MBTA Bus & BRT

fatnoah

Active Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
146
Reaction score
132
Alewife busway goes from being a busy pre-pandemic hub to the northwestern suburbs and becomes a small town "intermodal" transit center with 2 bus routes at less than 30 minute headways all day. I guess Cambridge should give up letting the T build busways, because, the T doesn't want to actually use them in Cambridge.
I'm not sure that this is a bad thing. Having ridden buses into and out of Alewife to the NW suburbs, the final 0.5 miles into/and out of the station can take over 30 minutes. When I lived in East Arlington, taking the 77 to/from Porter was generally much faster than the 350 or 79 to Alewife. In the updated proposal, it looks like the missing routes are the confusing 62/76 and the 67 which is now covered by the 87 (and probably better for the people taking it).
 

Roxxma

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
570
Reaction score
96
I'm not sure that this is a bad thing. Having ridden buses into and out of Alewife to the NW suburbs, the final 0.5 miles into/and out of the station can take over 30 minutes. When I lived in East Arlington, taking the 77 to/from Porter was generally much faster than the 350 or 79 to Alewife.
I've long thought that Route 350 riders would be better served if it took Pleasant Street to MA 2 instead of the Massachusetts Ave routing. Mass Ave is already well served by buses. The 350 being so long should be routed by the quickest route to Alewife once in Arlington Center.
 

737900er

New member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
99
Reaction score
127
I've been staring at the map and I'm not sure what to make of this particular piece. The MBTA has historically gone to great extent to create some fairly significant busway terminal facilities. It seems odd and not well thought out that they are not using the facilities that they already have bought and paid for to function as busways.

I think in the 2018 Better Bus Project too, a few of the proposals came about to bypass the busway at Ruggles but not serve it. The public outcry was significant enough for the T to backtrack it. Inspite, or perhaps because they didn't get their way, it looks like they're trying to bring back some of these unpopular proposals under the guise that 25% more service is 25% more service. Just looking at a selection of transfer stations i know and new transfer locations that appear on the static map....it's odd.

The Ruggles case is interesting, but, it's happening at these other stations too:
- Sullivan will have the T109 loop through, the perennial "improvement" to the 90 to skip Sullivan reappears - then their map has the 90 skipping Wellington to use Route 16 only, too! - The T's service planners want to tell Somerville bus riders to f'off, don't they.
- Malden will have the new 99 loop through
The circumferential routes have a lot of turnover at the rapid transit stations, and that will still be true even with the redesign. Making these loops through busways makes a lot of sense, especially given they now know that people like it. It's especially nice on rainy days because most of the busways are covered.
- Lechmere busway is going from 4 to 1 route as if no one from East Cambridge visits places that aren't going to be accessible from the GLX
- Davis busway has perhaps the most confusing of all the proposals -- the new 87 to Turkey Hill (!) will loop around Davis Square with 3.5 lefts to make a right. The 87 in the other direction will ALSO make the same loop (but not complete it).
Somerville is probably the most controversial part of the whole proposal, but as @Riverside mentioned, the buses that serve Lechmere don't see much activity at the local stops, so it's hard to justify going there if there's a better transfer point.
That 87 is weird, especially considering the outbound trip will stop right in front of the busway, then loop into the busway, then turn right onto College Ave.
- Harvard busway (safe!) except, where are they going to have space for the new 86 terminating and the new T109? Send them to Alewife or Lechmere since those busways are now undersubscribed?
86 will work in the convoluted way it does now: trips from Reservoir will unload at the upper busway. Trips to Reservoir will board on the street.
T109 will work in the reverse. Trips to Harvard will not use the busway, and trips from Harvard will use the upper busway.
- Orient Heights busway looks to have a loop on each side! Redundant looping is definitely going to be better and faster for all bus riders.
It actually makes a lot of sense. Trips to Winthrop board at the south busway, adjacent to the outbound track, and trips from Winthrop use the north busway. This is the current peak operating practice.[/quote]
In a different perspective, the T is proposing a number of new on-street terminals. What are they doing to get the cities and towns to buy into this? I know we all probably feel different, but, are the cities just supposed to give up a lot of metered parking and revenue or are they going to give up curb space out of the goodness of their hearts even if it's not metered?

- New terminal in LMA is at Longwood/Brookline
- Second new terminal -near- LMA is at Brookline Village
- Porter Square is now a big terminal - Where's that going to be? At the station on Somerville Ave. There's not much curb there and a lot of pedestrians.
- Kendall Square is going to be very busy (two new high-frequency routes plus the one 55 route to LMA) so many pedestrians
- Wood island does get to reactivate the loop/busway (current taxi-way)
For LMA it sounds like they plan to have keep the routes separated to some extent, so there should be slightly less crowding.
Porter and Roxbury Crossing stand out as the biggest transfer sore spots to me.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
873
Reaction score
1,168
The proposals for Somerville really are a mess, in my opinion (and clearly the opinion of quite a few residents). I'm working on a map to illustrate some of the challenges there. For my part, I'm surprised that they don't divert the former Lechmere routes to Union Square for the transfer instead.

As for the point about bus terminals -- that clearly is an intentional design choice they are putting forward. It seems that they are betting that focused through-routing to major destinations (LMA, Kendall, Harvard) will outweigh downsides of underutilizing the bus terminals.

It also seems pretty clear that this proposal is about a vision as much as anything else. While many of these changes could be done purely operationally, I think they must be assuming at least a few mild capital projects -- probably mostly bus lanes, but perhaps modest reconfigurations of bus terminals -- could be justified in order to enable this reimagining of the network.
 

RandomWalk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,808
Reaction score
1,515
Transferring modes on the T has always been fraught. Maybe this is their way of acknowledging that and enabling busses to get folks where they want to go, instead of the nearest depot.
 

Stlin

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
397
Reaction score
642
Looks like the T rejected both bids for the new Quincy garage after they exceeded internal estimates by $79 million.
Given both bids were within 100k of each other despite being 79 million over budget, I would hazard a guess that it's the internal estimate that's off, not the bids. I would also assume that the other expected bidder no-bidding it means they also thought they also couldn't come close to the published estimated value, which presumably was developed in 2020. In this current inflationary environment, I can't say I'm hugely surprised. And the risk calculus, if the contract is as penalty heavy as suggested, favors high bidding. Just look at Boeing's current woes arising from aggressively pursuing the fixed price KC-46 and VC-25B contracts.

That said, I would almost rather have an overpriced fully capable garage for the next 50 years than one VE'd into reduced usefulness.
 
Last edited:

RandomWalk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,808
Reaction score
1,515
I look forward to F-Line’s take.

I assume the T will overreact by dumping all the BEB provisions, or something similarly stupid.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
520
Reaction score
242
Given both bids were within 100k of each other despite being 79 million over budget, I would hazard a guess that it's the internal estimate that's off, not the bids. I would also assume that the other expected bidder no-bidding it means they also thought they also couldn't come close to the published estimated value, which presumably was developed in 2020. In this current inflationary environment, I can't say I'm hugely surprised. And the risk calculus, if the contract is as penalty heavy as suggested, favors high bidding. Just look at Boeing's current woes arising from aggressively pursuing the fixed price KC-46 and VC-25B contracts.

That said, I would almost rather have an overpriced fully capable garage for the next 50 years than one VE'd into reduced usefulness.
The bid overage alone was more than PVTA just spent to build a comparable garage. This is insane!
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
520
Reaction score
242
The fundamental question is why the costs are so high. How can two transit authorities, in the same state, come up with such radically different costs? How this isn't one of the most public scandals is beyond me. This should be gubernatorial campaign fodder of the highest order
 

HenryAlan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
2,930
Reaction score
1,421
The fundamental question is why the costs are so high. How can two transit authorities, in the same state, come up with such radically different costs? How this isn't one of the most public scandals is beyond me. This should be gubernatorial campaign fodder of the highest order
At a guess, the two projects are less similar than they seem to those of us in the armchair transit planning world. The fact that the two bids came in even higher seems to confirm that it's really an apples to orange comparison.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
520
Reaction score
242
At a guess, the two projects are less similar than they seem to those of us in the armchair transit planning world. The fact that the two bids came in even higher seems to confirm that it's really an apples to orange comparison.
I'm sorry, but I would need to see a pretty detailed cost comparison, independently verified to explain the difference. And I have looked
 

HenryAlan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
2,930
Reaction score
1,421
So you think the 'T has the full financial details for the other garage that somebody else built? Even then if they did, and gave it to you, would you be able to tell what expenses related to different site conditions and project needs, verses what was simply incompetence or graft?
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
520
Reaction score
242
So you think the 'T has the full financial details for the other garage that somebody else built? Even then if they did, and gave it to you, would you be able to tell what expenses related to different site conditions and project needs, verses what was simply incompetence or graft?
Well, since I, a transit activist civilian, can reach out to several transit authorities and get detailed data, yes, I assume that if someone from the T reached out to, say, Dayton about how they have adapted their garage for IMC, that they would provide info.


And if I was building a building that was 8x the cost of one built 100 miles away because of "site conditions", I'd be looking for another site.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
873
Reaction score
1,168
I've made a map of and a (slightly lengthy) post about the Bus Network Redesign's "15-Minute Network". At this stage, I'm not trying to evaluate the proposals; rather, I'd like to offer a slightly more robust framework for discussing the proposals. In particular, I want to draw attention to what I believe are three largely distinct categories of route in the 15-Minute Network:
  • Radial Lines
  • Circumferential Lines
  • Longwood Lines
I've written above how much the Redesign centers Longwood, but when creating the map I found that the routes centered on Longwood both did not fit cleanly into either other category, and were numerous enough that I couldn't get away with fudging it. So, the map includes a visually distinct network based out of Longwood, which again illustrates how strongly the Redesign focused on increasing access to LMA.

I have a couple of maps and a post or two in the works specifically about Somerville, so stay tuned for those.

In the post, I also laid out some features of the existing bus network which I think the Redesign was specifically trying to ameliorate. Obviously I have no insider knowledge, but I think it's pretty likely that these were problems they were trying to eliminate through design, which then informed some of the cost-benefit decisions that they made. (Again, not necessarily that I agree with those decisions, but I'm just saying that I suspect this was part of their framework.)

A ridiculously large version of the map is available on the blog, but this lower-res one gives you the general idea. (Note that a few things have been simplified for this map -- more details at the blog post.)

15 min network reduced.png
 

The EGE

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2013
Messages
1,271
Reaction score
2,218
A realization I just had: there is absolutely no way they can extend the 28 to Kenmore. It's an extremely cramped single-lane busway with minimal layover space - buses have to be tediously parallel parked when laying over. Adding a high-frequency route with 60-foot buses to that would be simply impossible.
 

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
2,927
Reaction score
2,594
A realization I just had: there is absolutely no way they can extend the 28 to Kenmore. It's an extremely cramped single-lane busway with minimal layover space - buses have to be tediously parallel parked when laying over. Adding a high-frequency route with 60-foot buses to that would be simply impossible.
It could be expanded. Comm Ave has 3 (three!) lanes o general traffic in each direction. Just reducing that to two lanes each direction would add a significant amount of space for the busway.
 

lainpimicaja

New member
Joined
Jun 28, 2021
Messages
30
Reaction score
66
A realization I just had: there is absolutely no way they can extend the 28 to Kenmore. It's an extremely cramped single-lane busway with minimal layover space - buses have to be tediously parallel parked when laying over. Adding a high-frequency route with 60-foot buses to that would be simply impossible.
The T seems to be clear that this proposal would require changes to conditions on the ground. There is plenty of roadway space available in and around Kenmore Sq, so it's certainly possible for it to work with the city to claim some lanes for layover and busway. It would require some construction, but in the grand scheme it would be low cost compared to other T capital projects.
 
Last edited:

Top