MBTA Bus & BRT

TallIsGood

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I don't know what 'proof' as such there is or may have been, but the idea that they promised "equal or better" has been kicking around for a while.

This Boston Globe piece from 2006 (when the Silver Line Phase III was in its death throes) quotes a Sierra Club spokesman saying "[the Silver Line/Phase III proposal] does not meet the commitment that the T made to provide 'equal or better' service when the Orange Line was torn down."

So it's definitely not just here that there's been an understanding that the Elevated was not supposed to get an inferior replacement.
My point is that the MBTA never made that promise though it is widely repeated. There’s even a film (https://m.imdb.com/video/vi633184537) but there is no official document that I have seen that contains this promise or commitment. Repeating this doesn’t change the fact that it’s not an official commitment.

If the document exists it would be great to be proven wrong
 

Brattle Loop

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My point is that the MBTA never made that promise though it is widely repeated. There’s even a film (https://m.imdb.com/video/vi633184537) but there is no official document that I have seen that contains this promise or commitment. Repeating this doesn’t change the fact that it’s not an official commitment.

If the document exists it would be great to be proven wrong
Claiming that the MBTA never made the promise, with no evidence whatsoever to support that statement, is somewhat of an odd statement given the rest of the post (and the previous one I replied to).

I am unable to locate an official document laying out an "equal or better" policy; if such exists, it's not easy to find (which makes me wonder how much of the state's archive of transportation-related documents has even been digitized). I did find a reference to the "long-promised replacement" in this BRA/BPDA document from 2001 (in the middle of the paragraph of item 3 on Page 33). It describes community residents' concerns that the Silver Line will not adequately function as that "long-promised replacement", and though it's not the focus of the document there's nothing there specifically that takes any kind of an issue with the idea that a replacement (and, implicitly, an adequate one) was expected.

There is, in fact, ample evidence of, at the very least, community, advocacy, and potentially even (municipal) governmental understanding and expectation that the Elevated was to be suitably replaced. That didn't come from nowhere. It's not conclusive promise that the MBTA (or anyone else) made the promise, but that longstanding expectation coupled with a complete lack of proof that they didn't somewhere, somehow promise it completely undermines your would-be categorical claim that "the MBTA never made that promise". I'm not saying they necessarily did, merely noting that the 'fact' that they did not has not been established.

Now, my personal guess is that it was one or more politicians and not necessarily the MBTA proper that made the replacement promise (whether or not the "equal or better" usage was contemporary or adopted subsequently here and elsewhere as a convenient shorthand). That might tend to explain why it's not in documents. The semantic line between a (nominally political) promise and an official commitment when the promise is made by the politicians who (ultimately) control the MBTA is not really worth arguing about here. Whether or not it ever reached the status of an official, documented, MBTA condition, it's inarguable that the community expectation was for an adequate (read: equal or better) replacement, and that that expectation has remained unmet since 1987.
 

lainpimicaja

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I don't know what 'proof' as such there is or may have been, but the idea that they promised "equal or better" has been kicking around for a while.

This Boston Globe piece from 2006 (when the Silver Line Phase III was in its death throes) quotes a Sierra Club spokesman saying "[the Silver Line/Phase III proposal] does not meet the commitment that the T made to provide 'equal or better' service when the Orange Line was torn down."

So it's definitely not just here that there's been an understanding that the Elevated was not supposed to get an inferior replacement.
Watch around the 12-min mark of this documentary, which goes into SL planning history - the "equal or better" line came from the draft environmental impact report that was sent to the feds, so it was an actual claim the state put out there. Strongly recommend watching the whole video if you haven't already - does a good job of exploring the tensions in planning and Boston's recent history (great interviews, too).
 

as02143

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Actually this was indeed part of what I meant! Which makes my point all the more so: the reliability of SL1 is garbage, but so is the reliability (for example) of the B, and we don't let that disqualify the Green Line from being considered rapid transit (even if we are tempted at times).

That being said, I would be willing to adjust my claim slightly, and argue that specifically the SL2 and SLW service within the Transitway qualifies as BRT, with SL1 and SL3 buses being layered in as non-BRT elements. I think that distinction rapidly approaches becoming a "distinction without a difference", but I could still be convinced.
To me, it's wild that we have no "BRT" but will have 5 different transitways in the nearish future:
  • Piers Transitway (SL1-2-3)
  • Chelsea Gateway (SL3)
  • Columbus Ave (22, 29, 44)
  • Columbus Ave Extension (15, 22, 23, 28, 29, 44, 45)
  • Blue Hill Ave (28)
 

bigeman312

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The SL4 and SL5 are not BRT and the MBTA has repeatedly chosen marketing over honesty in their portrayal of the Washington Street corridor. Whether that is one lie, or a lie on top of a lie, is beside the point.
 

The EGE

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Watch around the 12-min mark of this documentary, which goes into SL planning history - the "equal or better" line came from the draft environmental impact report that was sent to the feds, so it was an actual claim the state put out there. Strongly recommend watching the whole video if you haven't already - does a good job of exploring the tensions in planning and Boston's recent history (great interviews, too).
The earliest use of the phrase I can find in the Globe archives (granted, the accuracy of their character scanning is low) is November 1986. This May 1988 article claims the phrase dates to 1973, which is roughly when the Southwest Corridor environmental documentation was being prepared.
 

Arlington

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The problem is, what is “equal or better” to an El (dedicated right of way)? Basically “equal or better” would have had to have been a subway. Even if we had “true BRT” or E branch style LRT, it could be fairly said neither is equal or better than an. El.
 

Brattle Loop

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The problem is, what is “equal or better” to an El (dedicated right of way)? Basically “equal or better” would have had to have been a subway. Even if we had “true BRT” or E branch style LRT, it could be fairly said neither is equal or better than an. El.
That's a fair argument, though mode/grade separation isn't the only valuable criteria. Especially given that even if LRT was in some respects inferior to a subway replacement, the fact that it would be able to hit all the transfer stations (and do it inside fare control for that matter) makes it a lot closer to an equal replacement than any BRT, including the woeful Silver Line as-built.
 

Charlie_mta

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As I recall at the time, the "equal to or better" expectation of the Roxbury community, the Sierra Club and others would have been satisfied by a surface LRV line from the Tremont subway to Dudley Square.
 

TallIsGood

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Claiming that the MBTA never made the promise, with no evidence whatsoever to support that statement, is somewhat of an odd statement given the rest of the post (and the previous one I replied to).
So you want evidence to prove a negative? I’ll look at what you and the other posters provided in more detail.
 

guitarguynboston

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My belief of what would state as equal or better service could technically mean any mode of transit......

- that can move the same amount of riders to the same destinations close to or quicker in travel times.
- the mode should come at least every so many minutes as the el or better.

Basically that's the 2 things that needed to be hit on the head with the Silver Line.
 

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