General MBTA Topics (Multi Modal, Budget, MassDOT)

Stlin

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Now that we're only a week from the first meeting of the extended FMCB, joint with MassDOT, has there been any rumor on the composition thereof? Notably, Brian Shortsleeves bio is now missing from the MBTA Leadership section of the website, so I assume we'll see at least one new face introduced, unless the FMCB will go a year with mimimal wiggle room for a quorum.
 
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millerm277

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Regarding the Blue Line... it may just be meaningless noise in the data. To momentarily put my armchair data scientist cap on:

Even during the off-peak segments, the variance is pretty small: we're talking about 8 minutes or 10 minutes instead of the on-target 9 minutes. My gut says that the average rider isn't going to notice that difference. (Compare to the Orange Line, where 6 minutes regularly turns into 10 minutes.) The off-peak headways are pretty much 9 minutes ± 11%.

I think the variance on the on-peak headways is actually pretty much the same. It looks smaller because, numerically, it is. But the target is 5 minutes, and 5 minutes minus 11% is 4.45 minutes, and if you look at the headways, you do indeed see them ranging from ~4.5 minutes to ~5.5 minutes.

@TransitMatters -- it would be awesome to have a "Download as CSV" feature to be able to dump the data in the on-screen visualization into a download that could be pulled into Excel or the like. I know this data is accessible elsewhere, so it's hardly an urgent request, but could be cool!

That all being said: looking at that off-peak section, I wonder if the T's internal timetable actually alternates between 9 minute and 10 minute headways for the off-peak Blue Line. Because that pattern is extremely regular. Moreover, the variance against alternating 9 minute/10 minute headways off-peak is very consistent with the variance for the peak 5 minute headway, which would make sense if both were driven by the inevitable variability in turning trains.

So, if that's the case, then there really isn't anything different going on off-peak. The Blue Line typically stays on schedule, give or take 30 seconds, throughout the course of the day; the schedule itself varies, but the performance, not so much.
Looking at what appears to be loaded in Google's transit scheduler (ex: Wonderland-Revere Beach trips), it looks like mid-day off peak scheduling varies between at least 9-11 minutes, so I don't think the T is running off schedule, but that the schedule varies.

And of course, the MBTA's public schedule just says "every 9-13 minutes" for off-peak service.
 

Arenacale

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F-Line to Dudley

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51 years ago today..."Penn Central Happened" reaches Boston. :poop:
 

Arlington

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^ that'll be worth excerpting in the Dirty Old Boston thread too :)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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^ that'll be worth excerpting in the Dirty Old Boston thread too :)
The entire Penn Central era is the living embodiment of Dirty Old ____.

I remember the late Paul Joyce's recollections of that incident on RR.net. He was one of the cops on the scene. Think he shared some of his own photos from it.

Runaways are pretty rare without a colossal unending string of human-error fuckups like that incident, where the crew apparently passed up numerous opportunities to regain control at the console by instead panicking out of their minds and jumping. But if you're wondering how the lash-up made it all the way across the Southampton ramp, northbound lanes, and to the median divider...look to your right on 93N after passing the Fairmount Line underpass. Those layup tracks get pretty damn close!
 

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Q2 conference call with Cape transit officials reports that bus and ferry ridership are rebounding nicely. Steamship Authority a tad better than expected, but that's mostly because premium-tier transported car service to the Islands have been running at near-100% seasonal levels (social distancing, etc. etc.). P-town ferry dragging up the rear of all modes, but explainable by them having the latest start to the season of all modes. With the fed CARES Act coverage they were able to get to cover shortfalls, in-season ridership has hit an OK-enough threshold under the circumstances that CCRTA and Steamship Authority don't foresee any mortal existential threats as the season winds down. Future is a whole other matter if the crisis malingers and the feds don't offer more protection, but in general they were bullish on coming out of this in decent shape and being prepared to hit FY21 in-season with a full service slate.

We should be getting similar Q2 reports from the other state RTA's right about now, but CCRTA said none of their statewide bretheren got wiped out because the compensatory funding was enough. The T they explained is a whole different matter, but that's because proportionately the biggest metro-area transit authorities have had lower shares of funding help from the gridlocked feds than smaller agencies, and bigness period creates bigger COVID deficits to cover so in general the bigger the city the thornier the COVID balance sheets than the 'burbs anyway (see NYC, MTA, fiscal mass panic therein).


I haven't been checking up on Cape Flyer ridership counts all that regularly this summer, but since that's under same Cape-region alphabet-soup subsidy it's obviously not putting any concerning additional drag on finances per CCRTA's Tim Cahir's cautiously optimistic take on the Cape modal pie. I recall after the >month-late start to the season that the RR.net tracker thread's reaction to the ridership counts was a somewhat surprised "well, that's not too awful". No doubt it's down, but it's probably improved tons since June and is probably closing the season on the right track for '21 momentum.
 

Wash

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How in the hell do Mattapan-Ashmont headways manage to be as inconsistent as they are? Is it a result of the PCC shortage?
 

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How in the hell do Mattapan-Ashmont headways manage to be as inconsistent as they are? Is it a result of the PCC shortage?
No...with COVID schedules they've pretty much all been off-peak headways to begin with, which doesn't put more than half the operable trolleys in service. It's lackadaisical dispatching on an unsignaled line that's still old-timey interurban line-of-sight. Don't-give-a-crap ops at its finest.

They need to institute a signal system, be it a traditional wayside install or a virtualized all on-vehicle radio system so there's some enforced end-to-end headway adherence and byproduct of stop countdown clocks worth a damn in accuracy. And it's probably past time that the Central Ave. grade crossing got transit prioritized with a real traffic signal instead of just being single RR crossbucks sign with staring contest to see who's going to try to cut off whom.
 

HelloBostonHi

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They need to institute a signal system, be it a traditional wayside install or a virtualized all on-vehicle radio system so there's some enforced end-to-end headway adherence and byproduct of stop countdown clocks worth a damn in accuracy. And it's probably past time that the Central Ave. grade crossing got transit prioritized with a real traffic signal instead of just being single RR crossbucks sign with staring contest to see who's going to try to cut off whom.
I was truly shocked the first time I rode the Mattapan line and saw the Central Ave crossing was a totally unsignalized grade crossing. This is what a light rail crossing looks like where I come from (complete with cameras to catch people junmping the lights) https://www.google.com/maps/@55.014...4!1s0xjQ8uoVDody_F6mC2SrMQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Also if you move around a bit you'll see its properly built light rail, with high platforms and an 80 kmh speed limit. Can't even dream of light rail hitting that around here
 

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I was truly shocked the first time I rode the Mattapan line and saw the Central Ave crossing was a totally unsignalized grade crossing. This is what a light rail crossing looks like where I come from (complete with cameras to catch people junmping the lights) https://www.google.com/maps/@55.014...4!1s0xjQ8uoVDody_F6mC2SrMQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Also if you move around a bit you'll see its properly built light rail, with high platforms and an 80 kmh speed limit. Can't even dream of light rail hitting that around here
The sad thing is 96 years ago it was both gated AND signalized. . .

CA.jpg


Until that 3-story building that used to abut the station platform came down in the last 2 years the sightlines from the Milton side of the city line were pure shit. It astounds me that there weren't any noteworthy trolley-on-auto fender benders in the 33+ years that the ex-Arborway fleet has been reassigned here (certainly none causing any lasting PCC damage), because every single inbound trip was a blind poke out from the platform into oncoming traffic.

And check out the crossbucks signage framing both lanes on the Boston side of the tracks...deep pile-driven steel I-beams. Regardless of newer-fangled hung signage those posts are grandfathered to at least pre- WWII (like this abandoned character in Randolph) since they have absolute zero breakaway give in a collision. Dare I say those are the original signposts from the 1928 rapid transit conversion? And not so much as a fricking stop sign or blinking yellow light in the 92 years since. Great jerb all around looking after the neighborhood, guys.


Seriously...just throwing 8 or so Type 9's out here and jury-rigging some collision-avoidance system so the NTSB gets off their back over that rear-ender 3 years ago isn't going to do anything for the HSL's service levels. This same PCC fleet used to haul ass at near-50 MPH on the outer D Line for 30 years; they're definitely capable. The HSL has wide stop spacing through the cemetery and a pretty good straightaway between Central & Valley to rev up. But they can't schlep any schedule-evening savings from the trip when there's not so much as a single block signal saying if the track out of immediate eyesight is at all clear...and now they have to be all the more hyper-cautious about it after the 2017 accident wrecked one-fifth of the fleet. Pencil, pad, and walkie-talkie dispatching just ain't going to cut it. You can already see from the countdown timers at stops that headway adherence is at best a "Best 2 out of 3" game with all the bunching and gapping. I mean...it's always been bad out here and always treated like the ops afterthought it is, but now you can count while standing on one platform how there's basically no law-of-averages to the entire operation. And it doesn't help with that headway adherence that the squealing demon loop at Ashmont is a good deal slower than the more functional turnaround it replaced.

Final answer for the next 20-year punt on HSL status quo is going to have to be some sort of honest-to-God technologically assisted dispatching regimen, and not just "See...new trolleys? Now let's never talk again for 20 more years." Traffic's probably still too light for a dedicated wired signal system, but those radio-ping crash avoidance units they aim to install better have some light-density Positive Train Control-like features where the train-vs.-train distance detection at least nets the computer some tools to lend a meaningful assist for evening out the spacing. Needn't be a big production for what it is...but it must resemble some form of real traffic control because the countdown timers don't lie at what shit the pen-n'-pad guys are throwing at the wall for headway discipline.

And, yes...how about a trolley-bombed 20-second stoplight at Central Ave. while we're tightening the bolts? Don't necessarily have to go as far as stepping on either municipality's toes with automated LRT gates. Just spare thyself the internal embarrassment of the next stutter-step hesitation move through the crossing causing a 240 or BAT bus to have to get hauled off by the wrecker (I've been on buses that've gunned it ahead of an inbound and gotten a loud PCC horn show from their own colleagues...not fun).
 
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Wash

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A root cause of the bunching that occurs could be the speed restriction on the outbound side of the Cedar Grove Cemetery viaduct. That little imbalance in travel time between in and outbound can cause cars to stack right up.

Also, some kind of push-button signal (like they have on the Norristown high-speed line) could increase speeds by eliminating slow zones caused by operators having to brake for stops "just in case".

On second thought: the audio announcements necessary to make a system like that work for the visually impaired would probably draw complaints from neighbors and would probably spend half of their time broken. Probably safer to just have every trolley car slow down.
 

jass

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Why dont they even bother to add the railroad crossing paint on the asphalt?

You come across clearly abandoned freight lines in the middle of nowhere that have that, but they cant be bothered here!?!
 

F-Line to Dudley

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A root cause of the bunching that occurs could be the speed restriction on the outbound side of the Cedar Grove Cemetery viaduct. That little imbalance in travel time between in and outbound can cause cars to stack right up.

Also, some kind of push-button signal (like they have on the Norristown high-speed line) could increase speeds by eliminating slow zones caused by operators having to brake for stops "just in case".

On second thought: the audio announcements necessary to make a system like that work for the visually impaired would probably draw complaints from neighbors and would probably spend half of their time broken. Probably safer to just have every trolley car slow down.
That's definitely a thing a little homeless man's PTC onboard radio repeater unit could speed up by keeping a constant set of pings on the distancing to the next train ahead and virtually gridding the line out as either static or moving blocks. Cedar Grove's got the curve, but if the restriction is only on one side and not both that's clearly a line-of-sight overprecaution and not the curve radius that's doing it. It's not a sharp enough curve by any stretch that they couldn't take it at cruising rather than brake-penalized speed. Obviously we're not talking GLT-level next-gen Jetsons shit signaling by any means...but something a little more than the jack nothing that exists today can probably iron out 3-4 little inefficiency spots like that easy. And that's all you truly need to make a world of difference on the schedule adherence that barely suffices for 'polite suggestion' at hanging loosely around the reference headway.

That and less nonexistent joke of a Central Ave. crossing treatment would do a world of good, even for this brief PCC life extension half-punt that comes first up. Yes...there are real no-foolin' AASHTO standards Boston and Milton should be following at both Central AND Capen (minor as that one is). Paint, yellow/neon-green approach signage, and non- tree obscured crossbucks. FWIW...Capen is missing a crossbucks entirely in one direction, has a partially tree-obscured one in the other (where the approach sightlines are far and away worst), and has warning signage coming back from the dead-end direction but bafflingly not the more visually-compromised thru traffic direction. Forget that this isn't an FRA RR; for any steel-wheeled mode those are the two busiest public crossings by train traffic of any dedicated ROW this side of New York City. None of the GL branches have any perpendicular vehicular crossings whatsoever...they're all parallel on the reservation, or ped-only like the platform crossings or the grandfathered D golf course crossing. You would think when the Purple Line cracks the whips at the municipalities to keep their AASHTO signage and paint jobs up-to-snuff that the singular highest-frequency level crossing of them all on a busy street like Central that has near-daily close calls between trains and other transit vehicles would qualify. Or at least not be grandfathered to 1928 forever.

Seriously...not even a fucking stop sign or blinking light after 9 decades?!?
 
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bakgwailo

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So, I swear at the last round of community meetings on the PCC replacements, it was promised that they were going to rebuild that intersection with real signaling/etc. Well, they just rebuilt it and... well, yeah, no gates or signals or anything.

They do already today have GPS tracking, though, and pretty spot on tracking of the Red Line, it shouldn't be difficult to better synchronize things. They know when a train is getting into Ashmont, they should have a trolley waiting there (especially during rush hour). Adding in signaling or some non manual system to increase speeds would also be great. If they put in gates/upgraded crossing with priority, I don't see why they wouldn't just use it as a test bed for a fully automated line, it is almost perfect. Yeah, probably over the top, but, honestly, there is so much annoying low hanging fruit on the line right now that if done would make it infinitely better, as a daily user of it for years.
 

millerm277

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So, I swear at the last round of community meetings on the PCC replacements, it was promised that they were going to rebuild that intersection with real signaling/etc. Well, they just rebuilt it and... well, yeah, no gates or signals or anything.
That's in Phase 2 of the project, which I don't believe we're in yet according to their page for the projects, and the phasing shown in last year's documents: Slide 8 - https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/...ine-public-meetings-spring2019-accessible.pdf

Signal system installation at Central and Capen road crossings
I see $60m allocated in the CIP (FY21-24) for the "Mattapan HSL Transformation", so it appears Phase 2 is funded/partially funded.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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That's in Phase 2 of the project, which I don't believe we're in yet according to their page for the projects, and the phasing shown in last year's documents: Slide 8 - https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/...ine-public-meetings-spring2019-accessible.pdf



I see $60m allocated in the CIP (FY21-24) for the "Mattapan HSL Transformation", so it appears Phase 2 is funded/partially funded.
They couldn't expedite while they were redoing the crossing surfaces? It's not like crossing protection is a big-ticket item. Unless this is some hyper-custom job for LRT, the T buys crossing protection cabinets + track circuit electronic components + mounts + flashers + crossarms + warning signage in-bulk given all the Commuter Rail crossing protection renewal that's been perpetually going on the last several years. And half the time old removed components are recyclable too and given as "donationware" to freight shortlines or companies with street-crossing sidings as part of the state IRAP program. The only thing you can't refashion from old-beater crossing protection components are the things that are AASHTO-obsolete for new installations, like the old 8-inch incandescent flashers (new standard: 10-inch LED) and signage with previous-generation reflective coating (though half the time they just update old-stock crossbucks, etc. with new shrinkwrap reflectors. And the state always sides via self-policy with latest/greatest battery backup power in the wayside cabinets rather than repurposing.

Other than that, it's as mundane as can be and most definitely does not need to be project "phased" years out. You can install generic crossing protection at Central Ave. then add the customized LRT-priority trolley-bomb signal prioritization later. Train detection is run-of-the-mill track solid-state track circuit picking up presence of anything on the rails X feet out, and the cabinets are a bunch of generic Ethernet routers tied to a battery backup just like modern-install traffic lights; it's plug-and-play if they want to augment with sophisticated queue-dump road signal cycles later on.
 

Arlington

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It's been fun seeing this artwork slowly coming to life again at Park St. I'm going to be entirely honest, before they started the lighting overhaul I had literally never noticed it even existed.
I recall when I was a daily GL commuter (1998-2001) that every once in a while I'd spot something back there and think: "Hey, that's clever" Stuff like:
Car 1752 really was the first streetcar to use the subway
The 5 cent fare lasted for 25 years


How much of it was previously covered with ads?
 

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