail lines. When there is an even larger urban area in between, it becomes even more of a justified idea.



The response you gave is one I'd expect if the proposal was for a train from Poughkeepsie to Bangor or some other pairs of small cities that don't have any demand to be linked. Providing the best one-seat ride between two major (1m+ person urban area) cities (and obviously all points in between) is the point of this proposal.


This is where you begin to provide helpful feedback. Thank you. I would prefer to see full electrification to Montreal. Electrification was proposed for every single Commuter Rail line in two of the Rail Vision alternatives. Yes, even the Greenbush Line, the Rockport and Newpuryport Line, everything. Whether or not you think that is reasonable or likely to happen, this is not 'Reasonable Transit Pitches' and electrification of hundreds of miles of intercity rail right-of-way is well within 'Crazy Transit Pitch' territory. It is feasible and could be done if it was a priority. Therefore, fully within the constraints of 'Crazy Transit Pitches' to propose full electrification to Montreal.



I think you are wrong about this and there are many counterexamples to demonstrate. On the Acela, there is only one track mile between South Station and Back Bay, yet, there are 69 miles between Wilmington and Baltimore. Do you think this demonstrates that South Station passengers would be too annoyed with that extra travel time to use Acela? No, of course not. If you don't think Attleboro would attract enough demand on this line to justify the extra stop, that would be a valid criticism, but it should not be ruled on out stop spacing alone, as clearly demonstrated by the presence of a Back Bay and South Station stop on every single one of Boston's intercity rail lines.

Attleboro could be the first on the chopping block of these stops on this proposed route, but stop spacing alone doesn't show that.



70 miles from Concord to White River Junction. Significantly south of the Whites. Characterizing this 70-mile route through the Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee region as "a long windy route through the mountains" is most definitely an exaggeration. I would know having biked the length of this flat route two years ago. You are right that it is no doubt beautiful. The highest point on this route is less than 1,000 feet above sea level and there are no steep grades on any of it.

Yes, it will require significant investment to reactivate (and electrify), but that is well within the realm of a Crazy Transit Pitch. If the funding were available, it would be quite doable. Why should it be done? It will decrease travel times ...



Let's take these one at a time.
  • Compared to routing via Springfield
The major difference between the Provtreal proposal and this "conventional proposal" is the Boston - White River Junction segment. So, let's compare travel times on these two options. The Lake Shore Limited is scheduled to take 2h33m from Boston to Springfield and the Vermonter takes 3hr from Springfield to White River Junction. So, for your incorrect assertion that this route would "increase your travel times" to be true, it would have to take longer than 5h33m to get from Boston to White River Junction.

Based on the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Rail Proposal, travel time between Concord and North Station would be 1h34m, with an extra stop. I'll make the most generous estimate for you and assume that removing that (Bedford/MHT) stop would only save one minute. So, for your incorrect assertion that it would add travel time to the more conventional proposal to be true, it would have to take more than 4 hours (5h33m - 1h33m) to cover the flat 70 miles between Concord and White River Junction.

For your claim to be true, trains would have to travel over this flat 70-mile segment, with only one stop, and average less than 17.5 mph. Yes, if I were proposing for trains to run at less than 17.5mph over this flat section then you would have made a good point. But, I think it's reasonable to expect trains to cut significant travel time off of the conventional proposals you named. In 1957, trains traversed this section in 1 hour, 41 minutes, even with three additional stops than I'm proposing. That's an average of 41.6 mph. So, why would you assume that the Provtreal proposal would only travel at a fraction of this speed? Even at 23.3 mph (taking a full three hours over this segment, and well over one hour longer than 1957), it saves an hour over the routing via Springfield. At 35 mph, it saves two hours over the routing via Springfield. At 1957 speeds (even ignoring the time savings from running express), it saves 2 hours and 19 minutes over the Springfield alternative. There is a reason why trains between Boston and Montreal always took this route when the line was active. How did you come to the conclusion that this routing would "increase your travel time?"
  • Boston-Manchester-Montreal + transfer to Boston-Providence service
That is basically what I'm proposing, except through-running to Providence. The Boston-Manchester-Montreal routing proposals are almost always over the Northern Railroad. Usually, this Boston-Manchester-Montreal proposal is predicated on there not being a North-South Rail Link (NSRL). Without NSRL, I 100% agree with you that would be the way to go. But as we've seen with other similar projects, such as the Center City Commuter Connection, through-running is the best operational practice when pairings make sense. If it's helpful for you, you can think of this proposal as a luxury semi-express Providence CR train that continues on to become a true intercity Boston - Montreal train. In the presence of a NSRL, it would be a missed opportunity to not combine the two.



Valid criticism. I wanted to add a true Burlington stop as it's a city that has such a draw to have a stop right in town and was willing to accept the cost that came with that. I can definitely see an argument against it, but based on what I know it seems worth it to perform this reverse move. I'm happy to be presented with some actual data that shows otherwise.
Transitmatters estimates 90 min Bos-Spr with EMUs, electrification, and moderate superelevation, so compare apples to apples, please
 

bigeman312

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Transitmatters estimates 90 min Bos-Spr with EMUs, electrification, and moderate superelevation, so compare apples to apples, please
Maybe it wasn't clear that I was using "apple-to-apple" time comparisons, so I'll break it down for you.

I was using 1957 timetables for the Provtreal estimate over the 70 mile Northern Railroad, to give the most generous estimate to the person I was responding to. I'll humor you though.

Let's compare apples to apples and assume that the Northern railroad is similarly electrified, using moderate superelevation, and also averaging 60mph speed over the Northern Railroad.

Provtreal time Boston to White River Junction with EMUs, electrification, and moderate superelevation conditions over Concord - WRJ: 2 hours, 43 minutes.

Boston-Springfield-WRJ time with EMUs, electrification, and moderate superelevation conditions over Boston - Springfield: 4 hours, 35 minutes.

Time Savings: 1 hour, 52 minutes.

Let's keep playing apples-to-apples.

No speed improvements over standard intercity rail conditions. Provtreal uses 1957 timetables and Springfield routing uses current timetables.

Provtreal time Boston to White River Junction with 1957 speed over Northern Railroad: 3 hours, 14 minutes.

Boston-Springfield-WRJ time with current timetables: 5 hours, 33 minutes.

Time Savings: 2 hours, 19 minutes.
 

luobo

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Welp. Guess it's time for another fiddly Green Line crayon. This one is just going to focus on the Southside, so no North Shore adventures this time around.

An Overview:

*The B Line is kinda-sorta also the A Line now, in that it ends up going to Watertown via Newton Corner!
*The C Line is kinda-sorta the B Line now, in that it picks up Chestnut Hill and Boston College, then extends to Newton City Hall.
*The D/E Lines have their own separate branching south of Park Street via the much-discussed Boylston > Marginal >Back Bay >Huntington > Brookline Village route. Off-screen to the west, the D breaks off to Riverside and the E breaks off to Needham. Not too much to discuss here that isn't well-trod territory so I'll focus on the B and C line hijinks.

Screenshot 2021-11-20 12.03.55 AM.png


Downtown:

Not too much changes (Boylston/Marginal tunnel notwithstanding) except for one small tunnel project to route the B and C lines directly to Park Street from Arlington. It would be a tight fit around the parking garage but should be possible. The Arlington and Boylston stop spacing is very close so giving them to different branches isn't a big deal, and this finally rids us all of the Boylston screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech.

Screenshot 2021-11-20 12.04.47 AM.png


Allston/Brighton is where things get more interesting!

The B Line runs as normal from Kenmore until it gets to Allston Street, where it dips underground into a portal. It then runs through a short tunnel underneath Warren Street, before turning west on Cambridge St and popping up out of a portal in front of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. It then continues on to Oak Square, Newton Corner (where it meets a Regional Rail infill station) and Watertown Square.

The C Line runs its entire current route as normal, but extends past Cleveland Circle to a new Chestnut Hill Avenue station, Boston College, and beyond. It pushes into Newton until it hits the City Hall, which is about as far as it could ever be worth going and filling the transit gap between the Newton Commuter Rail stations to the north and the D Line stations to the south.

This does leave a 1.1 mile section of the current B line without service, but I think it's worth it. Warren Street, Chiswick Road, and Sutherland Road were all good candidates for consolidation anyways. The only real loss is the Washington Street stop, but with Washington Square half a mile to the southeast, a St. Elizabeth's stop half a mile to the northwest, Allston Street half a mile to the northeast, and Chestnut Hill Ave half a mile to the southwest. . . I think it'll be okay. And you can still leave the tracks there to facilitate moves between branches or provide redundancy if one of the branches has a problem.

Screenshot 2021-11-20 12.07.12 AM.png


Overall I like this for a few reasons:

-It restores rapid transit to Oak Square, Newton Corner, and Watertown Square without a crazy amount of expense (the Warren St. tunnel is pretty short).
-It fills in a few of the gaps in Newton's transit coverage (priming the pump for whenever it finally gets upzoned).
-With the exception of people who live within a stone's throw of the B Line Washington St stop, there isn't much lost service or inconvenience for the vast majority of riders.

Annnd for a bonus round, since my crayons always have to have some scope creep. . . you may be asking "what about the E Line riders going to Heath Street?"

Well, they can take the Blue Line! Which would extend from Charles, down the Esplanade to Kenmore, then under Brookline Ave through LMA. From there, we completely uncontroversially go underneath Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and the Arborway en route to Forest Hills and a terminal station at Shattuck (unless you want to go full Crazy and continue down Route 203 to Neponset). This will provide stations a block west of all the current E Line stops, and generally serves as an (albeit imperfect) substitute for the lost Arborway line.

Screenshot 2021-11-20 12.46.50 AM.png
 

Brattle Loop

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Not too much changes (Boylston/Marginal tunnel notwithstanding) except for one small tunnel project to route the B and C lines directly to Park Street from Arlington. It would be a tight fit around the parking garage but should be possible. The Arlington and Boylston stop spacing is very close so giving them to different branches isn't a big deal, and this finally rids us all of the Boylston screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech.
One....small...tunnel...project...?

Even if it's somehow possible to thread the needle between the parking garage and the historic burying ground (generally speaking, digging through cemeteries is a big no-no), Boylston is where the flying junction is. You'd have to replicate a two-level flying junction added onto a 124-year-old subway somewhere between the burying ground and Park Street, all to eliminate a curve that is not that much of a constraint on operations (I'd wager real money that the lack of ability to stack trains at Government Center going into the loop causes more delay than the Boylston curve) even if the screech is appalling. Fails the cost-benefit analysis over the existing perfectly-good junction, fails hard. (Not to mention forcing transfers at Park Street where the Red Line already gums up the works, rather than pure-Green Boylston.)

The B Line runs as normal from Kenmore until it gets to Allston Street, where it dips underground into a portal. It then runs through a short tunnel underneath Warren Street, before turning west on Cambridge St and popping up out of a portal in front of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. It then continues on to Oak Square, Newton Corner (where it meets a Regional Rail infill station) and Watertown Square.
The angle from Comm Ave to Warren would be nice and screechy in a tunnel. For the life of me I can't see how it would be feasible to put a portal in on Cambridge Street, that road's nowhere near wide enough, and it strikes me as a bad idea to put a giant obstacle to traffic in the street in front of a hospital. Cambridge/Washington is also so narrow that even if you take every bloody parking space you'll never fit a reservation in there (the ambulances needing to get to the aforementioned hospital will see to that), so it'll be some form of street running. (As if the B didn't already have a garbage-in problem for the Central Subway.) Also, not really sure what the hill route between Alston Street and Chestnut Hill Ave did to get the shaft from this proposal.

The C Line runs its entire current route as normal, but extends past Cleveland Circle to a new Chestnut Hill Avenue station, Boston College, and beyond. It pushes into Newton until it hits the City Hall, which is about as far as it could ever be worth going and filling the transit gap between the Newton Commuter Rail stations to the north and the D Line stations to the south.
N...Newton City Hall...? That's on the order of 2.3 miles from BC station (aka the approximate length of the existing C-branch from the portal to Cleveland Circle), through lower-density areas, though at least this one would be on a reservation. Still miles better than the street-running Watertown branch that also has to serve the BU traffic horror-show all on its own.

Overall I like this for a few reasons:

-It restores rapid transit to Oak Square, Newton Corner, and Watertown Square without a crazy amount of expense (the Warren St. tunnel is pretty short).
-It fills in a few of the gaps in Newton's transit coverage (priming the pump for whenever it finally gets upzoned).
-With the exception of people who live within a stone's throw of the B Line Washington St stop, there isn't much lost service or inconvenience for the vast majority of riders.

Annnd for a bonus round, since my crayons always have to have some scope creep. . . you may be asking "what about the E Line riders going to Heath Street?"

Well, they can take the Blue Line! Which would extend from Charles, down the Esplanade to Kenmore, then under Brookline Ave through LMA. From there, we completely uncontroversially go underneath Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and the Arborway en route to Forest Hills and a terminal station at Shattuck (unless you want to go full Crazy and continue down Route 203 to Neponset). This will provide stations a block west of all the current E Line stops, and generally serves as an (albeit imperfect) substitute for the lost Arborway line.
So, uh, conglaturation Longwood Medical Area, unless we build a Blue Line megaproject, you can no longer be accessed from half the Green Line without a transfer at Park Street!

Crazy? Yes. Transit Pitch? I'm not so sure.

It achieves its stated objectives, if at all, in destructive, roundabout ways. There's no stated justification for why a B-to-A alignment (screwing over a current service area) with a short (but still not free) tunnel to also constrained roads (compared to the old A alignment) is preferable for service to Oak Square and Watertown. There is no apparent consideration of what the operational impacts of operating to Newton would be on the C-to-B line (especially because it cannot be grade-separated to the extent of the existing D-branch). There is at best a Blue Line hand-wave for the loss of one of the two flanking LMA stops, and not much apparent concern for the transit loss incurred on portions of multiple existing lines.

You clearly put in a lot of effort here, and I realize how harshly critical I sound. My view of this is simple, this isn't Crazy Transit Pitches territory. This is God Mode territory. In that thread this would be an interesting idea. My view is that things posted in this thread deserve to be critiqued thoroughly, because while it may be crazy, we're still talking Transit Pitches.

(Transit nerd hat back on for a moment, much as I may be unsparing in my commentary, I love seeing new ideas and content, and I'm thoroughly impressed with the scope and imagination of this idea, even if I think the details don't add up as a Transit Pitch.)
 

Urban_Hermit

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Welp. Guess it's time for another fiddly Green Line crayon. This one is just going to focus on the Southside, so no North Shore adventures this time around.

An Overview:

*The B Line is kinda-sorta also the A Line now, in that it ends up going to Watertown via Newton Corner!
*The C Line is kinda-sorta the B Line now, in that it picks up Chestnut Hill and Boston College, then extends to Newton City Hall.
*The D/E Lines have their own separate branching south of Park Street via the much-discussed Boylston > Marginal >Back Bay >Huntington > Brookline Village route. Off-screen to the west, the D breaks off to Riverside and the E breaks off to Needham. Not too much to discuss here that isn't well-trod territory so I'll focus on the B and C line hijinks.

View attachment 19036

Downtown:

Not too much changes (Boylston/Marginal tunnel notwithstanding) except for one small tunnel project to route the B and C lines directly to Park Street from Arlington. It would be a tight fit around the parking garage but should be possible. The Arlington and Boylston stop spacing is very close so giving them to different branches isn't a big deal, and this finally rids us all of the Boylston screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech.

View attachment 19037

Allston/Brighton is where things get more interesting!

The B Line runs as normal from Kenmore until it gets to Allston Street, where it dips underground into a portal. It then runs through a short tunnel underneath Warren Street, before turning west on Cambridge St and popping up out of a portal in front of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. It then continues on to Oak Square, Newton Corner (where it meets a Regional Rail infill station) and Watertown Square.

The C Line runs its entire current route as normal, but extends past Cleveland Circle to a new Chestnut Hill Avenue station, Boston College, and beyond. It pushes into Newton until it hits the City Hall, which is about as far as it could ever be worth going and filling the transit gap between the Newton Commuter Rail stations to the north and the D Line stations to the south.

This does leave a 1.1 mile section of the current B line without service, but I think it's worth it. Warren Street, Chiswick Road, and Sutherland Road were all good candidates for consolidation anyways. The only real loss is the Washington Street stop, but with Washington Square half a mile to the southeast, a St. Elizabeth's stop half a mile to the northwest, Allston Street half a mile to the northeast, and Chestnut Hill Ave half a mile to the southwest. . . I think it'll be okay. And you can still leave the tracks there to facilitate moves between branches or provide redundancy if one of the branches has a problem.

View attachment 19038

Overall I like this for a few reasons:

-It restores rapid transit to Oak Square, Newton Corner, and Watertown Square without a crazy amount of expense (the Warren St. tunnel is pretty short).
-It fills in a few of the gaps in Newton's transit coverage (priming the pump for whenever it finally gets upzoned).
-With the exception of people who live within a stone's throw of the B Line Washington St stop, there isn't much lost service or inconvenience for the vast majority of riders.

Annnd for a bonus round, since my crayons always have to have some scope creep. . . you may be asking "what about the E Line riders going to Heath Street?"

Well, they can take the Blue Line! Which would extend from Charles, down the Esplanade to Kenmore, then under Brookline Ave through LMA. From there, we completely uncontroversially go underneath Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and the Arborway en route to Forest Hills and a terminal station at Shattuck (unless you want to go full Crazy and continue down Route 203 to Neponset). This will provide stations a block west of all the current E Line stops, and generally serves as an (albeit imperfect) substitute for the lost Arborway line.

View attachment 19039
Emphatic NO to this B-line realignment.

Washington street used to be my home stop, so there’s the base instinct of “Don’t get rid of my stop!” But beyond that there would be a fair amount lost eliminating the stops between Warren and Chestnut Hill.

1) it moves the rapid transit from a dense and growing neighborhood to serve low density suburban areas. Within a short walk of Washington street I can think of 7 100+ unit developments moving through the pipeline.

2) The eliminated stretch is very hilly and and I think removing rapid transit makes it a less livable (walkable) neighborhood.
 
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bigpicture7

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^To add to this: the 65 Bus that runs along Washington already makes a nice St. E's cross-town connection. I'd rather see a separate A branch reinstated, and, meanwhile, to improve the 65 with transit signal prioritization (particularly when it gets to the Longwood area...the bus actually runs pretty fast until there), and potentially some short dedicated bus lane stretches. I think the 65 could be a classic experiment in induced demand where if it ran faster and came more frequently, more people would use it.
 

bigeman312

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Emphatic NO to this B-line realignment.

... it moves the rapid transit from a dense and growing neighborhood to serve low density suburban areas. Within a short walk of Washington street I can think of 7 100+ unit developments moving through the pipeline.
I agree and want to quantify this point, and demonstrate just how hyper-dense this stretch is. The six highest density census tracts in Allston-Brighton are:
  1. Census Tract 7.04: 57.4k per square mile
  2. Census Tract 7.01: 50.8k per square mile
  3. Census Tract 5.03: 44.7k per square mile
  4. Census Tract 5.06: 39.7k per square mile
  5. Census Tract 5.05: 39.4k per square mile
  6. Census Tract 7.03: 35.5k per square mile
I've outlined these six census tracts as a visual aid:

Six_Densest_A-B_CTs.png


Any transit pitch that involves Allston-Brighton needs to preserve or improve transit access to this area. If a transit pitch does not preserve or improve transit to this area, it fails outright.

This does leave a 1.1 mile section of the current B line without service, but I think it's worth it. Warren Street, Chiswick Road, and Sutherland Road were all good candidates for consolidation anyways. The only real loss is the Washington Street stop, but with Washington Square half a mile to the southeast, a St. Elizabeth's stop half a mile to the northwest, Allston Street half a mile to the northeast, and Chestnut Hill Ave half a mile to the southwest. . . I think it'll be okay. And you can still leave the tracks there to facilitate moves between branches or provide redundancy if one of the branches has a problem.

View attachment 19038
This is where the pitch becomes an automatic failure based on those grounds. The densest part of Allston-Brighton would have worse transit access than at present time.
 

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Tallguy

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I would do a single track loop to Washington St, up to St Es, down to Warren.
 

Urban_Hermit

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I’m curious about the need and feasibility of reinstating the A-line.

I guess the need is as simple as “all neighborhoods need transit!” But I have a hard time seeing how to fit a train on the part of that route past St. Elizabeth’s without elevating it or burying it. I can’t see a train running in mixed traffic in suburban Brighton and Newton being a good idea.

(if we’re digging any subway tunnels in Allston-Brighton I want it to be for my fantasy 66 bus replacement. )

Also it annoys me that the 57 stops just short of Watertown Square. I say make the buses along that corridor better.
 

HenryAlan

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^To add to this: the 65 Bus that runs along Washington already makes a nice St. E's cross-town connection. I'd rather see a separate A branch reinstated, and, meanwhile, to improve the 65 with transit signal prioritization (particularly when it gets to the Longwood area...the bus actually runs pretty fast until there), and potentially some short dedicated bus lane stretches. I think the 65 could be a classic experiment in induced demand where if it ran faster and came more frequently, more people would use it.
The 65 could be really useful with more efficient operations, better frequency, and perhaps an extension to Oak Square. But none of that requires crazy transit level action, so the MBTA should get on this!
 

HenryAlan

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It seems to me that simply reactivating the flat junction at Packards Corner, plus a mile of restored reservation on Brighton Ave. and Cambridge St. would be significantly easier for a St. Elizabeth's service.
 

Tallguy

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How so? Let’s up the effort on your posts please. In what way is your proposal a worthwhile one?
1.1 vs 2.2 miles(to Oak Sq)single track vs DT
Highest density is near St Es. 2 stops on B are within 1000+/- ft from other stops. Regional Rail station at Fanuiel better for bus from Oak Sq. Or bus to Boston Landing until
 

AndrewOnTheMBTA

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This is a crazy transit pitch that I'd like to revisit: putting the E line underground to Longwood in a first phase, followed by a second phase underground to Brigham Circle and third phase underground to Heath St. I am not sure of how a phase would be decided for a project like this. In terms of a line with ridership and potential for growth, putting this underground as a cut n cover would have a chance. The disruption in traffic and cost of cut n cover make this 'crazy'.

Maybe one day a major project like this would come through
 

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