Reasonable Transit Pitches

F-Line to Dudley

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I've always liked the idea of sending the Blue Line across the river after MGH, then taking the Grand Junction, though I usually have imagined it as an above ground solution. Really, the ROW seems perfect for an elevated HRT line, which would then leave the possibility for also using it for the urban ring. Let the HRT continue out to West Station and Harvard, while the Green Line loops back inbound at the BU bridge.
Again...WHY is that preferable to the at-grade UR build that can do up to 3-minute LRT headways through the uneliminable grade crossings? Everyone has their preferences, but this is a project with hundreds of pages of Major Investment Study benchmarked for TWO different modes that could meet the service thresholds. It isn't begging for questions on how to HRT it, unless the HRT tie-in somehow pipes a ridership source orders of magnitude above and beyond what Green-hooked LRT or a BRT line would. The Study is extremely detailed on exactly where the ridership patterns into Kendall are coming from, so it's very unlikely they left a Blue source unturned under a rock that would slug something cosmically different from what the official study did. Therefore, when an alt is proposed that invites an order of magnitude more complexity (and yes, this is way more complex because an El is more expensive than at-grade, very different for stakeholder input, and still has one unsolved blocker in how to get across Main St. with the air rights overhead and Red tunnel passing underneath)...the justifications for it have to point to something hard and concrete on the demand side that's hugely better for inviting all that extra . And definitely better enough to triumph over the added risks.

If it can't answer that basic question, then we're not really debating Transit Pitches. That's the minimum-most standard we hold the Crazy Transit Pitches thread to, afterall...what's the mobility hook? It's one thing to try something on an unstudied corridor with a testable theory and hash it out as a thinking exercise...but this most definitely isn't an unstudied or under-studied corridor.
 

jklo

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Extending Blue past Charles/MGH is def crazy. Is there tunnel room to extend Blue just to Kendall? I am guessing no but thought I would ask.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Extending Blue past Charles/MGH is def crazy. Is there tunnel room to extend Blue just to Kendall? I am guessing no but thought I would ask.
Placement of the Red viaduct pilings means the Blue platform will be a wedge shape with single tail tracks forking off in both directions around Charles Circle: one tail dead-ending in front of "Hotel ex-Jail" and the other at the corner of Charles St. in front of CVS. Meaning extension either banging a left under Storrow or banging a right under Embankment is fully feasible. That's accomplished 1 of 2 ways:
  1. Double-wideing the tail track for the chosen extension direction to 2 tracks and adding a side platform to complement the wedge, then downgrading the other tail to pocket storage and short-turn abort. Advantage for straighter trajectory and ability to accommodate short-turns, disadvantage for modding the station into a messier-overall platform setup and the need to reopen a few feet of completed tunnel (only in immediate Charles Circle, west of Lindall Pl.) for widening.
  2. Extending 1 tail track in the straightest prevailing direction of extension, then wrapping the other all the way around in a near-loop behind the first set of Longfellow salt-n'-pepper towers at nearest available safe underpin point. Advantage for keeping the platform entirely stet, no new construction touches to any completed Red-Blue tunneling, and possible ability to throw down switches where the tracks meet on the other side of the circle to (a little less fluidly than #1 ) accommodate short-turns in a big de facto loop back to the platform. Disadvantage of the big loop-around being a bit slower and becoming the #2 ruling Blue curve after State (though that only matters if you foresee long-distance running past here).
No bias in east vs. west directions...both are equally feasible. Jumping across the Charles for Ari's Volpe basement plan would be happening down by Ebersol Field to line up with with the other side, so that's a "bang a right" scenario. Kenmore under the Storrow trade-in set of circumstances is the prevailing "bang a left" option. Of the construction methods, I think #2 is probably most palatable for the lower impacts as the 1-track distended loop-around is only going to temp tear up some low-use parkland that's already been torn up and replanted once for Longfellow construction staging.

The problem with "Blue to Volpe Basement" staging is...Volpe Basement. Redev over there is happening so fast there's going to be no insertion point left that isn't blocked by new building massing. Ari's scheme had some logic on the demand side, but did not take into account that time isn't standing still on land availability (in addition to being mum about the above-and-beyonds of doing this vs. the surface Urban Ring). That's mainly where it gets ruled infeasible. It's inconceivable that there'll be an open path left in 15 years, and since no one has ever formally pitched this as an alternative to the UR nobody redevving Volpe has ever been forced to consider the implications of reserving a ROW through their massing. And why should they have when the Urban Ring has gotten all the data backing to-date saying it's plenty good enough transit augmentation to make their employment center the richest it can be.


As described before, the only not-crazy scheme is IF we come to a regional consensus on tearing down the Pike-redundant Kenmore-Charles Storrow midsection in favor of reclaiming parkland, and IF the terms of engagement for that decision is a transit trade-in capable of moving equal number of people. In which case the EB carriageway roadpack and Back St. retaining wall can frame a shallow box tunnel sticking 2-5 ft. above ground level akin to the bit of Green Line tunnel at Hynes Station that's higher-elevation than the Pike; the tunnel can get covered over with dirt and act as slightly enhanced passive flood berm for the Back Bay street grid; 3-lane Storrow WB carriageway can be turned into a 2-lane slow-speed park access road; and Kenmore can be reached via diagonal-direction shield-under of Muddy River + cut-and-cover on Beacon + narrow-angle Brookline Ave. underpin of GL-Kenmore with tail tracks aligned to Brookline Ave. or bang-a-right under B&A for infinite-possibility 100-year future-proofing. But this ONLY goes on the board IF we first reach the consensus on parkway diet, and its momentum is entirely driven by the "equal or better" trade-in requirement. No other circumstance will put it on the board, and until the Storrow debate reaches any sort of cresting momentum (which it has not yet) this one is out-of-sight/out-of-mind and Charles is the only thing we care about. Further, any possibilities past Kenmore would be out-of-sight/out-of-mind until that extension is complete (IF and ONLY if the Storrow debate that comes first leads there), simply because the trade-in clause would be constrained to the same project area as the Storrow teardown and purposefully would not encompass any outside considerations. So it's very discretely chunked even in terms of "how far past Charles?" should controlling circumstances put it on the board in the first place. Unlike other imagination doodles, this one is very constrained in the where/when/how of what goes up for consideration at what time, so it's important to preach discipline in how far we're getting ahead of ourselves. Even the sequence of events that puts Kenmore up for debate is wholly unlike the normal process of hashing through those debates on all other linear extensions in the region.
 

Charlie_mta

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The MassDOT and the MBTA have proposed to nullify the commitment to perform final design of the Red Line–Blue Line Connector due to the unaffordability of the construction of the project. Why hasn't the city and state try to entice investment of a blueline tunnel under the Charles to Binney Street to Grand Junction and up to Mass Ave. The investment from some of the world's largest pharmaceutical, life-science labs could only increase their potential land values (if they own it). After Mass Ave the system could extend above ground on the Grand Junction back over the river to West Station. This partnership could keep it relatively reasonable. There is potential room for a small rail yard along Fulkerson Steet.
View attachment 4863 View attachment 4864
Blue Line along the Grand Junction won't work because of the Main Street crossing. MIT in their infinite wisdom plopped a building right there with a hole just big enough for two surface tracks. Tunneling underneath Main Street would require a very long and deep tunnel to go below the Red Line tunnel, and like F-Line says, it would be incredibly expensive (and maybe impossible) to build, plus a permanent maintenance problem because of the crappy fill and former marshland. If the goddamn MIT building wasn't there, the GJ line could have easily been elevated over all the street crossings.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Blue Line along the Grand Junction won't work because of the Main Street crossing. MIT in their infinite wisdom plopped a building right there with a hole just big enough for two surface tracks. Tunneling underneath Main Street would require a very long and deep tunnel to go below the Red Line tunnel, and like F-Line says, it would be incredibly expensive (and maybe impossible) to build, plus a permanent maintenance problem because of the crappy fill and former marshland. If the goddamn MIT building wasn't there, the GJ line could have easily been elevated over all the street crossings.
Blame it on ex- line owner Conrail. Late-90's they were prepping themselves for their 1999 mega-merger/dismemberment by CSX and Norfolk Southern, and looking for any excuses to goose their real estate revenue before cashing out. They cut the deal with MIT for both the Parsons Lab air rights and the power plant air rights 500 ft. away, only conditions levied that MIT obeys the double-track property lines and 17 ft. vertical clearance. If the state said anything edgewise it wouldn't have mattered because "LOL whocares we're outta here."
 

dhawkins

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It's actually a nice design of a lab building, but lab buildings have a way of becoming outmoded in 20 years. Expand the Focus40 Plan to include the extension and begin the MBTA talks with MIT to tear down and build something new so the tunnel can be built. Start with something like "think about it, you can brag about having its own campus transit line- better than BU! (I can't believe 2040 is only 20 years away, never mind, it can't be done by 2040)
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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It's actually a nice design of a lab building, but lab buildings have a way of becoming outmoded in 20 years. Expand the Focus40 Plan to include the extension and begin the MBTA talks with MIT. Start with something like "think about it, you can brag about having its own campus transit line- better than BU! (I can't believe 2040 is only 20 years away, never mind, it can't be done by 2040)
Again..the relevant first question above each...and...every...other: What does this do better than the vetted Urban Ring for all its extra complexity?

Nobody is going to evaluate a project based on deep-future real estate flipping dynamics viz-a-viz the lab space sector because the only way real estate flipping dynamics enters the transit-build conversation in the first place is if the project has already pivoted away from the deeply studied Preferred Alt. UR surface modes that touch no real estate. What lurks in the Volpe Basement circa 2040 is (unintentionally, I understand) a strawman's argument, because that isn't a conversation that veers within a million miles of the current corridor transpo studies. It's skipping several steps past "How did this enter conversation in the first place, much less become a deciding factor?"

We have this thing called project scoring. Maybe in the top-line categories like demand served Urban Ring LRT or BRT flavors is an "A/A-/B+B" and the Big Blue Dig is an "A/A+". But on the bottom-line categories like cost, construction disruption, building mitigation, life-of-structure maintenance the at-grade build that barely touches any incumbent surroundings on that side of the river scores solid "B's/B+'s/B-'s"across the board while the Big Blue Dig is a slate of "C's/D's/C+'s/D+'s" and one very concerning "D-" on flood mitigation. Guess what: it's going to get cut from first-round Alts. analysis...every single time. Because it hasn't explained why the top-line gap between Alts that are "A-" and Alts that are "A+" overpowers all the bottom-line baggage. Public works project scoring never has--and certainly doesn't project to start doing so in the next quarter-century--cherry-picked its weightings enough to bury a difference that huge.

So what is so over-the-top compelling here about the Big Blue Dig's top-line advantages that it forces the whole Volpe Basement real estate dynamics into the conversation *at all* where it is not in the conversation *at all* on the Preferred Alt.'s study alignment? You have to account for some mechanism that brings something that far outside of project scope & scoring...into the center of project scope & scoring. The fact that it is one of a million alternate-universe scenarios that could 'be' if universes were millions-alternate is irrelevant. What's the sellling point for taking on all the risk? What about it says "Oh my, we were so shortsighted when studying those at-grade Rings and didn't even see this whole extra demand dimension right before our eyes"?


If it can't answer that basic question concretely, it's not a Transit Pitch...much less an ostensibly "Reasonable" one. Because we don't sift through the merits of ____ Transit Pitches in a world without project scoring. This can't rationally assume that scoring doesn't exist or is going to be turned completely on its head in some future decade. "What is the upside that's overwhelmingly worth the extra baggage here vs. studied Alts. that scored really fucking good on both high upside and minimized baggage?" Full-stop if the topic sentence of the pitch isn't a direct answer to that question, it has nothing to justify any further looks with. All the debates in the world on what tunnel you can physically waterproof for unlimited resources and what Volpe Basement real estate might be in 20 years don't matter, because the door's already shut and locked to it ever getting further vetting. So what über-compelling X-factor kicks the door ajar for it? What gives it a serious run at getting a Top 3 Alts. workup for the Preferred Alt. sweepstakes? That's what needs to be spelled out first before all else.
 

Wash

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The light rail system in Stuttgart, Germany, uses these things to allow commuters to take their bikes on board:
stuttgart-rack-railway.jpg


If we could work out the obvious switch-picking problem, could something like it work on the Green Line?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The light rail system in Stuttgart, Germany, uses these things to allow commuters to take their bikes on board:
View attachment 4874

If we could work out the obvious switch-picking problem, could something like it work on the Green Line?
Doesn't need to be that kludgy. This is what Metro Light Rail in Minneapolis does on its generic Bombardier Flexity Swift LRV's:



Combo wheelchair berth w/ 2 bike racks. Priority seating goes to the wheelchair of course, but since that's a naturally very small share of patronage most of the time the racks are wide open. No reason an all- low-floor Type 10 'supertrain' can't have one of these in every stretched car, since a wheelchair berth exactly like this is 99% likelihood a standard-issue feature for each car. Bombardier was one of the participating vendors in the Type 10 vendor confab meeting last Fall, so in all likelihood they did submit a bid for a Flexity variant (there are 5 other major Flexity configurations besides the Swift) in the RFP that closed last week. It's understandable why today the T doesn't have this, because the half-high/half-low floorplan of the Type 8's/9's isn't real efficient for flow around a racked bicycle...but 100% low-floor is a whole new ballgame. Now, if we had to order a narrower-width variant (like the Flexity Freedom designed for Toronto streetcar's broadly Boston-compatible dimensions and tight turning radii), then they may be able to do this wheelchair+bike berth instead with the racks mounted to the side dividers so the handlebars aren't jutting far out into the aisle on a narrower car. I haven't seen enough interior shots of the Toronto and Waterloo Flexity Freedoms to tell, but there must be a standard-order Bombardier catalog option to check off to have these installed on any version of that make because the wheelchair berths are definitely common to them all.
 
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Java King

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General question for the board:

Does Boston have the ability (.....based on state funding laws) to create its own streetcar/tram system like in Kansas City or DC? I seem to remember hearing that Boston is reliant on the MBTA the way our political and funding system is setup. It always seems to me that a reasonable transit pitch would be some small starter streetcar system located completely within Boston such as Seaport, South Boston, Dorchester, etc. that is not controlled by the MBTA. I've seen so many nice small streetcar systems recently from Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, DC and others. I can never figure out why Boston isn't moving something forward? Castle Island to Broadway or Andrew as an example?
 

citylover94

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How is that better than a bus?

The biggest criticism of those systems is they are essentially just a bus replacement and trolleys can have higher capacity, but I don't know that something like that is what should be focused on now. Why not do the much simpler step of adding bus lanes to Broadway, A st., and Dorchester Ave some of the main roads used by the buses in the area. Plus that improvement could happen much sooner than a trolley without making it impossible to implement a trolley in the future if it made sense.
 

Charlie_mta

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Blame it on ex- line owner Conrail. Late-90's they were prepping themselves for their 1999 mega-merger/dismemberment by CSX and Norfolk Southern, and looking for any excuses to goose their real estate revenue before cashing out. They cut the deal with MIT for both the Parsons Lab air rights and the power plant air rights 500 ft. away, only conditions levied that MIT obeys the double-track property lines and 17 ft. vertical clearance. If the state said anything edgewise it wouldn't have mattered because "LOL whocares we're outta here."
Okay, here is the infamous MIT Lab in the GJ ROW at Main Street; https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3627829,-71.090658,3a,75y,218.08h,108.06t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRUaN-Km7GmlK2rvBq9wiNg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en
The MBTA could cut a deal with MIT for a major modification of the building to raise up the 2 track hole in the building by about 17 feet vertically to allow an elevated crossing of Main Street for the GL Urban Ring. The building (in its modified form) would remain. The ground floor (where the hole currently is) could be redeveloped to be part of the building. It would be a fraction of the cost and infinitely more feasible than trying to tunnel under the Red Line. This all assumes that avoiding an at-grade crossing warrants a costly major modification of this building, and an elevated structure through it and over Main Street.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Definitely.
Yeah...it all points back to the same question: "Why?" These alts don't get consideration in the real world unless they can clearly articulate what X-factor soars above and beyond the primary Alternatives that don't engage the extra trouble. No Kendall/GJ HRT scheme to-date--and there have been multitudes--has ever bottom-lined its X-factor above the at-grade Urban Ring. None of them. I don't know why each successive stab at it that someone tries thinks it's going to be different unless it tackles this question straight off in its mission statement, but that's why Civil Engineering Strongman Competition is such a tempting wormhole to fall into. It's conveniently unmoored enough from the real-life drudgery of hashing out project scoring and can live by its own arbitrary rules. But that's why we try to keep Crazy Transit Pitches grounded to the loosest bit of reality in trying to stake itself to A Better Transit Pitch before going too deep into steel-and-concrete porn.


Take the original Conrail air rights deal, for instance. Surface Transportation Board would've had to approve that because railroads are federal-preemption interstate commerce, and the T + Amtrak would've been summoned for comment being tenant railroads. That includes adjudicating any potential state action on eminent domain proceedings, as involving a RR zooms that straight to fed jurisdiction. The T being required to enter mandatory comment on the federal record would've been the state's soapbox to list any concerns about precluding future HRT, because while the Urban Ring MIS was still several years away the UR concept was a fully-formed front-burner initative back in '97-98 with same primary BRT/LRT Alternatives envisioned when this air rights deal was negotiated. How do you think that inquiry would've played out?

MassDOT: We'll be embarking on the Major Investment Study for the Urban Ring in a few years, and have concerns about this air rights deal preventing the heavy rail Alternatives.

Surface Transportation Board: What are the HRT Alternatives and how do they compare with the other Alts you're studying?

MassDOT: We're not sure because the routings are nearly identical and tap the same demand sources. The surface-running Primary Alternatives appear to adequately serve all demand at lower impact, so the HRT scoping is likely to rate Non-Preferred.

STB: Then what's the problem?

MassDOT: There are 30-year real estate considerations in-play that may or may not make the HRT Alt. more attractive.

STB: Such as?. . .

MassDOT: We're not exactly sure. Stuff with a hot lab space market maybe not being so hot in a few decades. *Maybe*...we don't truly know.

STB: How do these same real estate factors impact the Primary Alternatives that don't engage the air rights?

MassDOT: We're pretty sure it doesn't affect them in any way.

STB: So why is holding out for the HRT Alternative something significant enough for this board to weigh in potentially ruling against the air rights deal, when the non-impacting Alts are widely expected to get recommended ratings?

MassDOT: Some people think HRT is a more elegant design for doing the same job.

STB: Petition denied.

That's 1998. Do you really think a 2020 petition would break any differently based on what information we've exhausted so far in this discussion? Not likely; we're stuck on exactly the same existential question of where's all the extra "*oomph*" above the primary Alts that makes up the ground for engaging all the extra complexity. The first party to take an honest stab at addressing the gap detailing what that that extra "*oomph*" concretely is will be...the first one.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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General question for the board:

Does Boston have the ability (.....based on state funding laws) to create its own streetcar/tram system like in Kansas City or DC? I seem to remember hearing that Boston is reliant on the MBTA the way our political and funding system is setup. It always seems to me that a reasonable transit pitch would be some small starter streetcar system located completely within Boston such as Seaport, South Boston, Dorchester, etc. that is not controlled by the MBTA. I've seen so many nice small streetcar systems recently from Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, DC and others. I can never figure out why Boston isn't moving something forward? Castle Island to Broadway or Andrew as an example?
How is that better than a bus?

The biggest criticism of those systems is they are essentially just a bus replacement and trolleys can have higher capacity, but I don't know that something like that is what should be focused on now. Why not do the much simpler step of adding bus lanes to Broadway, A st., and Dorchester Ave some of the main roads used by the buses in the area. Plus that improvement could happen much sooner than a trolley without making it impossible to implement a trolley in the future if it made sense.
Not even "bus replacement"...most of those starter systems are just very limited-distance downtown circulators that link together bus nodes on different ends of the CBD that are problematically tough to link by any other means. Right mode for the job because high-capacity pipes are needed, but they generally aren't the seeds of systems that are going to grow to any great scope over time because the mission statement is pretty limited and most other pressing CBD-to-outer-neighborhood transit needs make the most hay taking a stab with bus optimization and BRT corridors first. And in the case of Washington D.C., because Metro does not 1:1 correspond with circulation patterns left underserved by the city's infamously abandoned streetcar network, so there was always a major flank left unfilled that HRT expansion couldn't scratch like new LRT seed-planting could. (Of course it would help if the modern D.C. Streetcar wasn't such a planning boondoggle, as actual execution doesn't aim very straight at the vacated need.)

Or, in even more limited scope, the streetcar is a heritage operation for the tourist district whose patronage weights much heavier to visitors than locals...such as Tampa's streetcar. It's an adorable little system and gooses their tourist revenues, but there's great frustration in Tampa...where Old City Tampa used to be a rare genuine Southern streetcar city (in Florida-speak in "the pre- air conditioning years")...that it's so single-minded in scope that it signifies no major change in transit orientation (or modern total lackthereof) amongst civic planners.


Boston isn't conducive to the former, because the fact that we already have a legacy system means our primary diverging nodes in the CBD are already long-covered by high-capacity pipes. We have a backlog of modern congestion mitigation projects to build, and sorely missing circulator legs like Downtown-Seaport that desperately need to be tied to the existing system, but nothing requiring whole-cloth new seeding. Likewise, for all the talk about how nifty it would be to have a heritage streetcar between North Station and South Station on the Greenway...what is that actually serving in primary demand other than the visitors' market and a momentary excuse to break eye contact over the fact that we're still not advancing NSRL seriously enough? I mean...I get it, it's net-positive over nothing and feel-good to reopen the Haymarket portal and throw the Mattapan PCC's there for a Brattle Loop-Greenway run, but if we build Green Line to Transitway off Boylston where do you think daily commuters are going to be making that run? The Type 10 supertrain lash-up that thru-routes in from GLX and out from Boylston through the Silver Line Phase III replacement Transitway hookup and does NS-SS in 6 or 7 subway stops? Or the single-car heritage short-turn that's co-running in a striped bus lane through a dozen traffic lights? One's a nice-to-have attraction and badge of civic pride. The other is actually carrying a load-bearing 125 seats + standees every 6 minutes or less behind fare control through half-dozen transfer stops on rigid schedule adherence. Doesn't mean we can't someday have both for mutually complementing perfection...but ye gads, the priorities! I wish things like "Greenway trolley" were not so widely talked about, because too often it's under self-medicating duress as pivot away from talking about the five-alarm critical stuff we have to be building first for our survival.



Now...if you do want a local example of where seed-planter LRT system could go, look to Lowell. It's already got the Lowell Trolley heritage streetcar run on the abandoned Canal freight trackage by an annex of Seashore Trolley Museum. There is enough not-yet-tapped additional trackage around the Canal district to substantially expand the system, and to tie it into the commuter rail station and future RUR service levels there into a major downtown circulator through juicy, juicy TOD...diverging LRTA nodes...and major UMass entrenchment across the city. And you can continue running it with historic stock by upping subsidy to Seashore and giving them better facilities to maintain fleets. Lowell actually would be a *perfect* landing spot for the Mattapan PCC's when they're displaced by Type 9's, as Seashore has the in-house expertise to keep maintaining the 8 cars while the T can't. ADA compliance can also be cheaply achieved by having front-door mini-high ramps like all Mattapan stops do (who cares if they're cheap wood for Lowell price ranges).

Of all LRT-bearing cities in North America, Lowell compares demographically most favorably with Kenosha, WI whose heritage streetcar circulator similarly was used as a conduit for revitalizing an old canal district with TOD and linking to a busy Metra commuter rail station for commutes to Chicago. Their system, built from-scratch in 1998 (unlike Lowell Trolley which has been in operation on portion of the Canal trackage since '78) and runs in a complete circle east-west around the CBD. Fleet is a series of refurbbed ex-Toronto PCC's, and a streetcar museum is contracted to administer trolley ops while the local bus RTA handles the business side of the system. The build (after many doubters) performed so well that the city has been debating a self-funded major north-south extension of the system into a second concentric loop (unfortunately killed in 2017 by an austerity gov't elected to the Council, but it's expected to keep coming up again). Lowell took a serious look at pursuing study of turning the Trolley Museum into general-purpose transit starting with a looped extension to the CR station about 3-4 years ago, but demurred on the vote thinking it was too aggressive.

With RUR coming, they arguably weren't being aggressive enough. Expect that one to periodically get debated, and the advocacy to coalesce in trying to pry local pols off the fence about it. Most of the "not-Boston" streetcar debate in New England concerns Providence, where that circulator is embedded in a whole lot of BRT buildouts marking the downtown spine where BRT alone simply isn't enough load-bearing capacity for tying a bunch of other BRT routes together on either end of the CBD. Likewise what you'd call a "traditional" seeder system. Maybe some slight discussion of the same in Portland, although their prospects are fiscally a lot iffier and definitely not as tapped out on nearer-term bus capacity enhancements where the streetcar talk is way premature (unlike Providence). But we've all heard lots about what a big step Providence Streetcar is. Lowell is the much lower-impact seed-starter that unfortunately never gets talked about. The trolley's already been there as a semi-useful toy for 42 years...and the operator that can run a historic fleet is already in-place. The unused Canal trackage + city-landbanked Canal ROW's for massive system expansion are already in-place. The unused and rehabilitated trestle across the water to to the commuter rail station is already in-place. All it needs resource-wise is the scale-up push: the money to lay/rehab and electrify track, a 'native' half-dozen PCC's that can hold baseline service while the rotating exhibit of trucked-in Seashore museum pieces infills for the tourists + better shop space for maintaining them, the extra subsidy for paying Seashore to run the ops, the fare integration with LRTA and Commuter Rail with either LRTA running it as a business unit or some new city-level department taking up that task, the front-door ADA ramps at otherwise spartan street corner stations, and the 'vision thing' TOD coordination with a Development Authority on terraforming the Canal district around the new circulator. Exactly the playbook that most-similar demographically Kenosha played for its launch.

There is low-risk precedent. I'd love it to death if Lowell just said "Right on; we're going for it!" because I think the odds of success and odds of it punching well above weight are very good at very managed risk. Not all such systems have to be big, deep-pocket productions like Providence's proposal in order to hit their mark. We've got a unique opportunity right under our noses in this state, and timing for action just so happens to very conveniently match when the T is going to be sunsetting those Mattapan PCC's off to Seashore any which way.
 

Wash

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Doesn't need to be that kludgy. This is what Metro Light Rail in Minneapolis does on its generic Bombardier Flexity Swift LRV's:



Combo wheelchair berth w/ 2 bike racks. Priority seating goes to the wheelchair of course, but since that's a naturally very small share of patronage most of the time the racks are wide open. No reason an all- low-floor Type 10 'supertrain' can't have one of these in every stretched car, since a wheelchair berth exactly like this is 99% likelihood a standard-issue feature for each car. Bombardier was one of the participating vendors in the Type 10 vendor confab meeting last Fall, so in all likelihood they did submit a bid for a Flexity variant (there are 5 other major Flexity configurations besides the Swift) in the RFP that closed last week. It's understandable why today the T doesn't have this, because the half-high/half-low floorplan of the Type 8's/9's isn't real efficient for flow around a racked bicycle...but 100% low-floor is a whole new ballgame. Now, if we had to order a narrower-width variant (like the Flexity Freedom designed for Toronto streetcar's broadly Boston-compatible dimensions and tight turning radii), then they may be able to do this wheelchair+bike berth instead with the racks mounted to the side dividers so the handlebars aren't jutting far out into the aisle on a narrower car. I haven't seen enough interior shots of the Toronto and Waterloo Flexity Freedoms to tell, but there must be a standard-order Bombardier catalog option to check off to have these installed on any version of that make because the wheelchair berths are definitely common to them all.
Yes, that's a great solution when the type 10's come into service. However, full replacement of the green line fleet with type tens is going to take decades, and it'll probably be 50 years before they replace the type 7's and 8's on the Mattapan-Ashmont line. We need something that can fill those gaps.

A few dozen bike trailers could be thrown together in the T's blacksmith shops for very little money tomorrow, be on the rails in a month, and could provide vital service all over T's light rail networks for easily the next quarter century. That's a very high return on investment.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yes, that's a great solution when the type 10's come into service. However, full replacement of the green line fleet with type tens is going to take decades, and it'll probably be 50 years before they replace the type 7's and 8's on the Mattapan-Ashmont line. We need something that can fill those gaps.

A few dozen bike trailers could be thrown together in the T's blacksmith shops for very little money tomorrow, be on the rails in a month, and could provide vital service all over T's light rail networks for easily the next quarter century. That's a very high return on investment.
That's overthinking a bit to the extreme. A mount is 2 pieces of metal and 4 bolts affixed to a wheelchair berth that's on every car if it's as dirt-simple as the Minneapolis Flexity mounts. And *maybe* a swap-out of the 2 plastic dividers by the nearest seat and door if it's going to be mounted the other direction for narrower aisles. It is no big production to retrofit any existing car for those. They just obviously aren't going to bother doing that on the Type 7's/8's when they're being sunset, especially with 8's dropping like flies from old-age ailments. But if that's a catalog-order feature on the Type 10's there's no reason why they wouldn't spend $50 apiece to retrofit all 24 Type 9's for exactly the same feature, both the Mattapan reassignees and the Green Line residuals. As long as it's a mount method that doesn't leave you at risk of getting knocked in the head by handlebars from the aisles it's silly-easy. WAY, WAY easier than any exterior solution.

Here's an actual Japanese HRT specialized "bike car" showing several different types of mounts.


Somewhat more robust than the Minneapolis example, but same idea if applied to the wheelchair berths in a regular car. If you take the lower-profile one like that singlet rack next to the door and install one of those in each wheelchair berth, you'll have 2 racks per trolley because each trolley has wheelchair berths on each end of the car for bi-directional running. Type 10's will then be running in 2-car 'supertrains' on D-Medford and E-Union upon debut--4 racks per train @ 6 min. headway for each branch frequency--while B + C are single stretched cars and primary 2-car Type 9 assignees until their platform lengthening backlog is tamed for introducing the 'supertrains'. That's more carry-on bikes than I have ever seen with my own eyes at one time...luxurious capacity.

For the HRT cars, they can easily be retrofitted after more urgent fleet-replacement business is done. Each Red/Orange/Blue car has 2 wheelchair berths at opposite ends of car. Do as combo wheelchair/bike configurations, lowest-profile lateral mounting so aisle standees don't get clonked in the head with handlebars, and it basically looks exactly like the Japanese singlet rack turned around 180 degrees behind the divider. What's that going to cost...like $200/rack for 2 such racks per car on 498 HRT cars. $200K for the whole system, and you get 12 combo racks per 6-car train running every 3-5 minutes. We're becoming a much nicer bicycle city, but I can NEVER imagine 12 carry-on bikes on a single train unless there's a road race scheduled in one of the inner 'burbs. Set for life on capacity @ $200 grand?...yeah, give me some of that.

Commuter rail is already going to be set for life with each Rotem bi-level and Kawasaki rebuild having 2 fold-out bike racks per every accessible vestibule area (doubles as a strap mount for the adjacent wheelchair berth). With 80 more of these cars on-order and the 200-car RFP that whacks the rest of the single-levels already speccing this as standard feature, every car on the system will be able to hold 4 bikes within 5 years. And I'm sure that spec's also standard-issue in the EMU interiors, too, since it ain't rocket science. At current system minimums of 4-car trains, 16 rack spots per train and RUR frequencies coming? Set...for...life.




So let's not get carried away with panic that the dirt-cheap options that only require a cordless drill and bag full of parts aren't enough or can't be implemented. They're implementable on-demand for cheap, and the only reason to wait is that we've got lots more important priorities like getting this HRT megaorder replaced and desperately figuring out how to keep the Type 8's from clogging the shop during their last 5 years of service. All in due time, because the due-time options are brainlessly easy and provide a lifetime's capacity.


Also...one caution about sample sizes.

That German pushcart example...that's the Stuggart Rack Railway funicular line, not their regular LRT system. The Rack Railway is a tourist attraction transporting visitors up and down a mountain, not a mainstream transit flavor. The wagon is anchored to the center rack rail, and because of the tourist attraction holds many more bikes than you'd ever see on a standard transit vehicle. Such a setup is illegal and impossible on any regular LRT setup, because a free-movement trailer that lightweight can derail on something as small as one rock of trackbed ballast sitting on the railhead. For example, when the Green Line work shift has to task a Type 7 with towing a flatcar to a work site, it runs at severely restricted speed...and that's with a trailer that weighs 1-2 tons empty (though still an order of magnitude less than the trolley itself). The only place in New England where you could run a wagon contraption like that is Mt. Washington Cog Railway with its similar gear-toothed rack rail.

Further, while buses have long been standard-issue ordered with fold-out racks for 2-4 bikes attached to their front bumpers, such an easy solution is impossible with trains that couple together. You couldn't have one of those fold-out racks unlocked for business sitting on the leading end of a Green Line train because of rescue-tow contingencies should the train get disabled. Exterior solutions are practically verboten because trailers are no-go, front/rear racks are no-go, and side racks are obvious no-go for tunnel clearances. But then again...absolutely no need to overthink the exterior solutions when every single wheelchair berth inside every single vehicle is a blank canvas for doing up any number of $cheap$ and low-profile combo rack solutions.
 

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Upgrade the 70 bus to high frequency BRT.

Extend 450 and 455 to Cummings Center and Beverly using Rantoul St. Improve service to BRT levels and add bus lanes where space exists.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Upgrade the 70 bus to high frequency BRT.

Extend 450 and 455 to Cummings Center and Beverly using Rantoul St. Improve service to BRT levels and add bus lanes where space exists.
Buy stock in the Weston/128 multimodal superstation on the Fitchburg Line @ Exit 26 with all the associated path/roadway reconfigs and Polaroid tie-ins. Because that then becomes the 70's new crown-jewel terminus displacing the current Cedarwood Ave. fizz-out and lights a fire under the urgency to develop a compelling corridor plan for the route now that it'll be a featured player with 128 Pn'R's and the office-park set. It needs a new corridor plan like yesterday, but the superstation will act as effective catalyst for starting that ball rolling in a major way.
 

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