Reasonable Transit Pitches

DominusNovus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
904
Reaction score
53
Continuing the discussion regarding the closure of the Plymouth stop in the Commuter Rail thread, where would the ideal location for a Downtown Plymouth station be?

Perusing Google and Apple maps, it looks like the old RoW goes further south than the rail trail down to Lothrop street. There’s several good sized parking lots there at the moment, including one that looks like its a very oversized extension from the 1620 Hotel - perhaps they could see some benefit in ceding it to the MBTA to get right next to the train station?
 

bakgwailo

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
1,074
Reaction score
134
Continuing the discussion regarding the closure of the Plymouth stop in the Commuter Rail thread, where would the ideal location for a Downtown Plymouth station be?

Perusing Google and Apple maps, it looks like the old RoW goes further south than the rail trail down to Lothrop street. There’s several good sized parking lots there at the moment, including one that looks like its a very oversized extension from the 1620 Hotel - perhaps they could see some benefit in ceding it to the MBTA to get right next to the train station?
Seems like all the way to the parking lot on Lothrop St/Sawyer Pl - isn't that a municipal lot?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
The former freight house/freight yard in Plymouth used to mass up right against the downtown rotary where Water St. & N. Park Ave. meet. All that old rail infrastructure is easily visible on Historic Aerials through the 1970's. MBTA bought the Plymouth Line in 1973 in the Penn Central bankruptcy settlement, but PC retained the end-of-line freight yard as its own keep because it had redev value. So when successor Conrail got out of Southeast MA in 1982 and sold its Plymouth Line rights to Bay Colony, they brokered off the end-of-line yard for private dev that ultimately begat the hotel and restaurants. State property currently ends at Murray St., retained so Bay Colony could reverse onto the siding remnant of the old Middleboro-Plymouth branch (eaten up elsewhere by the 1950's by the laying of the US 44 expressway) to serve a customer that was still there at the time. You can easily see where that junction used to be, as there's a boat yard sitting on top of the old branchline's curve into the mainline. The Lothrup to Murray block is a muni (prepay) lot because the MBTA-owned ROW plows straight through the middle of it and awkwardly bisects the property in a way that inhibits private transaction. You can see by switching Google views how the old junction layout and an irregular-shaped wedge through the muni lot chop up the ownership profile.

That's your station site...or at least the parking lot for it...since it's still too much of a P.I.T.A. to multi-party negotiate any other developable use for it. Platform would probably have to face the north side of the Lothrup grade crossing because that's the only place where you can fan out to full-regulation 800 ft. length. Lothrup-Murray block only affords 550 ft. So assume you have a Newburyport-style double-track island with bumper posts feeding egress onto a Lothrup crosswalk at the old grade crossing, and then the muni lot transformed into station parking. The Ferry Terminal has a ped entrance right at the corner of Lothrup & Water 1 block away, so while it's 1100 ft. walking to the actual ferry berth it's eyesight-easy wayfinding to get there from the train platform.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,195
Reaction score
2,585
This person may be on the board (the reference to Van's track map suggests he's at least been here), but the light rail Needham substitution from the Forest Hills side is a notion I don't think I've seen before.

 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
This person may be on the board (the reference to Van's track map suggests he's at least been here), but the light rail Needham substitution from the Forest Hills side is a notion I don't think I've seen before.

Kind of begging a question that doesn't need to be asked. Historically, local travel patterns in Needham have trended Needham-Newton along the route of the 59 bus, not crossing Cutler Park. The rail line between West Roxbury and Needham Jct. didn't even exist until 1911, the very last RR to ever be built inside of 128...and carried more of its ridership on the 'circuit' service that pinged SS-Needham-SS via the pre- D Line Highland Branch. Natural order is a separate GL fork for Needham non-interlining with anything west of Forest Hills, and the purely superficial convenience of the Cutler Park run being clock-faster being trumped many times over by rapid transit frequencies Needham-Newton not being abominably bad like Commuter Rail. And since the Orange Line W. Rox proposals all bullseyed Dedham Center from 1945 until that ROW was sold off for residential redev barely 15 years ago, there's never been a study thrust for uni-lining anything out there save for placeholder in the 2004 PMT report for doing a (dubious-ridership) OL parking sink at Greendale Ave. off Exit 18. Not even continuation to Needham Jct. for transfer, much less any 90-degree bend north for Orange.

So this has never been a local debate at any point in the 70 year history of these CR trade-in proposals. Chalk this up to one guy making a crayon drawing with his own set of assumptions for doing so. Including the *very* loaded assumption that forced-transfer at FH for this Mattapan-like setup is something any of the outer neighborhoods would support when they've already thrown rotten veggies at one of the Rail Vision's short-lived Alts. that pulsed up Purple Line service levels to true :15 Urban Rail but required turning it into a FH shuttle service. Repackaging it in trolley form is just as objectionable locally for cutting off the Downtown one-seat and forcing the at-times dangerous platform crowding conditions @ FH-Orange to get even more so. His other take that the taking of the Upper Falls Greenway for GLX service is political poison also isn't borne out by Newtonite reality. The City is quite vocally in support of LRT to Needham St. and backs a build-feasible rail-with-trail, so the blocker the blogger assumes is sacrosanct is anything but in local lore.


I've read this blogger before. He knows his technical stuff extremely well, and has a longstanding cause for instituting Regional Rail service on the Fitchburg Secondary for MetroWest...which is a pretty buff future candidate that he advocates compellingly for. But even some of his extensive Agricultural Branch writings put finger on the scale mind-reading local polling in at times nonintuitively self-serving ways, so I detect a little of that in the justifications here. Rozzie+W. Rox public opinion are a complete open book at vehemently NOT wanting a dinky shuttle of any kind, and Needham-Newton are complete open books on local orientations and TOD fortunes trending north-south and not east-west. It's pretty hard to "No, actually..." both of those stances to something plausibly different.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
670
Reaction score
103
Speaking of... would a Boston-Plymouth ferry make any sense? Private or MBTA.
Probably not. They were pretty close to killing off the Hingham Ferry as it is. Apparently loading and unloading on the Ferry is a chore and you can only go the equivalent of like 20-30 mph on the water.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
Speaking of... would a Boston-Plymouth ferry make any sense? Private or MBTA.
Very doubtful. It's an awfully roundabout route because of the way Gunnet Point impedes most-direct access into Plymouth Harbor and forces the ferry to turn back on itself. It's mercifully straight shot for the P'town ferry, but a crippled harbor for any other routing.

For reaching P'town, train+ferry out of Plymouth has an advantage over the direct Boston-P'town ferry by staying entirely inside the calm waters of Cape Cod Bay rather than facing any choppiness from the open Atlantic. When the ocean is acting ornery that might even be the preferable trip vs. popping the seasickness pills. At the very least it diversifies the ferry catchment for P'town by a lot and probably gooses utilization enough to add an extra water frequency there. And that's important enough when Lower Cape traffic is always going to be an issue for getting out there by land.
 

HenryAlan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
754
My gut feeling is that any replacement of the current commuter rail that doesn't at least offer direct service to Boston is a non starter.
I think you are probably right, but maybe we shouldn't be seeing this as replacement Needham Line service (which the vast majority of people in Rozzie and Westie don't use), but instead as an upgrade to bus service. I don't recall whether I posted the idea on here or on the crazy pitches, but I've definitely thought about the concept in the past. I think a lot of people would switch from bus to an LRT shuttle that connects to Forest Hills.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
I think you are probably right, but maybe we shouldn't be seeing this as replacement Needham Line service (which the vast majority of people in Rozzie and Westie don't use), but instead as an upgrade to bus service. I don't recall whether I posted the idea on here or on the crazy pitches, but I've definitely thought about the concept in the past. I think a lot of people would switch from bus to an LRT shuttle that connects to Forest Hills.
How is that not a different flavor of the same recipe the Rail Vision offered: "We'll give you full-blown :15 bi-directional Urban Rail frequencies if you accept it has to be a FH shuttle." That went over like a lead balloon with the neighborhood.

Thru to Downtown is non-negotiable in public polling there.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
670
Reaction score
103
How is that not a different flavor of the same recipe the Rail Vision offered: "We'll give you full-blown :15 bi-directional Urban Rail frequencies if you accept it has to be a FH shuttle." That went over like a lead balloon with the neighborhood.

Thru to Downtown is non-negotiable in public polling there.
No kidding. You're talking about more perhaps extending Orange down there.
 

HenryAlan

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
754
How is that not a different flavor of the same recipe the Rail Vision offered: "We'll give you full-blown :15 bi-directional Urban Rail frequencies if you accept it has to be a FH shuttle." That went over like a lead balloon with the neighborhood.

Thru to Downtown is non-negotiable in public polling there.
I think it's a combination of better frequency, plus selling it to the bus riding crowd, not the commuter rail crowd. If for some reason we can't do a full blown Orange Line extension, what solution favors the most people? One that provides better service to folks currently taking a bus to Forest Hills. The optimal solution is the one in which we spend a lot more money, but maybe that's not a possible solution, given funding priorities.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
I think it's a combination of better frequency, plus selling it to the bus riding crowd, not the commuter rail crowd. If for some reason we can't do a full blown Orange Line extension, what solution favors the most people? One that provides better service to folks currently taking a bus to Forest Hills. The optimal solution is the one in which we spend a lot more money, but maybe that's not a possible solution, given funding priorities.
Neighborhood psychology. It's an access loss. That gets immediately and viscerally perceived as a threat because the outer neighborhoods are accustomed to having their transit crapped all over (including, here, quality of bus service over the years).

The negative reaction to the Rail Vision was visceral enough despite all the bona fides you stated being played up that it's clear as day they know what they do and do not want. They don't want to be singularly reliant on a bursting-at-seams FH terminal.
 

Java King

Active Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
277
Reaction score
272
Very doubtful. It's an awfully roundabout route because of the way Gunnet Point impedes most-direct access into Plymouth Harbor and forces the ferry to turn back on itself. It's mercifully straight shot for the P'town ferry, but a crippled harbor for any other routing.

For reaching P'town, train+ferry out of Plymouth has an advantage over the direct Boston-P'town ferry by staying entirely inside the calm waters of Cape Cod Bay rather than facing any choppiness from the open Atlantic. When the ocean is acting ornery that might even be the preferable trip vs. popping the seasickness pills. At the very least it diversifies the ferry catchment for P'town by a lot and probably gooses utilization enough to add an extra water frequency there. And that's important enough when Lower Cape traffic is always going to be an issue for getting out there by land.
The current Provincetown Ferry schedule from Plymouth is very limiting and quite inconvenient for even a day trip. I've taken whale watch excursions from Plymouth, but the Provincetown Ferry is just too limiting. (I think it departs Provincetown before Tea Dance even starts, which is just a sin. :) )
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,605
Reaction score
205
How far can the OL be extended without ending Needham Line CR service? However far that is, that seems like a no-brainer focus in the near-to-medium term.
 

greenlinetobrooklyn

New member
Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
42
Reaction score
25
How far can the OL be extended without ending Needham Line CR service? However far that is, that seems like a no-brainer focus in the near-to-medium term.
I believe if/when the Green Line is extended from Newton just before Elliot To Needham Junction, the Needham Line is obsolete and the Orange Line can be extended. F-Line has the whole thing planned out somewhere (probably in this thread).
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,717
Reaction score
3,097
How far can the OL be extended without ending Needham Line CR service? However far that is, that seems like a no-brainer focus in the near-to-medium term.
Rozzie only, because the ROW grading and bridges are tri-track to there only due to an ancient freight running track that used to terminate at a Rozzie Sq. Freight Station loading dock. That's the minimum plan endorsed by the Walsh Admin's Boston 2030 plan, and it would check the box of Forest Hills terminal relief by prying some of the duplicating bus routes on Lower Washington to terminate at Rozzie.

Of course, if the Rail Vision is enacted along the NEC the Purple Line capacity future is just as grim for the rest of the corridor...so even with a +1 installment plan they're under enormous pressure to act quick on the rest of the conversion.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
593
Reaction score
369
This person may be on the board (the reference to Van's track map suggests he's at least been here), but the light rail Needham substitution from the Forest Hills side is a notion I don't think I've seen before.

It's a fun thought exercise, and I appreciate the detailed review of the options, but to me the solution has always seemed obvious: Green to Needham Junction (I don't think the travel time costs will be nearly as forbidding as he seems to think), and Orange to West Roxbury-ish.

And they could be accomplished largely independently. Green to Needham is the easier swing (I think), and you could continue to run the Commuter Rail either to West Roxbury or Needham Junction in the meantime.

I suppose you could create a Needham Junction-Forest Hills light rail shuttle... that would require stringing up wires, but could probably get away with major platform rebuilds at first (though those will be needed at some point anyway), and possibly could be workable without any new double tracks.

But that hardly seems feasible long-term -- it faces the same problems as the commuter rail shuttle concept but with more upfront costs.

I think you are probably right, but maybe we shouldn't be seeing this as replacement Needham Line service (which the vast majority of people in Rozzie and Westie don't use), but instead as an upgrade to bus service. I don't recall whether I posted the idea on here or on the crazy pitches, but I've definitely thought about the concept in the past. I think a lot of people would switch from bus to an LRT shuttle that connects to Forest Hills.
I think this would be an "and also" proposal, rather than an "either/or" proposal. LRT feeder service into FH along the 36's corridor is an interesting idea, but I think you'd be better off first implementing bus lanes on Belgrade Ave, with a possible long-term eye toward streetcars. But I can't see an LRT short-turn service taking over the ROW that is currently used for downtown-destined service.

Just for some points of comparison. These are the 2018 morning inbound peak passenger counts on the Needham Line (color-coded by me):

Screen Shot 2021-03-17 at 7.02.59 PM.png


East of 128 (not including FH) saw 1451 boardings; west of 128 saw 1219. Clearly there's ridership on both segments. Moreover, the 36 bus, which parallels the commuter rail line on Belgrade Ave and other streets, sees some 3,000 daily riders, plus another 3,000 on the 35 and 37, which overlap for a lengthy segment, and then split to serve corridors also near the commuter rail line (except for the 35, which ends up at the Dedham Mall).

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of stops on the 35, 36 and 37 would each be no more than a 10-minute walk (max) to a new Orange Line station (except for the segment along Washington St); most stops are more like 6 minutes away. The Orange Line would likely have even better headways than the three combined bus routes currently do along Belgrade Ave, and would almost certainly be faster to Forest Hills, and obviously would offer a one-seat ride to Ruggles, Back Bay, Downtown and Sullivan.

The ROW is already grade-separated, there's generally enough space for double tracks with minimal land-taking, there's a reasonable level of density in the surrounding area, there are multiple walkable villages near each station, and there are virtually no wetlands nearby or other environmental concerns.

Orange Line to West Roxbury is literally the most reasonable HRT expansion proposal in the entire system. No rail expansion is ever easy, but Orange to W Rox would provide better service on that corridor, and would best for the Boston transit network overall.
 

Top