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

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
I guess part of that depends on how a new Riverside station would be configured and whether it would be designed to accommodate connections from through-running trains on the B&A to the Highland Branch or just those terminating at Riverside. I couldn't find any mockups in a quick search, but getting all that infrastructure in such a small area could be difficult. Not having a connection over less than a half mile would be unfortunate to make trips like Framingham to Longwood not require a long walk from Lansdowne or backtracking -- although this is the status quo.
I have some designs on this topic I've been mocking up over the last few monhts, I'll try to post those sooner rather than later. But this gets at a big question I've been pondering: what specifically is the role of Riverside station itself? We know it serves as a Park-n-Ride, and I know there now is TOD around there as well. But then this raises the question -- for Park-n-Riders, why is Riverside preferable to commuter rail stations in Newton, Needham, Wellesley, Weston and Waltham? Is it frequency? Access to Longwood? Access to North Station? Availability of parking? Fare?

I think this impacts the question you and I are discussing here. I think a Riverside stop on the B&A main line itself would be too far away from the Green Line stop to be considered a "transfer" -- I've always assumed that there would have to be a spur, with a platform diagonally to the northwest of the Green Line platform. That then raises the frequency question -- how many trains can the B&A accommodate along the Pike, and how many of those need to be reserved for trains to Framingham, Marlboro, Worcester, and Springfield?

But even if Riverside Indigo only sees 3 tph, that still could provide relief -- Riverside saw 10 tph at peak pre-covid, so you could say that each Green Line train which leaves at the same time as the Indigo train will instead run short to Kenmore, which reduces the footprint of the Riverside Branch in the Central Subway to 7 tph. Which isn't on its own transformative, but could be a useful piece of the puzzle.

Re Lowell: @Blackbird @WestMedford yes, great points from both of you. I didn't mean to suggest that Lowell was the top or sole candidate among the cities in the Merrimack Valley, I just really meant to say that it solidly clears the bar into being a top-tier satellite city. The Haverhill-Methuen-Lawrence minipolis likewise does as well. I think Lowell is a stronger candidate for high-frequency through-run service because it is closer to Boston than Lawrence is, but I think higher-freq service would be beneficial to the whole region. (I also think Lowell makes a strong candidate for mid-day cross-platform transfers for short-turned commuter rail coming down from New Hampshire.)
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
904
Reaction score
196
I have some designs on this topic I've been mocking up over the last few monhts, I'll try to post those sooner rather than later. But this gets at a big question I've been pondering: what specifically is the role of Riverside station itself? We know it serves as a Park-n-Ride, and I know there now is TOD around there as well. But then this raises the question -- for Park-n-Riders, why is Riverside preferable to commuter rail stations in Newton, Needham, Wellesley, Weston and Waltham? Is it frequency? Access to Longwood? Access to North Station? Availability of parking? Fare?
Longwood yes and the fare. Ridership was on the decline though, which is why I think what moved the MBTA to do the TOD. I think people from the South are going to Woodland instead.

I think this impacts the question you and I are discussing here. I think a Riverside stop on the B&A main line itself would be too far away from the Green Line stop to be considered a "transfer" -- I've always assumed that there would have to be a spur, with a platform diagonally to the northwest of the Green Line platform. That then raises the frequency question -- how many trains can the B&A accommodate along the Pike, and how many of those need to be reserved for trains to Framingham, Marlboro, Worcester, and Springfield?
There really isn't additional room as it is (was). The 2019 peak was 4 tph already. H2H (if they bring it back) could really use a better time slot, etc.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
521
Reaction score
242
Without NSRL, the practical limit of the Worcester Line is about 12 tph. If both Worcester AND Framingham(assuming semi express east of Fram for Worc) have 4tph at least at peak, that provides 7.5 min service to Newton inwards. That would leave you 4 tph for Spr, LSL, etc.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
Without NSRL, the practical limit of the Worcester Line is about 12 tph. If both Worcester AND Framingham(assuming semi express east of Fram for Worc) have 4tph at least at peak, that provides 7.5 min service to Newton inwards. That would leave you 4 tph for Spr, LSL, etc.
The part I'm more on the fence about is whether those Worcester trains should/could stop at the Newtons. That ride from Worcester is looooong.

But, one way or another, stopping services from Wellesley and beyond will help Auburndale et al, but still won't help Riverside. So there would be some capacity limitations of an Indigo spur to Riverside -- the question is how much. If the Green Line maintains reasonable through-service from Riverside, then I think lower frequencies on a Riverside Indigo spur don't matter as much.
 

737900er

Active Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
127
But this gets at a big question I've been pondering: what specifically is the role of Riverside station itself? We know it serves as a Park-n-Ride, and I know there now is TOD around there as well. But then this raises the question -- for Park-n-Riders, why is Riverside preferable to commuter rail stations in Newton, Needham, Wellesley, Weston and Waltham? Is it frequency? Access to Longwood? Access to North Station? Availability of parking? Fare?
I think people go to Riverside because it's easy, reliable, and the time penalty over CR isn't that big -- not because they actually want to.

1. Frequency. The Spring 2019 Framingham/Worcester schedule had five trains stopping in Newton and six stopping in Wellesley outbound during the PM peak period. During the same time, there were approximately 32 Riverside trains. As you've written, 30+ minute headways is something you have to schedule your whole day around. 6 minute headways is walk-up. Needham Line had five peak trains during this period as well.

2. Parking. None of the Commuter Rail stops in Newton, Needham, Wellesley, Weston and Waltham have Park & Ride garages like other parts of the system. Riverside has a massive lot (and worth mentioning that Woodland has a garage). From a 2018 report, we can see that the average utilization of the lots across the Riverside P&R cachement area was 77%. At those closest to Riverside -- Auburndale, Wellesley Farms, Wellesley Hills -- it's approaching 100%. According to the same report, Riverside has utilization of 69% and Woodland at 76%. You have a much better chance of getting a parking spot at Riverside, so it's ultimately functioning as overflow from the closest CR stops.

StationSpaces UsedSpacesUtilization
Brandeis/Roberts307639%
Kendal Green415279%
Waltham648674%
Auburndale313394%
Newtonville11112986%
West Newton12319762%
Wellesley Farms192192100%
Wellesley Hills6767100%
Wellesley Square13822262%
Needham Heights639368%
Needham Junction11612593%
TOTAL976127277%

3. Time. As you've written, most people don't want to go to North Station or South Station, they want to use that as a connection point to another line or the sidewalk to get somewhere they actually want to go. South Station in particular is poorly located for commuters coming from the B&A. Getting to an office building downtown from South Station requires backtracking. I compared a few transit times from Wellesley Sq. (where it seems like you can reliably get a parking spot) to going to Riverside. Time from Riverside to Back Bay or South Station was abysmal compared to the best case (1 train every morning that skips the Newtons) taking the CR. When I compared it to places that people actually might want to go like the Pru or Post Office Sq, the delta between CR and Green gets much smaller. The D goes way, way faster than the B. Yes, you would have to drive to Riverside, but again, very few people want to start their trip in Wellesley Square; they want to start it from their driveway.
Graph1.png


I imagine that many riders use Riverside as a Plan B if their preferred CR stop doesn't have any parking

Ultimately, it seems a lot easier to plan on "Drive to Riverside and take the Green Line" than "Drive to the CR station, but go to Riverside if that's full, and make sure to leave by 4:57 if I end up taking the CR"

Also, I want to add that I started down the road of doing this analysis, but the T's data doesn't make any sense (unless I loaded it wrong). The 2014 Blue Book has 2,000+ daily entries at Riverside. Their detailed entry/exit data from 2017 to 2019 is approximately 500 per day, and I don't remember massive bustitutions.
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
904
Reaction score
196
30+ minute headways is something you have to schedule your whole day around. 6 minute headways is walk-up.
Which is... okay... if you are just using it to go to work. Just don't miss it!

3. Time. As you've written, most people don't want to go to North Station or South Station
North Station, no. South Station, very much yes. Seaport very popular now. Might have to walk a tad.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
Oh that CTPS report about park-n-ride utilization is golden. Thank you so much for passing it along.

And thanks so much for the thought-out analysis! I agree, based on what you've presented here, it looks like a solid fraction of Riverside riders probably are using it as an alternative to the CR, including as an overflow site.

The discrepancies between those numbers (2000 vs 500) is interesting. Page 342 of Belcher's Transit History lists one bustitution during '17-'19:

October 8-December 2018 D Riverside service was replaced by buses evenings Sunday-Thursday between Brookline Hills and Reservoir to accommodate track and signal replacement work.


Is this the analysis you used on the Blue Book Portal? https://mbta-massdot.opendata.arcgi...6WyJ3ZWVrZGF5Il0sImRpcmVjdGlvbl9pZCI6WzEsMV19

1651886436497.png


And indeed, the "total-ons" (defined in their data dictionary as the total boardings divided by the number of service days) comes out a bit above 400. 2018 and 2017 have similar (slightly higher) numbers, based on my analysis. So, I don't think you're doing the analysis incorrectly.

Page 27 of the CTPS report you linked points to 69% utilization of Riverside's lot of 959 spaces, which comes out to 661 cars. The 558 express bus contributed apparently about 10 riders per day, and I guess there are intercity busses that stop there as well, but... that's still almost 300 cars more than apparent Green Line passengers.

So, I'm at a loss as well. The 2017-2019 numbers seem off by about half an order of magnitude. (And looking at other rapid transit stop counts in the 2014 Blue Book, the 2019 numbers seem impossibly low -- no station, other than those on the surface branches and Mattapan Line, saw less than 1,000 riders -- including Bowdoin!)

Setting that aside though, it does sound like the data suggest that Riverside itself isn't the appeal for at least some of its riders -- it just happens to be the best option, meaning that if another better option were available elsewhere, some riders would relocate. Does that seem consistent with your analysis?
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
904
Reaction score
196

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
^ Good point. Still, for the numbers to line up, we'd have to assume that every rider arrived by car, and that there are 300 cars parked overnight on a typical night.

~~~

This prompted a memory of a dashboard, so I went hunting. The 2015-2017 Passenger Survey asked how passengers arrived at the station they started their journey at. https://www.ctps.org/dv/mbtasurvey2018/#

1651890291243.png


According to this, only 35% drove alone to the station -- about a third. Another third walked, and about another third were dropped off.

If 650 of the Park-n-Ride's reported cars are from commuters, than 650 should equal 35% of the inbound ridership. That would put inbound ridership at ~1800, which is much closer to the 2200 figure from the 2014 Blue Book than the 400-500 figures from the 2017-19 numbers.

So. Idk.

If we assume that the Passenger Survey numbers are accurate, that suggests approximately 600 folks walk to Riverside, while about 1200 might potentially drive elsewhere if something better were available.
 

Teban54

New member
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Messages
76
Reaction score
257
^ Good point. Still, for the numbers to line up, we'd have to assume that every rider arrived by car, and that there are 300 cars parked overnight on a typical night.

~~~

This prompted a memory of a dashboard, so I went hunting. The 2015-2017 Passenger Survey asked how passengers arrived at the station they started their journey at. https://www.ctps.org/dv/mbtasurvey2018/#

View attachment 24234

According to this, only 35% drove alone to the station -- about a third. Another third walked, and about another third were dropped off.

If 650 of the Park-n-Ride's reported cars are from commuters, than 650 should equal 35% of the inbound ridership. That would put inbound ridership at ~1800, which is much closer to the 2200 figure from the 2014 Blue Book than the 400-500 figures from the 2017-19 numbers.

So. Idk.

If we assume that the Passenger Survey numbers are accurate, that suggests approximately 600 folks walk to Riverside, while about 1200 might potentially drive elsewhere if something better were available.
The dashboard actually has raw data for each station and bus route, instead of just percentages, if you click "download":
Screenshot 2022-05-06 234907.png

The spreadsheet gives the following for Riverside:
  • Walked or bicycled: 752
  • Drove alone: 804
  • Carpool and dropoff: 761
  • Bus: 187
The spreadsheet did not indicate units for the data, but I suppose they're riders per day.

As for alternate service for Riverside riders:
  • Use alternate modes - yes: 1173
  • Use alternate modes - no: 1324
  • Alternate modes - walk or bicycle: 47
  • Alternate modes - drive alone: 516
  • Alternate modes - carpool, taxi, shuttle, private transit, etc: 537
  • Alternate modes - different MBTA service: 506
(Note that alternate modes options are "check all that apply", so they add up greater than 1173.)

Also, here's data for Worcester Line from Wellesley Square to Wellesley Farms:
  • Walked or bicycled: 516
  • Drove alone: 516
  • Carpool and dropoff: 269
  • Use alternate modes - yes: 657
  • Use alternate modes - no: 633
  • Alternate modes - walk or bicycle: 23
  • Alternate modes - drive alone: 363
  • Alternate modes - carpool, taxi, shuttle, private transit, etc: 210
  • Alternate modes - different MBTA service: 188
Considering that more than half of Riverside riders indicated no alternate modes, and that relatively fewer Wellesley riders indicated "different MBTA service" as an alternate mode, this raises doubts about the hypothesis that most Riverside riders, or even Riverside P&R riders, use it as an alternative to CR or a backup in case they miss CR. On the other hand, slightly less than half of Riverside riders who do have alternate modes indicated "different MBTA service" as an option, so there's still a significant amount or them who see CR as viable.
 

737900er

Active Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
127
So, I'm at a loss as well. The 2017-2019 numbers seem off by about half an order of magnitude. (And looking at other rapid transit stop counts in the 2014 Blue Book, the 2019 numbers seem impossibly low -- no station, other than those on the surface branches and Mattapan Line, saw less than 1,000 riders -- including Bowdoin!)
Offs is also in the same ballpark, so something seems ...off
I wanted to see how many people might get off at Longwood, etc. but that's hard to do when the data is suspect.

Considering that more than half of Riverside riders indicated no alternate modes, and that relatively fewer Wellesley riders indicated "different MBTA service" as an alternate mode, this raises doubts about the hypothesis that most Riverside riders, or even Riverside P&R riders, use it as an alternative to CR or a backup in case they miss CR. On the other hand, slightly less than half of Riverside riders who do have alternate modes indicated "different MBTA service" as an option, so there's still a significant amount or them who see CR as viable.
That's probably true, I just think it's existence of Riverside (and Woodland) makes the CR stations in Wellesley more viable.

The spreadsheet did not indicate units for the data, but I suppose they're riders per day.
I think they tried to re-weight their survey responses by ridership, but not necessarily match the ridership numbers. Basically someone who said they took the T five days per week would be counted five times more than someone who said they took the T once per week.

Setting that aside though, it does sound like the data suggest that Riverside itself isn't the appeal for at least some of its riders -- it just happens to be the best option, meaning that if another better option were available elsewhere, some riders would relocate. Does that seem consistent with your analysis?
I would agree with that, and go a step further to say that if a better option were available at Riverside itself people would likely take that over the Green. I think the very high parking utilization at Wellesley Farms, Wellesley Hills, and Auburndale -- the 3 stops closest to Riverside -- show that there is likely a lot of spillover to Riverside/Woodland (or people who simply drive into Boston) from these areas simply because they can't reliably get parking at those stations. Travel times from Riverside to all of the destinations in my chart would be even more advantageous from Riverside via Indigo compared Riverside via Green and people would absolutely pick that over Green if the headways were there to pick that. Riverside and Woodland are the only 500+ spot stations between Route 128 and Alewife (this is part of the reason Alewife is such a mess), and I think that with Indigo to Riverside, a lot of people would shift from Woodland to Riverside because of the much better travel times to any destination that's not Longwood. Riverside pretty much the only place along the B&A Indigo there could be a massive P&R facility.

This is one of the reasons I'm eager to see your Riverside mockups :). I think it's unlikely we see another west side P&R except on Needham GLX. Wellesley isn't going to build one and they own the lots in Wellesley. I know it's hard to figure out the pieces in such a small and weird area, but I think if there's a way to get Riverside itself up to 5-6tph on the B&A that would be huge.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
904
Reaction score
196
Remember that there is an approved project at Riverside. I have serious doubts any of it will ever get built, except maybe the lab space, but it's worth noting. Doing Indigo would help it.
 

737900er

Active Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
127
Having this discussion about Riverside and thinking about the 500-series Newton Corner expresses has gotten me thinking about whether Riverside and Newton Corner stops on an Indigo would see higher ridership than Auburndale, West Newton, and Newtonville.
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
On the other hand, slightly less than half of Riverside riders who do have alternate modes indicated "different MBTA service" as an option, so there's still a significant amount or them who see CR as viable.
Great analysis. (We truly live in a transit data renaissance.) I do agree that the data suggests that "opportunistic riders" make up a signficant fraction, though probably not a majority, of Riverside's passengers.

So, to circle back to the Regional Rail question: is terminating on a Riverside spur a matter of operational convenience, or is there better demand there than at other locations?

Here's why I've been wandering. I call it "Project Norumbega", because I'm dramatic like that.

Project Norumbega

We hope that sometime in the future there will be many more trains running on the B&A than there are today. We know this would be an effective way to provide transit to "the Newtons", and it reflects an overall transformation toward Regional Rail. The "inner/mid B&A" is particularly friendly to more frequent rail, as most of the stops between 128 and Framingham have reasonable pedestrian access and/or potential for TOD.

As discussed above, in general we've assumed that one "layer" of service would be a short-turn service within 128, and I think most of us have figured that service would terminate on a spur at Riverside station. Historically, there was a platform on the B&A main line that was also called Riverside, but it was some 1,800 feet away from the Green Line station, and saw low ridership. (For comparison, Woodland is 3,000 feet away.)

I was crayoning Regional Rail service patterns on the B&A a while back and got to thinking. On other "Metro Rail" corridors, I've felt that it was reasonable to layer on the "longer distance" services on top of the short-turns to reach high frequencies, and have the longer distance trains make most/all local stops. With infrastructure improvements to reduce travel times, I've mostly felt that expressing through the inner stops was unnecessary. But for the B&A, I'm less confident. Given Worcester's distance and the curvy route the tracks have to take through the hills, it seems possible that even in a Regional Rail world, we'll still want some Worcester expresses.

For comparison, pre-covid most peak Worcester trains skipped both the "mid" stops in Wellesley, as well as the "inner stops" in Newton. And still took ~90 min to do so. Worcester is the commonwealth's second largest city and by now is comfortably larger than Providence; it shouldn't take 90 minutes to reach Boston. So I think express services need to remain under consideration. Therefore, I don't want to rely on Worcester trains to increase the tph within 128 -- it may not be necessary, but I'd like to have alternatives.

I also think it's worth examining higher-frequency service to Wellesley, Natick, and Framingham. Though not as dense as the within-128 suburbs, there is a clear "arm" of density stretching west along Route 9. Moreover, as mentioned above, most of the stations in those towns are located in well-built-up areas that are, or could be, friendly to frequent transit.

1651944615759.png


So, it might be possible that we'd want higher frequencies to the mid-B&A, and that we'd still want to reserve slots for expresses to the outer B&A. In principle, this could be done via 4 tph express to outer B&A, 4 tph local to Framingham, and an additional 4 tph turning at Riverside. There's a lot that could work well about this, but that Riverside spur is a bit fragile and makes me nervous; if there were increased demand along the mid B&A, some of those Riverside trains probably be switched back over to the main line, which reduces Riverside Indigo frequencies below the 15-minute threshold. Once that happens, I think you're at significantly higher risk for a ridership death spiral.

Now, it's worth pausing for a second here, and noting that we are already pretty far down the rabbit hole here. There is a large extent to which "Project Norumbega" is a solution in search of a problem. I think an Indigo spur to Riverside, overall, makes sense, although I think there is also an argument for extending all those within-128 Metro trains to Framingham anyway.

But while we're down this rabbit hole...

The way to maximize frequencies -- under any scenario -- to the Riverside area -- i.e. to a P&R near 128 & Mass Pike -- is to put the station on the mainline. That gives you access to both short-turns and to through-run trains for maximum frequencies. As mentioned before, a mainline station was tried, and wasn't successful -- poor walkshed, limited parking (I think), and difficult transfer to the Green Line.

But what if, instead of extending the Indigo Line to meet the Green Line, we extended the Green Line to the mainline?

Thus, Norumbega Junction:

Norumbega Junction.png


(Yes, it is true that "Norumbega" -- insofar as it even is a real place -- is about a mile to the northeast. But I couldn't think of a more specific name, and tbh thought that "Norumbega Junction" sounded pretty cool, so that was that.)

There are a lot of things that work surprisingly well here. That stretch of track just west of 128 is tangent and more than long enough for a full-length platform. This is the planned location for the beginning of the third track (which I've tried to represent here), meaning there already will be a passing track in place to avoid short-turns causing backups. The ROW to the east historically had 4 tracks, and is mostly unencroached. The bridge over the ramp on the east still has a quad-track footprint.

There are some downsides. For one, the interlockings for the third track would probably need to be a bit more complicated than currently planned. The width of the parcel is a bit narrow, which is why I've proposed essentially a pair of consecutive northside platforms for the Green Line -- crossplatform from the southern mainline track, essentially creating two "berths" to maintain high capacity for Green Line turns without requiring more than 2 platforms squeezed into the ROW overall.

A new bridge would need to be constructed over the Charles, through a park/nature recreation area. This is a non-trivial downside, though hopefully its construction could be paired with additional improvements to the park.

Not illustrated here is parking. There are two lots to the northeast of the station site -- one is about 40,000 sq ft, and the other I believe is 50,000 sq feet, which is the footprint of the Woodland garage. So, in principle there'd be space for robust PnR, especially with a garage.

The biggest downside I've seen so far is that access from the highways is... mixed.
  1. Route 128 from the south: not bad -- get off at Recreation Road and cross over
  2. Route 128 from the north: requires a jaunt on MA-30, which is okay not great
  3. Mass Pike from the west: kinda garbage -- exit to MA-30 and double-back
  4. Mass Pike from the east: easy -- off ramp directly to Park Rd
I think items 2 and 3 could be addressed via connections from ramps to Park Rd -- from the eastbound Mass Pike off-ramp, and from the (very long) soutbound 128-to-90 off-ramp. But I'm woefully uninformed about highway engineering, so those may not work.

So, in light of the above discussion, what would Norumbega Junction help with? And what does it leave lacking?

Helps:
  • Frequencies on mid-B&A
  • Frequencies for a Metro short-turn service terminating at a Park-n-Ride
  • Overall parking capacity at PnR stations in the area
  • Reverse-commute options to Wellesley, Natick, Framingham and possibly Worcester, from Newton and Brookline
  • Better transfers from Indigo to Green, potentially enabling more direct service to Longwood
    • (definitely slower, but if D-to-E is built, the speed penalty might get outweighed by a shorter walk from LMA than from Lansdowne)
  • Opportunistic riders who currently drive to Riverside as one option among several
    • providing additional parking
    • maximum frequencies from a single platform -- make a "game time" decision of boarding Indigo vs Green
  • Avoids rebuilds at Riverside, including needing to fit a long 800 foot platform
    • To avoid touching the yard, I think the platform would need to be about 500 feet away from the current Green Line platform
    • Reconfiguring the loop and yard leads could bring it closer, but increases cost and disruption
Doesn't help:
  • Frequencies from Riverside station itself
    • although faster journeys may still be possible via a double-back: Riverside - Norumbega Jct - points east on the Indigo
  • TOD at Riverside
  • Folks who walk/bike to Riverside, who would see the same number of trains
    • though there are already a few different trails that could be upgraded -- it would be about a 12 minute walk (and very pretty!) between the two stations, which would be too long for some, but could be possible for others
  • Reverse commuters going to Riverside from Newtonville, Allston, Brighton, and other Indigo points east
    • Though, again, they would likely have higher frequencies on Indigo and then be able to change to do a one-stop jog (or 12-minute walk) to Riverside
more below
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
Like I said, this is in large part a solution in search of a problem. I think there is benefit to maximizing the number of trains that can serve a station in this area, and that points to a station on the B&A main line. I think that Riverside's current layout is not super amenable to adding a commuter rail platform, and I think projected frequencies do sit in a liminal range where they easily can slip down a tier in usefulness.

But there are three obvious alternatives that all probably make more sense in the short/medium term.
  1. Extend the Green Line to Auburndale
    1. Requires less commuter rail construction and no new parking
    2. Provides Green-Indigo transfer
    3. Requires widening the underpass at the Pike
    4. Not sure how compatible would be with current plans for rebuilding Aubrundale
    5. Doesn't provide a good location for turning within-128 services
  2. Terminate Indigo revenue service at Auburndale, and use the spur to Riverside to turn
    1. Lowest build option for short-turned service
    2. Successfully provides higher-freq service to the Newtons
    3. But, does not provide capacity relief or freq increases to Riverside
    4. Would require a new interlocking between Auburndale and the Riverside spur, or would require Metro service to wrong-rail for a very long stretch (though I believe additional interlocking inside 128 are planned for capacity upgrades)
  3. Run all "Indigo" service all the way to Framingham
    1. Essentially a no-build option
    2. Reflects current BAU (business-as-usual) except for increased frequencies
    3. Provides no transfer to Green, and no relief at Riverside (other than possibly redirecting some riders who get dropped off at Riverside right now -- presumably some of them are getting dropped off because they missed their CR train, or the schedule to their local CR stop is too infrequent)
I'm definitely not opposed to an Indigo spur to Riverside. But I think that Metro services on the inner B&A (Auburndale, West Newton, Newtonville, Newton Corner) is by far the higher priority than additional service to Riverside. So, if it becomes difficult/costly/delaying to build a mainline platform at Riverside, we shouldn't let that sink the whole enterprise. And a station at "Norumbega Junction" could offer an alternative in the future.

(Plus, for real, I really do like the sound of that name!)
 

Riverside

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
877
Reaction score
1,175
Offs is also in the same ballpark, so something seems ...off
I wanted to see how many people might get off at Longwood, etc. but that's hard to do when the data is suspect.
I think your concern is reasonable, but also the data itself may be internally valid -- i.e. even if the overall numbers are undercounted, the ratios from station to station may be consistent.

I would agree with that, and go a step further to say that if a better option were available at Riverside itself people would likely take that over the Green. I think the very high parking utilization at Wellesley Farms, Wellesley Hills, and Auburndale -- the 3 stops closest to Riverside -- show that there is likely a lot of spillover to Riverside/Woodland (or people who simply drive into Boston) from these areas simply because they can't reliably get parking at those stations. Travel times from Riverside to all of the destinations in my chart would be even more advantageous from Riverside via Indigo compared Riverside via Green and people would absolutely pick that over Green if the headways were there to pick that. Riverside and Woodland are the only 500+ spot stations between Route 128 and Alewife (this is part of the reason Alewife is such a mess), and I think that with Indigo to Riverside, a lot of people would shift from Woodland to Riverside because of the much better travel times to any destination that's not Longwood. Riverside pretty much the only place along the B&A Indigo there could be a massive P&R facility.

This is one of the reasons I'm eager to see your Riverside mockups :). I think it's unlikely we see another west side P&R except on Needham GLX. Wellesley isn't going to build one and they own the lots in Wellesley. I know it's hard to figure out the pieces in such a small and weird area, but I think if there's a way to get Riverside itself up to 5-6tph on the B&A that would be huge.
You saw where I was going. I'm basically proposing a new PnR along Recreation and Riverside Roads, just west of the 128/90 interchange. There are parking lots nearby, which I'm sure are privately owned, but I also imagine could be purchased at reasonable cost and used for garage(s) if 1) guaranteed dedicated parking spaces and 2) gaining enormous transit access literally on their front door.

In some ways, this is a better spot for a PnR than Riverside because very very few people live nearby, unlike Riverside which does have a bit of a walk-up, and as mentioned earlier is targeted for further development; the T could probably sell parts of the parking lot for a decent profit at some point.

Every once in a while, I've heard of a proposal for a commuter rail PnR here. To my knowledge, it's never been studied in depth, and if it has I certainly haven't seen it. So there may be problems that make this DOA. But, to my knowledge, even those proposals did not include a short Green Line extension. Given the significant increase in service frequencies such an extension would provide (easily adding 8-10 tph at peak on top of 4-10 tph on the commuter rail), as well as the increased access to Longwood and (for now) the north end of downtown, I think a combined Green/Indigo station could be much more compelling.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
904
Reaction score
196
IIRC they are converting the offices at that spot to lab space (what else!)
 

Top