Regional Rail (RUR) & North-South Rail Link (NSRL)

DBM

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Is anyone STILL confused by this??? Speak up now, please.
I was certainly never confused--but Shmessy was right, I didn't frame the proposition very well--which is better for Massachusetts: BLX or NSRL?

If all it comes down to is $ invested in the project (including inflation-adjusting on the bonds 30 years out when they're theoretically retired blah blah blah) vs. a reasonable projection for increase in state GDP generated by the enhanced infrastructure/connectivity, jobs generated, multiplier effect/increased velocity of money, then perhaps it is a simple question.

And, how do you know it's a question that will never be asked by anyone, ever? I just did, after all. Resources are limited, decisions must be made, priorities must be established, then rationalized, justified. If one gets built but not the other, then, it seems to me the question will have been asked--and answered.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I was certainly never confused--but Shmessy was right, I didn't frame the proposition very well--which is better for Massachusetts: BLX or NSRL?
Again...two projects about as similar as apples and pork sirloin being mashed by incredible feats of arbitrariness into a binary question. There is no fruitful inquiry here. The mental gymnastics required to make an either/or question out of that are full-on invented make-believe. Maybe if you're really bored there's a daydream make-believe discussion to have there...but what problem actually gets a posited solve wasting time hashing that out? It's not real. It's game night playing round of "Would You Rather?"

Now please re-read the previous post where I describe--once again--what's wrong with the puzzle pieces fitting in Lynn Terminal's transpo portfolio, the only conditions that fix it, and what the stakes are. RUR-via-NSRL has one hand tied behind its back for North Shore commutes if you don't build BLX. The frequencies aren't high enough and transfers aren't convenient enough solely via that mode to trim the bus re-route waste and reinvest the savings in last-mile frequencies (the BIGGEST source of potential RUR ridership growth across the North Shore). And the incredible overload swells hitting South Station for the Red Line transfer greatly destabilize the CBD if you don't have a complete augmenting Lynn-Charles/MGH Blue corridor diverting the loads. There's no either/or...and not even a half-assed RUR+NSRL-only approximate that mathematically addresses enough of the bus hackery to heal that wound. The threshold for the fix is so very specific and measurable, it doesn't leave loads to the imagination on hand-waving at anti-specific substitutes or binary-choice diversion games. There's a nail that has to be driven head-on >>RIGHT HERE<< for hitting the threshold for the bus perma-fix, or North Shore doesn't have a load-bearing wall to support its transit shares. So...of course, let's get lost in a talk about paint swatches and matching curtains for the finished room instead of measuring up what nail size to drive and getting our matching hammer.

Every attempt to keep pounding at these wholly fake/arbitrary binary-choice daydreams has to reckon with ^those^ facts...that only implanting rapid-transit level service and transferrability solves the bus terminal breakage enough to trim the bus waste and reinvest it as functional doubling of last-mile frequencies. Anything even 10% shy of that target functionally accomplishes 0% of the goal, because it won't be enough improvement to terminate/recirculate the buses at Lynn Terminal sans all the service-punitive routing waste.

This is screamingly obvious...and yet every "Yeah, but..." offered up just buries its head in the sand with ever more fantastic arbitrariness in pants-shitting terror of looking those terms of a perma-fix in the face and making an honest attempt to address them. Why is that? The issues--the breakage and the threshold for a fix--are so goddamn specific here they aren't dekeable. So I find it very hard to take seriously these invented counterarguments when they are based 100% on deking those specifics. As tall an order as true non-BLX alternatives would be, it is still possible to come up with a testable-theory project alternative, which would indeed be a pretty fascinating discussion to real-world hash out.

"All Massholes are crammed into one restaurant with a menu of only 2 items: apples and pork sirloin. Which do they eat?"...is not one of those discussions. It's a make-believe time-waster that isn't even asking a question in the general direction of the specific problem here.

If all it comes down to is $ invested in the project (including inflation-adjusting on the bonds 30 years out when they're theoretically retired blah blah blah) vs. a reasonable projection for increase in state GDP generated by the enhanced infrastructure/connectivity, jobs generated, multiplier effect/increased velocity of money, then perhaps it is a simple question.
No...it doesn't come down to $ invested in project. That's all based on a make-believe assumption that the projects are remotely comparable in what they do, and/or magically interchangeable at addressing the extremely specific transportation problem holding Lynn Terminal + greater North Shore transit shares back. This is another example of begging every question EXCEPT the one that's at-stake.

And, how do you know it's a question that will never be asked by anyone, ever? I just did, after all. Resources are limited, decisions must be made, priorities must be established, then rationalized, justified. If one gets built but not the other, then, it seems to me the question will have been asked--and answered.
As explained all above...no, you didn't. You threw out still a few more arbitrary binary-alt choices that aren't anchored to any reality grounded in the actual mobility problem that's here to solve, just posed some brain-teasers about as far-removed as possible from how a reality-based inquiry would approach an ID'd problem and scoring of solution Alternatives. That's the stuff of idle time-wasters, not furthering discussion of relevant solves to a real-world problem. If it makes no attempt at reference, much less addressing, the conditions that shape the problem...it's not even talking in the general direction of a solution.


If the prevailing sentiment is "big problems needing big solves are hard to muster, and I don't wanna think about that so let's have an escapist 'Hot Or Not' contest to amuse ourselves"...fine, whatever floats people's boats. But stop spinning with a straight face that that's the one and the same with an issues discussion. If it won't so much as feign eye-contact with the issues at hand that are so clearly and specifically spelled out, it's not an issues discussion and isn't going to fake that smell test.
 
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Charlie_mta

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BLX is a fraction of the cost of NSRL and a lot easier to build. I'd say build BLX first, simply because it is more doable and the much smaller cost is easier to fund. Also the economic and environmental justice for Lynn afforded by the BLX would be huge. Bigger bang for the buck all around than NSRL.
 

shmessy

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Again...two projects about as similar as apples and pork sirloin being mashed by incredible feats of arbitrariness into a binary question. There is no fruitful inquiry here. The mental gymnastics required to make an either/or question out of that are full-on invented make-believe. Maybe if you're really bored there's a daydream make-believe discussion to have there...but what problem actually gets a posited solve wasting time hashing that out? It's not real. It's game night playing round of "Would You Rather?"

Now please re-read the previous post where I describe--once again--what's wrong with the puzzle pieces fitting in Lynn Terminal's transpo portfolio, the only conditions that fix it, and what the stakes are. RUR-via-NSRL has one hand tied behind its back for North Shore commutes if you don't build BLX. The frequencies aren't high enough and transfers aren't convenient enough via that mode to trim the bus re-route waste and reinvest the savings in last-mile frequencies (the BIGGEST source of potential RUR ridership growth across the North Shore). And the incredible overload swells hitting South Station for the Red Line transfer greatly destabilize the CBD if you don't have a complete augmenting Lynn-Charles/MGH Blue corridor diverting the loads. There's no either/or...and not even a half-assed RUR+NSRL-only approximate that mathematically addresses enough of the bus hackery to heal that wound.

Every attempt to keep re-hammering at these wholly fake/arbitrary binary-choice daydreams has to reckon with ^those^ facts...that only implanting rapid-transit level service and transferrability solves the bus terminal breakage enough to trim the bus waste and reinvest it as functional doubling of last-mile frequencies. Anything even 10% shy of that target functionally accomplishes 0% of the goal, because it won't be enough improvement to terminate/recirculate the buses at Lynn Terminal without the waste.

This is screamingly obvious...and yet every "Yeah, but..." just buries its head in the sand with ever more fantastic arbitrariness in pants-shitting terror of looking those terms of a perma-fix in the face and making an honest attempt to address them. Why is that? The issues--the breakage and the threshold for a fix--are so goddamn specific here they aren't dekeable. So I find it very hard to take seriously these invented counterarguments when they are based 100% on deking those specifics. As tall an order as true non-BLX alternatives would be, it is still possible to come up with a testable-theory project alternative, which would indeed be a pretty fascinating discussion to real-world hash out.

"All Massholes are crammed into one restaurant with a menu of only 2 items: apples and pork sirloin. Which do they eat?"...is not one of those discussions. It's a make-believe time-waster that isn't even asking a question in the general direction of the specific problem here.



No...it doesn't come down to $ invested in project. That's all based on a make-believe assumption that the projects are remotely comparable in what they do, and/or magically interchangeable at addressing the extremely specific transportation problem holding Lynn Terminal + greater North Shore transit shares back. This is another example of begging every question EXCEPT the one that's at-stake.



As explained all above...no, you didn't. You threw out still a few more arbitrary binary-alt choices that aren't anchored to any reality grounded in the actual mobility problem that's here to solve, just posed some brain-teasers about as far-removed as possible from how a reality-based inquiry would approach an ID'd problem and scoring of solution Alternatives. That's the stuff of idle time-wasters, not furthering discussion of relevant solves to a real-world problem. If it makes no attempt at reference, much less addressing, the conditions that shape the problem...it's not even talking in the general direction of a solution.


If the prevailing sentiment is "big problems needing big solves are hard to muster, and I don't wanna think about that so let's have an escapist 'Hot Or Not' contest to amuse ourselves"...fine, whatever floats people's boats. But stop spinning with a straight face that that's the one and the same with an issues discussion. If it won't so much as feign eye-contact with the issues at hand that are so clearly and specifically spelled out, it's not an issues discussion and isn't going to fake that smell test.
Calm down. DBM wasn’t saying the two projects were the same or even comparable. They are two different transport options to spend revenue in the Commonwealth. Simple as that. If you think the issue is dumb, save yourself the anger ulcer and the hundreds of words. Life is too short to write novellas about things you don’t want to talk about.
 
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tysmith95

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BLX is a fraction of the cost of NSRL and a lot easier to build. I'd say build BLX first, simply because it is more doable and the much smaller cost is easier to fund. Also the economic and environmental justice for Lynn afforded by the BLX would be huge. Bigger bang for the buck all around than NSRL.
Cheaper yes, but the RUR with rapid transit frequencies will help a much larger area. It would also provide better connections to Salem/Beverly. The whole section from downtown Beverly on in could support rapid transit. Salem, Beverly and Lynn have all been pretty supportive building dense housing near their transit centers during this current boom.

Than with the NSRL, you'd also have better service to other dense inner cities like Belmont and Waltham

Ideally though you'd build both, but in the absence of both RUR is a great option.

Of course F-Line will point out the single track bottleneck with the Salem tunnel.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Easy, Killah. DBM wasn’t saying the two projects were the same or even comparable. They are two different choices to spend revenue in the Commonwealth. If you think the issue is dumb, save yourself the ulcer and the hundreds of words.
Two choices ≠ ¡Binary Choice!

There's a big honking difference ^there^, and one being passed off interchangeably as the other is exactly the kind of deke of the issues at hand that buries one's head in the sand at addressing the very specific stated problem and very specific threshold for fix here. RUR--with or without NSRL--isn't a drop-in substitute for the fix. But if we are going to assume NSRL is a thing, then I already described the "walk and chew gum" necessities for doing both. Summarized:
  1. the CBD-destabilizing slammage of North Shore commuters into Red Line South Station transfer mandating the reliever spine Lynn-Charles...especially for sake/sanity of Kendall & Cambridge
  2. much longer-on-clock subway transfers from the inconveniently deep NSRL stations being an inferior alternative for share of multimodal linked trips that have to hit narrower transfer windows to work (esp. if it involves branches or other buses)
  3. frequencies on one northside main out of many not being HRT-competitive enough to trim the service-punitive Wonderland/Downtown bus hacks by lonesome, given the specificity of the frequency threshold for being able to heal that breakage. RUR is a large-scale improvement, but 4 mainlines having to filet the capacity of one CBD Terminal District means no one of those mainlines can ever physically run within similar magnitudes as a single self-contained HRT main. Tippy-top RUR is mathematically not enough frequency gain to drop the Wonderland/Downtown bus hacks. You need a tandem project to perma-solve.
  4. "project area" for the linchpin of North Shore's transit-share problem being wholly outside the line splits for NSRL's CBD-centered max frequency overlap...and NSRL's "project area" sphere of influence not being strong enough that many miles + line splits out to solely address the service thresholds required to heal the Lynn/North Shore bus frequency breakage

So let's not be daft here. The one and only minimum requirement here is "Does the question posed address the crux of the specific mobility issue here, and how does it fare vs. the service threshold that frees transit shares writ-large from the frequency anemia straightjacket?"

The only thing I find dumb and tedious is that we have eleventy different alternative-universe hottakes being spewed at this every time a thread on this vein gets bumped, and not a one of them makes the faintest attempt at eye contact with the problem-solving terms of engagement. Why so much effort at wild dekes of magical thinking that only serve to invent new ways to talk around a problem? Is it seriously that gauche to take a specific bullet list of conditions as they are and work from where they are? One would think so given the lengths consistently gone to avert eyes, talk around to anything but the core issue, and keep head doggedly implanted in funhouse alternate-universe where arbitrary choiceing is an end to itself.


Please...somebody be the first to "Yeah, but..." a point-blank acknowledgement of #1-4 above. I'm starving for a hottake that attempts to be wholly on-topic.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Cheaper yes, but the RUR with rapid transit frequencies will help a much larger area. It would also provide better connections to Salem/Beverly. The whole section from downtown Beverly on in could support rapid transit. Salem, Beverly and Lynn have all been pretty supportive building dense housing near their transit centers during this current boom.

Than with the NSRL, you'd also have better service to other dense inner cities like Belmont and Waltham

Ideally though you'd build both, but in the absence of both RUR is a great option.

Of course F-Line will point out the single track bottleneck with the Salem tunnel.
Salem Tunnel is not a singular bottleneck. It's too short a single-track segment cleared in too few seconds of time to infringe on next-adjacent bidirectional headway. Rather, Salem Tunnel + Salem mainline platforms (esp. for as long as it remains single not double) + Beverly Swing Bridge collectively form a traffic limiter (hesitate to call it "bottleneck" because that implies added dimension of OTP unreliability rather than a natural traffic ceiling).

To manage you need to bend over for $$$ from the adjacent apartments to build that second mainline platform, and git-'r-dun on the Salem State U. infill south-of-portal so there's a precision timing mechanism between 4 platform berths either side of the tunnel. Then you need to reanimate the Peabody-side turnout because it's inside the tunnel and offers 1 more total jump-ball extra movement amid platform occupancies @ SSU + Salem mainline. That'll net you bona fide tri-branch :30 + :30 + :30 service to the northside's busiest station. And give you a clock-regulating pattern apart from the Rockburyports that have to cross Beverly Swing that can dampen the minor mainline bunching/gaps that bridge openings cause during peak boating season. Work that whole portfolio in tow (with Peabody Sq. itself being optional if the side turnout is just Salem + North St. Yard terminating at first) and you're at idealized traffic control. Cut-and-dried sane/sensible stuff, which is why it was annoying that TransitMatters butchered their implementation manifesto so badly with arbitrary choicing that made a royal mess of these bucket-list options.


The thing with Beverly in particular, but also the larger environment around Salem...is that because of the Lynn Terminal bus cycles anemia there's no bandwidth to implant a independent mini-terminal @ Salem for cranking up last-mile frequencies out here. Right now it's impossible because the Lynn breakage is so acute all Salem/Beverly/Danvers/Peabody buses have to pitch in backfilling Lynn on run-thrus to staunch the bleeding from those 1A Wonderland/Downtown hacks and their worsening congestion. Think how much broader Peabody & Danvers could be tied in with high bus frequencies, as well as the med facilities in Beverly that are close...but vexingly not close enough...to commuter rail. So even this far afield, way out of BLX's service sphere-of-influence, you are still staring at a very specific set of problems/fixes where BLX is the only perma-solve answer. As much as RUR will rake ridership from Day 1 with :15 to Salem/Bev...in real terms it's going to underperform vs. latent demand if you are simply unable to un-fuck the bus cycles enough to reinvest in last-mile frequencies. So enormously much demand is still problematically left on the table by inability to multimodally deliver enough hordes to Salem/Bev in the first place. You won't see 'true' North Shore transit shares until this is fixed, and you can count up what gets left on the table strictly in beyond-buff RUR ridership by not doing this.

This is why the "RUR is 'good enough' replacement for BLX" lazy answer is so reductionist. It consigns RUR on the Eastern to roughly two-thirds or less of its max potential source ridership to not address the bus breakage. Yeah, it'll be good ridership out of box...but you're passing up "bugfuck amazing" ridership not tending to the last-mile problem. Perma-fix for the Wonderland/Downtown siphon checking off all the frequency boxes means equipment rotations that are now 50-60% wasted on the march down 1A inbound of Lynn Terminal get reinvested as 2x the baseline frequencies across the 4xx route network...right off the bat. Amplified by there being enough equipment to implant the semi-breakaway Salem bus hublet apart from Lynn that greatly expands the spider map + frequencies on the northern fringes in Beverly/Danvers/Peabody/Salem.

It's so totally "walk and chew gum at the same time" or the juvenation machine never hits full-stride...not some binary-choice up/down vote between rail projects.
 
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shmessy

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Two choices ≠ ¡Binary Choice!

There's a big honking difference ^there^, and one being passed off interchangeably as the other is exactly the kind of deke of the issues at hand that buries one's head in the sand at addressing the very specific stated problem and very specific threshold for fix here. RUR--with or without NSRL--isn't a drop-in substitute for the fix. But if we are going to assume NSRL is a thing, then I already described the "walk and chew gum" necessities for doing both. Summarized:
  1. the CBD-destabilizing slammage of North Shore commuters into Red Line South Station transfer mandating the reliever spine Lynn-Charles...especially for sake/sanity of Kendall & Cambridge
  2. much longer-on-clock subway transfers from the inconveniently deep NSRL stations being an inferior alternative for share of multimodal linked trips that have to hit narrower transfer windows to work (esp. if it involves branches or other buses)
  3. frequencies on one northside main out of many not being HRT-competitive enough to trim the service-punitive Wonderland/Downtown bus hacks by lonesome, given the specificity of the frequency threshold for being able to heal that breakage. RUR is a large-scale improvement, but 4 mainlines having to filet the capacity of one CBD Terminal District means no one of those mainlines can ever physically run within similar magnitudes as a single self-contained HRT main. Tippy-top RUR is mathematically not enough frequency gain to drop the Wonderland/Downtown bus hacks. You need a tandem project to perma-solve.
  4. "project area" for the linchpin of North Shore's transit-share problem being wholly outside the line splits for NSRL's CBD-centered max frequency overlap...and NSRL's "project area" sphere of influence not being strong enough that many miles + line splits out to solely address the service thresholds required to heal the Lynn/North Shore bus frequency breakage

So let's not be daft here. The one and only minimum requirement here is "Does the question posed address the crux of the specific mobility issue here, and how does it fare vs. the service threshold that frees transit shares writ-large from the frequency anemia straightjacket?"

The only thing I find dumb and tedious is that we have eleventy different alternative-universe hottakes being spewed at this every time a thread on this vein gets bumped, and not a one of them makes the faintest attempt at eye contact with the problem-solving terms of engagement. Why so much effort at wild dekes of magical thinking that only serve to invent new ways to talk around a problem? Is it seriously that gauche to take a specific bullet list of conditions as they are and work from where they are? One would think so given the lengths consistently gone to avert eyes, talk around to anything but the core issue, and keep head doggedly implanted in funhouse alternate-universe where arbitrary choiceing is an end to itself.


Please...somebody be the first to "Yeah, but..." a point-blank acknowledgement of #1-4 above. I'm starving for a hottake that attempts to be wholly on-topic.
Yeeeesh. You obviously didn’t understand the point of my previous post, but I’m out because this is one of those situations where it’s probably best not to make eye contact with the guy yelling at puddles in the street and your next screed might eclipse War and Peace.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Yeesh. This is one of those situations where it’s probably best not to make eye contact with the raving lunatic yelling in the street.
Yep...cheap ad hominems also being another surefire way of never looking a problem-solve in the eye, either. Not exactly a convincing counterpoint to my gripe that there's been a pervasive unwillingness to address the problem-solution topic head-on when this tangent comes up. :rolleyes:
 

Java King

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I have to give the MBTA and Keolis some good credit here! The new November 2nd schedules are a much better attempt at regional rail headways and better overall scheduling. I can't speak for every line, but Greenbush picked up a weekday train going from 11 inbound/outbound to 12 inbound/outbound; and the spacing between trains seems MUCH better without the HUGE almost 3-hour gaps in the previous schedule. I applaud TransitMatters for their continued pressure on the MBTA to make reasonable changes. BRAVO!
 

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Java King

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jklo

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I have to give the MBTA and Keolis some good credit here! The new November 2nd schedules are a much better attempt at regional rail headways and better overall scheduling.
Is that actually better than what it was pre-virus? To me it looks like the MBTA trying to find out if the not-quite-100% schedule was part of the problem with CR ridership.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is that actually better than what it was pre-virus? To me it looks like the MBTA trying to find out if the not-quite-100% schedule was part of the problem with CR ridership.
Old Colony train spacing has been fucked for years, so the Greenbush tweak is a definite improvement-over-baseline. Not sure exactly what changed to allow that now where it hasn't been done before, but that one's a +1 above-and-beyond COVID recovery.

On other lines it's still a mixed bag whether they're back to baseline or not. The much-hyped Worcester revamp seems like treading water, even though H2H has much better-timed departures than before. Northside is predictably still going to lag because of GLX construction and the mad-dash 12/31 FRA deadline to get the Lowell Line fully changed over to new southside-style cab signals.
 

ssresident

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The Middleboro branch added 3 round trips to get off-peak departures down to about every 70-80 minutes, which is much better than the current average of one every 2 hours (Kingston previously had 15 trips until sometime after the tie replacement project).
The new Kingston schedule still gives them 12 trips but all the times have changed, some by as much as 30 minutes.
 

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