Reasonable Transit Pitches

The EGE

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Reasonable transit pitch: fill some connectivity gaps in the bus network.
  • Extend the 91 to Kenmore via Brookline/Pearl and Comm Ave (with 20 minute or better headways) Getting across the Charles from anywhere west of downtown currently sucks - the 1, 47, CT2, and 66 are all overcrowded and unreliable. This would provide a more reliable crosstown connection between the Green and Red lines, and vastly improve Cambridgeport's transit access. (You could probably get the needed buses just by unfucking the Memorial Drive rotary.)
  • A new route from Watertown to Kenmore via Arsenal, North Beacon, and Comm Ave. Gives East Watertown and the Boston Landing area access to the Green Line (and thus Back Bay), and increases service on the inner section of the 57.
  • Move the 66 to North Beacon, Everett, and Western. Unfucks that section of the 66, and gives Boston Landing station some crosstown connections.
  • Replace the Barry's-Union segment with a new route out of Harvard. I've shown it going to Kenmore (essentially a bus version of F-Line's Harvard branch), but it could just as easily follow Cambridge to Brighton Center or Harvard to Brookline Village.
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F-Line to Dudley

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1) I don't think you're extending the 91 across BU Bridge until there's some meaty effort at controlling the rotary weaving chaos where 2 lanes become ∞ unstriped make-believe-lanes and traffic locks because some idiot managed to get themselves stuck inserting at a totally perpendicular angle to oncoming traffic. I've looked across from the crosswalk sadly at too many 47's getting marooned in the middle like a drowning bug. Fire DCR's parkway control into the sun if they can't be arsed to do a way better controlled-striping job than that. Jesus...the Waverly St. intersection in eyeshot has such extremely effective concrete rumble-stripping to make everyone duly obey the turn lane markings. Does it dawn on no one whatsoever that the rotary could use some of that visual and tactile enforcement in the worst possible way???

2) This needs to be the impetus to stop punt-punt-punting the reconfig of BU Bridge/Comm Ave. into a single-point intersection freed from the distended Carlton St. clusterfuck. The U Rd. vs. BU Bridge vs. Comm Ave. WB weaving and mid-intersection/mid- B tracks backups kill bus schedules dead. Mountfort WB needs to carry 2 thru lanes, and there needs to be protected-lefts on all sides with ONE unified signal. The only infrastructure work required is widening the NW & SE corner 'platforms' slightly over the Pike...which isn't a load-bearing mod to the bridge. C'mon, MassHighway...stop dicking around on all this "we'll revisit it later" that never comes. This isn't a budget-buster at all. You can pretty much pay for it on an installment plan of 5 years' worth of de-hosed 47 schedules.
 

Balerion

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I apologize if there's discussion of this buried somewhere in the thread, but given the size and scope of the Forest Hills hub, shouldn't there be some sort of direct bus connection to Kenmore or at least somewhere in the vicinity of the BU Bridge? If you want to access most of the Green Line from FH, you have to take Orange to Haymarket (which is silly), walk from Back Bay to Copley (which screws people without monthly passes on the transfer), take the 39 to Copley/Hynes (painful at rush hour), take the 51 (which is infrequent and parks you way out of the way at Reservoir), or take the 39 and walk to the 60/65 at Brookline Village (which for most people would mean three buses before you even hit the GL).
 

Riverside

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I like the look of The EGE's proposals. I'm not sure they are rolling stock-neutral -- more buses would probably be needed -- but still, they seem worth advocating for, especially the Watertown-Kenmore and modifications to the 66 etc.

Stacking all of those routes on Commonwealth makes me think about putting bus lanes in. But it seems silly to add bus lanes when you already have the reservation. Would it be that deleterious to B Line service to pave the reservation and run combined LRT and BRT service? (Let's assume that the buses consolidate their stops and only stop at proper B Line stations.)

@Balerion That sounds like a good idea. An obvious route would be to follow the route of the 39 from Forest Hills, turn left at the Riverway stop, and then follow the 60/65 up Brookline Ave. Could be a nice way to double frequencies on the 39 south of Heath Street, where you don't have the E Line to bolster it. But, although this new route might relieve some crowding on the 39 -- siphoning off LMA commuters who would be willing to access Longwood from the west rather than the east -- it's still going to encounter many of the same challenges as the 39 due to congestion on South, Centre and S Huntington. Absent bus lanes, I think you're always going to run into problems.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I like the look of The EGE's proposals. I'm not sure they are rolling stock-neutral -- more buses would probably be needed -- but still, they seem worth advocating for, especially the Watertown-Kenmore and modifications to the 66 etc.

Stacking all of those routes on Commonwealth makes me think about putting bus lanes in. But it seems silly to add bus lanes when you already have the reservation. Would it be that deleterious to B Line service to pave the reservation and run combined LRT and BRT service? (Let's assume that the buses consolidate their stops and only stop at proper B Line stations.)

@Balerion That sounds like a good idea. An obvious route would be to follow the route of the 39 from Forest Hills, turn left at the Riverway stop, and then follow the 60/65 up Brookline Ave. Could be a nice way to double frequencies on the 39 south of Heath Street, where you don't have the E Line to bolster it. But, although this new route might relieve some crowding on the 39 -- siphoning off LMA commuters who would be willing to access Longwood from the west rather than the east -- it's still going to encounter many of the same challenges as the 39 due to congestion on South, Centre and S Huntington. Absent bus lanes, I think you're always going to run into problems.
B reservation isn't quite wide enough for running buses. You'd have to rebuild it on-footprint to eat the shrub barrier that was put in when Comm Ave. was lane-dieted to get the extra width that wouldn't totally clobber the already-clobbered B from the sluggishness. Feasible, but a lot of construction do-over for not a ton of gain. Right now today the only bus the goes up there is the 57, so there just isn't a payoff without exponential expansion. Frankly, too much more hay can be made for the punctuality of any-vehicle on Comm Ave. by MassHighway simply fixing the Mountfort/Carlton dumpster fire with a self-contained BU Bridge intersection that trims the light cycles. And second, I'd rather debate buses on the reservation after we've first removed the tracks east of BU Bridge for the Urban Ring subway extension and have an entire reservation to reassign to new uses.
 

anthtucker312

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If the previously proposed commuter rail extension to Northborough/290 was to be constructed, how much double tracking on the Fitchburg Secondary would be required to operate the line at RUR service levels?
 

Tallguy

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If you only did it to 495, you would need one passer from near Bose east for 30min frequencies
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If the previously proposed commuter rail extension to Northborough/290 was to be constructed, how much double tracking on the Fitchburg Secondary would be required to operate the line at RUR service levels?
The 2002 MPO study for Northborough can directly answer that one, since the infrastructure requirements for conventional peak/off-peak service would've been detailed in there. Frustratingly, however, that study has never been archived anywhere on the Internet even though Boston MPO has plentiful PDF's of much older studies of theirs online. You'd have to wait till the world reopens to make an in-person trip to the State Transportation Library to find out definitively, but I'm sure it's in there. Probably single with a few passing sidings. Step it up from there between their strict peak/off-peak frequencies separation from the '02 study and today's RUR service flavoring and you'd be lengthening some of those passing sidings but probably not adding more. It would not by any means need to be a fully- or mostly- DT line even at :30 frequencies given the lack of other traffic and generously spaced station stops.

Fitchburg Secondary was full double-track at one point, so no feasibility concern over the ROW property lines anywhere. DT + full signalization from Framingham wye to Framingham Center lasted until 1982 when the Conrail-Boston & Maine interchange in Lowell closed and the first 2 (out of 5) chunks of the Framingham & Lowell line were abandoned (North Acton-Billerica and South Sudbury-West Concord). Prior to that there was a daily Readville-Lowell round trip on Conrail that ran nearly 100 cars long. After the F&L branched off the Fitchburg Sec. was also way busier with purely local business than it is now till the 1990 recession started to thin the herd. You can see from the dizzying number of freight sidings in mostly-disuse through all the industrial parks en route. Though it's pretty sadly maintained CSX will never ever let it go abandoned because of the potential of competitive intrusion from Clinton Jct. setting up lucrative I-290/I-495/Pike transload facilities at the industrial parks. Pan Am or Providence & Worcester (via PAR trackage rights) would grab that in a heartbeat, so CSX is in it as least as far as Clinton/Sterling for the long haul. And Leominster, whose local business was looking very sickly up to a year ago, now has a new customer signee that opened back in March spotting 10 cars per trip...so the dailies out of Framingham are running longer than they were even pre-COVID.


Other than a lot of track-mile-rate cost tied up in replacing horrible physical plant with renewed physical plant, the only big-ticket expense for commuter service on this line is grade-separating Route 9 in Framingham Center (yes, the daily CSX crosses that terrorscape twice each trip). Elevating tracks over road also requires whacking the Salem End Rd. crossing just south, doing the last of the incline-down to the north on a curve, and placing the would-be Framingham State U. stop on an embankment...because obviously there's no way in hell regular commuter trains are going to cross 9 without saying a rosary first. But that's not megabucks so much as dirt-messy.
 

WormtownNative

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To expand off of the Fitchburg Secondary discussion, would a theoretical +1 to Clinton be worth it? Not much between 290 and downtown Clinton, and it would be a bit of a reach between stops, but downtown Clinton could have a decent catchment.
 

George_Apley

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Whether or not Clinton makes sense for MBCR, I'd love it those Wachusett towns and MetroWest towns within the 290 Northboro/495 Marlboro/495 Littleton triangle had express bus service from their centers to the nearest highway adjacent train station. Clinton, Hudson, West Boylston...
 

F-Line to Dudley

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To expand off of the Fitchburg Secondary discussion, would a theoretical +1 to Clinton be worth it? Not much between 290 and downtown Clinton, and it would be a bit of a reach between stops, but downtown Clinton could have a decent catchment.
Maybe...it would be worth a look-see on the second study go-around. Worst comes to worst you draw the line at Phase I at Northborough and Clinton is forever available for a later expansion because as described CSX has protectionism reasons for never giving up Clinton Jct. Clinton is a legit 'tweener...moderately dense downtown and outside of any of the nearby RTA bus districts. The mode share would probably be pretty high relative to its size if you extended there. The main concern is simply travel times. Northborough you can safely tuck to under an hour from Boston despite the twistiness of the Fitchburg Sec.; just skip Allston & Newton on the Worcester Line and start picking up local stops outside 128. Clinton and a presumed West Berlin spacer are an added 7.5 miles of more of the same corkscrewing, so I don't know if that starts approaching a mildly taxing schedule length or not (sort of akin to how the Milford extension of the Franklin Line starts to get a little dodgy on the stopwatch even if the ridership is there).

Further future when Worcester becomes a reverse-commute destination unto itself, Clinton Jct. is a useful routing for turning southbound on the PAR Worcester Main to Worcester Union Station. Stops at Oakdale (I-190/MA 12), Burncoat (north end of Worcester by West Boylston town line, also at 190/12), Greendale (190/290 split), Worcester Union Station: western Gardner Branch platform. Now this would be way too long a service pattern to run direct to Boston, but you could instead filet it so the Boston directs terminate at Northborough and a shuttle service pings between Framingham and Worcester Union to backfill frequencies for the northward sweep. Worcester Line frequencies will need to be maxed out enough to make the hop-across transfers at both termini dead-easy to stage at clock-facing intervals. But I could see that as a very viable final configuration for this line that hybridizes it between Boston commutes and Worcester commutes without overextending itself to its own demerit for either audience, and also one of the extremely few instances in MA where a shuttle service can carve out a viable niche without selling itself short. This corridor is overall a very underrated one for growth and flexibility.

So the 'vision thing' long-term for the Fitchburg Sec. is definitely centered on making use of the bend-back to Worcester once reverse-commuting reaches critical mass. And because there will always be that compelling second act to shoot for, plus the CSX protectionism to Clinton Jct., you aren't selling yourself short at all if a Phase I terminates at Northborough. Someday you will have compelling enough reason to go to Clinton even if that cresting has not arrived by the time you want to implant Boston-centric Phase I.
 

Wash

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The next (and every future) MBTA bus order should have left-hand doors. There's already a route that could make use of them but can't right now (cough-77, and that's a legit ADA issue), and with Everett already saying they want center-running BRT we'll be able to use them the minute they hit the pavement. It also opens up dozens of possibilities for future routings.
 
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Wash

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Also if we're talking about EMU cars, the MBTA could totally snag the ones Montreal is throwing out right about now (they're converting a heavy-rail line to light rail/light metro).

EDIT: Never mind, apparently they only have a maximum design speed of 75 mph. Yikes.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Also if we're talking about EMU cars, the MBTA could totally snag the ones Montreal is throwing out right about now (they're converting a heavy-rail line to light rail/light metro).

EDIT: Never mind, apparently they only have a maximum design speed of 75 mph. Yikes.
Worse than that. 75 is the design speed for the Bombardier MR-90, but the service speed they're maintained to is a pathetic 68 MPH (much like SEPTA Silverliner V's are 100 MPH factory, 90 MPH operated and Acela 1's are 170 MPH factory, actual-150/paper-165 in the field). You can run Fairmount or Riverside Urban Rail on that speed because they accelerate real nice and top speedometer rating doesn't matter much for intra-128 schedules with very dense stop spacing. But Amtrak dispatch will literally ban them outright from the Providence Line for being everyone's worst toilet clog, so for purposes of the T's initial electrification rollout the inability to run them as any sort of pool fleet is an instant deal-breaker. The MR-90's are physically incapable of running a 73-minute all-stops local PVD schedule like the incumbent 79 MPH diesel sets all can; they'd have to be padded out to at least 80 minutes, which ends up outright cutting daily service levels. Over those 44 NEC running miles there's enough unbroken 79 MPH cruising between the outer stops that MR-90's superior starting acceleration isn't anywhere near enough to pull it out of its top-speed deficit. This is a problem even if it's a disaster commute of delay recovery from a FUBAR'ed Terminal District and a Fairmount-assigned MR-90 has to get emergency-summoned from Readville Layover to spot-plug a PVD slot that's missing its regular equipment. Instantaneously you're 10+ minutes late running the round-trip and overtly worsening the southside's delay FUBAR where literally any spare diesel scrambled into the same slot is baseline-capable of 100% schedule adherence or ramping up via dispatch assistance to gradually recover lost time. So even a de jure separation of MR-90's to only the 128 runs doesn't work well enough in-practice to bite on, because Terminal FUBAR's are regularly recurring enough that Run As Directed NEC pool duty out of Readville is an unfortunate fact of life.

Plus the HSP-46 diesel locos and all Rotem + rebuilt Kawasaki bi-level coaches are default-rated for 93 MPH design speed (90 MPH practicing), unlike the 79 MPH-capped single-levels and F40PH/GP40MC locos where if one single 79 MPH make is mixed into an otherwise all-uniform 90 MPH set the whole lash-up defaults down to 79. Right now the equipment reserves just aren't robust enough to draw up a PVD schedule predicated on all- 90 MPH equipment where no 79 MPH buzzkills are forced to take up rotations, but given the +80 Rotem bi-levels on-order for 2022, coach assignment gerrymandering to all- 90 MPH equipment for Providence is probably well in the cards within 3 years. In which case they'd just need to pick up a few bargain-basement shortie rentals of surplus Amtrak Genesis P42 beaters to safeguard the reserves from slower F40's being slipped into spot rotation. Then the whole daily PVD schedule can be uprated for a 90 MPH baseline before the new-buy EMU's arrive on-property, cramming a few more outright slots onto the daily schedule. The flip to EMU's filling out the schedule then keeps the same top-line speed but slashes the margins for station dwell variance to account for the superior acceleration (i.e. why level-boarding upgrades are an ironclad requirement even with EMU's having rote standard low-level door traps). So that sequence of schedule re-drafts starting potentially sooner than EMU delivery also zeoes-out any potential for gimp-speed rentals like the MR-90's right up front.

Note also: the 90 MPH diesels will always have to cover some share of co-NEC schedules no matter how whole-hog we go on EMU's. RIDOT Woonsocket commuter rail is perma-diesel because of the double-stack freight clearances on the P&W main. But that relatively cut-rate service's greatest ridership share is the double-up it offers on the '295 midsection' NEC between Pawtucket-Wickford. The 90 MPH P-P sets can coexist just spiffy with Amtrak & the Purple EMU's on those runs; they simply trade running up against lower margins on their NEC station dwells for relaxed margins with built-in recovery on their station-few P&W miles. More temporarily, Stoughton isn't going to be electrified until South Coast Phase II has some sort of final plan because substation placement is contingent on whether the end of the line is ever extending. And RIDOT has to pass the penny jar to fundraise for T.F. Green & Wickford wire-up, so the super-long schedules will have to malinger on diesel for 2-5 extra years while they build matching NB platforms at each stop and do the wiring touches. Service levels are going to remain naturally crap at those stops as long as they're single-platform, so the 90 MPH P-P sets have no trouble doing that on the same gapped-out schedules as today. However, the 79 MPH sets are still a problem because if they have *any* chance of taking up these rotations the whole schedule gets leveled down to their lowest-common denominator. And that's where the slow stuff needs to get NEC shadow-banned and where the T can find some attractiveness in wholly-gravy Amtrak-dispersal beaters above the *absolute* level of loco reserves. But...also means the slow electric stuff like Montreal's good-condition orphans also can't be an option any way/shape/form at all, not even on short-term plug.
 

Wash

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Is trolley-stituting route 77 a crazy transit pitch, or a reasonable one?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is trolley-stituting route 77 a crazy transit pitch, or a reasonable one?
Crazy, but only because it's sort of a mis-read of what the corridor is. Upper Mass Ave. is characterized by hyper-local on-line ridership on the 77, 77A, 79 that significantly overturns at several points en route...and is generally not a one-seat corridor where people are riding for long distances. The overturn at Porter, for instance, is so enormous that you can almost cleave the Harvard-Porter and North Cambridge intracity halves off each other as unique catchments so few people ride thru the Porter divide. Similar effect with intra-Arlington travel cleaving at the city line with the 79 running into Alewife. So right then and there the corridor already eschews any BRT service identity (and thus all the same things you'd evaluate LRT on), as you would not be looking to prune stops for a faster end-to-end trip when end-to-end is such an inconclusively middling piece of the demand pie and hyper-local is where it's at. The dense stop spacing is a feature, not a bug. Thus, the everlasting needs of the corridor trend heavily to more/better relief valve bailouts at those 1.5-2 mile intervals so the increases in hyper-local demand have more substantial means of dumping their transfers. For example:
  • Alewife-Mass Ave. busways to speed the 79's last leg.
  • Possible extension of 77A to Alewife busways to mirror-image the intra-Arlington 79 for intra-Cambridge trips.
  • post-GLX bus revamp strengthening Arlington Center-Mystic Valley Parkway pipe (enhanced 80 frequencies + etc.)
  • post-GLX Route 16 BRT Alewife-Mystic Valley Parkway-Wellington-(possibly) Chelsea, creating major 77 transfer point at the parkway stop.
  • GLX Union to Porter superstation.
  • Fitchburg Line Urban Rail to 128 @ Porter superstation.
  • Red Line to Arlington Center & Arlington Heights.
Some of those are short-term like the Alewife busways and studies of post-GLX diverging bus revamps. Some of them are longer-term, like the proper Red extension. And some are medium-term, like GLX-Porter. But you get the idea. The most meaningful reaches addressing the Upper Mass Ave. corridor are all at the overchurn nodes, and with every additional strengthened touch accomplished there's always a next priority to turn to at strengthening another overchurn node. BRT (or LRT) on Mass Ave. itself never rates on this bucket list, because the dense stop spacing is the ever-differentiator between taking these buses vs. all the other modes & routes that hop straight to the overchurn points. The only schedule that matters for the on-corridor buses is keeping it reasonably efficient within every 2-mile hyper-local chunk to the next relief valve...not timing on-the-clock from Arlington Heights all the way to Harvard. Too few ever utilize it like that for BRT speedup features to rate. When the first change in BRT-ification is stop consolidation, it's already at odds with how people ride the constituent routes and begs the question of whether force-feeding those features because "sounds efficient" is in fact a mis-read of the corridor's vitals.

On-corridor the only big thing left improvements-wise is North Cambridge streetscaping. City has a lot of nice renders on what a transit- and biking- friendlier Harvard-Alewife Mass Ave. should look like. Right now it's stuck in vaporware purgatory without much in the way of kickstarter push, as they're content to study it about once per decade but never take any action. The renders themselves seem to be well thought-out, however. Seeks a net reduction in the truly excessive number of side-street traffic lights north of Porter and better turn-lane configurations across the board so the number of curb cuts isn't such a traffic clog. Simply moving forward with that and implementing transit priority signaling is pretty much all they need to do to tighten the bolts on the 77/77A. Arlington's re-streetscaping is long complete, and is a major improvement to 77/79 fluidity, so if Cambridge achieves similar the local conditions become about as good as they're going to get.

Most consequential state/not-municipal touch that could get cued up quickest would be finally--at long fucking last--building those Alewife-Mass Ave. busways. It's not a big-ticket item by any stretch, so long past time to stop talking about it and actually grade the grass on the sides of the parkway for this. It would be the perfect companion piece to funding-lump with GLX Mystic Valley Parkway, since spanning Alewife-MVP-Wellington with a BRT 'outer ring' Crosstown route is a mucho high-leverage touch implementable cheaply. Would also tag-team the Arlington-side improvements by substantially speeding the 79's rapid transit transfer at same time that the post-GLX bus revamp is strengthening the 80's Arlington Ctr.-GLX transfer pipe. Start right there, and sell it on the very strong GLX coattails for leveraging Mystic Valley Parkway. Sell job is important, because all the advocacy to-date has been about what a clusterfuck the current Alewife station access is with that carpocalypse rotary...and all that's netted in action to-date is ineffectual garbage like the most recent "Brownsberger Square" cosmetic re-striping of the rotary. Pols like the (unofficial) State Senate namesake/effigy of the last round of unimproved "improvements" still don't fucking get it and never fail to succumb to Alrewife car-centric zoning brainlock in the end, so the pivot to selling the busways on GLX (which by and large even the dumbest amongst them do seem to grasp at a basic-most level) is also explicit for shaking the cobwebs loose by changing the prevailing narrative. I've totally given up on Alewife-centric improvements ever originating from within Alewife itself; the local planning attitudes there are just hopeless, hopeless, hopeless. So literally can't hurt to try to turn the tables outside-in fashion by bootstrapping onto the GLX rejuvenation machine to try to get some overdue action here.
 
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Stlin

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To continue on the above, Would it ever make sense to *trolleybus* the 77 and 79? For example, since the North Cambridge Carhouse is so undersized, and in such a prime redev location, I assume it'll shut eventually. If they were to move it up to one of the larger commerical sites in Arlington that are just off Mass ave, it would seem to make sense to electrify at least the full 77, instead of just the short turn in/out 77a 71/73, even if the 79 jog to alewife doesn't get it. I can't really see where else they could put a new facility unless they want to electrify Concord Ave or Rindge to get it in that industrial wasteland off Concord. I can't imagine Cambridge and Harvard ever being OK with going diesel even if it's hybrid, so unless they go battery, the Harvard centered TT I expect to stay?
 
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Arlington

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To continue on the above, Would it ever make sense to *trolleybus* the 77 and 79?
I think F-Line's priority busway from Mass@MVP and into Alewife T is the better use of capital dollars, since it would finally mean
  • Cambridgepark would gain a serious transit option from both Arlington (79) and Cambridge (77A)
  • Arlingtonians going to the Red Line would be able to use the 77 (via Porter) interchangeably with the 79 (via Alewife)
  • Less idling in traffic
I don't see the Town of Arlington buying into wiring its stretch of Mass Ave
  • NIMBYs hyped about "ugly wires"
  • Lack of environmental benefit compared to modern CNG (on the 79, anyway) and probably little gain vs Diesel-Electric hybrids
  • Rather spend the capital dollars on the busway that F-Line touched on
 

F-Line to Dudley

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See...the thing is battery buses will *eventually* get good enough that trolleybuses will have an end date. It's just--despite statements to the contrary--not yet good enough that they can afford to take down the wires now/soon. When all is said/done and properly analyzed, the most sensible solution is another 25-year reinvestment in the TT fleet and the routes that need overhead replacement (73 & 72 recently redone, 77A & 71 probably in need of something). Where that leaves room for expansion of the network for that next 25-year term is where it genuinely is going to lower costs over the duration of that 25-year term. Namely:
  • 71 extension to Newton Corner to meet up with an Urban Rail train transfer, because Galen St. already has the live and recently refurbbed ex- A Line electrical feed under the street acting as a 600V DC interconnect between the TT network and Green Line. Cost there is literally just the cost of new poles, hangers, and spools of wire for plugging back in...a few hundred grand. That in turn can follow a corridor plan for giving the 71 better BRT features, transit priority, etc. And traffic on Galen itself can be significantly defanged for bus featuring by adding an inexpensive new Pike WB exit/entrance at the Birmingham Pkwy. rotary to redirect Watertown Sq. traffic to/from underutilized Nonantum Rd. instead of slamming Newton Corner. This would shotgun with reanimation of Watertown Garage as the primary TT heavy-repair facility, following through on its T-studied reanimation as a west-region diesel expansion garage shifting resources around for CBD service increases and clearing storage capacity at the downtown garages for the first-wave battery buses (and the larger overall fleets required for charging downtime).

  • 77A extension to Alewife via Alewife-Mass Ave. busways. Requires about 1 mile's worth of new overhead, but by spanning Porter & Alewife DC substations with that construction the power draw is completely location-neutral. Small Red-fed power boost will handle it, and if the Green Line eventually comes into Porter with another interconnect the whole North Cambridge 600V grid gets strengthened. This service-mirrors the 79 from the Cambridge side, which is badly needed for hyper-local travelers. And it allows outright closure of North Cambridge Garage. If Watertown absorbs all the heavy repair, then all you need is to have a set-aside TT parking row inside the Alewife Station busway and 1 layup berth with inspection pit and stocked toolbox for spot repairs that can't wait for an escort to Watertown. Space for all that is easily available on the ground-level of Alewife, so that's 70K sq. ft. at Trolley Square the T can sell off for more private development.

^Those^ will amortize themselves more or less instantaneously. What you don't want to do, since at >25 year levels we can't predict if TT wires need to be there at all, is string up anything that's going to require new DC substations. That's what rules out the full 77 or other new routes.

One of the subtle shifts battery buses bring is that in-transit charging opportunities greatly lengthen the new tech's roaming range vs. "traditional" ops where X duty cycles need to get crammed in before back-to-home-base for refueling/recharging downtime. That's where BEB's are still a bit dodgy today, especially in a climate like ours where HVAC demands go extreme in both summer and winter. You'd need so many more spares to run the base route network because the % down at any given moment for recharging is so much greater than diesel-hybrid downtime that we are going to be extremely challenged for awhile in facilities space. Making a slow-walk adoption invevitable strictly on capacity, and in practicality leaving the BEB rollout partial-only until the generation-after-next's fleet's uptime catches up. This is the main reason we're going to have to commit to another 25-year cycle of TT's; the BEB rollout is going to be complicated enough all other places on the Yellow Line that in no way/shape/form do we EVER want to throw out "it just works" electric infrastructure too soon on a hunch. The TT's are proven, and the vehicles themselves last twice as long as a regular bus procurement...accentuate it in ^targeted fashion^ over the next 25 years to set up something better. Don't throw it away now when there isn't a safety net.

The "setting up something better" comes via what's discussed in this intriguing article about BEB's. The economics re: charging downtime are a lot different if the transit system going to battery buses can install a lot of field charging plates along routes for in-transit quick charges. That greatly extends the roaming range and total duty cycles per charge on a BEB before it has to go outright offline for a full slow charge, and inoculates somewhat the 'climate' tax on the charge if more charging plates are strategically deployed across the network. This was the big mistake early adopters forgot about when they plotted their BEB ranges out of "traditional" duty cycles vs. garage stopover and found the new tech sorely lacking. Done right with a lot more field quick charges you can take the edge off the worst downsides...and then successive BEB generations rapidly catch up. However, it requires a whole new/different/alien kind of transit planning. For example, quick charges could be easy to deploy on SL1/SL3 because one stops on all-Massport property and the other is on a dedicated busway. It's a very different situation when you get to shared jurisdictions like city streets, where it's same political arm-wrestling as with local bus lanes and transit priority...only more complicated than those because the infrastructure itself is more complicated and has to involve a utility company third-wheel for the hi-tech high-voltage electronics and insulation from other utilities. As much progress as we've made on bus lanes lately, MA town-control gov't is still a complicated beast so you can see where this pins the T even more into a slow-walk rollout that's limited initially to the more self-contained route infrastructures.

Now what's a nicely self-contained route infrastructure with ready-made capability for in-transit charging??? Hmm...you know, Alewife Brook Parkway to Arlington Heights solely on a battery looks like a fan-fucking-tastic place to seed a BEB route if we could buy a modular first fleet that could be equipped with either/or trolley pole charging or wireless induction plate charging. You will never ever have to take a 77 out of rotation for slow-recharging at the garage if everything from Harvard to the parkway is on-wire. Maybe you get electrics to Arlington Heights all the same without needing to consider more wire. And maybe you convert the 74, 75, 78 to pole-charge BEB too since they'll have continuous on-wire charging the whole way inbound of Concord @ Huron or Huron @ Aberdeen. Maybe the 57 can make a go of it too if the 71 wire goes as far as Newton Corner. And so on. The way it's actually looking, another 25 years of TT reinvestment...with laser-like focus...can be exactly the leverage we need for cutting some up-front time off our BEB adoption by providing the biggest share of in-transit charging infrastructure starts. So you can also look at the future of the network that way...as the easiest down payment on in-transit charging money can buy while BEB range catches up, because the induction plates buried in bus lanes on town control streets are going to take longer to get negotiated and installed district town by district town.
 

jbray

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  • Alewife-Mass Ave. busways to speed the 79's last leg.
  • Possible extension of 77A to Alewife busways to mirror-image the intra-Arlington 79 for intra-Cambridge trips.
  • post-GLX bus revamp strengthening Arlington Center-Mystic Valley Parkway pipe (enhanced 80 frequencies + etc.)
  • post-GLX Route 16 BRT Alewife-Mystic Valley Parkway-Wellington-(possibly) Chelsea, creating major 77 transfer point at the parkway stop.
  • GLX Union to Porter superstation.
  • Fitchburg Line Urban Rail to 128 @ Porter superstation.
  • Red Line to Arlington Center & Arlington Heights.
Would an extended 96 to Malden center compliment this? It never made sense to me why the 101 and 96 didn't cover the same space through Medford center to Malden center (via Salem and Pleasant). The 101 is nearly the only bus serving Malden Center from the west (the 108 goes a few blocks, then heads south), this would expand capacity on the corridor, and it would create an Orange, Green, Red connection in the reverse of your proposed BRT line on route 16 (Orange line north, then green, then red south). Maybe I'm off base here.
 

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