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

millerm277

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
315
Reaction score
140
Long ramps are poor for actual accessibility - they require far more physical effort than the equivalent flat distance plus elevator, they have the risk of accidentally rolling a long distance, and slopes are particularly difficult for some folks (balance issues among others). It's fine to have them in parallel to an elevator for general use (if the geometry means they're more convenient than just stairs), but they should not be used alone.
If the long ramp is a problem for you, are you really walking/rolling some long distance to get to the station in the first place and not parking or being dropped off at the other (main) head-house where the drop-off area is? Theoretical riders who could use this end via foot, are going to be getting there via at least a ~1/2 mile walk. There's maybe 100 houses closer than that and aren't closer to the other end.

You're right, I don't think long ramps are great for accessibility. I just don't think accessibility at this end of the platform serves much purpose beyond the minimum required for legal compliance, and if you want redundancy I'd rather see 4 elevators stuffed into the main head-house instead and not have a whole second set of structures.
 

BronsonShore

Active Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
201
Reaction score
402
It is a low density residential area that's also super rich. They aren't using the CR to go to a theoretical job in Framingham - they are driving. The single platform would be more than okay if it wasn't for the switch issue and of course the accessibility. But doing two platforms isn't going to move the ridership needle at all.
The Newtonville station is currently adjacent to two large, brand new apartment buildings that have dramatically increased the neighborhood's population and density. Similar development is planned for West Newton as well, and the city of Newton has plans to build TOD up and down Washington Street.

And yes, building two platforms at this station and, thus, increasing service, will absolutely move the ridership needle. That's what induced demand is all about.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,372
Reaction score
3,087
It is a low density residential area that's also super rich. They aren't using the CR to go to a theoretical job in Framingham - they are driving. The single platform would be more than okay if it wasn't for the switch issue and of course the accessibility. But doing two platforms isn't going to move the ridership needle at all.
There's nothing low-density about this corridor - it's the densest part of Newton and the Mayor has designs on building it up.
 

themissinglink

New member
Joined
Jan 13, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
163
Remind me: the reason these aren't center-platforms? (I thought one of the reasons a single side platform was bad was that it didn't do a good job at accommodating future express-and-local mixing?)
IIRC they opted out of building center platforms because they would have required bridge modifications at each of the stations, and because they would have taken longer to construct than side platforms.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,372
Reaction score
3,087
Why dont they have West newton connecting to Washington Street?
Probably the same reason Newtonville doesn't connect to Walnut or Harvard: connecting stairs to bridges suck to build and maintain (they also involve coordinating with MassDOT where a fully-landside access is MBTA alone). The bridges are also at a higher elevation than Washington Street is on the side of the trench, so the access needs to be longer. They probably do at Auburndale because there's no platform on the outside track to the east of the Auburn St. bridge and there's no access point in the sea of private property landside.
 

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
1,406
Similarly, it's a shame they weren't able to find room for a third track at each of these stations.
Yes, but being able to wrong-rail the express(es)* through this section will go a long way.

* Or locals, come to think of it.
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
328
It is a low density residential area
I'm going to piggy-back on the pushback you've gotten from this comment with some actual data. These stations sometimes lie between multiple census tracts, so there are more than three census tracts for these stations. The census tracts for these stations have the following populations densities per square mile:
  • 5,023.9 (Auburndale Station and entrance to western parking lot to West Newton Station)
  • 8,095.0 (western parking lot and western walkway to West Newton Station)
  • 6,566.1 (West Newton Station)
  • 6,406.9 (Newtonville Station)
That is firmly within the density that I would describe as "dense suburban" (5,000-10,000 per square mile).

For reference, the following places have similar levels of density:
  • The city of Watertown has a population density of 8,832.3/sq mile.
  • The census tract that contains Ashmont Station has a population density of 8,586.5/sq mile.
  • The city of Medford has a population density of 7,365.3/sq mile.
  • The city of Melrose has a population density of 6,371.2/sq mile.
I understand the confusion, though. Newton as a whole has a population density of 4,987.3/sq mile, which is overall what I'd refer to as "medium-density suburban." For those who haven't spent much time thinking about Newton's built environment, it can be easy to mistake it for a monolithic suburb.

In reality, the northern 25% (where these stations are located) is the densest part of Newton, with a built environment that is quite similar to much of Watertown.

The other 75% of Newton has a built environment more similar to Wellesley than Watertown.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,372
Reaction score
3,087
I understand the confusion, though. Newton as a whole has a population density of 4,987.3/sq mile, which is overall what I'd refer to as "medium-density suburban." For those who haven't spent much time thinking about Newton's built environment, it can be easy to mistake it for a monolithic suburb.

In reality, the northern 25% (where these stations are located) is the densest part of Newton, with a built environment that is quite similar to much of Watertown.

The other 75% of Newton has a built environment more similar to Wellesley than Watertown.
I'm not sure I'd go quite to the Wellesley extreme, but Newton's a lot like Brookline that way. The northern part is an urban inner suburb, gradually shifting to mansion estates the farther south you get.
 

BeyondRevenue

New member
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
118
I see Auburndale: with 3961 per/sq mile?

Transit wise -- with Brookline, Newton and other affluent suburbs -- do you think they are more like fat remoras hitching a free ride on the shark that is Boston? Or are they closer to more common parasites -- like leeches or ticks? I go back and forth. I feel like they bloat with our blood and muscle. Maybe it's just me. I see a hot-headed, quarter-acre-lot-holding gentry of absentee landlords, all vehemently opposed to transit oriented development (which is code for 'this town doesn't like brown or poor people')... but they'll get their commuter rail stops!
More directly, for as big as those three stations are, there needs to be some seriously large TOD apartment buildings to justify the expense. Otherwise, this is just another lighter version of the Greenbush line shakedown.
It'll likely be all carrot, no stick. The stick swings in the carrot-free sections of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester.

Otherwise.. yeah, they're purty.
 
Last edited:

The EGE

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2013
Messages
1,054
Reaction score
962
Newtonville is the seventh-highest-ridership CR station that isn't already accessible (476 daily boardings), with three of the higher stations in construction or planning. That means it already outperforms all but 2 Greenbush Line stations. West Newton and Auburndale are lower (about 250 each), but still respectable. That's with limited service including no reverse-peak service, no accessibility, and truly depressing stations along the Pike. With full bidirectional service, reasonable-quality facilities, and plans for service increases on the line, there's no reason to expect that ridership at the three stations will not increase. That's especially true given that Pike traffic makes the 500-series express buses unreliable, which will make transferring to the CR at these stations an attractive prospect for many Waltham residents.
 

millerm277

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
315
Reaction score
140
I see Auburndale: with 3961 per/sq mile?

Transit wise -- with Brookline, Newton and other affluent suburbs -- do you think they are more like fat remoras hitching a free ride on the shark that is Boston? Or are they closer to more common parasites -- like leeches or ticks? I go back and forth. I feel like they bloat with our blood and muscle. Maybe it's just me. I see a hot-headed, quarter-acre-lot-holding gentry of absentee landlords, all vehemently opposed to transit oriented development (which is code for 'this town doesn't like brown or poor people')... but they'll get their commuter rail stops!
More directly, for as big as those three stations are, there needs to be some seriously large TOD apartment buildings to justify the expense. Otherwise, this is just another lighter version of the Greenbush line shakedown.
It'll likely be all carrot, no stick. The stick swings in the carrot-free sections of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester.

Otherwise.. yeah, they're purty.
I don't think that's that fair to Newton. They've just approved some pretty major new developments at both Riverside and the Northland site in Upper Falls. And in the cast of the latter, after a town-wide vote where the locals voted in favor of it by >5000 votes. Yes, in typical Boston tradition they were reduced from their original proposal and there was plenty of fighting to get there, but they're still big, dense developments with hundreds of housing units each that have obtained approval.

Newtonville just had a 140 unit building go up on Washington St ("Trio Newton") next to the CR station, and looks to have some obvious modest-sized redev candidates that I can't imagine the locals would fight too hard (like the weird collection of scrap metal/auto body shops). There look to be various other projects along Washington St in proposal/planning as well.

Newtonville is the seventh-highest-ridership CR station that isn't already accessible (476 daily boardings), with three of the higher stations in construction or planning. That means it already outperforms all but 2 Greenbush Line stations. West Newton and Auburndale are lower (about 250 each), but still respectable. That's with limited service including no reverse-peak service, no accessibility, and truly depressing stations along the Pike. With full bidirectional service, reasonable-quality facilities, and plans for service increases on the line, there's no reason to expect that ridership at the three stations will not increase. That's especially true given that Pike traffic makes the 500-series express buses unreliable, which will make transferring to the CR at these stations an attractive prospect for many Waltham residents.
Taking that a step further - If you build these stops and give them reasonable service I don't think the 505/553/554/556 (and possibly more) have a point to operate to downtown. Given how long those trips were, the previously allocated equipment/operators ought to be more than enough to rework that into effectively a frequent local connector/shuttle. (in a more coherent way/schedule than the current truncated routes are providing). With a frequent link to the CR stations, I think it'd become a very attractive proposition for a Waltham-Back Bay/South Station commute, much more so than the unreliable express buses are.

Especially if you do some timed connections on at least the PM leg. (bus waits at W Newton/Newtonville until outbound train arrives, loads, does a route to Waltham).
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
761
Reaction score
132
It isn't as much the density as it is the extreme unlikeliness that the reverse peak would be used at all. Having the structure will make things easier on people I reckon, especially if the switch issue means that the Peak trains will continue to be on the Pike side.

I understand the confusion, though. Newton as a whole has a population density of 4,987.3/sq mile, which is overall what I'd refer to as "medium-density suburban." For those who haven't spent much time thinking about Newton's built environment, it can be easy to mistake it for a monolithic suburb.
Take a look around the stations in Google Maps and you'll see what I mean.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,372
Reaction score
3,087
Take a look around the stations in Google Maps and you'll see what I mean.
Sure!

Aubundale:

1634232446619.png


Blue Hill Avenue:

1634232589730.png


Mattapan's a little denser, but not by much.

The bottom line is that these may be the worst rail stations in the US in terms of facilities, and that the MBTA is decades delinquent on a Federal commitment to make them ADA-accessible. They also have respectable ridership despite having extremely limited service. These upgrades are part of the MBTA's plan to increase service frequency to 15 minutes with regional rail. I really don't get how this is controversial.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
761
Reaction score
132
These upgrades are part of the MBTA's plan to increase service frequency to 15 minutes with regional rail
The Worcester line was technically 15 minutes, at least at AM peak and pretty close in the PM peak. If they go back to 2019 service levels there doesn't seem like much room for anything more than they had then.
 

Java King

Active Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2007
Messages
292
Reaction score
333
Although I'm in Scituate now, I used to live a stone's throw away from Newtonville Station for 10 years, so I have an interest.
I was on the Zoom meeting for the Newton Commuter Rail Station Project last night. (October 13, 2021)

A few highlights:
  1. The Design is only at 30% They don't have funding secured to complete the full design OR even start construction. Although, they mentioned this was not unusual to not have secured funding at this stage.
  2. I asked about the materials of the stations being enclosed by glass or screens. They mentioned that they have selected glass in the 30% design phase, but this was not guaranteed to be in the 100% design package. My take-away: No funding secured yet and these stations will certainly get "value engineered" to be basic.
  3. The presenters repeatedly mentioned the "Rail Vision" report when it came to ridership potential with these 3 stations. They did mention there were over a 1000 daily riders pre-pandemic for the 3 stations, but the current schedules are so awful and many trains don't stop. As I mentioned, I used to live near here and it was almost impossible to catch a train into Boston after the morning rush. So personally, I don't think you can use those current boarding numbers based on the very FEW trains that currently stop at these stations.
  4. The presenters also talked about a turning loop at Riverside that could be used to provide frequent service within the 128 belt, however again, that was NOT part of this project.
  5. The presenters spoke about the third tracking beyond Auburndale through Wellesley, but that was NOT part of this project.
  6. The presenters said the center platform option was ruled out quickly because all of the road bridges across the Mass Pike would need to be reconstructed and it would be a HUGE additional cost to the project without many benefits.
  7. Several people asked why the stations were NOT connected at the bridges such as the example of Harvard Street for Newtonville station. There was a LONG explanation by the project team about the curvature of the bridges not aligning correctly, but it didn't really make sense to me.
  8. The team was super hesitant to mention ANY hint of a schedule, but only said that it would take at least 24 to 36 months once construction had started.

My opinion: Really nice design, but it will NOT end up being as nice as the current renderings. It's moving forward, but it might be YEARS before any construction start. I hope I'm wrong.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
761
Reaction score
132
As I mentioned, I used to live near here and it was almost impossible to catch a train into Boston after the morning rush
I checked the 2017 schedule I have and it did stop both ways in midday (albeit flag and service levels obv not so great so the switch is nbd); but yes past 2 PM it was outbound only.
 

BronsonShore

Active Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
201
Reaction score
402
It isn't as much the density as it is the extreme unlikeliness that the reverse peak would be used at all. Having the structure will make things easier on people I reckon, especially if the switch issue means that the Peak trains will continue to be on the Pike side.
You don't think anyone in Newton wants to go into Boston any time after 9AM?

Take a look around the stations in Google Maps and you'll see what I mean.
Again, you're ignoring the fact that several large-scale, multi-use buildings are in the works all around these stations. Something like 200 brand new apartments have opened up next to the Newtonville station just in the last year.
 
Last edited:

Top