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

BronsonShore

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People who live there are already at work by then.
Some of them are. Others might be ER doctors doing shift work. Even more will probably have flexible schedules going forward, where they'll mostly work from home but need to go into the office for lunch meetings or whatever. Then there's the fact that they might be interested in going Sox games, concerts, the aquarium, one of the hospitals, etc, etc. etc . . .

I truly don't understand why you're opposed to better service.
 

Arlington

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Remote work means that the AM rush will be less pronounced, but that the need to go into town for midday meetings (say, 10am to 4pm), or lunch (say, an 11am train with a 1pm return, or a 12am with a 2pm return) is going to be a much bigger thing.

Also abigger thing: beating the 3pm traffic jams that schools cause. Trains at 3pm are key.

I like being able to take CR to GL to get to Longwood for a 10am appointment. At that hour, car traffic hasn't fully eased.

I think there are also hospital shifts that run 7am to 3pm and 3pm to 11pm that overlap with the 12-hour 7a-7p nursing shifts.
 

bigeman312

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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.



Take a look around the stations in Google Maps and you'll see what I mean.
Tell me you haven't reverse-commuted on the 500 series without telling me you haven't reverse-commuted on the 500 series :)

I did this reverse commute for years. The 502 and 504 are extremely popular with reverse commuters. Myself: I transferred to the 70 in Watertown and I was far from the only one. As has been said elsewhere in this thread, timing these trips with buses to/from Waltham should capture a large reverse commuter ridership. Especially coupled with the ability to truncate some of those 5xx buses, converting them into feeder local bus routes. The biggest missing piece here for a full-send reverse commuter ridership is an infill station in Newton Corner. That would be the cream of the crop.
 

HenryAlan

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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.
Well, I agree that the upgrades are needed and that the population density of this section of Newton is suitable for regional rail, but your statement about Mattapan being "a little denser," requires correction. Here's the census bureau data for the two stations' tracts:

Auburndale, census tract 3747, density = 5,024 P/SM
Mattapan, census tract 1010.01, density = 11,129 P/SM

The neighborhood where Mattapan station on the Fairmont line is located has more than twice the population density, which you can actually see pretty easily from the two satellite shots.
 

jklo

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You have to factor in that stopping (period) hurts the travel time, and in this case might make it tougher for the trains to get back to Framingham/Worcester in time. As long as the MBTA is willing to go that far out there's always going to be a cost to stopping.

To the project at least, if they are commiting themselves to not using the bridge as the main access point, there's little alternative to what's been proposed. Other than cutting Newtonville to one structure.

I did this reverse commute for years. The 502 and 504 are extremely popular with reverse commuters.
Given that the Pike is likely very empty reverse commuting to Waltham; the express bus is going to win every time versus the Worcester Line because the bus takes you directly there.
 

jklo

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The other thing that caught my eye was that it looks like they are moving the Auburndale stop location farther from Woodland and closer to Auburn's bridge. Looks like the stop would be less curvy so that's probably why.

From the diagram it looks like there is going to be a ramp from Woodland but it's on the non-Pike side. Which is silly if they are going to continue to put peak trains on the Pike side. Doesn't look like the current stairs are gonna stay.

Dunno if these changes are enough to make the Riverside project residents unlikely to walk there with the additional distance. Also makes it a bit closer to West Newton.
 

jms13

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Given that the Pike is likely very empty reverse commuting to Waltham; the express bus is going to win every time versus the Worcester Line because the bus takes you directly there.
That reverse commute is not as bad as the primary direction, but it's not great, and it got dramatically worse over the five years pre-pandemic. In-bound in the evenings was worse, but the mornings weren't great either. Probably still quicker for the express bus than a theoretical train-bus transfer in 2019 (and obviously much easier as a one-seat ride), but not by all that much and on a linear path towards trouble. Very much TBD how it ends up with whatever the new normal is, of course, especially because it was around that inflection point where a small change in either direction makes a big difference in travel times.

Dunno if these changes are enough to make the Riverside project residents unlikely to walk there with the additional distance. Also makes it a bit closer to West Newton.
I would say not a huge difference, if only because it's a pretty niche case where they'd walk there in the first place. Auburndale to South Station is scheduled at 30 minutes, with a train that is mostly full by that point; Riverside to Government Center is scheduled at 47 minutes, at the start of the line so you'll get a seat. That 17 minute difference is right about the walk time between the two stations... and Auburndale costs something like $150/month more, because Zone 2 Commuter Rail. Maybe if you very badly want to end up in the Seaport? But most will just jump on the Green.
 

bigeman312

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I'll follow up on the express bus reverse-commute traffic discussion with my own studies on the subject.

It probably doesn't surprise those of you who have seen my posts on COVID recovery ridership data (sorry I haven't updated in a bit) that I am data-oriented. I nerded out when I did that reverse commute and timed different commute options to minimize travel times, which were not at all similar to Google Maps' estimates. While I often biked in good weather, when taking the T I found the quickest commute for me was:
  • AM Outbound: 502 -> 70 (technically the since-replaced 70A)
  • PM Inbound: Fitchburg Line -> Orange Line
The PM inbound traffic was always way more prohibitive than the AM outbound traffic. PM inbound traffic made the 5xx buses completely unusable with cascading delays. While there would be a value-add for many types of trips with increased frequency to these stations, inbound trips at all times of day and PM outbound trips will be the most advantageous over 5xx buses.

That being said, what @jklo is clearly overlooking is the cascading delays that come with opposite-direction traffic. Buses make round trips and when there is really bad inbound AM traffic, the outbound AM trip ends up delayed for an unknown amount of time. It doesn't matter if your bus moves as quickly as the train if your bus isn't showing up on time. This issue is rectified by having traffic-separated modes of mass transit, such as the Worcester Line.
 

fatnoah

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Tell me you haven't reverse-commuted on the 500 series without telling me you haven't reverse-commuted on the 500 series :)
Hello fellow Zone 2 reverse-commuter! While I'm no longer a member of this illustrious group, I did the downtown to Waltham commute for a few years and was a regular rider of the 5XX buses, and even the elusive 170 bus. As noted, the schedules of these buses was much more "on time" in the morning, but all bets were off in the evenings. Since I was headed all the way downtown, the train was the preferred and fastest alternative, even if it meant a transfer at N. Station. When I missed the train or there was a gap, I'd fall back to the buses, but "schedule" wasn't really a thing, so I'd just hop on the the first 5XX bus that arrived and was generally heading the right direction. The 170 was the worst offender. It stopped at my office on Bear Hill Road, but standard deviation from scheduled arrival time of its single inbound run was on the order of 30+ minutes.
 

donkeybutlers

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Transit Matters put out more info on their ideas to electrify the MBTA commuter rail: Regional Rail Electrification: Costs, Challenges, Benefits

Summary here:
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority could electrify its commuter rail network for between $800 million and $1.5 billion, according to a new report from advocacy group TransitMatters out today. Electrification would not only help reduce the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero, but also allow the MBTA to run faster, more reliable trains.

"Electrifying our rail network would be a win for everyone in the region," said Jarred Johnson, TransitMatters Executive Director. "People from Lowell or Dorchester will get faster rides into Boston and people in Dorchester and Roxbury will have fewer toxic fumes in their neighborhoods. Teamed with better service, electrification will get people out of cars and open up opportunities for housing."
 

FK4

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Transit Matters put out more info on their ideas to electrify the MBTA commuter rail: Regional Rail Electrification: Costs, Challenges, Benefits

Summary here:
Im sure there will be a firestorm just by daring to say this, but I am really sick of climate change being used as the excuse or justification for every single thing. It's just gotten out of hand and totally ridiculous. Yes, reducing emissions is good for climate change as well as the neighborhoods. But advocating spending a billion dollars to do this and saying we should do it because of the miniscule benefits to emissions it'll achieve is insanity. This is not the first, second, third or fourth reason to do this and its just lockstepping with the zeitgeist and using a buzzword that gets everyone with the same ethos to support it, and without logical reason.

Electrifying the commuter rail is about transforming lives, lifting people out of poverty, reducing commute times (we have plenty of data to show that excessive commuting times are associated with cardiovascular and other medical disease, poor psychological health and poorer quality of life), and changing our overall urban societal structure away from the poisonous, atomized and unhealthy-in-every-possible-way modes of the mid-to-late twentieth century that we all got infected with and are trying to finally shed.

Just like when I see articles supporting smaller housing sizes — we're not doing this to reduce carbon footprints, people, we're doing because density is a good thing for many other, much more important reasons than that.

If you want to put a dent in climate change, support divesting from fossil fuels and other industries that actually are serious emissions-offenders (including that plane ticket you bought to visit your grandma). It's just tiresome and anti-intellectual to see a climate change reason tucked into literally every single design proposal for a building or infrastructure project as it if it's a major reason we should be doing this.

I also do not believe the transitmatters (I included the screenshots) report sufficiently makes the case that this is a specific risk to any part of Boston; in their favor, they did place this at the end of the 'benefits' section. I'm not saying I know better, but you can't extrapolate from WA state and Chicago to Boston without more proof here about numbers of diesel trains per minute and most importantly, citing air quality. And as for the neighborhoods where the commuter rails run, one of them is Dorchester which also has I-93, and the other is Newton, which has the Pike. Someone who actually knows these numbers might be able to provide them, but I would imagine that the emissions of an interstate highway compared to an average MBTA commuter rail line are probably about 1/1,000,000th or less.

I think a better air quality argument, if we're gonna take that tack, is that faster trains = less drivers on roads. And at this point, it's really not all about the emissions. Emissions standards for motor vehicles have changed a lot over the last twenty years, and that makes measuring any health ramifications of exposures very, very tricky to confidently determine.

I think the emissions argument misses the forest for the trees. We need to change the way we live, and that's what better public transit is all about, plain and simple. That's the benefit, first to last.

Edit - transitmatters rocks, so this should not be interpreted as any attack on their excellent work.

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FK4

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Speaking of that I saved this slide in my phone for a long time showing that the needham green extension is the best bang for your buck out of any project.
View attachment 18194
Amen. It's insane that this has not been done, and more insane that it's barely even talked about in the public discourse.
 

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