Reasonable Transit Pitches

ra84970

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I've been very glad to see that we're catching up with bus lanes that make great sense for buses without needing to go "full" BRT a la Curitiba or Bogota. Keeping these things a little less grandioise means we can fund these thigns out of cities and state budgets and avoid going after Small Starts grants and lengthy reviews. Thinking about places like Paris, London, Amsterdam, or Hamburg and even NYC, where they've implemented many bus lane projects administratively with relatively small budgets, though, it seems like we should be dreaming a bit bigger when it comes to bus facilities. That is, we should try to get more more projects like Columbus Ave. and less of the tactical bus lanes that we've been seeing.

So, looking at the CTPS bus priority corridors from 2018, I thought it's time to propose some upgraded ideas to push the limits of "reasonable" transit pitches.

Reasonable to kinda wild ideas for administrators - super wild for the reactionary types
Huntington/South Huntington (Mission Hill) - Convert the street running E-branch trackway to a shared bus + trolley transitway from Northeastern to Brigham Circle. Construct a shared bus+trolley transitway from Brigham Circle to Heath Street. It would give the 39 a leg-up in the long route. The E-branch operators already are used to 'shared' street operations. (I could see parking being a major concern in Mission Hill, too.) The other benefit is that this would help that longer Route 66 which has that slog through the entire region.

Commonwealth Ave (BU/Allston/Northern Brookline) - Convert the street running B-branch trackway to a shared bus + trolley transitway from Blandford to Packards Corner. Construct a new busway from Packards to Union Square. It would reëstablish the 57 as a successor to the A branch.

Wholly reasonable ideas - kinda wild ideas for the reactionary types
Washington St Silver Line (South End) - Convert this into a full Columbus Ave. style busway in the middle of the street. All the way from the Turnpike overcrossing down to where Washington and Warren Street meet. Some sections of Washington Street could have the street repurposed into having cycletracks and better parking regulations. Having the center busway also makes crossing Washington on foot much easier, where you're crossing in places between signals, too. My ideas for Washington Street Silver Line in Chinatown-Theatre District-Downtown Crossing are a bit wilder than "reasonable" but, put simply, involve a route change and would focus on contraflow bus lanes on Tremont and Washington.

Warren St (Roxbury) - The project should've been handled so much better in the 28X era. Warren St should have pretty significant bus priority given how many bus routes travel from Mattapan-Roxbury into Nubian Square. I think they could fit in a center busway between Nubian and Quincy/Townsend. Once you hit Quincy/Townsend, it seems like Boston could deprioritize through traffic to the parallel Humboldt and Blue Hill Ave and make one direction of Warren into a full busway and the other direction into a diverter kind of like the sketch below.

Bus island diverter concept (Red = safety islands or boarding island; purple = bus-only lane; green = bike lane)
1618723538989.png


Blue Hill Ave (Roxbury-Mattapan) - To opine for a bit, the biggest failure of the 28X project, to me, was killing the ability to do any bus lanes around the region (not just this corridor) for a couple decades. As far as that previous project and its administration, the saddest thing to me is that these are the neighborhoods and communities that have suffered from the most from the inequities of our transportation system.

A center busway from Warren Street straight to Mattapan Square/station area is a very easy design from a busway perspective - heck there even used to be a trolley line there. The street options are really how much space for parking and for the cycling facilities that would also likely be desirable here.

Mass Ave (Roxbury-South End) - A center busway from Melnea Cass to Symphony seems relatively straightforward. The transition from Symphony to Christian Science Center Plaza seems like the area in which you may transition out of a center busway.

Mass Ave (Fenway-Back Bay) - My thought is that this should be a transitway on the westernside of Mass Ave. Mass Ave is doing a lot in this section - serving local access, regional traffic to Boylston/Comm Ave/Beacon, access to the Pike from Cambridge & Roxbury, handling some of the Storrow traffic destined for Back Bay. It's one of the areas where, I don't see it not needing at least 3-lanes wide to allow for dedicated turn lanes, etc. to make it all work and not grind to a halt. Putting the transitway next to the western sidewalk means that you can improve bus stops, give the buses there dedicated space, and maintain some of the 3-lane wide vehicular space through this area.

Mass Ave (Back Bay to Central Square) - From Back Bay, I think the transition has to happen at Beacon Street to create a center busway again onto the Harvard Bridge. Mass Ave. in Cambridge is narrower, but, I think a tad less congested, so I don't know if you need as much dedicated space. I take a lot of inspiration from Ari. O.'s blog post here. Essentially, a center busway to MIT from the bridge, mixed traffic operations to Central Square station, and then a dedicated busway in Central Square to Cambridge City Hall.

North Washington/Rutherford (Downtown/North End) - Just make it a full busway all the way from the Route 1 ramps to Haymarket. I think it may again make the most sense to keep things on the western sidewalk so that you can maximize the use of sidewalk space and deal with the all of the regional traffic destined for downtown.
 

Hubman

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Looking at the Blue Hill Avenue corridor got me thinking: could they extend the Mattapan Line along the median of the Cummins Highway to the South entrance of Blue Hill Avenue Station? Of course, crossing Mattapan Square would be a nightmare, but it's only like 1500 feet down the road and would really improve the Fairmount Line's cred as a rapid transit line to have a light rail transfer there.
 

The EGE

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It's doable, but hardly worthwhile. There's very little intermediate ridership on the Mattapan Line - 76% of boardings are at the terminals - so you'd basically be connecting BHA to Ashmont. South Station-Ashmont on the Red Line will be South Station-BHA-Ashmont, so the only market that would serve is Fairmount Line intermediates to Ashmont. Four Corners/Geneva, Talbot Avenue, and Morton Street all have frequent one-seat bus connections to Ashmont. Plus, the high ridership at Ashmont is largely because it's a bus terminal serving the Fairmount Line area already.

Upgrading the 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, and 31 to BRT routes worthy of placement on the subway map is a much, much higher-value proposition. If you fully BRT-ize current and planned bus lanes, plus a few logical connectors, you end up with a map that looks like this. Eight high-frequency routes connecting to almost every Fairmount Line station

bitmap.png
 

bigeman312

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Reasonable Transit Pitch. A new bus route to take advantage of the Columbus Avenue Bus Lanes:

MBTA_20_Bus.png


I'm numbering this bus 20 and dubbing it: 20 Four Corners / Geneva - Heath Street via Jackson Square.

Labeled in Purple, Orange, and Green are Four Corners / Geneva, Jackson Square, and Heath Street Stations, respectively.

The black dots indicate the BRT stops in the new Columbus Avenue Bus Lanes. From north to south:
  • Dimock Street
  • Bray Street
  • Egleston Square
  • Walnut Street
It would run along various existing routes, stopping at existing bus stops, coinciding with:
  • the 14 along Heath Street
  • the 22 along Columbus Ave, Seaver St, and Blue Hill Ave via Jackson Square, including the Columbus Ave BRT
  • the 16 along Columbia Rd
  • the 19 along Geneva Ave
So no new infrastructure would be necessary for this proposal.

This route would provide a one-seat ride between the Bowdoin/Geneva area of Dorchester (including Four Corners / Geneva Station) and Franklin Park, Egleston Square, Jackson Square, Mission Hill, and the Green Line, where currently no one-seat ride exists.

It would provide a one-seat ride between the Heath St & South Huntington area and Egleston Square.

Given the BRT elements, it would provide quicker Orange Line access for the Bowdoin/Geneva area than is provided by the 23.

It would provide significantly enhanced Green Line access to the parts of JP, Roxbury, and Dorchester that it serves.
 

The EGE

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I like that idea - I think it would slot in nicely with my map above - though I would extend it slightly to Fields Corner for connectivity's sake.
 

bigeman312

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I like that idea - I think it would slot in nicely with my map above - though I would extend it slightly to Fields Corner for connectivity's sake.
I'm into that. Heck, let's extend it to Brookline Village, too. Have it be a true crosstown route.

EDIT: New map:

MBTA_20_Bus.png


As an Egleston Square resident, I attest that this would solve a lot of connectivity issues.
 
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Riverside

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Nice idea! Two questions:

1) Is Brookline Village + Heath the best destination on the northern/western end? One alternative would be Kenmore via Roxbury Crossing (south of which also is supposed to get bus lanes soon) and LMA, which I know was a proposed route from a recent BRT study. (Of course, the Heath St alignment is shorter and may be more manageable in the short-term.)

2) Let's level up the difficulty in our discussion here: the MBTA bus fleet (pre-COVID) largely was at capacity -- there weren't an awful lot of spare busses lying around. Which leads us to the questions: what routes would you divert busses from to serve the 20? And how frequently would you run service? (Which will dictate the number of busses you need to allocate.)
 

bigeman312

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Nice idea! Two questions:

1) Is Brookline Village + Heath the best destination on the northern/western end? One alternative would be Kenmore via Roxbury Crossing (south of which also is supposed to get bus lanes soon) and LMA, which I know was a proposed route from a recent BRT study. (Of course, the Heath St alignment is shorter and may be more manageable in the short-term.)

2) Let's level up the difficulty in our discussion here: the MBTA bus fleet (pre-COVID) largely was at capacity -- there weren't an awful lot of spare busses lying around. Which leads us to the questions: what routes would you divert busses from to serve the 20? And how frequently would you run service? (Which will dictate the number of busses you need to allocate.)
Great questions!

1. I believe so, yes. The shorter alignment to Brookline Village via Heath not only provides a quicker connection to the Green E and D than the alternatives but also greater time savings. Kenmore presents less of an opportunity cost to "go in to go out" via Back Bay and Copley. The 19 already provides service from Fields Corner, Bowdoin/Geneva, and Four Corners / Geneva to MFA and Kenmore, which would be too redundant, while there would be less redundancy serving Brookline Village and South Huntington (the 14 being the closest redundancy). I can speak from experience that relative to the distance covered and expected accessibility, it is very difficult to access the D Branch from Egleston (and points southeast). This route is serving that gap better as proposed than if it were sent to Kenmore.

2. Don't restore the 221. Devote one bus to the "20" route, running hourly service. Reassess if ridership dictates an increase in service.

EDITED: clarity
 
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ra84970

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Great questions!

1. I believe so, yes. The shorter alignment to Brookline Village via Heath not only provides a quicker connection to the Green E and D than the alternatives but also greater time savings. Kenmore presents less of an opportunity cost to "go in to go out" via Back Bay and Copley. The 19 already provides service from Fields Corner, Bowdoin/Geneva, and Four Corners / Geneva to MFA and Kenmore, which would be too redundant, while there would be less redundancy serving Brookline Village and South Huntington (the 14 being the closest redundancy). I can speak from experience that relative to the distance covered and expected accessibility, it is very difficult to access the D Branch from Egleston (and points southeast). This route is serving that gap better as proposed than if it were sent to Kenmore.

2. Don't restore the 221. Devote one bus to the "20" route, running hourly service. Reassess if ridership dictates an increase in service.

EDITED: clarity
In the Bus Network Redesign presentations pre-COVID, the T and Boston were trotting out the idea of a 29 to LMA from Mattapan -- which seems similar to this routing. I think I saw something at one point somewhere in the T's slide decks which made it seem like the Super 29 would follow the 14 and 39. But, I could be confusing that with an extension from the 29's current terminus at Jackson Square.

I also think that the vehicle capacity issue should've been somewhat resolved by their purchase of the extra 60 buses, though, not by a whole lot. Post-COVID/economic recovery seems to be tipping against the T getting reliable travel times. so, i'm not sure how quickly those 60 will be pressed into service just to keep up with street and highway congestion. That being said their other party line is that they cannot have larger bus operator classes and are struggling to hire larger new classes because of COVID. With the Gov's restrictions being recinded on Saturday - I don't see how they can say that line with a straight face anymore.
 

The EGE

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One of the most awkward diversions on the MBTA Bus system is at Oak Grove. Northbound buses from Malden run up Main Street, then back down Banks Place to the station, then back up Banks Place to continue north. It adds a full mile and about 5 minutes of running time - about 12% of the running time of the 136 and 137, and 15% of the running time of the 131.

This diversion serves only three stops, with a combined daily ridership under 50. Rosemont Street is 0.1 miles from the Winter Street stop, and 0.3 miles from the station. Fairlawn Street is 0.25 miles from the station. Pine Banks Park is 0.2 miles from Banks Place stop, and 0.4 miles from the station. Since all development is on the west side of Main Street on this section, the actual walking distance to the station will always be shorter.

It seems to me that eliminating this segment of the route would be an easy win - it would be a lot of operator/bus hours that could go into frequency increases on these routes. All that would be needed would be to increase the hours that the Fairlawn Street footbridge is open (currently it closes at 8pm), and add a bus stop and crosswalk on Banks Place at the Oak Grove Avenue footbridge to serve the adjacent apartment complex.
 

NoShJFK

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So I didn’t know where to put this but what do you think the chances are that if one or two of these extensions ever get built that the labeling system gets changed to a number and letters system?

For example:

1Alewife (or Arlington) to Braintree
2 • Alewife (Arlington or Waltham or Lexington) to Mattapan
3 • Oak Grove (or Reading) to Forest Hills (or Needham)
4 Oak Grove (or Everett or Chelsea) to (Dedham)
5 • Wonderland (or Lynn or Salem) to Charles/MGH (or Kenmore or Riverside)

AWatertown to Seaport
B • North Station to Boston College
C • North Station to Cleveland Circle
D • Union St (or Porter) to Riverside (or to Seaport)
E • Medford to Heath St
 

Riverside

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I don't think it's ever gonna make sense to add numbers (or other designations) to the Red, Orange, or Blue Lines. At most each of those would get two branches at each end, and they'd still only be using a total of three tunnels through the core, and all branches would make all stops in the core and all trains would travel all the way through the core. The Green Line is significantly more complicated in all those respects, where even in downtown it matters which branch you take (i.e. traveling to Gov't Center vs North Station).

The problem with numbering is that you start to overlap with the buses. Now, to be fair, you could simply renumber bus routes 1 through ~7, but you still end up with a branding overlap. "Take the G from BU to Harvard, and then change for the 1 to reach Porter": when you arrive at Harvard, are you going to be looking for a bus or a train?

To my knowledge, the only system in the English-speaking world that uses numeric designations for HRT is New York -- and its buses use a dual letter numbering system, e.g. M13, where the letter(s) corresponds to the borough the route travels in, meaning there is no "branding" overlap between subway and bus.

(I think Toronto also nominally uses numbers, but they have a very small number of HRT lines, with well-established names, and a separate numbering system for their streetcars, which also have established names of their own.)

If anything, I'd maybe see an extension of the "SL1/SL2/etc" system -- perhaps "OR", "BL", "RD1" and "RD2", and then "GLA", "GLB" "GLC" etc. But for the most part, I think that is a solution in search of a problem.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The literal only reason for using designation lettering/numbering is if the same destination is accessible from different branch routings. For example, you could theoretically have a "B BOSTON COLLEGE", "C BOSTON COLLEGE", or "D BOSTON COLLEGE" in regular practice...maybe even an "E BOSTON COLLEGE" if E-to-D connecting trackage were laid down. Hell...our old rollsigns used to have "via Commonwealth Ave.", "via Huntington Ave.", "via Highland Branch" subscripts in exact anticipation of some of the permissible niche routings.

But the usefulness of it is very limited to niche situations like that. Maybe Urban Ring LRT and alt-spining the Central Subway will up the need for a more robust nomenclature commensurate with the alt-routing potential, but it's really only Green/LRT that'll ever need it. HRT never will because the lines don't physically interline, they don't intersect directionally in ways that would be useful for interlining if that were physically possible, and they aren't ever going to have more than 2 branches anywhere because of the way frequency-splitting hurts some of the big outlying bus hubs. Even a relatively grand Crazy HRT Pitch like the "Red X" wouldn't need alphanumeric branch destinations because JFK Station would be the one and only spot where any of the 4 possible tips interline...JFK has a pre-existing 4 platform berths to segregate the wayfinding by berth...and you'd only have 2 possible trajectories on any northbound and 2 possible trajectories on any southbound meaning one terminal name covers it all.


Besides, with onboard digital displays now being cheap and ASA being universal, you don't need hyper-abbreviated rollsigns anymore to convey any/all routing info. ASA's going to convey a wealth of info about where the train is going, and it's extremely likely that the displays are going to take the form of "hot maps" highlighting exactly which routing you're doing. We could rev up pretty much the whole Green Line Transformation thread's worth of LRT expansion fodder, and so long as the digital spider map onboard has a 'pulsing' line drawn in the direction of travel you'd know (1) exactly where you're going; (2) exactly what particular path out of multiples you'd be taking to get there; (3) if this is not your idealized path, a visual representation of what the other potential paths are so you can switch trains. Add cell phone apps replacing paper schedules for any pre-research, and you can do all the wayfinding just-in-time without needing arcane shorthand. Technology aiding the visuals already becomes the simplest way to wayfind. Adding varying degrees of alphanumeric coding complexity to it for show is just going to needlessly overcomplicate. I've posted the first pic before, but we plied that alphanumeric game way harder and more complexly than now for the first 7 decades of the subway and it suuuuuuuuuuucked:

1899:


1953-58:


1940:

o_O
 

NoShJFK

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Maybe I framed it wrong - I don’t think including destinations would be smart. I think the way Philadelphia does it is awful. There’s no uniformity. At all. they have lines based on destinations. One of the lines has two destinations but doesn’t present that clearly enough. And then one of the major 3 lines is run by a different organization and they highlight that too much even though you don’t need

Chicago’s okay - although I think Teal or Silver line would be better than BROWN Line but I’m nitpicking at this point.

The way NY does it makes a lot of sense as far as matching up colors with what avenue they go down in Manhattan. I do think the letter to number difference is off because most people don’t know which is IRT or not.

LA has the right idea FOR THE MOST PART (I think if they eliminated BRT from having similar branding AND if they made the HRT lines NUMBERS and LRT lines LETTERS you’d have the perfect set up).

My basis for the post was that if you ever began to see some of the obvious extensions built it might be worth considering. And if extensions that ever split lines were built (for example: If Red to Waltham was built you’d have 2 North destinations and 2 South destinations; or Orange to Chelsea would leave 2 North destinations)

For example if Red to Waltham was built and Green to Porter was built - when you’re riding the Green line and arrive at Porter you’d hear “Now entering: Porter, change here for Red Line 1 Train”. Or if you arrive at Downtown Crossing on the Red Line you’d hear Now entering Downtown Crossing, change here for the Orange Line 3 and 4 trains

You could keep the current Colored system. Just add to it.

FOR EXAMPLE: (if a branched OL extension was built) you’d
see signs North Station that say something like:

NORTH STATION (B) (C) (D) (E)
NORTH STATION (3) (4)
NORTH STATION[CR-FITCH] [CR-HAV] [CR-LOWELL] [CR-NB/RP]

(end EXAMPLE)


I don’t know. Just a thought. And of course it’s only relevant if this state and country got off their behinds and built all this badly needed transportation infrastructure
 
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NoShJFK

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I don't think it's ever gonna make sense to add numbers (or other designations) to the Red, Orange, or Blue Lines. At most each of those would get two branches at each end, and they'd still only be using a total of three tunnels through the core, and all branches would make all stops in the core and all trains would travel all the way through the core. The Green Line is significantly more complicated in all those respects, where even in downtown it matters which branch you take (i.e. traveling to Gov't Center vs North Station).

The problem with numbering is that you start to overlap with the buses. Now, to be fair, you could simply renumber bus routes 1 through ~7, but you still end up with a branding overlap. "Take the G from BU to Harvard, and then change for the 1 to reach Porter": when you arrive at Harvard, are you going to be looking for a bus or a train?
Well that problem is easily solved because Buses should all be branded with the color yellow and the word “bus” before it. Just as commuter rail lines should be branded with the color purple and “CR” before it. The HRT lines use numbers and corresponding colors and LRT use letters.

(I think Toronto also nominally uses numbers, but they have a very small number of HRT lines, with well-established names, and a separate numbering system for their streetcars, which also have established names of their own.)
Toronto usenumbers.

1 (along with the color gold) for their biggest HRT line
2 (along with color green) for their second most important HRT line
3 (and royal blue) is currently used for a short LRT line that finishes up the 2 lines route (similar to the way Ashmont/Mattapan finishes the Reds route). But this is being torn down for a 3 stop HRT extension of the 2 line (the same way a Red extension is needed to Mattapan)
4 (and the color purple) is used for an HRT line to nowhere that goes West to East in the far northern part of the city.
5 (light lime green) is going to be used for the new Eglinton Crosstown grade separated LRT line (which will be mostly an underground subway but partially above ground). This line connect with the 1 line twice (as 1 makes a “U” shape) and will end at current end of the 2 line (and beginning of the soon to be non-existent 3 Line)
 

Brattle Loop

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You could keep the current Colored system. Just add to it.
I think that would only make things more confusing. New York's line colors aren't entirely useless, but they're a secondary-at-best element of the nomenclature and wayfinding. Even in a [Reasonable and/or Crazy] Transit Pitches world, the HRT lines would not really be running analogues to New York's services. (That's actually what the letters/numbers are designating.) Even a multi-branching OL/RL/BL is going to run through the main trunk of the line and make all of the downtown stops, because we don't have the infrastructure for expresses or bypassing chunks of the downtown tunnels, and they're not configured for turnbacks. Meaning that it's not going to be possible to have the kind of various overlapping route-services that NY has (like where the apple green IRT Lexington Ave Line hosts the express 4 and 5, both serving two different branches on both ends, and the local 6 overlapping the southern end and serving its own separate terminal on the north end). Leaving aside the craziest of the Crazy Transit Pitches, everything's going to be serving the same main trunk tunnels in the same manner, so all that matters is that you know where the train is going, because they're all serving the same platforms in the same pattern. Green is the only one that differs, even in a non-LRT Urban Ring universe, because of the prospect of (overlapping) short-turns at places like Park, GC, and GC's Brattle Loop in addition to through service through the entire subway (and even then we've been fine without the letters eastbound for years now).

Technically I think the Red Line even had its own branch designations (A-Ashmont, B-Braintree, C-Alewife) on the 01800 series cars. I doubt more than a handful of people (other than railfans) ever even notice them, and they're a complete non-factor in the line's wayfinding (despite that being the only HRT line in town that actually has branches). We're just not ever likely to have the kind of system complexity (particularly the overlapping services sharing a physical line) outside of Green that would merit adding numerical designators.

(I'll note that in New York, the only time that you could even use the line colors as an acceptable substitute for the numbers/letters is on a wholly intra-Manhattan trip, but even then you'd miss the fairly-important distinction between the expresses and the locals.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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When only a few cities in the world bother at all to go alphanumeric, and many of those same cities that just flash a place-name destination do so on systems with way more routing complexity than ours...this kind of starts veering quickly into "begging the question no one asked" territory.

FOR EXAMPLE: (if a branched OL extension was built) you’d
see signs North Station that say something like:

NORTH STATION (B) (C) (D) (E)
NORTH STATION (3) (4)
NORTH STATION[CR-FITCH] [CR-HAV] [CR-LOWELL] [CR-NB/RP]

(end EXAMPLE)
This is not very intuitive wayfinding. There are 10½ different wayfinding subscripts on that signage. There are names, letters, numbers, abbreviations, *and* colors to all parse, mix-and-match...simultaneously. And it's potentially misleading if any of those services feature short-turning, which Commuter Rail most definitely does and the E used to (i.e. alternating Arborway vs. Heath peak turns). One person's OCD feng sui is some other person's mass confusion. Mass confusion is an infinitely worse outcome than leaving sense of feng sui left a little bit wanting...full stop. A sign like that could easily be terrifying to a person if they were an out-of-towner who had a further-complicating language barrier, for instance.


When the vast majority of worldwide transit systems treat this tension between simplicity and completeness with a straight-up namechecking of the destination stop...and that's so thoroughly consistent around the world in spite of the hugely varied transit applications...that's saying something big about what's more likely to work as best practice. It's saying there's an established consensus on what the least-confusing middle ground likely is, and it is definitely not daring harder at finding some better neat-trick alphanumeric secret sauce.

You're going to have to learn to reconcile your own feels on such an eye-of-beholder issue with the global consensus. Consensus doesn't favor what you're proposing. It's one thing if future Green Line does have a "B BOSTON COLLEGE" vs. "C BOSTON COLLEGE" service difference to parse that makes keeping/amending the current alpha system a likeliest troubleshoot. GL is a legit inflection point we might have to think of here depending on where its future configuration trends. It's another thing altogether to think blanket-applying it everywhere somehow makes things "better" on-spec. No...world practice quite very clearly points to the opposite being true.

The fact that it *is* an eye-of-beholder issue at its core means that for purposes of creating wayfinding best practices it is more crucial than ever to listen to and incorporate what examples of best practice do prevail. Right now, the prevailing best practice eschews alphanumeric shorthand rather than encourages it.


Besides...as I mentioned, the flexibility of electronic signage and ASA systems means wayfinding information can be conveyed waaaaaaay more dynamically and just-in-time than ever before. It significantly lessens the need for alphanumeric shorthand.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Scrolling around on Google, and but goddamn is the number of utterly useless/superfluous grade crossings on the Rockport Line totally obnoxious. I know these are weapons-grade NIMBY towns, and they managed to successfully NIMBY the Boston & Maine from pruning excess crossings in the 1950's when B&M was doing mass eliminations. But Regional Rail could probably run a lot faster on the branch with *zero* demerits to local access if jersey barriers were outright dropped across the following crossings in the dead of night. The screams from triggered NIMBY's might be audible all the way to Boston for a whole week after, but they'll quite get over themselves eventually.
  1. Spring St., Beverly (need to zap this one if Montserrat's platform is ever to be extended to regulation 800 ft.)
  2. Thissell St. crossing #2, Beverly
  3. (this dumbass private access road), Beverly
  4. Beach St., Beverly
  5. Boardman Ave., Manchester
  6. Sea St., Manchester
  7. Stanwood Ave., Gloucester (dependency: widen and weight-uprate adjacent Winihaden Rd. overpass)
  8. Cedar St., Gloucester + . . .
  9. . . .+ Willow St., Gloucester (double-crossing on blind curve!...Cedar+Willow two of the most dangerous systemwide)
  10. Cleveland St., Gloucester
  11. Pooles Ln., Rockport (for-real planned closure 15 years ago when T was trying to upgrade Rockport Station + Layover, but the NIMBY's attacked like rabid wolves)
That's 11 no-downside reductions out of 24 total crossings on the 16.6 mile branch (-46%). You might even be able to run at actual native track speed for the first time since the Model T car era as a result. I'll weigh well-articulated hardship arguments from the locals for keeping any *2* from this group, but the rest are all stank-ass bullshit that should've in a just universe been gone by the end of the steam era.


EDIT: To underscore how sad the Rockport Line crossing clusterfuck is, the number of no-hardship outright crossing closures ^above^ on that one single fairly short branch exceeds the number of no-hardship closures I can feasibly ID everywhere else on the whole Purple Line system, Cape Flyer included. We're dealing with quite a bit more than standard-issue NIMBY'ing with these particular towns and their claimed divine right to lazy shortcutting.
 
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NoShJFK

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When only a few cities in the world bother at all to go alphanumeric, and many of those same cities that just flash a place-name destination do so on systems with way more routing complexity than ours...this kind of starts veering quickly into "begging the question no one asked" territory.



This is not very intuitive wayfinding. There are 10½ different wayfinding subscripts on that signage. There are names, letters, numbers, abbreviations, *and* colors to all parse, mix-and-match...simultaneously. And it's potentially misleading if any of those services feature short-turning, which Commuter Rail most definitely does and the E used to (i.e. alternating Arborway vs. Heath peak turns). One person's OCD feng sui is some other person's mass confusion. Mass confusion is an infinitely worse outcome than leaving sense of feng sui left a little bit wanting...full stop. A sign like that could easily be terrifying to a person if they were an out-of-towner who had a further-complicating language barrier, for instance.


When the vast majority of worldwide transit systems treat this tension between simplicity and completeness with a straight-up namechecking of the destination stop...and that's so thoroughly consistent around the world in spite of the hugely varied transit applications...that's saying something big about what's more likely to work as best practice. It's saying there's an established consensus on what the least-confusing middle ground likely is, and it is definitely not daring harder at finding some better neat-trick alphanumeric secret sauce.

You're going to have to learn to reconcile your own feels on such an eye-of-beholder issue with the global consensus. Consensus doesn't favor what you're proposing. It's one thing if future Green Line does have a "B BOSTON COLLEGE" vs. "C BOSTON COLLEGE" service difference to parse that makes keeping/amending the current alpha system a likeliest troubleshoot. GL is a legit inflection point we might have to think of here depending on where its future configuration trends. It's another thing altogether to think blanket-applying it everywhere somehow makes things "better" on-spec. No...world practice quite very clearly points to the opposite being true.

The fact that it *is* an eye-of-beholder issue at its core means that for purposes of creating wayfinding best practices it is more crucial than ever to listen to and incorporate what examples of best practice do prevail. Right now, the prevailing best practice eschews alphanumeric shorthand rather than encourages it.


Besides...as I mentioned, the flexibility of electronic signage and ASA systems means wayfinding information can be conveyed waaaaaaay more dynamically and just-in-time than ever before. It significantly lessens the need for alphanumeric shorthand.
Definetly confess it’s just a random thought I had not anything that there is great need for. But I think the standard is colors and then numbers/letters if the amount of lines goes beyond basic colors. The idea of destinations to me is just asking for confusion.

I do think if you saw a handful of extensions built in our system that this wpild become a possibility (say if you had the Orange branch off to Chelsea; the Red branch off toward Waltham, the Blue branch off wherever).
 

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