MBTA "Transformation" (Green Line, Red Line, & Orange Line Transformation Projects)

whighlander

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Just a point to introduce into this debate:

Buses unlike trains can easily be stored, serviced, etc. in vertical structure -- i.e. Parking Garages. For example the MOS garage has one floor on the bottom with a high clearance for -- Buses -- with 3 floors in the middle for cars --- and one on the top [with no real ceiling] although the clearance of the ramps and the lower floors limit the useful clearance.

So why not get a developer to build a complex incorporating a garage for T Buses.
 

Tallguy

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I mean you have a point for AM peak. Winship St is pretty much approximate. Newton Corner is closer to Weston. But the PM reverse there's not even a comparison.

Here's Boston's own proposal for BRT in the CBD. A NSRL or another subway line could replace it eventually, but that's not soon on the docket for completion.

The #1 comment had nothing to do with which it specifically comes from. You were making a point about buses in the CBD or the lack of them, specifically. On one hand, you are arguing for the real estate value of the space in the South End for something other than a bus yard and on the other hand you are saying the South End isn't the CBD so buses in it don't count. Is the South End a major part of the city or not?


It's one version of utility. Saving room for the infrastructure to make a city function is another.


All in all, It's not a bad question to pose, they're two sides of the same coin.

No doubt

Given that the city of Boston is looking at BRT through the core, I would agree with F-Line that until an in-city trade is made slightly further out (or at Widett) the parcel is more valuable as a bus garage. The Quincy garage is under hostility from the local population so it's not a guarantee until it's being built.

The dream goal of the 4xxs would be to get the Blue line to Lynn and eliminate them.
So, I assume when I say Albany St should not be the site of a garage, I don't have to say "only if the present plans of the MBTA don't get sidetracked". I am suggesting that, for instance, if the inner 'burbs want the advantages of express busses, they need to share the burden of them, and that long term planning should be based on that.
And, yes I am aware of the bus lane proposal for the CBD/Seaport. And the route is the present Rt 7 and Rt 4 grafted together and will probably be implemented with busses presently assigned to the two routes. Useful repackaging, but repackaging non the less, with the bonus that the bus lanes will provide increased frequency without additional busses. This is exactly the kind of thing we keep needing to do( bus lanes, all door boarding, TSP) to use present busses smarter. A 15% reduction in travel times is like getting 150 free busses. And the more positive rider experience is just a bonus!
 

Tallguy

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Just a point to introduce into this debate:

Buses unlike trains can easily be stored, serviced, etc. in vertical structure -- i.e. Parking Garages. For example the MOS garage has one floor on the bottom with a high clearance for -- Buses -- with 3 floors in the middle for cars --- and one on the top [with no real ceiling] although the clearance of the ramps and the lower floors limit the useful clearance.

So why not get a developer to build a complex incorporating a garage for T Buses.
TOD at bus garages is definitely a potential "good thing" A Better City did a nice study on this particular parcel.
My site at Weston could be multifunctional as well. Bus storage , LEX and a 128 P&R for Worcester Line Regional Rail are all possible uses.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Just a point to introduce into this debate:

Buses unlike trains can easily be stored, serviced, etc. in vertical structure -- i.e. Parking Garages. For example the MOS garage has one floor on the bottom with a high clearance for -- Buses -- with 3 floors in the middle for cars --- and one on the top [with no real ceiling] although the clearance of the ramps and the lower floors limit the useful clearance.

So why not get a developer to build a complex incorporating a garage for T Buses.
If you're talking distributing storage over many micro-garage facilities in private dev. spaces like the MOS garage example, operating cost scales defeat that instantly. Each T garage is full-time staffed with Service & Inspection facilities (even the ones where those functions are minimized to just ID'ing a problem on the lift before sending the vehicle to a bigger garage for repair) that impose their own heavy cost premiums on operating the facility and equipping it. The T's ongoing Facilities study bullseyes this as the biggie cost driver. So unfortunately micro-targeting vs. the route layout ends up cutting the exact opposite direction you would hope for running a more nimble system. At least here in Greater Boston. As it is today it is the minor outlying garages--system-smallest Fellsway, perennial out-of-date/"sloppy-seconds" Quincy, Lynn, and North Cambridge TT garage--that are running the most unfavorable on cost ratios and/or falling furthest behind on modernizations. It's all because of poor scalability, and the study has a wealth of info detailing how this needs to change in a big way for future growth to scale without corresponding off-scale cost inflation.

Conversely, if you're thinking stacked single-purpose garages that try to max out the storage density per parcel by going tall, there's simply a numbers game on what parcels are appropriate enough for building that way within-cost fed into local authorities' thus-far complete/total unwillingness to entertain new non-revenue transit land use anywhere within 10 miles of the CBD. The local opposition (witnessed by the ongoing hysteria in Quincy) may be more pronounced here than elsewhere, but there are justifiable reasons why stacked storage facilities are nearly unheard of in other large cities. Ideal cost/benefit matchups are incredibly hard to attain, almost taking fluke luck. For one, moving cumbersome buses from higher floors in/out isn't easy unless the parcel is ideally-shaped for building wide turning-radii ramps that don't cannibalize too much interior space. Second, you instantly subtract a floor from street-level height because presence of so much as one S&I lift on ground floor instantly makes that ground floor two stories tall with proportional increase in the load-bearing costs of the upper floors. Third, ventilation and fire suppression (even in a battery bus -dominated future) have to be orders-of-magnitude tougher in a uniform transit garage vs. a heterogeneous-use car garage of proportionately smaller, lower-powered and self-insured vehicles. Convergence in parcel selection, build techniques vs. resulting capacity, and cost premiums for outfitting end up eliminating all but the flukiest-chance matchups for the scaling metrics they highlight in-study. This sufficiently explains why stacked transit facilities are such an extreme rarity worldwide, and tosses most possible Boston-area site matchups well before engaging hostile locals in all likelihood zeroes out the rest.

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The best cost scalability they found via study was on "super-campuses", mega-garages or multiple garages clustered down the street from each other. Cabot + Albany + Southampton are one such super-campus, system-behemoth Charlestown + centralized heavy-repair Everett the other.

Programmed construction in the ongoing plan to max out Southampton's parcel space with 60-footer storage expansion direct-aids the downtown super-campus. Southampton was initially a quick-and-dirty Silver Line build, a bit small and haphazardly laid out. They are enacting their first real site plan to ramp up its overall efficiency for 60-footers in general, expand on some adjacent parcel flotsam under the City's radar, and in general reorganize land usage more optimally. The expansion comes with advantageous cost-scaling because labor and equipment are there pooled with 40-footer Cabot and Albany garages right up the street, giving Southampton pound-for-pound more value for each additional vehicle it now takes on.

Obviously Widett land-swaps loom huge in the future for scalability. Yes, it's practically the only move that could make the Albany property available for trade. But being able to stuff 100+ buses on the BTD tow lot also re-shapes the super-campus task distribution such that the non-expendable Cabot facility can reinvent itself on-footprint to consolidate all 40-footer repair duties from Albany in exchange for trading out some of its space-consuming pure storage underneath the Widett air rights. So even if there ends up not being nearly enough gained new storage to outright close Albany, it's a major cost reduction to be able to consolidate repair functions across the super-campus. It'll make what pure-storage remains of Albany immediately less costly to run and far less impactful to its South End neighbors when it no longer has to retain loud all-day shop functions or stay open for a loud overnight shop shift.


Super-campuses are also what drove the prior study's conclusion to site a 60-footer garage at Wellington (trading Orange Line parking capacity into a garage closer to the parkway/kiss-and-ride so all back acreage could be traded). Wellington would achieve idealized costs by being able to unified-pool staff shifts with Charlestown/Everett, share equipment, and function with parity to Charlestown on non-revenue miles for its routes. It's not in the scaled-back current plan, but is more-or-less the next big pivot after all current optimizations are enacted because Charlestown routes have the largest incumbent potential for 60-footers, all land is agency-owned with Orange Line impacts neutralized by the garage trade, and the acreage in question is very low value for private redev because of its single-point egress is choked off from the outside world crammed behind the the Orange kiss-and-ride + future garage queue. In exchange for building this, (1) Fellsway gets closed and sold off outright, (2) Lynn sheds all heavy-repair functions and slims down just to straight storage + S&I bay, and (3) Lynn closes weekends and couple hours earlier on the late-night shift to be sourced out of Charlestown at lightest-traffic times.

The repurposement of Watertown proposed in the last study (but not this scaled-back current one) was also aided square at serving the super-campuses, even though Watertown in itself was not a super-campus site. Load-shifting some west-leaning routes away from Charlestown is what opens up the extra capacity for Charlestown to reach north and chop Lynn's functions down to part-time. It also allows for immediate closure of North Cambridge TT garage, the tiniest bus facility of all but also one with outsized cost scaling because it has to be staffed 6 days a week to host all repair functions for a very small 28-vehicle fleet. While it's looking less likely by the day that the TT's will be going away for battery-electrics in this immediate next generation procurement because of increasing risk-aversion to BEB's being 100.00% ready for prime time, Watertown being able to absorb the TT's in-full alongside a peeled-off contingent of Charlestown diesels counts as a big win for cost scalability. One that gets better as BEB's are slow-walked into deployment, because the facility will already be servicing the same types of wheel traction motors on the TT's when its BEB assignments start significantly cutting into the diesel ranks. Watertown's also, despite its dense surroundings, an awkward fit for private redev because of the jarring grade difference on its backside wall with Nonantum Rd. There's no street interface to pursue on the river side of anything private mixed-use that could be envisioned there, which tends to cut down any outside interest in it after the most superficial initial look-see.

Now, if we'd been able to double the size of Arborway Garage instead as originally planned Watertown probably would get relegated to un-recommended rating because the West region would be re-shaped in a different direction and Charlestown would be doing more route-swapping with Cabot/Albany to clear its decks for the northern consolidation. But the effect would be very similar: greater not lesser concentration on the super-campuses, and outer reach of the super-campuses setting the table for any/all secondary facilities. Outside of Quincy, which is simply too far outside the roaming range of any super-campus site to function as a regional quasi-appendage like Lynn, this is 'the' systemwide driver for aligning future capacity. And it's going to trend more heavily towards the super-campuses than making any pivot away from that to instead micro-targeting bundles of routes at smaller sites. It's not that micro-targeting isn't a valid scheme on-spec...but it's not a Boston-relevant discussion because the T has already weighed the pros/cons of it for this market through two comprehensive studies and made its existential choice of where future scalibility is headed. Their choice weights way, way heavier to scalability-via-concentration. It's already advanced past that point in actual shovel-ready construction plans to entertain a reversal in distribution.
 
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The EGE

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A reminder of why these projects are so complex: the combination of narrow downtown streets and numerous renovations over the last century-plus means that the stations look like they were drawn by a three-year-old on cocaine. This section of my map has taken me at least half a dozen hours to draw, and I'm sure it's still full of errors.
Park and DTX.png
 

JeffDowntown

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A reminder of why these projects are so complex: the combination of narrow downtown streets and numerous renovations over the last century-plus means that the stations look like they were drawn by a three-year-old on cocaine. This section of my map has taken me at least half a dozen hours to draw, and I'm sure it's still full of errors.View attachment 3967
It is easy to forget that many of the large spacious underground plaza stations, found in places like many German cities, were built after the cities were bombed to pieces in war. They could be built because there was nothing to impede the space taking required.

Even the Oculus station in NYC has similar origin.
 

HenryAlan

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A reminder of why these projects are so complex: the combination of narrow downtown streets and numerous renovations over the last century-plus means that the stations look like they were drawn by a three-year-old on cocaine. This section of my map has taken me at least half a dozen hours to draw, and I'm sure it's still full of errors.View attachment 3967
Wow, this is amazing! I've long wanted to find a map like this. Have you done any other sections? I've never been able to quite figure out the layout for State Street, for example. Anyway, really nice work!
 

The EGE

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I've done most of GL, RL, and SL, but Park/DTX is the only part that I've gotten to this level of detail. I'll post more sections and eventually the link as I finish them. It's very tricky to do - none of the available sources (Google Maps imagery, Google Maps interior layouts, fire alarm diagrams, old station diagrams, etc) quite agree with each other.

State is going to be the hardest to do. I don't have any historical diagrams and Google only has a partial layout, and it has a lot of sloping elements, so getting any degree of accuracy will be near-impossible.
 

stick n move

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It is easy to forget that many of the large spacious underground plaza stations, found in places like many German cities, were built after the cities were bombed to pieces in war. They could be built because there was nothing to impede the space taking required.

Even the Oculus station in NYC has similar origin.
Speaking of this Volpe and the Kendall station area in general is going to/has been dug up for garages, basements etc, and there is acres of space that was opened up underground. If these had been coordinated they could have had lots of room to do many different things, maybe even the final blue stop in Kendall. Oh well.
 

whighlander

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A reminder of why these projects are so complex: the combination of narrow downtown streets and numerous renovations over the last century-plus means that the stations look like they were drawn by a three-year-old on cocaine. This section of my map has taken me at least half a dozen hours to draw, and I'm sure it's still full of errors.View attachment 3967
EGE -- very impressive -- have you shared it with the T -- I'm sure there are things about DTX with which they are uncertain

This kind of reminds me of some of the recent LADAR done from drones being used by archaeologists to reconstruct some ancient temples and the surrounding cities -- providing unique insights into the past
 

whighlander

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I've done most of GL, RL, and SL, but Park/DTX is the only part that I've gotten to this level of detail. I'll post more sections and eventually the link as I finish them. It's very tricky to do - none of the available sources (Google Maps imagery, Google Maps interior layouts, fire alarm diagrams, old station diagrams, etc) quite agree with each other.

State is going to be the hardest to do. I don't have any historical diagrams and Google only has a partial layout, and it has a lot of sloping elements, so getting any degree of accuracy will be near-impossible.
EGE -- Once you finish State its proximity to the Orange Line DTX should make clear the value of the pedestrian connection between Blue, Green, Orange, Red.
Such a "Master Station" for the T which could be accessible from all over the core of Boston-- can be accomplished with a minimal amount of digging for far less in cost than any other T project
 

stefal

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EGE -- very impressive -- have you shared it with the T -- I'm sure there are things about DTX with which they are uncertain

This kind of reminds me of some of the recent LADAR done from drones being used by archaeologists to reconstruct some ancient temples and the surrounding cities -- providing unique insights into the past
The T used LIDAR to map the entire system recently.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Speaking of this Volpe and the Kendall station area in general is going to/has been dug up for garages, basements etc, and there is acres of space that was opened up underground. If these had been coordinated they could have had lots of room to do many different things, maybe even the final blue stop in Kendall. Oh well.
Ari O. had his wholly unrealistic Blue-Volpe mandate. The problem is you don't even have enough time to complete a scoping study for crossing the river before those basements are all filled. Future thing doesn't have time to make reservations before now redev has all fanned out.

Then again, Ari didn't have any answers for how that build was so necessary when Urban Ring does much the same at fraction of the cost, so there doesn't seem to be any compelling hook for this in the first place.
 

JeffDowntown

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EGE -- Once you finish State its proximity to the Orange Line DTX should make clear the value of the pedestrian connection between Blue, Green, Orange, Red.
Such a "Master Station" for the T which could be accessible from all over the core of Boston-- can be accomplished with a minimal amount of digging for far less in cost than any other T project
The master station linkage (Specifically Orange Oak Grove at DTC to Orange Forest Hills at State) sounds much better in concept that it likely would work. As a Red-Blue connector you would have Blue connecting to Red by way of traversing the full length of already overcrowded Orange Line platforms at State and DTC. Without the ability to dramatically expand the Orange Line platforms to accommodate the extensive through pedestrian traffic, the connection would choke.

So to make it work you need to do some serious digging for platform expansion for better pedestrian flow. Otherwise it is the same network throttle as Blue to Orange to Red because of clogged platforms.

Since expanding the narrow, cramped downtown stations is really challenging, Red-Blue at Charles is a much better option for network capacity (and may even be cheaper).
 

F-Line to Dudley

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EGE -- Once you finish State its proximity to the Orange Line DTX should make clear the value of the pedestrian connection between Blue, Green, Orange, Red.
Such a "Master Station" for the T which could be accessible from all over the core of Boston-- can be accomplished with a minimal amount of digging for far less in cost than any other T project
The "3-year-old on cocaine" analogy makes it obvious that no State-DTX ped dig is ever going to be as easy to pull off in-practice as it looks in concept. 19th c. streets, 19th c. tunnel infrastructure, and spaghetti utilities mean it will be hard and it will be expensive.

Now, there is absolutely an urgency to perform a full scoping study to establish exactly what we're dealing with here so actionable decisions can be weighed. That's prudent. But don't anyone get ahead of themselves making assumptions. There could well be fatal blockers, and there could well be a hard enough slog that it can't be done at acceptable cost. We need a full scoping's worth of info before prognosticating about what must be done.
 

The EGE

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I haven't done the State layout yet, but just the positions of the lines makes it clear why a ped tunnel is no substitute for a proper RBX. The underground distance from Red@DTX to Blue@State is almost equal to the aboveground distance from Red@Charles to Blue@Bowdoin; the latter would probably be faster because you're not squeezing through crowded platforms. It's three times longer than the Winter Street Concourse - which is substantially wider, connects fare lobbies rather than far platform ends, and was explicitly designed as a ped tunnel. (Yes, during initial construction in 1915 - the whole planned streetcar subway thing is a myth.)

I'n not necessarily opposed to a Washington Street connector - as long as it's well-enough-used to avoid security issues, it could be useful. But that use is primarily enhancing access to the stations, particularly by avoiding winter weather. Having a Milk Street entrance to OL NB, and a Franklin entrance to OL SB? Potentially having people use the passage rather than taking the OL one stop at the beginning/end of their trip? Being constructable in 1-2 years for temporary relief, versus 3-5 from a 'go' decision for RBX? Sure, that's all useful. But it's not even close to a replacement for the RBX.

downtown.png
 

JeffDowntown

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I haven't done the State layout yet, but just the positions of the lines makes it clear why a ped tunnel is no substitute for a proper RBX. The underground distance from Red@DTX to Blue@State is almost equal to the aboveground distance from Red@Charles to Blue@Bowdoin; the latter would probably be faster because you're not squeezing through crowded platforms. It's three times longer than the Winter Street Concourse - which is substantially wider, connects fare lobbies rather than far platform ends, and was explicitly designed as a ped tunnel. (Yes, during initial construction in 1915 - the whole planned streetcar subway thing is a myth.)

I'n not necessarily opposed to a Washington Street connector - as long as it's well-enough-used to avoid security issues, it could be useful. But that use is primarily enhancing access to the stations, particularly by avoiding winter weather. Having a Milk Street entrance to OL NB, and a Franklin entrance to OL SB? Potentially having people use the passage rather than taking the OL one stop at the beginning/end of their trip? Being constructable in 1-2 years for temporary relief, versus 3-5 from a 'go' decision for RBX? Sure, that's all useful. But it's not even close to a replacement for the RBX.

View attachment 4015
"Having a Milk Street entrance to OL NB, and a Franklin entrance to OL SB?"

This is where downtown wayfinding would become a clusterf###.

Is that Milk Street entrance to State or DTC (answer yes, in different directions)?
Is that Franklin Street Entrance to DTC or State (answer yes, in different directions)?

The T would have to massively up their game in terms of wayfinding.
You think people are lost in the stations now? Just wait.
 

The EGE

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How is that substantially different than the current situation with Park/DTX?
 

JeffDowntown

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How is that substantially different than the current situation with Park/DTX?
It is the confusion factor of have an entrance where NB is one station, SB is a different station name on the same line (Orange). This is because of the long linear alternating platforms of Orange between DTX and State, with entrances strung out along those long platforms.

DTX/Park is cleaner. Both Park and DTX have a full Red Line station with parallel platforms, so you board Red at the station you enter, no confusion.

The Winter Street Concourse really sends you between lines (not between NB and SB on a line). So head Park direction for Green, head DTX direction for Orange. Board all Red at either end.
 

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