Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

xec

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Appealing idea--but what about the MBTA buses that traverse the area?
What about them? I just tossed out the idea as something I’d like to see, the way lots of posters toss out the idea of building a thousand-footer at this or that location. I’m not a traffic engineer, so I didn’t perform a rigorous traffic analysis to determine the feasibility of my idea before posting it. But other members who post about locations where they’d like to see a high-rise aren’t called out for not considering how it would impact shadows, or wind, or noise, or public transportation, or traffic, or sewers and other utilities, so I don’t see why you’re holding me to a different standard.

Looks like the pandemic wiped-out the 550s-series service through Winthrop Sq., but you still have the 501, 504, 505, and 7 rumbling through Winthrop Sq. per the MBTA system map. (3rd inset down on the left-hand vertical, Downtown Boston/Cambridge). It would seem decidedly like a half-measure to eliminate all the private auto/truck traffic, but still have the buses barreling through... and (assuming the campaign to remove the private autos/trucks is successful),
I don’t know anything about traffic engineering or MBTA bus route, but your objections strike me as ridiculous. For starters, you seem to be implying that Otis or Devonshire are the one and only way a bus could go from Summer St. to Franklin St. You’ll have to explain to me why no alternate routes are possible before I consider that a credible objection.

Your other objections are pure hyperbole. I don’t hang around Winthrop Square much and have never seen a bus go by, but I sincerely doubt they “barrel through” those narrow streets. And even if they do, the MBTA could just tell the drivers to stop barreling through. Problem solved.

I also wouldn’t call eliminating private auto/truck traffic but leaving buses alone a “half-measure” unless buses make up half the traffic that goes thru there. There’s an MBTA bus route in front of my house and I often see buses go by because I like to sit in the front porch for hours. It’s a pretty busy street traffic-wise, but if car and trucks were excluded and only buses were left the traffic would basically go down to zero. There’d be no traffic whatsoever on the street except two buses (one in each direction) every 15 minutes during morning and evening rush, and two buses every 25 minutes all other times. And none on Sunday, so that day the street would be totally free of traffic. I don’t know the frequency of buses at Winthrop Square, but I doubt that for every car that goes by a bus also goes by. It’s more likely that a lot of cars go by between two buses, so eliminating the cars and trucks would be more than a “half-measure”.

what argument would you make against them, assuming the MBTA (and their ridership-constituency?) would object? The optics are very different when you're trying to eliminate public-transit service vs. private vehicles, no?
I might be mistaken, but it seems to me that there’s a subtle undertone of social justice umbrage in that question. Van gave me a very stern warning the last time I was baited into an argument over public vs. private and went on a rant. I don’t want to get another warning or get banned, so your question will have to go unanswered.

At this point I’d just like to recall my post. I’d appreciate it if the mods could move it to the /dev/null thread where all my other rants end up.
 

DBM

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What about them? I just tossed out the idea as something I’d like to see, the way lots of posters toss out the idea of building a thousand-footer at this or that location. I’m not a traffic engineer, so I didn’t perform a rigorous traffic analysis to determine the feasibility of my idea before posting it. But other members who post about locations where they’d like to see a high-rise aren’t called out for not considering how it would impact shadows, or wind, or noise, or public transportation, or traffic, or sewers and other utilities, so I don’t see why you’re holding me to a different standard.



I don’t know anything about traffic engineering or MBTA bus route, but your objections strike me as ridiculous. For starters, you seem to be implying that Otis or Devonshire are the one and only way a bus could go from Summer St. to Franklin St. You’ll have to explain to me why no alternate routes are possible before I consider that a credible objection.

Your other objections are pure hyperbole. I don’t hang around Winthrop Square much and have never seen a bus go by, but I sincerely doubt they “barrel through” those narrow streets. And even if they do, the MBTA could just tell the drivers to stop barreling through. Problem solved.

I also wouldn’t call eliminating private auto/truck traffic but leaving buses alone a “half-measure” unless buses make up half the traffic that goes thru there. There’s an MBTA bus route in front of my house and I often see buses go by because I like to sit in the front porch for hours. It’s a pretty busy street traffic-wise, but if car and trucks were excluded and only buses were left the traffic would basically go down to zero. There’d be no traffic whatsoever on the street except two buses (one in each direction) every 15 minutes during morning and evening rush, and two buses every 25 minutes all other times. And none on Sunday, so that day the street would be totally free of traffic. I don’t know the frequency of buses at Winthrop Square, but I doubt that for every car that goes by a bus also goes by. It’s more likely that a lot of cars go by between two buses, so eliminating the cars and trucks would be more than a “half-measure”.



I might be mistaken, but it seems to me that there’s a subtle undertone of social justice umbrage in that question. Van gave me a very stern warning the last time I was baited into an argument over public vs. private and went on a rant. I don’t want to get another warning or get banned, so your question will have to go unanswered.

At this point I’d just like to recall my post. I’d appreciate it if the mods could move it to the /dev/null thread where all my other rants end up.
Your tone is oddly exasperated given that I started by validating your proposal as a great idea. That said, I never implied anything about "Otis or Devonshire [being] the one and only way a bus could go"--I was merely pointing out that these buses are a phenomenon to contend with.

I have traversed Winthrop Square thousands of times (2x daily during a work year x 10+ years working down there). My subjective impression has always been that the buses "barrel" through--i.e., as a pedestrian attempting the traverse of the Sq., I'm frequently uncomfortable with how fast they're going (even though they've only been accelerating from right around the corner at Federal/Franklin). Call me what you will for said level of discomfort.

Anyway, we'll see what happens when the revamped Winthrop Square Park gets unveiled next year... and we'll go from there!

EDIT: also, as much as I sincerely love the idea--the adjacent DTX pedestrian zone is chronically, constantly infiltrated by vehicles that don't belong in it (separate and aside from emergency vehicles). Shouldn't "we" (however that's construed) put our energy behind resolving that multi-decade failure, first? I would (again, sincerely) suggest that a solution for the DTX ped zone might point the way toward how your idea could be made a practical reality.
 
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KentXie

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Appealing idea--but what about the MBTA buses that traverse the area? Looks like the pandemic wiped-out the 550s-series service through Winthrop Sq., but you still have the 501, 504, 505, and 7 rumbling through Winthrop Sq. per the MBTA system map. (3rd inset down on the left-hand vertical, Downtown Boston/Cambridge). It would seem decidedly like a half-measure to eliminate all the private auto/truck traffic, but still have the buses barreling through... and (assuming the campaign to remove the private autos/trucks is successful), what argument would you make against them, assuming the MBTA (and their ridership-constituency?) would object? The optics are very different when you're trying to eliminate public-transit service vs. private vehicles, no?
I don't think that's a half-measure at all. Ban private auto/truck traffic, but allow buses to traverse at a certain speed limit. Denver runs a Mall bus down it's Downtown pedestrian area and it works great.
 

DBM

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I don't think that's a half-measure at all. Ban private auto/truck traffic, but allow buses to traverse at a certain speed limit. Denver runs a Mall bus down it's Downtown pedestrian area and it works great.
Glad to know there's an example out there already working in the real world. By the way, as a postscript (I only just remembered this)--when Winthrop Center opens in a few months, it will, of course, be disgorging and absorbing a significant amount of vehicle traffic into Winthrop Sq. and Devonshire/Franklin intersection, which will dwarf the daily MBTA bus traffic. The project PNF from way back in 2016 aggregates/analyzes all of Winthrop Center's transportation impact projections (pp. 45-51):

https://bpda.app.box.com/s/4ug4249afrkeebu956m0ohhdfes904bb
 

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