Seaport Transportation

jklo

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Nobody who thinks deeply about transit thought the gondola was a good idea. Nobody who thinks deeply about transit thinks a Southie street car would alleviate congestion in the Seaport.
Summer Street traffic wise isn't that bad (for now). To beat the 7 bus as it is you need something grade separated. And since a tunnel probably isn't happening I guess you are going to have to go up.
 

ceo

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Any transit solution in the Seaport has to be separated from vehicular traffic. I'm about as big a fan of urban gondolas (and skiing ones too) as you're likely to meet, and even I thought the Seaport gondola was a terrible idea. Conveniently, we already have a nice transit tunnel running through the place, it just needs to get used by something higher-capacity than dual-mode bendy buses. Can the turnaround loop at South Station handle Green Line trains, even Type 10s? (You know, if they laid tracks down.)
 

HenryAlan

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Everything I've seen on that question states that the South Boston transit way was provisioned for light rail. And it makes sense, as rail tunnels can be narrower than bus tunnels, so of course it could take LRVs. Basically, lay down track, maybe make some adjustment to the wiring (one needs to be lower than the other), and voila, near instant light rail line.
 

George_Apley

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Any transit solution in the Seaport has to be separated from vehicular traffic. I'm about as big a fan of urban gondolas (and skiing ones too) as you're likely to meet, and even I thought the Seaport gondola was a terrible idea. Conveniently, we already have a nice transit tunnel running through the place, it just needs to get used by something higher-capacity than dual-mode bendy buses. Can the turnaround loop at South Station handle Green Line trains, even Type 10s? (You know, if they laid tracks down.)
Not worth it to make the transitway rail until it can be hooked up to Green. Then you don't have to worry about the loop at all. Remember that busses will still need to use the tunnel because at the very least the Airport and Chelsea busses will still use the South Station connection.
 

tangent

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Any transit solution in the Seaport has to be separated from vehicular traffic. I'm about as big a fan of urban gondolas (and skiing ones too) as you're likely to meet, and even I thought the Seaport gondola was a terrible idea. Conveniently, we already have a nice transit tunnel running through the place, it just needs to get used by something higher-capacity than dual-mode bendy buses. Can the turnaround loop at South Station handle Green Line trains, even Type 10s? (You know, if they laid tracks down.)
Are the bus tunnels at capacity? If not, then buy more buses.
 

anthtucker312

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Remember that busses will still need to use the tunnel because at the very least the Airport and Chelsea busses will still use the South Station connection.
Would it be plausible for SL1 and SL3 to stop at the existing above ground silver line stop at South Station and be routed through I-90 instead of continuing to use the transitway tunnel?

I know that running both light rail and the silver line in the tunnel at the same time is possible, but I would imagine it would have a negative impact on rail service due to the slow speed of the buses through the tunnel.
 

Nakedi

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Henry, don't worry, nobody's ever mistaken me for a deep thinker and I doubt anyone will start now-- and yet somehow I manage to comment about things on the internet. What a time to be alive! ;)

I'm not arguing the merits of a Southie street car or gondola over rails in the trainsitway or dedicated bus lanes in the Seaport-- as I said in my reply to Van, the efficacy of both concepts over a streetcar is convincing. I think I'm reacting to two things: one, in our present reality, the T and the City of Boston have not shown the wherewithal to do (respectively) rails in the transitway or effective bus lanes (on Congress Street or anywhere else). Yes, there are bus lanes elsewhere but they lack even the most basic enforcement. They haven't accomplished anything if they just put down paint. It's like if I called myself a body builder by virtue of the fact that I have a gym membership. Same with the transitway-- folks here have shared lots of interesting plans over the years, but the reality it doesn't rise above Internet message board fodder in terms of real life plausibility-- same with the street car or gondola.

The other thing I think I'm reacting to is the prioritization of a concept's effectiveness or efficiency as the predominant mode of evaluating an idea in this thread and on this forum more generally. I'm not against effectiveness or efficiency, but they don't have to be the beginning and end of the discussion. For example, take George's assertion that it's "not worth it" to lay tracks in the transitway until they can be hooked up into the Green Line network-- a totally reasonable assertion IMO, but what would worth it look like in this instance, not only to us on this board but to the responsible agencies or the politicians who appropriate their funding? If it means finding the sweet spot of minimal costs and maximal operational efficiency, I'm afraid we'll all be six feet underground before any more transit infrastructure of consequence gets built in the Seaport.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Are the bus tunnels at capacity? If not, then buy more buses.
They are. Stupid damn D St. light exerts its drag. Dwell times from intra-Seaport passengers needing to elbow around luggage-lugging Logan passengers on the same bus exerts its drag. Only being able to board 47 bodies total (37 total if it's a luggage rack-equipped bus) per headway spent exerts its drag. And the deplorable pavement condition may or may not be exerting some drag 15 years on. SL3 was the last gasp for the current configuration, and most of that was attained through rebalance of headway assignments and not outright expansion. A faster power switch (either from pure battery buses or less-clunky/higher-precision trolley pole raising mechanism if they stick with charge-on-wire for the next electric fleet) can roll back some schedule gains, but that's benchmarked against escalating D St. congestion (regardless of what ineffective signal re-timings they're trying this week) and state-of-repair indifference with the pavement so in reality it won't buy back any capacity.

The biggest problem overall is the vehicle capacity per headway ceiling, which is painfully small for a mode that purports to be rapid transit -like for an exploding neighborhood. A 2-car trolley seats 88 per headway, more than twice what SL achieves when 47-seater SL2's and 37-seater SL1's are averaged together. A 2-car GLT supertrain probably ends up seating around 120+ per headway. The fact that luggage rack-equipped SL1's have to carry so much of the general load for the whole neighborhood is also a looming nightmare as the separate ridership audiences clash maneuvering around luggage in the aisles + around doors and slowly drag the overall dwell time down.

You can empty a packed platform real quick with a one-and-done trolley lash-up of that seating capacity, but when it takes burning 3 bus headways (some with the luggage dwell problem) to accomplish the same task it's fighting a starkly losing battle against the long-term growth curve. Think of the B Line--a branch--when it has to be shuttle-bused with a neverending string of 40-footers; that's the battle the Transitway has to fight (in somewhat more organized fashion) every single day going forward. And we haven't even gotten to the fact that the damn thing still doesn't direct-connect to downtown serving all that demand it was originally supposed to. You absolutely must find a way--somewhere on the priority list after fixing D St.--to get higher-capacity vehicles with more doors in there so each headway can carry a heavier load and the dwells get kept in check. Since you can't physically add more seats to a 60-footer and can't lash them up, the only way to achieve that capacity is with fixed-guideway rail that can trainline multiple units of much larger-capacity cars. Thankfully, the tunnel was built for exactly that purpose and also a rail + bus coexistence at the same platforms.

So figure that rail eventually punches through from the Green Line (forget an isolated loop in the stet tunnel; that's not solving the right set of problems). And that D St. is grade separated before or during that project relieving some crunch. And that half the vehicles moving on a fixed guideway relieves some other crunch. And that luggage-bearing SL1 finally has some load-bearing differentiation from all other routes so the dwell problem gets rolled back. Then figure that any one GL northern branch fed into the Transitway is going to operate at no worse than 6-min. baseline headway, with 2 alternating northern branches fed in combining for 3-min. headways. The platforms shooting SL Way to Lechmere/etc. are all long enough for 4-car (132-seat) trains max per each headway, and SL2 gets swallowed or somehow displaced in the conversion. Per the 2014 Blue Book (pre-SL3), SL1 ran at 10-min. headways peak and SL2 + any SL Way short-turns at 5 min. headways peak...i.e. not much different than a 6 min. GL branch when all is averaged and apportioned out.

88-120 seat passenger train to/from Branch A every 6 minutes (exact)​
...overlapped with...​
37-47 seat bus to/from Route B every 6 minutes (optimistic)​
...overlapped with...​
88-120 seat passenger train to.from Branch C every 6 minutes (exact)​
...overlapped with...​
37-47 seat bus to/from Route D every 6 minutes (optimistic)​

You can move ~300 seated passengers every 4 headways or 12+ minutes. Compare that with:

37 seat bus to/from SL1 every 6 minutes (over-optimistic)​
...overlapped with...​
47 seat bus to/from SL2 every 6 minutes (exact)​
...overlapped with...​
37 seat bus to/from SL3 every 6 minutes (over-optimistic)​
...overlapped with...​
47 seat bus to/from "other" service pattern every 6 minutes (exact)​

You can move ~160 seated passengers every 4 headways or 12+ minutes...but probably more on the order of 15+ minutes because of how the Ted gaps out SL1/3 headways vs. SL2/"other". With more platform dwell stress to contend with from the luggage rack buses needing to shoulder general load. But if and only if you address D St., the pavement, and a faster power switch because otherwise you won't outpace attrition enough to even have a chance at an "other" service pattern rounding out the mix.


Yeah, it's stark as all hell a capacity difference.
 

jass

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I probably mentioned this before, but a lot of this can be fixed almost immediately with more suitable buses.

More doors. Less seats.

It's something every airport that relies on buses to move people between terminals has figured out



Thats a solution you have on the ground in 9 months, versus years and years from anything involving infrastructure.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I probably mentioned this before, but a lot of this can be fixed almost immediately with more suitable buses.

More doors. Less seats.

It's something every airport that relies on buses to move people between terminals has figured out



Thats a solution you have on the ground in 9 months, versus years and years from anything involving infrastructure.
How does ripping out seats for an ever more singular airport specialty help the problem? Intra-Seaport demand is what's doing it as primary aggravating factor, not over-the-top Logan demand. Trying to "Big Red" your way out of this pickle isn't even asking the right question in the first place. When people moving from SS to BCEC are slamming the luggage rack buses and creating a dwell problem from clashing audiences because that's all you can run for propping up >50% of the Transitway headways, you have a problem of very much general purpose. Outright harming accessibility by deleting seats and backfill-improving it by adding doors doesn't address the fact that any interior config is going to strain to suit such divergent audiences when those audiences have no choice but to be lumped together in perpetual conflict. Especially when there's nothing you can do to the SL2 side of the headway pie to amplify their capacity any more to compensate. Another set of doors on the Ted buses means another set of doors blocked by more of the same standees with luggage as Seaport working schlubs try to squeeze by them in constrained aisle spaces. Instead of having crap dwells by the reference standard of 2-door buses you have crap dwells by the reference standards of 3-door buses. It's an underperformer for its mode all the same because it's being stretched beyond the limits of the job it was designed to do.

If you do get a mode in there with more massive passenger-per-headway capacity than a 60-footer artic to shoulder the load, THEN you can optimize the shit out of SL1's livery for airport travel because the riders who'll be waiting for the specific SL1 schedule over all others will indeed be as specialized and single-purpose as a Logan Express rider. While everybody else headed to the Convention Center will have their higher-capacity/faster-boarding other frequencies to flock to for avoiding tripping over luggage at the doors. De facto parting of the seas.

Lumped together under that very low capacity-per-headway ceiling the whole works is ensnared in too much perpetual conflict on too many different fronts over too many years of growth to pretend some "9 month on the ground" lazy answer is going to put a meaningful dent in the needed solutions. We're in way too deep with this problem to buy into fantasies like that.
 

FK4

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The most effective projects to help Boston transit would be 1) NSRL and 2) all of the Green Line reconfiguration changes outlined in older threads* (which includes a GLX thru the SL transitway). That would seriously undam a lot of flow problems all over the city. Expensive, yes, but I think those are the two biggest things to do (even though the GLX's are really multiple projects). And, since those projects include both a GLX in the Seaport as well as a new Back Bay subway for the GL, you could consider some way to have a GL loop through Gilette, headed north to plug into the new Stuart/Back Bay tunnel.

*
New GL Back Bay tunnel via Stuart
New superstation under Tufts / the church (now apparently "Torus" nightclub") handling GL's headed west to Back Bay via new tunnel, Park via the old Tremont tunnel, south to Dudley (surface south of the Pike), and east to South Station via new tunnel
Connect E & D at Brookline Village (surface vs tunnel)
New GLX off the B via West Station and headed to Harv Sq
+/- E line extended back to Arborway
 

chmeeee

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You don't need to grade separate D to solve the problem there, you just have to deprioritize vehicle capacity on D. There is no reason that signal couldn't operate with a low minimum green time on D Street and trip the signal for the transit way with an advance detector. Would it be as good as grade separation? No, but you could do it next week.
 

JeffDowntown

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You don't need to grade separate D to solve the problem there, you just have to deprioritize vehicle capacity on D. There is no reason that signal couldn't operate with a low minimum green time on D Street and trip the signal for the transit way with an advance detector. Would it be as good as grade separation? No, but you could do it next week.
This has been talked about before. The problem is Massachusetts drivers who invariably block the box.

Give cars a short cycle and there will be massholes sitting in the intersection, blocking the SL buses.
 

jass

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How does ripping out seats for an ever more singular airport specialty help the problem? Intra-Seaport demand is what's doing it as primary aggravating factor, not over-the-top Logan demand. Trying to "Big Red" your way out of this pickle isn't even asking the right question in the first place. When people moving from SS to BCEC are slamming the luggage rack buses and creating a dwell problem from clashing audiences because that's all you can run for propping up >50% of the Transitway headways, you have a problem of very much general purpose.
Creating more space is exactly how you solve that problem. Right now the issue is that a single piece of luggage blocks the super narrow aisle. And because there are so few doors, dwell times take forever as people try to squeeze by. There is ZERO reason why the buses should be configured like a long commuter route, with 2x2 seating. Zero.

Thats primarily why rail has more capacity - more standees. BART and WMATA, because many of their trips are so long, offer 2x2 seating, but they do it at the expense of capacity.

And the people going the 4 minutes from South Station to Courthouse don't need the seats.

Look at this bad boy. Hapless tourist with 7 suitcases blocking your exit? Great, theres 4 more of them.




Long dwell = less capacity. Fix that, and you solve a lot of your problems in the short term.
 

millerm277

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Creating more space is exactly how you solve that problem. Right now the issue is that a single piece of luggage blocks the super narrow aisle. And because there are so few doors, dwell times take forever as people try to squeeze by. There is ZERO reason why the buses should be configured like a long commuter route, with 2x2 seating. Zero.
The problem to me with the general concept you're going for is (less seating, more space to move) that you're not running a short airport circulator route where people are on the buses for 5 minutes at a time to go between terminals.

The SS / Logan runtime is often long enough that asking a large portion of the passengers to stand for the whole trip (often while juggling bags/more items than typical) is probably not going to go over very well either.

At peak times, inbound trip runtimes from Logan to SS are over 30min. That's a long time to ask the average person to stand around.

It's one thing when you have a few standees (typically going to be those who can easily do so/may want to stretch their legs) and most are seated, but when the median passenger is going to be a standee, that's asking a lot with the....excellent fitness of the average American.

And a bus is prone to sharper movements than trains are, IMO.
 

jass

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The problem to me with the general concept you're going for is (less seating, more space to move) that you're not running a short airport circulator route where people are on the buses for 5 minutes at a time to go between terminals.

The SS / Logan runtime is often long enough that asking a large portion of the passengers to stand for the whole trip (often while juggling bags/more items than typical) is probably not going to go over very well either.

At peak times, inbound trip runtimes from Logan to SS are over 30min. That's a long time to ask the average person to stand around.

It's one thing when you have a few standees (typically going to be those who can easily do so/may want to stretch their legs) and most are seated, but when the median passenger is going to be a standee, that's asking a lot with the....excellent fitness of the average American.

And a bus is prone to sharper movements than trains are, IMO.
Its not uncommon for people to stand for well over 30 minutes in most public transit systems.

When I would take a bus from central NJ to NYC, there were usually people forced to stand, and thats a 45-70 minute trip.

Of course seating should be available for the elderly and those with disabilities. But the current SL bus design of more seating than standing simply doesnt make sense for the type of cargo being hauled.

Even using longitudinal seating - like on the red, blue, and orange lines - would be an improvement. And thats a quick retrofit that can be done on the existing buses.
 

Rover

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Question: Where does the green line end in the Seaport under these proposals? I'm reading as far as the old Manulife building stop under D street but what happens after that?

Also, are we building an....F line...route that goes from Dudley through Boylston via a street car on Washington and then into the old tunnel somehow and then it continues over to South Station via a new tunnel under Essex? I believe the promise to the residents of Roxbury was a one seat ride to the airport. What Silver Line bus service would remain in this scenario?
 

Shepard

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Every year or so I find an excuse to repost this:

I've posted something similar before regarding BRT routes:



This is a Seaport-centric BRT plan linking to Back Bay, North Station and beyond, residential Southie and Dudley. It hinges on a series of transfers at Dewey Square (South Station). Under this plan, the current SL would still likely be the best transfer for Red Line commuters, but obviously a lot of capacity would be freed up. Also, SL would still be the best airport route from South Station.

Doubling up on routes along the Greenway makes that into a major transit corridor like the old El, making transfers from BL and OL very quick and easy.

Some BRT lanes would need to be counterflow, but otherwise this corresponds well to the grid. The Dudley line in particular utilizing the Haul Road will be a very quick express.
Short of GLX Seaport, nothing better solves the connectivity problem for the seaport, and it doesn't even deign to use the transitway tunnel. Just real goddamned BRT. So the question is, could BTD implement this by itself?
 

Riverside

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^ Exactly. It also sounds like splitting out airport traffic from Seaport-local traffic is called for -- allowing for rolling stock that is a better fit for the two kinds of journeys.

Keep SL2, SL3 and SLW in the Transitway. Reroute SL1 into an express surface route:

1) Put separated bus lanes on Congress Street with robust signal prioritization. Since this stretch is nonstop, the bus lanes could even go on the inner lanes, insulating them from snowbanks and double-parking.
2) Create a clockwise loop of bus lanes on Dorchester, Summer, Atlantic and Congress.
3) Add surface station (roofs, benches, level boarding, etc) on the northwest corner of Atlantic and Summer. Integrate with existing Red Line headhouse to make "feel" like one station. (Ideally, the BRT platform would be on the other side of the street, in order to be on the same side as the railroad station. That seems a lot harder to do, though, given the street layout there.)
4) In the Seaport, convert this empty lot into an off-street bus transfer terminal into World Trade Center station for transfers to Silver Line (and Green Line). Roofs, benches, level boarding, ideally fare gates with transfers to the subway station within the fare control zone.
4a) Logan-bound buses would simply pull off of Congress into a dedicated berth, and then continue on to D Street, before getting onto the highway.
4b) Downtown-bound buses would need some finessing. In an ideal world, Downtown buses would exit the highway and turn left at the intersection of Congress and B, with a WTC stop somewhere between B and E Service Road. However, that is a pretty long distance transfer for business travelers. So, the buses turn right, directly into the off-street terminal (with a bus-only connection direct from the off-ramp). To depart, either add a bus-only T-intersection just west of the bridge, so that buses basically hook a wide counterclockwise U-turn to depart the terminal onto Congress and head toward downtown, OR have buses hook a clockwise U-turn off-street and reconfigure the intersection of B and Congress so that buses can cross from the northwest corner of the lot into their protected lane on Congress during a dedicated light cycle (see illustration below).

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 2.21.56 PM.png


Service to Logan runs: South Station, World Trade Center, Logan A, Logan B1, Logan B2, Logan C, Logan E, World Trade Center, South Station.

Depending on how aggressive the South Station terminal is, you could even set up multiple berths so that buses can layover between runs. Alternatively, a layover could be set up at World Trade Center, though you'd have to deadhead from South Station in that case.

This could be branded as the Silver Line, or potentially as another part of the Logan Express.

The World Trade Center surface terminal could also serve express BRT buses from Dudley & LMA via Melnea Cass + S. Boston Bypass + W Service Rd Ext + Congress.
 

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