Reasonable Transit Pitches

George_Apley

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Glx to porter then down the watertown branch to Arsenal would have been awesome. I wish they had secured/hadnt sold the ROW before the rail trail went in because there is no way that thing gets ripped up now.
There should be room for both if they can swing it properly.
 

Charlie_mta

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Yeah, once an old railbed becomes a trail, forget about ever returning it to rail. The NIMBYs would literally crucify anyone who tried.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Glx to porter then down the watertown branch to Arsenal would have been awesome. I wish they had secured/hadnt sold the ROW before the rail trail went in because there is no way that thing gets ripped up now.
The old Watertown Branch is not a good location for a new line. It exists so people assume it should be rebuilt. But it takes riders too far out of their way to save any time and the ROW has been redeveloped in so many places that it isn't worth the cost to buy the land back. The Watertown Branch also wouldn't serve drivers being switched to transit since it runs in the opposite direction of peak traffic flow from Alewife to Storrow or Memorial. If you must build a transit line connecting Watertown to anywhere then it needs to run through Allston to Cambridge. Anyone who suggest extending the Green Line from Union just doesn't get it.
 

Charlie_mta

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But, you probably would get many more new riders if you were able to use the above route (which probably wouldn't be feasible given the limited space along the Pike tracks), since it would establish a whole new connection to downtown Boston.
The narrow grassy strip between the Mass Pike and Lincoln Street is wide enough to accommodate the single column concrete piers shown the elevated rail typical section that I posted. So there is room for the route using that type of structure.
 

George_Apley

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The old Watertown Branch is not a good location for a new line. It exists so people assume it should be rebuilt. But it takes riders too far out of their way to save any time and the ROW has been redeveloped in so many places that it isn't worth the cost to buy the land back. The Watertown Branch also wouldn't serve drivers being switched to transit since it runs in the opposite direction of peak traffic flow from Alewife to Storrow or Memorial. If you must build a transit line connecting Watertown to anywhere then it needs to run through Allston to Cambridge. Anyone who suggest extending the Green Line from Union just doesn't get it.
Round and round we go... here's F-Line's response to you about this very topic from the last time we discussed Watertown transit.

Sure it would. The 71 draws more daily riders than SL2 + Silver Line Way short-turns on the Transitway. And takes over a half-hour at peak to get between Harvard and the Square and regularly gets stuck in traffic. Single fare out of Harvard, 1 stop in the reverse-commute direction, and transfer to Green Line beats the bus every time, with 1-1/2 times the frequencies. Why wouldn't the north end of the E's run end up clocking in at about 70-75% of the E branch's dedicated ridership with those advantages coupled with the exploding growth in North Cambridge and East Watertown. For one, you currently cannot get to Watertown at all from North Cambridge without slogging it to Harvard and getting on the bus. Watertown may as well be on the Moon for anyone in Somerville or anywhere on the 77.

You can't compare it with Brighton. Brighton's population center has always had easy one-seat access to Watertown. It's a mature transit route. Everything north, northwest, and northeast of Harvard never has. And there are a fucklot of people who live there. Many of them [*North Cantabrigian raises hand*] need to get to the Mall sometimes and hate the senselessness of having to drive such a short crow-flies distance in the car or walk an hour on Nonantum Rd. within inches of Formula One-speeding traffic to get there because there's no direct way. Watch the Minuteman-level utilization of the Greenway when it reaches Alewife on this ROW. There's a commuter market here that'll saturate whatever mode you feed it, including sneakers and bikes, because it opens up a high-demand direct route that has never ever existed before.

This route isn't in competition with the 57. It's faster from downtown because of the grade separation, and taps a whole new audience by making the impossible possible. Brighton needs a separate solution. It doesn't need to pooh-pooh Cambridge's/Somerville's/CBD's good transit solution to Watertown.
I'd add that given the options of 1) using an existing ROW that could be prepared at relatively lower expense, 2) creating a new ROW that would cost a much higher relative expense, or 3) not providing Watertown with rapid rail transit service at all, option 1 makes the most sense to me.

Yeah, Watertown via the old branch is more circumferential than we're used to, but that doesn't mean it would provide bad service or would suffer ridership as a result. Watertown residents would have a choice depending on where they live and where they're going: Take the 57 to Kenmore; Take the [hoped for] Newton Corner RER stop into the city; Take the Green Line to Porter (Red Transfer) and downtown; Take the 71 to Harvard (Red Transfer). Two+ car grade-separated trolleys at 5 min peak frequencies with a Porter transfer would definitely be competitive with the trackless trolleys.
 

KCasiglio

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Re: green line past union, I'm assuming there's a good reason that I never see it being mentioned, but why not extend past porter to Arlington and Lexington? Wouldn't light rail be more appropriate for the level of density of those communities than the red line?
 

jklo

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Re: green line past union, I'm assuming there's a good reason that I never see it being mentioned, but why not extend past porter to Arlington and Lexington? Wouldn't light rail be more appropriate for the level of density of those communities than the red line?
You already have a decent amount of opposition to extending it up there. It'd have to be Red to get enough support because of how important Kendall is.
 

George_Apley

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Re: green line past union, I'm assuming there's a good reason that I never see it being mentioned, but why not extend past porter to Arlington and Lexington? Wouldn't light rail be more appropriate for the level of density of those communities than the red line?
It's never mentioned because it would be a reinvention of the wheel. The Red Line already points that way and the interface between Green on Fitchburg and the Minuteman alignment under Alewife would be very messy. Fewer stops on an RLX with frequent bus feeders makes more sense than (presumably) more stops on an LRT branch, half of which would have no/few bus connections.

RLX would be underground to Arlington Center. Creative solutions would be required past that along the Minuteman ROW, which F-Line has analyzed true to form here and here. Would a GLX run on the surface all the way? Tunnel to Arlington Center?
 

The EGE

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There are a couple reasonable post-Porter pitches for the Green Line, mostly variations on the Watertown Branch or the Fitchburg Line. But Arlington, as George says, only makes sense as a Red Line extension for multiple reasons.
 

HenryAlan

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Interesting. I would guess that anyone in Watertown who takes public transportation relies on a Watertown-Harvard connection since that's the connection that's existed for time immemorial. But, you probably would get many more new riders if you were able to use the above route (which probably wouldn't be feasible given the limited space along the Pike tracks), since it would establish a whole new connection to downtown Boston.
Quite a few take the express buses on the Pike.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Quite a few take the express buses on the Pike.
This is why there's decent chance that an RUR stop at Newton Corner will bring with it an extension of the 71 down Galen another 2500 ft. to loop there. A lot of the Pike buses would go away or get radically repurposed to different roles with 15 min. frequencies inbound from Riverside on the Worcester Line not subject to Pike traffic. And thankfully the ex- A-Line power trunk is still active under Galen as a B-Line to TT power interconnect, so the capital expenditure is not much more than about 6 figures in poles and wire spools to hook up that 71 extension. Would give you a nice jumping-off point for adding BRT features to the route, since if the Pike expresses are mostly going away there is a little bit of gap to backfill on the express side. Signal priority and maybe a bus lane re-striping on Mt. Auburn, 60-footer TT's, and maybe alternating local and express patterns with a couple "passing sidings" en route making Harvard-N. Corner feel more like a trunk line.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I'd add that given the options of 1) using an existing ROW that could be prepared at relatively lower expense, 2) creating a new ROW that would cost a much higher relative expense, or 3) not providing Watertown with rapid rail transit service at all, option 1 makes the most sense to me.

Yeah, Watertown via the old branch is more circumferential than we're used to, but that doesn't mean it would provide bad service or would suffer ridership as a result. Watertown residents would have a choice depending on where they live and where they're going: Take the 57 to Kenmore; Take the [hoped for] Newton Corner RER stop into the city; Take the Green Line to Porter (Red Transfer) and downtown; Take the 71 to Harvard (Red Transfer). Two+ car grade-separated trolleys at 5 min peak frequencies with a Porter transfer would definitely be competitive with the trackless trolleys.
It's hard to picture unless you've actually walked the finished Watertown Greenway segment, but the ROW from Mt. Auburn to School St. is hella wide. Even the portion around Fresh Pond that had a lot of hasty hillside backfill poured on it over the decades to slow the erosion problems is surprisingly wide now that it's been cleared and packed for the Phase II extension. There is no issue whatsoever doing a rail-with-trail setup here. Less natural landscaping is the only real sacrifice, and between Mt. Auburn and Huron LRT and trail are maybe separated by a chain-link fence at the point where the tall hillsides pinch it tightest. But that's about it; I bet you wouldn't even lose a single park bench in the process. It doesn't ruin the ambiance at Neponset Trail any.

The way it would be laid out is:
  • After ducking under the parkway, tracks would gobble up the current bike path that runs along the parkway. MassDOT and City of Cambridge did a ROW land swap where the city got to pour those new earthen berms over the trackbed for erosion control in exchange for the rail landbanking transferring onto an easement sitting on top of the bike path...closer to the parkway. Only bipedal consideration for taking the path would be that the bikes have to move to the reservoir path between the Waterworks driveway and the rotary, with whatever steps that requires to better traffic-manage the bikes and walkers on the reservoir path (which isn't much...I see as many bikes along the water as I do on the explicit bike path, so the public's already made a choice).
  • Right now the path is being driven all the way to the former driveway grade crossing, even though there's considerable amount of path duplication on the SE side of the Reservoir. So probably once the ROW and Reservoir path approaches they dump all ped/bike traffic out to the Reservoir path with misc. improvements to make that work.
  • Think a Mattapan Line/Neponset Trail -type coexistence from the Huron-side interface with the Reservoir all the way to School St. Wider in some spots, such as where there once were lengths of tri-track for former industrial sidings west of Cottage St.
And then at School St. where the landbanking ends and the rest of the ROW to Watertown Sq. is problematically encroached in a few spots you probably plan for a 3/4 mile segment of street-running, transitioning at the Arsenal/N. Beacon merge into a big-ass median station Cleveland Circle-style with 1-2 trainsets of pocket storage outside of the yard so headway management isn't dependent on the traffic lights crossing the river. Ban parking on that strip of Arsenal so the road can be re-striped with tracks running entirely to the left of the yellow line in a painted median, such that the only time a car will be directly in front of a trolley is at a protected left-turn lane and you'll be entirely within your means at managing a 6-minute headway commensurate with all the other branches.


Yeah, NIMBY's and "rail trail weaponization" and all that...but at the rate this area is growing they're not going to have a choice but to look very very seriously at their transit futures in due time. Especially after they see what it does for Somerville. I can't predict if it'll happen, but feasibility is pretty well-established and I will go out on a limb and say that sometime in the next 20 years they take a serious--and big biz-backed--look at this build and have a thorough debate about it.
 

BostonUrbEx

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1575360555803.png


Marblehead—Salem bus route (shown in orange, via Lafayette). How does this not exist?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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View attachment 1592

Marblehead—Salem bus route (shown in orange, via Lafayette). How does this not exist?
That's the great Lynn Terminal bus equipment drain at work. So many buses have to make that distended Wonderland + downtown run down 1A from the lack of rapid transit transfer at the terminal that the entire 4xx series drains its equipment reserves faster than the extra past-Lynn mileage is capable of replenishing it, leaving the whole North Shore network effectively anemic. Salem hub-let sees the worst of the diminishing returns, because there's not nearly enough bodies laying around to operate much of anything route-wise that originates there detached from the Lynn-Downtown conveyor belt. What little coverage Salem does provide as a node in its own right has to keep extremely fragile balance with the equipment threaded between Salem-Lynn-Boston.

This is where the BLX-Lynn drumbeat gets loud as hell, because if you solve for the Wonderland+Downtown equipment drain you get an order of magnitude's worth of replenishing bodies to operate out of Lynn Terminal-proper as new routes and sharply increased frequencies. The equipment rotations would, for the first time since the T took over the independent Eastern Mass Street Railway bus system in 1968 and added all those taffy-stretched inbound legs in '69-70, actually be balanced enough to self-sustain that district. Salem hub-let becomes a big winner there as it can finally get a dedicated bus supply to cement its presence as a last-mile feeder of some importance, such that a Salem-Marblehead route would probably go near top of the list as first route expansion opportunity out of there.
 
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George_Apley

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Connecting Marina Bay with transit across the harbor is one of those things that looks great on a map, but literally no one wants and serves very little need.
 

DominusNovus

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Connecting Marina Bay with transit across the harbor is one of those things that looks great on a map, but literally no one wants and serves very little need.
What about a gondola between Marina Bay and an infill Neponset station?
 

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