Fantasy T maps

I'm assuming that, at the end of the day, fully grade separated RER through-running onto NSRL is an equivalent alternative to OL service. So the options are:
  • Start a long construction process, end up with an OL extension with amazing after 5-10 years.
  • Electrify the line with overhead catenary now, end up with a line with great service much quicker, and then spend the next 5-10 years slowly eliminating grade crossings to elevate the service to amazing. Yes, this works out more expensive in the long run, but it yields much more immediate returns compared to the OL alternative. It's not letting "best" get in the way of "better." (And as a nice bonus the RER approach gets you express service along the current OL corridor without sacrificing service to Sullivan, Assembly, Rivers Edge, etc.)
Although I realize that potentially the biggest problem here is that there is a very significant temporal element not really present elsewhere that isn't really easy to convey with a static map.
The problem is that the exact same point applies to places like Waltham -- in fact, it's easier to bring RER to Waltham than to Reading, due to lack of concerns of single tracking. And I see no timeline in which a BLX with long tunnels (partially TBM) is higher on the priority list than simply converting an existing regional rail line to (mostly) surface rapid transit -- or, in other words, no timeline in which the state of the system would be as depicted on the map.

(It's not even getting to F-Line's point that grade-separating the "okay" service to Reading requires more construction hurdles than "great" OLX would.)
 
The problem is that the exact same point applies to places like Waltham -- in fact, it's easier to bring RER to Waltham than to Reading, due to lack of concerns of single tracking. And I see no timeline in which a BLX with long tunnels (partially TBM) is higher on the priority list than simply converting an existing regional rail line to (mostly) surface rapid transit -- or, in other words, no timeline in which the state of the system would be as depicted on the map.

(It's not even getting to F-Line's point that grade-separating the "okay" service to Reading requires more construction hurdles than "great" OLX would.)
Fair enough. The last open question then is express service. What stations are okay to skip, if any? What proportion of trains should be express? Should all trains run to Reading or should some terminate at Oak Grove? If the answers to any of these questions is greater than 0, then at least some OL stops will see a reduction in service compared to OL to Oak Grove/RER to Reading. If the answer to the questions is zero, then trip times could potentially increase compared to the current CR service.
 
ExtensionOn-mode new riders (rank)Total new transit riders (rank)
BLX Wonderland-Lynn21,000 (1)7,900 (2)
BLX Lynn-Salem15,500 (2)8,900 (1)
OLX Forest Hills-Needham/12811,300 (3)600 (7*)
OLX Oak Grove-Reading9,400 (4)5,400 (3)
RLX Braintree-South Weymouth
6,700 (T5)2,900 (4)
RLX Alewife-Hanscom/128
6,700 (T5)2,000 (T5)
OLX Forest Hills-Westwood/1284,700 (7)2,000 (T5)
*large weighting to bus diversions/consolidations
I realize there is the asterisk for Needham Line conversion, but it's a bit frustrating to see that this approach essentially disregards trip efficiency.
 
Re Reading OLX: huh. I'm in the odd position of largely agreeing (I think) with @TheRatmeister's ultimate conclusions, but disagreeing with the underlying methodology.
I'm assuming that, at the end of the day, fully grade separated RER through-running onto NSRL is an equivalent alternative to OL service.
Well, so, big disagree on this one. At the end of the day, a hypothetical version of the Orange Line could shovel 20 tph up to Reading (e.g. an entire tunnel's worth of trains); the only way NSRL gets to that level is if fully half of the trains in a 4-track tunnel run to Reading, and I'm deeply skeptical that Reading exceeds Waltham and Lynn in demand.

That being said, Reading getting a quarter of the NSRL's ~40 tph, yielding 6-minute headways, is somewhat more plausible (though unlikely). Which I think is your general point -- at this distance, the Orange Line probably doesn't need full frequencies, so a "low rapid transit" frequency might overlap with a "high Regional Rail" frequency. And generally I think that's true in principle.

In practice, I think that RER would probably provide Reading with 15 or 20 minute frequencies, which is definitely not equivalent to the Orange Line. I'm not qualified to have a strong opinion on this, but it certainly seems to me that the more branches a system has, the lower effective capacity of the core section, given the greater complexity of scheduling interlining. Keeping Reading on the Regional Rail network makes everything more complicated for everyone, from Lynn to Brockton, Waltham to Providence. An OLX narrows the scope of the complexity.

So the options are:
  • Start a long construction process, end up with an OL extension with amazing after 5-10 years.
  • Electrify the line with overhead catenary now, end up with a line with great service much quicker, and then spend the next 5-10 years slowly eliminating grade crossings to elevate the service to amazing. Yes, this works out more expensive in the long run, but it yields much more immediate returns compared to the OL alternative. It's not letting "best" get in the way of "better." (And as a nice bonus the RER approach gets you express service along the current OL corridor without sacrificing service to Sullivan, Assembly, Rivers Edge, etc.)
Although I realize that potentially the biggest problem here is that there is a very significant temporal element not really present elsewhere that isn't really easy to convey with a static map.
This used to be my thinking as well, but I no longer think it's worth the trouble. From what I can tell, the current in situ conditions could probably yield 30 min headways wth diesel equipment. With some minor to moderate track adjustments south of Oak Grove, maybe that could even drop to 20 min.

In either option you describe, Melrose, Wakefield, and Reading will need to contend with 5-10 years of construction and disruption to service. (Are we really going to be able to do grade separations while thru-running trains?) So, those communities will have a choice: are 5-10 min frequencies really that much better than 20-30 min that it's worth a long term disruption?

If the answer is "yes", then just go ahead and build the Orange Line Extension. And if the answer is no, then continue on with the status quo, but without Indigo Line branding.

So I guess that's where I disagree a bit: I'm less enthusiastic about a Reading OLX, but I also don't particularly see good reason to try to turn the Reading Line into a northern Indigo Line.
 
If the answers to any of these questions is greater than 0, then at least some OL stops will see a reduction in service compared to OL to Oak Grove/RER to Reading.
If OLX happens, then the existing CR tracks could be converted to express tracks, with at least one peak express track always available. (And I think the ROW is 4 tracks wide for much of the way to Malden Center, meaning you could probably create bidirectional express tracks as well.) I think it could be done such that current stations do not see a reduction in frequency. By consolidating all tracks on to a shared mode, you can increase flexibility and capacity at all points on the route.
 
If OLX happens, then the existing CR tracks could be converted to express tracks, with at least one peak express track always available. I think it could be done such that current stations do not see a reduction in frequency.
You can't keep that going into downtown though. If the target is (eventually) 3 minute headways on the OL then not all stops north of North Station will get those headways, those 20 TPH will need to be split into Local/Express trains and the express ones will by definition need to skip some stops. And picking stops to bypass isn't easy. (Except Assembly, sorry Assembly.) Sullvian, Wellington, and Oak Grove are all pretty high ridership stations and Community College is well situated for a new UR/GJ/RER megastation.
 
You can't keep that going into downtown though. If the target is (eventually) 3 minute headways on the OL then not all stops north of North Station will get those headways, those 20 TPH will need to be split into Local/Express trains and the express ones will by definition need to skip some stops. And picking stops to bypass isn't easy. (Except Assembly, sorry Assembly.) Sullvian, Wellington, and Oak Grove are all pretty high ridership stations and Community College is well situated for a new UR/GJ/RER megastation.
Oh, I see what you're saying, yeah fair enough.

But this raises a bigger question that I've been wondering about for years: is there any particular reason that Reading OLX needs to have express trains? Reading is just under 11.5 miles from Post Office Square, which is only slightly further than most "128 stations", including Braintree and Riverside, and is comparable to a number of other destinations, none of which we ever are particularly concerned about providing express service to, including South Salem, Lexington/Burlington, Weston/128, Needham Junction, and University Park/128 itself. (Though, yes, that last one does get de facto express service, I grant that.)

Of all of those, the Reading Corridor seems most similar to the Riverside Corridor, and I don't think anyone particularly feels express service is needed there?

~~~

On a broader note: another reason to favor OLX over Indigo Line for Reading is that Reading is one of the very few corridors that can be wholesale removed from the Regional Rail network via a rapid transit extension. Compare to the Eastern Route: even with a BLX to Salem (or Danvers or even Beverly), you're still gonna need to maintain the mainline tracks to handle trains from Rockport and Newburyport (where rapid transit will never reach). The same is true on the Main Line to Woburn, the Fitchburg Line to Waltham (ish), the B&A, the Franklin Line, the NEC, and the Old Colony branches. Even Fairmount itself probably needs to stay on the mainline network in order to absorb some Franklin/Foxboro trains.

The only other (extant) corridor that this can be done for is, of course, the Needham Line. (The Lexington Branch would also qualify, and way back when, the Saugus Branch might have as well.)

"Indigo-ification" should, in my opinion, be reserved for corridors which must remain connected to the mainline network. In the case of Reading and Needham (and Lexington), a transformational increase in frequency should be borne by rapid transit, rather than continuing to burden the mainline network where it would compete with other services that have no rapid transit alternative.
 
including Braintree and Riverside, and is comparable to a number of other destinations, none of which we ever are particularly concerned about providing express service to, including South Salem, Lexington/Burlington, Weston/128, Needham Junction, and University Park/128 itself
Braintree, South Salem, and Weston (And University Park of course) all get express service (In this magical fantasy world) via parallel CR though. Although this does get me wondering if maybe doing peak-direction express to/from Needham is possible. It seems like there are some places you could triple-track the Highland Branch.
 
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Illustrator_Fantasy_Map v3.0.jpg

Okay space is starting to become a real constraint now. Getting the Mass Ave line (Called the Maroon Line because colors are beginning to run low) to fit and not look bad was quite difficult and required a couple deviations from the style. I also redid a good chunk of the GL while I was at it for good measure. I had also hoped to make the Teal Line nice and straight but I could not get Jackson Sq, Roxbury Crossing, and Ruggles to work unfortunately, so that 90 degree angle is still there, mocking me.
 
Looking great! Yes, space is definitely tight, so it may be that you are approaching the limits of this particular approach. But it still looks cool!
Getting the Mass Ave line (Called the Maroon Line because colors are beginning to run low) to fit and not look bad was quite difficult and required a couple deviations from the style
Mass Ave -- whether mapping the 1 or adding a new rapid transit route -- is always a pain because it puts two axes in tension: the Red Line and Mass Ave itself. Geographically, Mass Ave is darn close to a straight shot (the biggest bend is just south of MIT and it's not severe); this makes it very alluring as a diagrammatic axis for a map, where you're always looking for places to make straight lines. On the other hand, system-wise, the Red Line makes for an extremely strong east-west (northwest-southeast) axis; creating a straight-shot from Harvard to South Station is very tempting. Unfortunately, you can't have both at once.

You've come up with an interesting way to square this circle by using an extended transfer barbell at Central, allowing you to keep the convergence point at Harvard itself while also keeping Red and Maroon straight. I don't think it's the approach I myself would take, but I think it's innovative!
I had also hoped to make the Teal Line nice and straight but I could not get Jackson Sq, Roxbury Crossing, and Ruggles to work unfortunately, so that 90 degree angle is still there, mocking me.
For similar reasons, I think it'll be hard to achieve that while also keeping the Orange Line fully straight. That being said, if you kept the line running diagonally northwest of Franklin Park, you might be able to get it to intersect the vertical line at Jackson Square, giving you a 135-degree angle instead of 90. (Though I think you will need to shift the Franklin Park <> Ashmont segment downward a bit, which in turn would mean adjusting the Red, the F, and maybe the Indigo as well.

What's your objection to right angles?

Community College Superstation: this has been a cornerstone of this and previous maps of yours, and I am definitely intrigued. Do you have any additional detail on how you envision this?
 
What's your objection to right angles?
It's just the aesthetic I'm aiming for, really. I think the 45º angles give it a nice flow-y look whereas 90º angles feel more harsh and abrupt.
Community College Superstation: this has been a cornerstone of this and previous maps of yours, and I am definitely intrigued. Do you have any additional detail on how you envision this?
Currently there's 12 tracks around Community College that get narrowed down to 4 to cross the Charles as well as some currently unused space along the highway ramps. Move the split point up much closer to the yard and expand the site, keeping 8 tracks: 2 for the GJ Light Rail (Pink Line), 2 for the Indigo Line, and 4 for the Commuter Rail. If there's space for 2 more tracks the Yellow Line can also go above ground, otherwise it can just go underground. An elevated walkway would come up from the surface tracks to connect to the OL station.
 
For similar reasons, I think it'll be hard to achieve that while also keeping the Orange Line fully straight. That being said, if you kept the line running diagonally northwest of Franklin Park, you might be able to get it to intersect the vertical line at Jackson Square, giving you a 135-degree angle instead of 90. (Though I think you will need to shift the Franklin Park <> Ashmont segment downward a bit, which in turn would mean adjusting the Red, the F, and maybe the Indigo as well.
I did sort of get this to work, but the compromise I needed to make was that now the F branch stop spacing isn't consistent. I think I prefer this version but I'm not totally sure. You were right about adjusting basically everything else in the area but luckily because Illustrator it didn't take long.
1716852158951.png
 

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Looks great!
but the compromise I needed to make was that now the F branch stop spacing isn't consistent.
I actually think there are benefits to this. IMO, the different label spacing north vs south of Franklin Park creates a stronger visual differentiation, serving to break up what is otherwise a pretty large "wall of text" effect on the F Line.
 
Hey everyone,

I've been lurking for a while and got around to making my own fantasy T map. I call it Giga MBTA and it’s inspired by a lot of the helpful info on this forum along with a few ideas that I like. I tried to not make it entirely crazy by looping in projects that are being proposed in one form or another. I’m planning on working back from this toward a more reasonable pitch that doesn’t require as many MEGA-projects and is a little nicer to those who like street parking.

gigaMBTA.jpg


View attachment gigaMBTA.jpg

I made this to showcase this map to scale as well

I’m sure you all know a lot more than me so i’d appreciate any insight into why some of these ideas don’t make sense. Here are some major features and my questions.

- NSRL with Fairmount Line
  • Am I right to assume that with NSRL the Grand Junction is not needed for any heavy rail movements for Amtrak, Freight, or Commuter Rail?
- Tobin Bridge Replacement Indigo Line
  • Connecting commuter rail into the Tobin replacement (with a shortish tunnel through a few blocks in Chelsea) could let you bypass all of the grand junction right of way through Everett. This would leave the entire ROW open to Urban Ring, bikes, and maybe even a park connecting new developments through this area.
- Ted Williams Transit Tunnel for UR and Silver Line, Terminal Stations, Piers Transitway extension - It’s a massive project but I think it would be so flashy for the city. Rail service through Seaport and much better access to the airport would be a standout feature.
- Roxbury and Nubian Tunnel
  • A very very expensive way to avoid the tight streets around the area and to let the Pink Line (F Line) reach further into Dorchester significantly faster.
  • It could be cut and cover most of the way. This route would destroy Madison Park FIeld temporarily (the new white stadium comes in handy).
- Storrow BLX to Riverside
  • I’ve seen discussions about how Blue Line past Kenmore is maybe not worth it because of the lack of density. However, it feels justified to me because it relieves pressure on the central GL tunnel (opens space for a new A line through West Station more below) and the fact that it’s a long line already grade separated. My thinking is that this would be worth it compared to any other alignment past Kenmore and if you’re tunneling into Kenmore already it’s right there.
    • You lose the riverside garage for green but you gain a new garage for blue hopefully before the orient height one goes underwater.
  • How crucial to traffic is 3 lanes both ways on storrow? Giving Storrow a bit of a road diet means that you could potentially run a blue line above ground most of the esplanade (I really liked this AI image)
    AD_4nXfXYv2jOySGrN_NkaeJkinOMuccmEYtmmWe7YMJQFGY4Nl24ffQLn_KQwnuwj0fagcu25uEaeObK0H4crVqxziJQNRz0Ol1PCSuBlXOTt_AXyTUoqdtpXyIpJbDjTdAFvunqOJ0SgN4R-0UegTqYUHoAzVx
- Allston Multimodal West Station with “GLoop” to Harvard
  • If GJ is not needed for heavy trains with NSRL then it makes sense to me to have that outside rail be dedicated light rail that would feed into whatever new developments Harvard is planning with their “new neighborhood, then onto the main campus.
  • I’m also proposing a pretty big station at the GJ flyover interfacing with a submerged B and C line. I’m envisioning stacked platforms (top for Gold UR, and bottom for Green/Brown Line with a loop for the Brown line). Not sure if this is possible with the limited space.
  • I like the idea of expanding the harvard bus tunnel a bit to include new portals at the base of the memorial bridge.
  • Haven’t seen anyone else propose connecting this GL branch to porter along with the popular Union Square to Porter GL D extension. A loop here doesn’t seem impossible to me if you take 2 lanes from Mass Ave for a LRT/bus lane. Does another ring make sense?
- Boylston Superstation
  • The idea is to do the SLX phase 3 through Esex but with SIlver Liine platforms under Boylston and the Tremont Tunnel underpass, rising into the main Green Line tunnel between Boylston and Arlington in the section that’s a bit wider.
- McGrath Highway grounding and transit lanes
  • Rather than going railroad spaghetti through the inner belt, I like the idea of integrating UR into some the McGrath grounding projects. This way you can hit all the GL stations without having to detour to Lechmere. This route requires a bridge or tunnel to cross the commuter rail and GL. I think it’s a good place for an infill station to transfer between RR, UR, and GL at all the brickbottom development.
  • Needham Line
    • I opted for a lower-frequency connector line between Millenium Park and Newton Highlands to maintain some service to Needham. As others have proposed, it could function similarly to the Mattapan heritage trolley line today but I know the PCC cars are being replaced soon anyway.
  • Red Line to Brandeis
    • Connect into the Fitchburg ROW. Based on the ~ 50-70ft needed based on the southern branch of the Red line and Old Colony LInes ROW, it looks possible to me with a few elevated sections/tunnels (Waltham looks rough)
    • I’ve seen lots of discussion of Red Line to Arlington or Lexington but to me it seems difficult to justify the ROI with having to tunnel, elevate rail, or destroy the popular minute-man corridor. And the area seems relatively low density and potentially NIMBY as well so Walrtham/Brandeis seems a lot better to me.
  • Aqua Line West Station> Oak Square> Watertown> Harvard
    • Why not combine the restoration of rail service to Oak Square/Watertown with the proposed lines from Watertown to Harvard? It’s a weird shape but hits a lot of density on both sides of the Charles right?.
 
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  • Am I right to assume that with NSRL the Grand Junction is not needed for any heavy rail movements for Amtrak, Freight, or Commuter Rail?
Correct. And it could be taken off the RR network sooner than NSRL with these prerequisites:
  • 60 MPH speeds on the Worcester-Ayer connecting line (achieved by CSX this year)
  • Southside full-service heavy maintenance facility (in-design for Readville)
  • Equipment reserves for each side of the system (currently a surplus of coaches...remains to be seen whether that will last given pending single-level retirements)
  • Reduce north-south equipment swaps from 1-2x a day over the Grand Junction to 1-2x a week Worcester-Ayer
  • Connecting commuter rail into the Tobin replacement (with a shortish tunnel through a few blocks in Chelsea) could let you bypass all of the grand junction right of way through Everett. This would leave the entire ROW open to Urban Ring, bikes, and maybe even a park connecting new developments through this area.
It's extremely unlikely the Tobin replacement will have FRA-compliant grades. You're limited to 2% or less on mainline rail, while any highway tall bridge approaches are likely to be much steeper than that.
- Storrow BLX to Riverside
  • I’ve seen discussions about how Blue Line past Kenmore is maybe not worth it because of the lack of density. However, it feels justified to me because it relieves pressure on the central GL tunnel (opens space for a new A line through West Station more below) and the fact that it’s a long line already grade separated. My thinking is that this would be worth it compared to any other alignment past Kenmore and if you’re tunneling into Kenmore already it’s right there.
    • You lose the riverside garage for green but you gain a new garage for blue hopefully before the orient height one goes underwater.
  • How crucial to traffic is 3 lanes both ways on storrow? Giving Storrow a bit of a road diet means that you could potentially run a blue line above ground most of the esplanade (I really liked this AI image)
    AD_4nXfXYv2jOySGrN_NkaeJkinOMuccmEYtmmWe7YMJQFGY4Nl24ffQLn_KQwnuwj0fagcu25uEaeObK0H4crVqxziJQNRz0Ol1PCSuBlXOTt_AXyTUoqdtpXyIpJbDjTdAFvunqOJ0SgN4R-0UegTqYUHoAzVx
The D Line would be problematic as an HRT extension for the following reasons:
  • Loading is fairly light for 6-car Blue Line consists vs. 2-car Green Line consists. The trains would be only partially filled, wasting a lot of capacity. Allston/Newton/Watertown is a much better extension proposal for balancing the loading of the default consists.
  • There's almost no way you would be able to branch to Needham Junction from Newton Highlands with the D converted to Blue, because of the 6 grade crossings on that route incompatible with HRT trains. Instead of being an easy-grab rapid transit conversion to spare the NEC of Commuter Rail congestion, Needham rapid transit becomes so expensive it's doubtful the ridership would amortize it (meaning: risk of transit loss for Needham in the end).
  • The station renovations would be very expensive, because all D Line stations have track crossings between sides. On HRT they would all have to become up-and-over stations significantly bloating the cost and lengthening the walking time to the platforms. Given that, as ^above^ the loading will be very light vs. vehicle capacity, that means the station costs are going to be difficult to amortize with ridership.
I'd just say no.

Blue would be in a shallow capped cut on the Storrow EB roadbed, with the tunnel wall/rebuilt Back St. retaining wall providing a measure of passive flood protection for the Back Bay from an overtopped Charles Basin. I doubt there'd be any appetite for a surface-running line behind the swank Beacon St. residential; they didn't even consider that 120 years ago with the original Riverbank Subway proposal. Besides, a capped cut is WAY less expensive tunneling than under-street Cut-and-Cover, so it's not a particularly fraught debate.

  • Haven’t seen anyone else propose connecting this GL branch to porter along with the popular Union Square to Porter GL D extension. A loop here doesn’t seem impossible to me if you take 2 lanes from Mass Ave for a LRT/bus lane. Does another ring make sense?
Not here. Mass Ave. isn't wide enough to dig another subway tunnel alongside the Red Line between Harvard and Porter, and a surface reservation would be much too slow for making an effective connection between grade-separated Green halves. There also isn't a ton of thru-ridership affinity here making it a necessary get. The Red Line between Harvard and Porter is below-capacity, and trips from Harvard to the GLX-Porter branch would often be using the nearly-empty reverse-peak direction on Red, so there isn't a compelling capacity problem to solve.
- Boylston Superstation
  • The idea is to do the SLX phase 3 through Esex but with SIlver Liine platforms under Boylston and the Tremont Tunnel underpass, rising into the main Green Line tunnel between Boylston and Arlington in the section that’s a bit wider.
Beware that this engages many of the fatal cost blowouts that turfed Silver Line Phase III. Boylston Under Station and the underpin of the Green Line tunnel west to Charles St. South hemorrhaged costs to the project's ultimate demise when FTA match funding was withdrawn due to inability to control the fast-ballooning price tag. You're going to need to recycle as much of the abandoned Tremont St. trolley tunnel (including the Boylston outer tracks) as possible and pick some sort of South End alignment feeding north into Boylston/Park to make a go of it in a way that'll net any federal funding offsets. SL Phase III as we knew it trajectory-wise is pretty much impossible to do at a cost that's worth building.
  • Needham Line
    • I opted for a lower-frequency connector line between Millenium Park and Newton Highlands to maintain some service to Needham. As others have proposed, it could function similarly to the Mattapan heritage trolley line today but I know the PCC cars are being replaced soon anyway.
Needham is not going to want to give up its (crappy) Commuter Rail if the price is a one-seat trip becoming a two-seater. Rapid transit conversion already has one downside in that the trip times to Downtown are going to be slightly longer (though not impossibly so with Green Line Transformation tightening the bolts). They need one seat, one fare to get them to the Downtown transfers, and good frequencies. A big downside of the shuttle concept is that because the ridership is going to be so much lower with the two-seat options, the headways aren't going to be good.

As above, keeping the Green Line attached to the D is going to be a requirement for serving Needham.
  • Red Line to Brandeis
    • Connect into the Fitchburg ROW. Based on the ~ 50-70ft needed based on the southern branch of the Red line and Old Colony LInes ROW, it looks possible to me with a few elevated sections/tunnels (Waltham looks rough)
    • I’ve seen lots of discussion of Red Line to Arlington or Lexington but to me it seems difficult to justify the ROI with having to tunnel, elevate rail, or destroy the popular minute-man corridor. And the area seems relatively low density and potentially NIMBY as well so Walrtham/Brandeis seems a lot better to me.
The Fitchburg ROW is rough for heavy rail because of the hard-to-eliminate grade crossings. And it would require a total blow-up/rebuild of Alewife Station to realign the trajectory of the tracks, which currently point only to Arlington. Given that :15 Urban Rail on the Fitchburg Line is likely to satiate Belmont-Waltham demand for at least a generation and that the Green Line out of Porter could handle the grade crossing issue innately, I don't think you're going to the trouble of realigning Red out here.

The Arlington tunnel would be a capped cut under the trail just like the Davis-Alewife section. Much less expensive than Cut-and-Cover. I would agree that past-Arlington Heights is tough going because that would have to be on the surface in conflict with the trail to amortize the sparser ridership out there. But the two Arlington stops would be sizeable bus hubs (esp. Arlington Heights, which would displace most of the Alewife-terminating buses) and the density in Arlington is an order of magnitude higher than in Lexington. And Arlington has recently affirmed its support for an extension out to Heights, so the NIMBY attitudes of the 70's are long gone out there (though probably still entrenched in Lexington). Given the relatively reasonable cost of extending to Heights and the utility of staging to-128 buses from Heights on the uncongested outlying roads, I don't think you're altering Red's ultimate trajectory in the end.
 
Part II. . .
  • Aqua Line West Station> Oak Square> Watertown> Harvard
    • Why not combine the restoration of rail service to Oak Square/Watertown with the proposed lines from Watertown to Harvard? It’s a weird shape but hits a lot of density on both sides of the Charles right?.
Watertown-Cambridge is going to be extremely easier to mount taking the landbanked Watertown Branch ROW to Porter via GLX-Porter rather than going on or under the 71 to Harvard. The ROW is wide enough to accommodate rail-with-trail, and there would only be 1 grade crossing (Fresh Pond Parkway) needing elimination.

A Line restoration advocacy has mostly focused on Oak Square, because of the ridership fall-off between Oak and Newton Corner, and Newton's (not Boston's) antipathy to street-running track. I suppose you could try for the rest of the circuit after you get to Oak in the first place, but it would be a secondary priority. Frankly, BLX Kenmore-Newton Corner-Watertown would be more load-bearing (if also way more ambitious $$$) than a restored A for the past-Brighton parts.
 
A Line restoration advocacy has mostly focused on Oak Square, because of the ridership fall-off between Oak and Newton Corner, and Newton's (not Boston's) antipathy to street-running track. I suppose you could try for the rest of the circuit after you get to Oak in the first place, but it would be a secondary priority. Frankly, BLX Kenmore-Newton Corner-Watertown would be more load-bearing (if also way more ambitious $$$) than a restored A for the past-Brighton parts.
Wouldn't bringing back the A branch mean forever crippled bike connectivity in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood?

Much of the 57 corridor have the street width only 46 ft wide, with some parts of Oak Sq. where the street width drops to only 43 ft. There is simply not enough room to have dedicated streetcar tracks plus vehicle lanes, with space left over for physically separated bike lanes in both directions.

If the A branch comes back to Oak Square, where will the physically separated bike lanes go?

1720397126786.png


There's no room for 2 physically separated bike lanes. 2 streetcar lanes + 2 travel lanes + 2 narrow sidewalks on either side already consume the entire street width.

If the A branch streetcars run in mixed traffic, then they have to be subject to the 30 KMH (18 MPH) speed limit, which will slow down travel times for transit riders during off peak hours. Today, the 57 bus and private automobiles travel at reckless speeds during the late night and early morning hours. It is physically impossible for the 57 bus to get from Kenmore to Oak Square in 12 minutes without exceeding the 30 KMH (18 MPH) speed limit on neighborhood streets, and also make stops to allow passengers to get on and off, and stop at traffic signals. Yet today, the 57 takes only 13 - 16 minutes to get from Kenmore to Oak Square prior to 6:15 a.m. in the morning and after 11:45 p.m. at night with some 57 buses taking as little as 11 minutes at 5:00 a.m.! Sharing a lane with streetcars, the 57 bus, or cars going at reckless speeds, is very dangerous for cyclists in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.

The 57 corridor is the fastest, most direct cycling route to downtown from Lake St & Washington St and Brighton Center. From Boston City Hall, it is a crisp 34 minute bike ride to Brighton Center, and 37 minutes to Lake St & Washington St. Forcing cyclists from Brighton Center to detour over to the Charles River path via Market St., or the Allston I-90 on-ramps, or go down Beacon via Reservior, or figure out the labyrainth maze of side streets, would add anywhere between 10 - 25 minutes of cycle time to get into the city. It would lengthen bike trips to become hour long bike rides, and cripple cycling mode-shares in the area. Allston-Brighton would be starved of the most direct cycling route downtown if the streetcars take up the street space, which means the only way to add dedicated bike lanes is a complete banning of cars altogether, but some side streets can only be accessed from the 57 corridor.

The 57 corridor is essentially a zero-sum game, can't have bike lanes if streetcars and side street access is a priority. Can't have streetcars if bike lanes and side street access is a priority. Can't have side street car access if streetcars and bike lanes are a priority (effective pedestrianization of the 57 corridor and eliminating side street access altogether).
 
Hey everyone,

I've been lurking for a while and got around to making my own fantasy T map. I call it Giga MBTA and it’s inspired by a lot of the helpful info on this forum along with a few ideas that I like. I tried to not make it entirely crazy by looping in projects that are being proposed in one form or another. I’m planning on working back from this toward a more reasonable pitch that doesn’t require as many MEGA-projects and is a little nicer to those who like street parking.

View attachment 52461

View attachment 52460
I'm going to split my feedback into three sections, style, content, and station names:

Style
In general I really like the map style you've gone with, but I will proceed to endlessly nitpick it because that's my main toxic trait, apologies.
  • The parks and water look amazing and the airport runways are a nice touch
  • The way bus corridors and streets are shown is excellent
  • The legend is extremely clean
  • The way connector blobs are done is very interesting. I'm not 100% sold and I think the execution could be improved a bit but I think it's a solid idea
  • The way the text changes orientation bothers me a little bit, perhaps this is slightly irrational
  • I like the slightly different shades of green for the GL branches, but I'm not sure why this wasn't continued for the RL branches?
  • I'm not sure every station with a bus transfer needs to be highlighted
  • The parking and bus icons are a bit too small
  • The CR purple and Indigo Line indigo are too close to each other. I suspect the reason you did that is to avoid the current CR pinkish-purple looking too similar to your Pink Line pink, I solved that by lightening the pink and darkening/bluening the Indigo
  • The CR stop names are way too small. Especially with regional rail they will form an integral part of the transit network for places like Hyde Park and Newton, they should be included
  • I don't think tunnel portals are worth highlighting, and if they are they should be clearer
  • I'm not sure what's going on with the bolded station names, there doesn't really seem to be a pattern
  • Following the previous point, end of line stations should be highlighted because people, especially new/unfamiliar users, need to know if they're going to get on a train that says "Alewife" or "Braintree" at the front
  • Unfortunately I think the Silver Line is at least a semi-permanently tainted name/color. One of my previous maps did a similar thing yours does, with the E branch becoming a new light rail Silver Line, and many, many people immediately assumed I was proposing replacing the E branch with street-running buses.
  • I think you can afford to play a little more loosey-goosey with the geographic accuracy in a couple places. Shifting Airport station north would allow you to eliminate a couple bends, for example
  • This map is not very usable for colorblind people. The little ( RL ) blobs on the official map aren't just there to look neat, they serve a purpose.
Mistakes:
  • The Silver Line and your Alewife-Arlington thingy (could you elaborate on that a bit more?) are missing from the legend
  • Walking connections are also missing from the legend
  • The Brown Line interchange stations (Newton Highlands and Millennium Park) are missing their brown halves
  • Greenbush Line text is missing
  • The tunnel portals don't seem to be very accurate
Content
There's plenty of interesting ideas here, but also plenty I disagree with:
  • D-Branch heavy-rail-ification is probably not a good idea. Potential concerns include the short platform lengths, need to redesign almost all stations to remove level crossings and add high platforms, and the loss of Riverside carhouse, the largest on the GL, would be very bad and I don't know that there is a clear potential replacement. And of course there's ridership, it's very, very low for a subway line
  • I'm not sure why GLRC/Second central subway wasn't included. It would allow for removing transfers from trips to Allston/Brighton and Needham
  • SL Phase III is basically a non-starter. The grades required for a reasonably direct routing are not feasible. Roping something similar into a second central subway is feasible, however.
  • You've gone with extremely aggressive stop consolidations on the B/C branches. This creates a couple places with almost 4000ft stop spacing, which is just way, way too far apart for people to be expected to walk between light rail stations
  • Similarly, your stop spacing on the Pink Line/GL-F is way too wide as well. Nubian to MLK, and MLK to Franklin Park Zoo are each around a mile through an extremely dense and underserved area of Roxbury, it needs more stops.
  • Should the Pink Line be a subway? If we're after an express connection to downtown the Fairmount Line is right there. What Roxbury and Dorchester need on the corridor is high capacity, reliable local(ish) service.
  • I'm not sure what's going on with the Chelsea stops. Is the CR stop being reverted to close to its old location, but the name is staying with a Gold Line stop?
  • I'm not sure Indigo Line to Wonderland works. Since Amtrak would like to not lose their NEC backup, the whole thing would need to be built to FRA standards with a maximum 2% grade, and I don't think that will work for the Mystic River crossing without a tunnel. A 5% rapid transit grade is more feasible to do over a Tobin bridge replacement
  • I'm less confident about GL to West Medford as I have been previously. If a GL-CR interchange is what we're after Medford/Tufts seems like a better place to do that, and it also serves a destination CR riders might actually want to go while also providing express service to downtown
  • Where would Grand Junction station be? From a portal at BU you really don't have much space before you need to curve onto the GJ.
  • Stop consolidation on the Reading extension is interesting. I think it would be very difficult politically because you'll be taking something away, but the extremely low ridership of some of those stations could make it worth doing. I think your version is a little too aggressive though, Melrose should probably get two stations, Melrose Highlands and Wyoming Hill, rather than just one
  • How would the A get from Harvard to Porter? The RL is already under Mass Ave so you'd likely need surface running, but that introduces the problem of getting from Mass Ave down to the Fitchburg Line alignment, and I don't see a practical way to do that.
  • Is GL-A from Oak Sq to Newton Corner actually worth doing? Going up to Harvard and transferring onto the RL would almost certainly be faster for anyone in Watertown, and I don't think there is extremely strong demand for a Watertown-Allston/Brighton conneciton. Some routes can be served by buses, that is an option.
  • Is the cross harbor tunnel worth the cost compared to just improving airport access from the BL station with a people-mover? No, it's not going to be quite as fast for some people, but the cost difference is so great that it's worth keeping in mind
  • BL should have an extra stop in Lynn
Things I think should have been included:
  • Moving the RL split point to Savin hill allows for easier double tracking of the Old Colony lines
  • I'm not sure why a Neponset infill made the cut but a Rivers Edge infill didn't
  • The hardest part of getting the BL to Salem is getting to Lynn, from there it's very easy and a very high ridership get.
  • Bringing the RL one stop west to Weston/128 would allow for an interchange with corporate shuttles serving the office parks, as well as a park and ride.
  • Why GL-A restoration but not GL-E to Arborway?
  • GLRC and 2nd central subway but we've been over that already
  • A TV place station on the Needham branch would serve some offices, but mainly a carhouse
Station Names
  • Gaming District is a very polite way of saying casino. I'd just cut to the chase, Encore is where people are going, that's what the station should be called. If the goal is to serve other redevelopment in the area that can be a second station with a new name like Mystic Landing
  • You've got too many stations called Longwood. Two is already pushing it, three is just ridiculous. Either give them directional names or change one or two.
  • Why drop the Newton from Newton Upper Falls?
  • It's Brickbottom, not Brick Bottom
  • MIT has buildings along the whole GJ between Gallileo and the Charles, calling one stop MIT seems a bit silly.
  • I don't think Assembly Hill is a place. Admirals Hill definitely is though.
  • I've tried to avoid having multiple stations that are very far apart with Wellington in the name
 
Wow, thanks for all the info and thorough responses. Below are some further explanations or questions.

Tobin Bridge Indigo Line
It's extremely unlikely the Tobin replacement will have FRA-compliant grades. You're limited to 2% or less on mainline rail, while any highway tall bridge approaches are likely to be much steeper than that.
I'm not sure Indigo Line to Wonderland works. Since Amtrak would like to not lose their NEC backup, the whole thing would need to be built to FRA standards with a maximum 2% grade, and I don't think that will work for the Mystic River crossing without a tunnel. A 5% rapid transit grade is more feasible to do over a Tobin bridge replacement
My rough Google Earth measurements have the length of the bridge from ground level to the highest point at ~5000 ft on the Charlestown side and ~4000 ft on the Chelsea side. The 2% grade kills that idea at Tobin's current 135ft of clearance. It seems like 80ft clearance is on the edge of possibility but I've seen in other threads talk of how the scrap yard and cement plant are the barriers to this.

Blue Line Storrow

I doubt there'd be any appetite for a surface-running line behind the swank Beacon St. residential
I think a surface running line is a massive upgrade on the noise and pollution of Storrow drive which is already such a barrier between the residential and the espanade. Surely replacing a few Storrow lanes wirh a mostly straight electric rail line would be quieter, cleaner, and more aesthetically pleasing than what is there now?

Blue To Riverside and Silver Line Phase 3
I'm not sure why GLRC/Second central subway wasn't included.
The D Line would be problematic as an HRT extension
My main thinking was that (since Blue Line to Kenmore seems to be mostly consensus) you take the cost of converting the stations to Riverside in order to ease congestion on the central subway and you might save costs by not having to build the second subway tunnel (Bay Village/Stuart Street) to get to Seaport because you've made space. Additionally, I thought that providing better rapid transit to Longwood might be enough to justify it, but if Silver Line can't plug into the central subway then it doesn't matter.

I haven't been able to find how this second subway would interface with Back Bay to get towards Bay VIllage/ Tufts, could someone help me out?

Pink Line to Roxbury and Mattapan
  • Similarly, your stop spacing on the Pink Line/GL-F is way too wide as well. Nubian to MLK, and MLK to Franklin Park Zoo are each around a mile through an extremely dense and underserved area of Roxbury, it needs more stops.
  • Should the Pink Line be a subway? If we're after an express connection to downtown the Fairmount Line is right there. What Roxbury and Dorchester need on the corridor is high capacity, reliable local(ish) service.

So unlike stop consolidation on the B/C branches which is pretty much just for stop consolidation's sake, the Pink line subway through Nubian - MLK - Zoo has the intended purpose of covering a lot more space early on so that Zoo to Mattpan becomes a lot more reasonable length to run surface level LRT on Blue Hill Ave. I agree that Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan deserve a high-capacity subway line more than anywhere else, it's super frustrating but I'm just quite pessimistic that that much money will be invested into reconnecting these areas compared to easier extensions to wealthy neighborhoods (RLX, OLX, BLX) and ultra flashy projects (SL Tunnel). This idea is trying to toe the line a bit, proposing a big investment around Nubian especially with Gold Line UR and Nubian to Zoo but moves back to a more realistic Blue Hill Ave surface running further down.

Grand Junction
Where would Grand Junction station be?
I am no engineer, my measurements might be off, and this is probably ridiculous but something along the lines of this. I proposed the loop because I wanted the connection to UR but was worried about sending more trains further down the Green Line and into Kenmore. The Comm Ave station is in a tunnel rather than surface running in the imagery.

GJ Station.png



Other Content Things

I'm not sure why a Neponset infill made the cut but a Rivers Edge infill didn't
I live by here so I'm just a bit more aware of that but I saw your list on potential infill stations which looks great

Why GL-A restoration but not GL-E to Arborway?
I just don't feel it's very necessary, Centre street gets pretty cramped and Orange Line is much closer than any other comparable transit is to Oak Square.

Gaming District is a very polite way of saying casino. I'd just cut to the chase, Encore is where people are going, that's what the station should be called. If the goal is to serve other redevelopment in the area that can be a second station with a new name like Mystic Landing
I'm hopeful that the Revs stadium gets built across the road so that there's more going on than just the Casino in the future. I think a second station is a good idea too. If this section is fully grade-separated then I'd be all for it.

Style Stuff

I appreciate the feedback on the map design. I wanted to try to create a new style which led to a lot of mistakes trying to juggle the different elements. I definitely need to work on color, design consistency, and iterating on the station icons. I'll work on implementing more of the changes in my next scaled-back version
 
I just don't feel it's very necessary, Centre street gets pretty cramped and Orange Line is much closer than any other comparable transit is to Oak Square.
The 39/Centre St. corridor is also adjacent to the SW Corridor's dedicated bike paths, but Allston-Brighton has no such equivalent along the Brighton Center - Packards Corner segment of the 57 that desperately needs improved cycling infrastructure.

Like my eariler post mentions, bringing back the A branch is going to starve Allston-Brighton of the most direct cycling route from Brighton Center to downtown Boston. There is not enough room to fit dedicated bike lanes if the A branch is restored. If dedicated bike lanes are installed from Brighton Center eastwards, then there is not going to be enough room to fit the A branch.

Where is there enough room to fit dedicated bike lanes and the restored A branch? There's not enough room to fit it all.

Maybe you can get away with restoring the A as far west as Union Square in Allston, but I'm hard pressed to think there is enough space to fit both the A branch and dedicated bike lanes west of Allston Union Square.
 

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