MBTA Bus & BRT

real_EthanHunt

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sorry if I assumed you were part of the vocal group at the last public meeting on the redesign that wanted to start the design process over to fit in bus lanes.
they are not incompatible, but if you are adding bus lanes, its going to take it away from the open space width. the # of lanes is already being reduced (which is how the open space is being created).
as for Tobin (most notably the 111), there is a bus lane in the design connecting inbound Tobin ramp to the new N Washington St bridge, which will also have a bus lane.
 
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Riverside

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No, I was not part of that group, and I just went and looked at the plans -- I would definitely not be in favor of restarting the design process wholesale. Personally, I'm not sure that I feel a grassy median is more worthwhile than bus lanes, but of course it's a balancing act.

My general feeling is that we all should be more aggressive about (re)claiming lanes on roads with 4 lanes of traffic/parking or more. Perhaps they are peak-only, and perhaps they don't have physical separation, but I increasingly feel that we simply need to start centering (not literally) buses on every single major road. If it's big enough to warrant 4 lanes of cars, it's big enough to warrant a dedicated lane or two for transit.

Of course, that same argument can be applied to Bunker Hill St. So, if I really want my "Everett-Downtown" one-seat ride, we could talk about express service that leverages bus lanes (maybe peak-only) down that way instead.

Alternatively -- it's worth keeping in mind that, in theory, traffic should be moving along Rutherford at a decent clip once the redesign is complete. Between the express underpass at Austin St, the southbound queue jump at the Tobin ramps, and then possibly adding some transit priority signaling at the remaining intersections, you could probably ensure that buses move through very quickly.

So, you might not even need bus lanes, when it comes down to it.

[EDIT: And I should note that my original comment indeed did not call for bus lanes on Rutherford -- simply using Rutherford as a way to get downtown.]

LOL, looks like planners are trying to resurrect the Urban Ring, one section at a time!
They absolutely are. F-Line has pointed out numerous times that the various corridors identified by the Urban Ring studies are still the ones we're talking about today, even if we don't have the "Urban Ring" brand attached to it.
 

jbray

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I think the issue overall with Rutherford not setting aside a bus right-of-way is that we know Everett will need expanded transit going forward. Today it's a bus, but in the future it will most likely be rail. Given F-Line's argument about branching before Malden Center, the proposed future of an Orange line branch is not available. That leaves Rutherford Ave as the natural choice for implementation of rail into downtown. It's much easier to create a right-of-way now out the road system than to take it from development or even greenspace. @real_EthanHunt, your post proves that as we don't even have grass on the ground and it's already a point of contention. This is an opportunity to provide some level of future-proofing on the limited wide roads we have in Boston.
 

Riverside

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I think the issue overall with Rutherford not setting aside a bus right-of-way is that we know Everett will need expanded transit going forward. Today it's a bus, but in the future it will most likely be rail. Given F-Line's argument about branching before Malden Center, the proposed future of an Orange line branch is not available. That leaves Rutherford Ave as the natural choice for implementation of rail into downtown. It's much easier to create a right-of-way now out the road system than to take it from development or even greenspace. @real_EthanHunt, your post proves that as we don't even have grass on the ground and it's already a point of contention. This is an opportunity to provide some level of future-proofing on the limited wide roads we have in Boston.
Well, I'd actually argue that the best rail path into downtown is via a branch of the Green Line, extended up from the new maintenance center to Sullivan. (The maintenance facility practically gets you halfway there.) Rail transit into Everett proper is hard (as we've discussed elsewhere), but in terms of getting from Sullivan to downtown, that probably can be done within, or alongside, existing ROWs.
 

Tallguy

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I think the issue overall with Rutherford not setting aside a bus right-of-way is that we know Everett will need expanded transit going forward. Today it's a bus, but in the future it will most likely be rail. Given F-Line's argument about branching before Malden Center, the proposed future of an Orange line branch is not available. That leaves Rutherford Ave as the natural choice for implementation of rail into downtown. It's much easier to create a right-of-way now out the road system than to take it from development or even greenspace. @real_EthanHunt, your post proves that as we don't even have grass on the ground and it's already a point of contention. This is an opportunity to provide some level of future-proofing on the limited wide roads we have in Boston.
If the OL ran at the same frequency as the RL will be (every 3 min) branching at Sullivan becomes very feasible. An OL to Revere is probably a better bet than trying to squeeze ANOTHER GL branch into the Central Subway
 

Brattle Loop

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If the OL ran at the same frequency as the RL will be (every 3 min) branching at Sullivan becomes very feasible. An OL to Revere is probably a better bet than trying to squeeze ANOTHER GL branch into the Central Subway
Branching south of Malden Center may be feasible if the Orange Line frequencies can be brought down to 3-minute headways on the main line, but anything much longer than that and you're talking outright service reduction to Malden's major bus terminal. It's unclear (because F-Line's post here didn't address it) as to whether the current roughly-6-to-6.5-minute headways are sufficient for Malden going forward. If Malden's going to need more frequencies of its own just based on its natural growth, then even if you got OL headways down to 3-minutes you'd still be looking at net reductions to Malden, where the harm's going to be worse than Everett because of Malden's existing role as a major transfer node.

You're not wrong to worry about the prospect of just sending line after new line into the Central Subway, but you also don't have to run all the trolleys to all the same places, or all the way through the subway for that matter. The Brattle Loop exists to turn cars back to the north without having to touch the nasty-congested section between GC and Park Street, though they would have to deal fix its platforms first. Moreover, these proposals arising or overlapping with those in the Green Line Reconfiguration thread tend to assume that they're not being built in a vacuum. Cars would be interchanging from the NW (Grand Junction) and NE (SL3) quadrants of the de facto Urban Ring at the junction at Brickbottom without ever touching the Central Subway. If I recall F-Line's operational outline somewhere in that monster thread, maybe half the cars running on the new branches would even make it into the subway at all, and some of those would presumably be turning at the Brattle Loop on the northern end of the subway where there's more capacity to give anyway. I think it's worth reiterating that concerns that are absolutely valid about the capacity of the Central Subway as it operates now may not necessarily apply to it under different modes of operation where there's less of an emphasis on through-routing and one-seat rides.
 

Riverside

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^ Exactly. I have spent waaaaaay more time thinking about Central Subway capacity than anyone should if they aren’t getting paid for it, and I’m telling you, it could work. An Everett branch could be done and honestly wouldn’t even require that many infrastructure additions on its own.

Branching the Orange Line — beyond its operational challenges, will also be significantly more expensive. With enough political will, one could reshape Main St and/or Broadway to have semi-protected dedicated LRT lanes. That will not be possible with HRT.
 

Brattle Loop

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^ Exactly. I have spent waaaaaay more time thinking about Central Subway capacity than anyone should if they aren’t getting paid for it, and I’m telling you, it could work. An Everett branch could be done and honestly wouldn’t even require that many infrastructure additions on its own.

Branching the Orange Line — beyond its operational challenges, will also be significantly more expensive. With enough political will, one could reshape Main St and/or Broadway to have semi-protected dedicated LRT lanes. That will not be possible with HRT.
I feel like anything HRT to Everett defaults to Crazy Transit Pitches territory. You're entirely right on the vast difference in terms of expense and difficulty because HRT must be completely grade-separated and LRT doesn't have to be. The level of political will necessary to reconfigure some roads is not trivial, but it is insignificant next to the political will necessary to dig a megaproject tunnel (or, worse, shoot an elevated) through the city.
 

jbray

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Well, I'd actually argue that the best rail path into downtown is via a branch of the Green Line, extended up from the new maintenance center to Sullivan. (The maintenance facility practically gets you halfway there.) Rail transit into Everett proper is hard (as we've discussed elsewhere), but in terms of getting from Sullivan to downtown, that probably can be done within, or alongside, existing ROWs.
In the short term? Absolutely no doubt. Branching northern green lines are the way. I’m talking about not precluding a heavy rail right of way for a future we may never see. I don't doubt the flexibility of the central subway, but it also cannot be the end all be all of transit development because "just add it to the green line, it saves money and we could build it tomorrow" will one day break that capacity via trains or ops issues when we appendage everything.

As for the 6.5 minute headways, F-Line's point was that Malden center is a bus hub that was straining under the 2019 load and that you could not get a seat by Sullivan Square. This is before any extensions up to Reading. You are seriously underestimating how unfeasible an orange line branch is just because it's easy to draw the line on paper. And this doesn't take into account that Sullivan -> North would be responsible for two orange line branches, the urban ring with station, and two commuter rail branches comprising of three rails with station (one to be dropped for an additional express track for orange needed for the extension). The whole concept (mine, yours) is crazy transit pitches to the hilt. All my point was is/was that we shouldn't be creating future right of way problems on one of the widest non-highways into the CBD.
 

Brattle Loop

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In the short term? Absolutely no doubt. Branching northern green lines are the way. I’m talking about not precluding a heavy rail right of way for a future we may never see. I don't doubt the flexibility of the central subway, but it also cannot be the end all be all of transit development because "just add it to the green line, it saves money and we could build it tomorrow" will one day break that capacity via trains or ops issues when we appendage everything.
It's a fair point. That said, and it's entirely possible that I'm just missing something, I'm somewhat confused about the discussion. Rutherford Ave's a long-term obvious option for BRT and/or LRT (probably BRT) but it's much less obviously a candidate for HRT except as the natural pathway for a tunnel, unless you're suggesting it gets taken off the road network wholesale as an arterial road (not that is necessarily a deal-breaker, I'm just not entirely certain of what's being discussed). Either way, anything other than BRT on Rutherford proper is edging into the Crazy Transit Pitches category even as LRT, and HRT's dead-on-arrival without somewhere to go as you pointed out. All of which becomes so-difficult-as-to-be-impossible if anything other than asphalt gets put down there, so, absolutely preserving the ROW is something that would be beneficial. (That said, if we may indulge in a brief Crazy Transit Pitches interlude, Rutherford-to-Everett as the northern tunnel extension of a Congress Street Subway would at least merit a look.)

As for the 6.5 minute headways, F-Line's point was that Malden center is a bus hub that was straining under the 2019 load and that you could not get a seat by Sullivan Square. This is before any extensions up to Reading. You are seriously underestimating how unfeasible an orange line branch is just because it's easy to draw the line on paper. And this doesn't take into account that Sullivan -> North would be responsible for two orange line branches, the urban ring with station, and two commuter rail branches comprising of three rails with station (one to be dropped for an additional express track for orange needed for the extension). The whole concept (mine, yours) is crazy transit pitches to the hilt. All my point was is/was that we shouldn't be creating future right of way problems on one of the widest non-highways into the CBD.
This, I'm confused by. I'm absolutely sticking with F-Line's hard-no on branching the OL south of Malden Center, but I don't see how the potential Reading extension (oh the Melrose NIMBYs will be something to see if that project ever gets traction again) or the GLX-through-Sullivan are particular constraints there. Sullivan's already triple-tracked on the OL, and there's no particular need as far as I can tell for the OL to eat the Reading CR track until Assembly, and the GLX-to-SL3 pitches I've seen have the Green Line eating Yard 21 on the west side of Sullivan so that's not encroaching either. In my head it'd be south of Community where the two-track main line would be the capacity crunch, because branching off the three-track main north of Community has extra spare capacity from the third track. It's the middle of the night so I could be completely misunderstanding this all though.

The point still stands, though, whether Rutherford is needed for BRT now or not does not mean it never will be, and I agree that care should be taken to ensure it is not eliminated as a potential ROW for transit in the future (at least Charlestown's not as boneheaded as Dedham when it comes to destroying ROWs......right?)
 

jass

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Considering its clear the future of the MBTA is an entirely Silver Line based transit network, I think its time to start thinking about the South Station-North Station connection to be done via the Silver Line.

The Silver line is already underground at South Station. Just knock a hole into the highway tunnel, have the buses use that, and build a new turnaround loop at North Station.
 

tangent

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Considering its clear the future of the MBTA is an entirely Silver Line based transit network, I think its time to start thinking about the South Station-North Station connection to be done via the Silver Line.

The Silver line is already underground at South Station. Just knock a hole into the highway tunnel, have the buses use that, and build a new turnaround loop at North Station.
Interesting.
 

Tallguy

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In the short term? Absolutely no doubt. Branching northern green lines are the way. I’m talking about not precluding a heavy rail right of way for a future we may never see. I don't doubt the flexibility of the central subway, but it also cannot be the end all be all of transit development because "just add it to the green line, it saves money and we could build it tomorrow" will one day break that capacity via trains or ops issues when we appendage everything.

As for the 6.5 minute headways, F-Line's point was that Malden center is a bus hub that was straining under the 2019 load and that you could not get a seat by Sullivan Square. This is before any extensions up to Reading. You are seriously underestimating how unfeasible an orange line branch is just because it's easy to draw the line on paper. And this doesn't take into account that Sullivan -> North would be responsible for two orange line branches, the urban ring with station, and two commuter rail branches comprising of three rails with station (one to be dropped for an additional express track for orange needed for the extension). The whole concept (mine, yours) is crazy transit pitches to the hilt. All my point was is/was that we shouldn't be creating future right of way problems on one of the widest non-highways into the CBD.
There are 5 lines north of Sullivan.
I an suggesting following the ER ROW
Data seems to show that significant numbers of present ridership from Malden, Wellington and Sullivan will ride GLX and a OL station at Sweetser
 

fattony

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There are 5 lines north of Sullivan.
I an suggesting following the ER ROW
Data seems to show that significant numbers of present ridership from Malden, Wellington and Sullivan will ride GLX and a OL station at Sweetser
No doubt that an OL branch would redirect a lot of bus passengers and change Malden Center from a singular sink to one of many.
 

Brattle Loop

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There are 5 lines north of Sullivan.
I an suggesting following the ER ROW
Data seems to show that significant numbers of present ridership from Malden, Wellington and Sullivan will ride GLX and a OL station at Sweetser
No doubt that an OL branch would redirect a lot of bus passengers and change Malden Center from a singular sink to one of many.
The question isn't whether ridership patterns will change when new lines are added, the question is how significant the changes will be and what that lets you do, or cautions against doing. The only way to justify slashing frequencies to Malden by branching the OL south of there is to point to high-quality study data indicating that the new branch will take enough pressure off Malden Center so that the end result is not net-negative to the system, immediately or in the future (because ridership cannot be assumed to remain static).
 

RandomWalk

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With all the commentary in this thread and the I-90 Allston thread, I’m waiting F-Line to bust in like the Kool-Aid Man and drop a 3,000 word post eviscerating many of the pitches.
 

Charlie_mta

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Considering its clear the future of the MBTA is an entirely Silver Line based transit network, I think its time to start thinking about the South Station-North Station connection to be done via the Silver Line.

The Silver line is already underground at South Station. Just knock a hole into the highway tunnel, have the buses use that, and build a new turnaround loop at North Station.
Why not, for now, simply establish a bus route on dedicated bus lanes on the RKG surface road from South Station to North Station (and back), with traffic signal override in the buses? Buses would be express with just one stop halfway along the route at Auditorium Station. Seems like that would provide a convenient and quick ride between SS and NS, some service to Logan as well (via the Blue Line), and relieve some of the pressure on the subway lines in the CBD.
 

Tallguy

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The question isn't whether ridership patterns will change when new lines are added, the question is how significant the changes will be and what that lets you do, or cautions against doing. The only way to justify slashing frequencies to Malden by branching the OL south of there is to point to high-quality study data indicating that the new branch will take enough pressure off Malden Center so that the end result is not net-negative to the system, immediately or in the future (because ridership cannot be assumed to remain static).
So, presently, Malden receives 6 min service at peak. I prefaced my suggestion by presupposing 3 min service, as on the RL. Thus, splitting the OL at Sullivan means that Malden would get the same level of service. NO "SLASHING" OF SERVICE!
And the OL peaks at Sullivan, not Malden.
 

Brattle Loop

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So, presently, Malden receives 6 min service at peak. I prefaced my suggestion by presupposing 3 min service, as on the RL. Thus, splitting the OL at Sullivan means that Malden would get the same level of service. NO "SLASHING" OF SERVICE!
And the OL peaks at Sullivan, not Malden.
You did indeed mention that in a previous post. It wasn't referenced in the post I replied to so it slipped my mind that you had mentioned that.

That said, any branching south of Malden is, inevitably, going to take trains away from Malden. I presume (I think F-Line explained this somewhere, I don't know where) that imbalanced branches would be an operational nightmare, so the basic assumption I've been working on (and it appears that your working assumption has been similar, unless I'm misreading) is that half the OL trains would serve Malden and half would serve the new branch (or effectively half, anyway).

If that is indeed the case, then bringing the OL to 3-minute downtown headways nets you 6-minute headways on the branches, which is, as you said, what Malden receives at peak now (or, at least outside of pandemic and fleet-rotting periods). The point I was aiming to make (and re-reading my post I missed, partially because I wasn't treating the increased OL headways you mentioned as a precondition) was questioning whether it's sufficient to lock Malden into its roughly-6-minute headways long into the future, which is essentially the best-case scenario if the OL gets branched south of Malden. And that would need to be studied, to determine whether the benefits coming from the new branch are sufficient to take enough long-term load off Malden so that it's fine to prevent Malden from ever reaching something like the main line's 3-minute headways. If the numbers actually turned up a net-negative to service from socking Malden with permanent 6-minute headways, that would change the calculus, in my opinion.
 

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