Reasonable Transit Pitches

Riverside

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So, this has probably already been discussed plenty of times - with F-List explaining why its a bad idea. But I’ll ask anyway: could we extend service south from Foxboro, down to Mansfield and maybe as far south as Providence?
Coincidentally, almost a year ago to the day, I wrote about this very idea. In my opinion, it's unlikely to be worth it, except perhaps for serving a reverse-commute market to Providence. The big issue is travel time (in my opinion):

At best, running largely non-stop, a train from Foxborough Patriot Place takes 45 minutes to get to South Station. Tack on another 5 minutes to travel to Mansfield, and your travel time from Mansfield to South Station clocks at 50 minutes. By contrast, a mid-day local from Mansfield via the NEC, stopping everywhere including Canton Junction and Hyde Park, clocks in at 44 minutes. Pre-pandemic, the morning expresses from Mansfield -- making about as many stops as the 45-minute Foxborough Express -- clocked at 36 and even 31 minutes on the timetable.

(A Foxborough Local, pre-pandemic, was timetabled at 55 minutes, which would make it an even hour from Mansfield.)

60 minute local/50 minute express vs 44 minute local/36 minute express -- in both cases, traveling via Foxborough adds about 37% to your travel time.
The only way I see it working is if Mansfield ratchets up the TOD around the station to the max, but even then it's a long-shot.
 

DominusNovus

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Coincidentally, almost a year ago to the day, I wrote about this very idea. In my opinion, it's unlikely to be worth it, except perhaps for serving a reverse-commute market to Providence. The big issue is travel time (in my opinion):



The only way I see it working is if Mansfield ratchets up the TOD around the station to the max, but even then it's a long-shot.
I was actually thinking strictly for events at Gillette. Anyone who wants to beat the traffic going north has the option, but going south, they don’t.
 

Riverside

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Historically, the "Train to the Game" did actually have two services -- one from Boston, and one from Providence. I'm not sure if the most recent iteration had both services. Plus, there definitely have been events that the trains did not run to.

EDIT: The service is not called "Train to the Game" -- that's an MTA term from NYC. I don't think we had a "brand name" for it. See details here: https://www.mbta.com/destinations/gillette-stadium
 

bakgwailo

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Returning to the topic of "business class on the commuter rail" (as discussed back on page 93 etc), I learned from yesterday's Miles In Transit video that the CapeFlyer added a "first class" to the trainset. To my eyes, amenities aside, the biggest difference is the new seats. If there ever is going to be a business class on the commuter rail, I imagine it'll look something like that.

I wonder what that coach (with the refitted seats) will be used for now that the season is over.
Well, that seems a rather... underwhelming "first-class" experience. Also, that table at the end is kind of funny of the train vs. bus as far as trip time and the number of daily trips. Kind of crazy that the bus is a full hour faster than the train (at least on schedule).

Outside of the CapeFlyer, I kind of have a hard time imagine a business class product working on the Commuter Rail (as things are today). Not against it; but I just don't see the market for it given the current high prices of the CR. Are there really enough people who would fork out even more money on top of their monthly $200-$426 monthly passes? It works on Amtrak (Acela vs Regional) as most of that is getting expensed (and thus why not spend more for the Acela, it's on the company's dime), not sure if the business really would be OK expensing the daily commute as an upsell, though.
 

Brattle Loop

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Outside of the CapeFlyer, I kind of have a hard time imagine a business class product working on the Commuter Rail (as things are today). Not against it; but I just don't see the market for it given the current high prices of the CR. Are there really enough people who would fork out even more money on top of their monthly $200-$426 monthly passes? It works on Amtrak (Acela vs Regional) as most of that is getting expensed (and thus why not spend more for the Acela, it's on the company's dime), not sure if the business really would be OK expensing the daily commute as an upsell, though.
While I tend to agree with your analysis, when thinking about pre-Covid times I do find myself wondering if a business class specifically with reserved (and therefore guaranteed) seating might have been popular on some of the busiest trains (I'm particularly thinking about the monster Providence trains that turned into zoos whenever there was a shortage of bilevels). Not sure that it would be popular enough on enough trains/routes to justify the double difficulties of limiting consists and managing seat reservations/assignments, but it's at least an area where there could be a market. (If I recall correctly, guaranteed seating used to be a selling point of Amtrak's business class on the NEC before the Northeast Regionals went all-reserved.)
 

DominusNovus

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Historically, the "Train to the Game" did actually have two services -- one from Boston, and one from Providence. I'm not sure if the most recent iteration had both services. Plus, there definitely have been events that the trains did not run to.

EDIT: The service is not called "Train to the Game" -- that's an MTA term from NYC. I don't think we had a "brand name" for it. See details here: https://www.mbta.com/destinations/gillette-stadium
Huh, I just assumed it didn’t go down to Providence at all, for reasons. This is great! A pitch so reasonable, they didn’t just do it in the past, but they kept doing it!
 

Wash

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How about a shuttle train from Sullivan Square to Medford? Not sure how much room there is on the ROW, but it seems wide enough for one track+passing sidings.
 

Brattle Loop

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How about a shuttle train from Sullivan Square to Medford? Not sure how much room there is on the ROW, but it seems wide enough for one track+passing sidings.
Sullivan to Medford...where? As a Commuter Rail shuttle?

The only ROW options I can see out of Sullivan that hit Medford are either north alongside the Orange Line or south from Yard 21, through the wye and the tracks over to the Lowell Line (if they haven't been severed by the GLX by this point, and then up that way. Up the Orange Line/Haverhill way you could theoretically run shuttles on the Haverhill single track if you wanted to make that chokepoint more of an operational headache, but the only place you can go on that alignment is the Medford Branch, which dead-ends here at the cold-storage warehouse, with the rest of the ex-Medford Branch ROW obliterated. Pan Am's trackage maps still show the Medford Branch (what's left of it) as active, so you're stuck with CR until and unless you can pry it away from them (and for all we know CSX might actually be interested in serving customers on that little spur). I suppose in theory if it came off the national network you could make it an Orange spur, though crossing the main inbound track to get over there for outbound shuttles is just asking for trouble, and you can't really shiv a shuttle track in there because the Wellington carhouse expansion took up a bunch of space where there used to be a track for storage so there's very little room to work with without impacting the yard.

Going the other way gets more Somerville than Medford at first, but it also makes very little sense. The simpler solution would be to run Green Line tracks from Sullivan (eating Yard 21) down past the new maintenance facility, where they could run to (if you completed the flyover junction, as I understand it) either GLX branch, the Lechmere Viaduct or the Grand Junction (if you built that as GLX a-la the Green Line Reconfiguration thread). Even if what you'd more likely get is swapping trains on the Lechmere platform to go Sullivan-Lechmere-Medford, it's considerably more practical to implement than a whole new shuttle.
 

Tallguy

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Sullivan to Medford...where? As a Commuter Rail shuttle?

The only ROW options I can see out of Sullivan that hit Medford are either north alongside the Orange Line or south from Yard 21, through the wye and the tracks over to the Lowell Line (if they haven't been severed by the GLX by this point, and then up that way. Up the Orange Line/Haverhill way you could theoretically run shuttles on the Haverhill single track if you wanted to make that chokepoint more of an operational headache, but the only place you can go on that alignment is the Medford Branch, which dead-ends here at the cold-storage warehouse, with the rest of the ex-Medford Branch ROW obliterated. Pan Am's trackage maps still show the Medford Branch (what's left of it) as active, so you're stuck with CR until and unless you can pry it away from them (and for all we know CSX might actually be interested in serving customers on that little spur). I suppose in theory if it came off the national network you could make it an Orange spur, though crossing the main inbound track to get over there for outbound shuttles is just asking for trouble, and you can't really shiv a shuttle track in there because the Wellington carhouse expansion took up a bunch of space where there used to be a track for storage so there's very little room to work with without impacting the yard.

Going the other way gets more Somerville than Medford at first, but it also makes very little sense. The simpler solution would be to run Green Line tracks from Sullivan (eating Yard 21) down past the new maintenance facility, where they could run to (if you completed the flyover junction, as I understand it) either GLX branch, the Lechmere Viaduct or the Grand Junction (if you built that as GLX a-la the Green Line Reconfiguration thread). Even if what you'd more likely get is swapping trains on the Lechmere platform to go Sullivan-Lechmere-Medford, it's considerably more practical to implement than a whole new shuttle.
There is a possible LRT route. if OLX happened, by extending the above GL up past Wellington onto the Medford branch, up the Fellsway median, then down Brookside Parkway(with a possible split at Fellsway W up the old Rt 100 trolley ROW to Stoneham) but its a bit circuitous so ride times might be a problem.
Also, you'd have to get GL over/under OL somehow.
It would be a way of giving Rivers Edge RT without further overloading the OL but .....
 

DAVE

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Not sure if this is the best place for this (and can't really search for a better one with the search function still broken) but...

I was wondering if anyone else thought it would be worthwhile having a better pedestrian connection across the highway from Andrew Station to South Bay. They are geographically very close but not the easiest to walk to (either taking Northhampton or Boston St)


Making a pedestrian connection somewhere along the middle would probably cut this walk time in half and not be as uncomfortable crossing awkward, car dominant spaces.
 

donkeybutlers

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Not sure if this is the best place for this (and can't really search for a better one with the search function still broken) but...

I was wondering if anyone else thought it would be worthwhile having a better pedestrian connection across the highway from Andrew Station to South Bay. They are geographically very close but not the easiest to walk to (either taking Northhampton or Boston St)


Making a pedestrian connection somewhere along the middle would probably cut this walk time in half and not be as uncomfortable crossing awkward, car dominant spaces.
This would likely be immensely helpful for quite a few people who work in the shopping center and as south bay redevelops this could help stitch it into existing neighborhoods as well as give better transit access.
 
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Brattle Loop

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Not sure if this is the best place for this (and can't really search for a better one with the search function still broken) but...

I was wondering if anyone else thought it would be worthwhile having a better pedestrian connection across the highway from Andrew Station to South Bay. They are geographically very close but not the easiest to walk to (either taking Northhampton or Boston St)


Making a pedestrian connection somewhere along the middle would probably cut this walk time in half and not be as uncomfortable crossing awkward, car dominant spaces.
The only place it looks like you could start a bridge that doesn't encroach on that Eversource substation would be off of either Southampton Street or, less usefully, Boston Street's, highway bridges. On Google Maps it looks like there's probably enough room to branch out a pedestrian ramp that would then cross over the highway and come back down near the entrance of the shopping plaza. Might need to sacrifice a few parking spaces for the room to bring the bridge back down to the surface, but that's no great loss.

Not a bad idea, and at a glance there don't seem to be any fatal blockers. I don't know how the economics would shake out, that'd depend on how much traffic is headed from Andrew to the shopping center that would benefit from the bridge.
 

themissinglink

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Is there sufficient density to justify a station there? Particularly walk-up density, because at a glance it doesn't look like there's any easy location for a parking lot or garage (not that such is required, but try telling the T that sometimes).
You very well may be right that the walk-up density of the station is too low for a stop, as the area is suburban. I was thinking that the main catchment area for the station would likely be the neighborhoods to the north (and to a lesser extent the neighborhoods south of the area) plus a connection to the 222 bus.

There may be enough room for a very small parking lot to the immediate north of the site, adjacent to Abigail Adams Green, but I'm just speculating.
 

Brattle Loop

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You very well may be right that the walk-up density of the station is too low for a stop, as the area is suburban. I was thinking that the main catchment area for the station would likely be the neighborhoods to the north (and to a lesser extent the neighborhoods south of the area) plus a connection to the 222 bus.

There may be enough room for a very small parking lot to the immediate north of the site, adjacent to Abigail Adams Green, but I'm just speculating.
Looking at that makes me wonder why that bus doesn't serve the East Weymouth stop. I doubt it would add too much time to the route to run a little one-stop loop up to the CR parking lot. They wouldn't even have to do it all the time if they didn't want to, just time the connections to the CR service, it's not like Greenbush's frequencies make doing that hard. Though that's probably why they don't bother (and why a station that doesn't have walk-up density or a parking sink probably fails on cost considerations), the service isn't exactly super-frequent.
 

Wash

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How about commuter rail group fares? If you're traveling on off-peak trains in a group of three or more people, each person rides for $5.

This would be primarily aimed at families, but also any group of friends looking to go downtown for a concert, or out to the woods or the beach for a day.
 

Brattle Loop

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How about commuter rail group fares? If you're traveling on off-peak trains in a group of three or more people, each person rides for $5.

This would be primarily aimed at families, but also any group of friends looking to go downtown for a concert, or out to the woods or the beach for a day.
I'm not sure how I feel about this as an all-the-time thing. Probably a lot of the time it be a reasonable incentive to move some traffic onto the CR's excess capacity (and off the roads), but on the other hand I've had the misfortune of being on off-peak CR trains headed to North Station before concerts that were packed to the gills with people headed to the Garden for the shows, and it'd be something of a shame to lose the revenue to cheap fares. (One of those trains packed with concert-goers was the loudest train ride I've ever experienced. It was...something else.)

The above said, I think this would be a great idea for the weekends. When I was young CR pass holders could get (one? more than one? I can't remember) at least one kid in for free on either Sundays or weekends (It's been a little too long for me to clearly remember), which led me on a number of adventures around the system. I think it'd be definitely a good idea to have a family rate, especially on weekends, though that one (rather than just groups) I could more easily see as an all-the-time thing.
 

sneijder

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I was actually thinking strictly for events at Gillette. Anyone who wants to beat the traffic going north has the option, but going south, they don’t.
I find it absurd that there exists a station and ROW directly to Gillette but the service is so abysmal. With the whole push to reduce congestion and reduce drunk driving this seems like the biggest no-brainer to run legitimate service (i.e. 3 trains at 30-min intervals pre-event, 3 trains out afterwards) with an actual effort to make the travel time competitive with driving (express to Ruggles or Back Bay should allow for a 30-35min schedule time). They can also run it for all concerts, Pats games, and any other events rather than only for a few select Pats games. The single train they run with a 70minute travel time is just an abomination and shows the state could care less about congestion, and all the people in their 20s living in the city without a car can go F themselves or take a $100 uber if they want to attend any event. I get all the suburban folks can stay in their cars but I'd imagine if they could get this train schedule down to <40mins there would be a ton of riders from the city.

And while we're at it, the complete lack of non-car infrastructure at the Xfinity Center in mansfield is apalling. There should at a minimum be a bus shuttle on its own lane (so it's not stuck in traffic) that takes you to Mansfield CR station. Or a small rail-spur that takes you from the Mansfield ROW to the stadium, but that feels like too much to ask.

Am I the only one infuriated with having to drive 1-2hrs there, then 1-2 hours back while buzzed just to attend a concert? This place is 20 miles away. It'd sometimes be faster to bike, for petes sake.
 

themissinglink

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I find it absurd that there exists a station and ROW directly to Gillette but the service is so abysmal. With the whole push to reduce congestion and reduce drunk driving this seems like the biggest no-brainer to run legitimate service (i.e. 3 trains at 30-min intervals pre-event, 3 trains out afterwards) with an actual effort to make the travel time competitive with driving (express to Ruggles or Back Bay should allow for a 30-35min schedule time).
I'm hoping that service to Foxboro returns once Franklin Line double track phase 3 is completed, as the 2019 Foxboro pilot messed with the Franklin Line OTP way too much.
 
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