MBTA Wikibook

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:02 pm

Hey guys, I'm working on putting together a wikibook on the MBTA. It's not close to ready yet, but I'd love to have some input on what you would want to see in it besides the wikipedia articles that are out there - I plan on making a version for the forum, in pdf form, that will have maps, images, etc that I can't do with wikipedia's book tool. So, feedback, commence!
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:56 pm

Honestly, in my opinion, it's a subject where there is an abundance of information already. If you live anywhere near Boston (and even if you don't) you''ve got excellent resources through the main branch of the Boston Public Library, Sanborn Library, Boston Street Railway Association, as well as net sources such as Dave's Electric Railways, NE Vehicle Inventory, etc. etc. etc., as well as right here on RRN. What there isn't so much of are the supportive and neighboring companies which fed, took, or even ran on MBTA predecessor rail. Middlesex & Boston, Lynn & Boston, Boston & Worcester, Eastern Mass (Bay State, etc.), Commonwealth, West End, Boston & Northern, Old Colony...the list goes on. Did you know that the Central Subway was designed to have Lynn & Boston and Boston & Worcester cars use it ? If you do, good for you because most don't. That's because not a lot is written. If I were doing a study like what you have mentioned, that's probably where I would head.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:06 pm

You give me good ideas for a book 3rdrail - Once I'm settled into my new job, I might have to start doing some digging. Though with a little one on the way, I fear my time will be a little limited:-P That said, I'm still going to continue with this book, to get a better idea of workflow. But your idea ::smiles:: I like it, though my wife might kill me for it:-)
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby The EGE » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:13 pm

jrc, I'm a Wikipedia editor and the main person editing MBTA articles at the moment. Since the middle of last year I've been slowly going through the stations and lines (mostly as I get out to get pictures to illustrate the articles), writing fully researched and often fairly lengthy articles. I've only finished one line article (Greenbush Line) but I've done about 20 of the rapid transit stations and 25 of the commuter rail stations. My work usually ends up like Haymarket for subway stops and MFA for surface stops, and anywhere from Plimptonville to Readville for CR stations.

It's a slow process and I'm lucky if I can do one article weekly. I figure I'll finish around when it's time to take opening-day pictures of the GLX.

I'm mostly backlogged at the moment - I have about 800 pictures from several walks and trips to sort through - but if there's any specific articles you'd like to have improved I can take a look.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:24 pm

EGE, that's awesome. I appreciate the effort you are putting into this. Perhaps at some point I will go through all the articles and see what I can dig up for you - I just started this project last night, so it'll take a while. We might have to work together to get some of the more rare information mentioned by 3rdrail onto wikipedia - Like I said above, I'll have to start digging once I'm settled into my job.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:42 pm

I applaud your initiative, and I'd think of doing it myself if I weren't so lazy quite frankly. Actually, I have never allowed my hobby to turn into a job, which is why I probably won't do that. I was offered the Publications Director position at Boston Street Railway Association a while back, but regretfully had to turn that down for the same reason. But, as far as my suggestion is concerned, keep the general concept in mind. Combining outside companies in a book is such virgin territory that it would probably be very attractive to the market- I don't recall it ever being done before. And, one more piece of advice, you can make a project like this as all-encompassing as you want. First up, you're not really competing with any other traction author out there so it's really up to you how deep you go. You might find that the work that it takes to produce info on ancillary companies to BERy is less than BERy by itself, providing you had a basic "depth gauge" (criteria to clear) for each company which you were discussing. Beyond that, it would be up to you, you would be golden and probably well recieved as an author who went into unfamiliar territory, and I would imagine, attractive to a reputable publisher.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:27 pm

Thanks 3rdrail. The initial book will have some info on lines other than the T - it's a collection of wikipedia articles in book form(using their own book tool), and I intend to pull in as much as I can. As for a REAL book, well, I'm going to have to see the volume of material I can gather. That's one thing that I've always wondered too - where is all the information about the Eastern Mass, etc kept? I know about the Sanborn Library, and I know Seashore has a library, but both are a bit of a trek for me. I'm wondering how much info is still out there. I guess I'll have to find out(Eh, I need an excuse to get to Seashore, though I'll have to hope I can get there some weekend before my kid is born).

So, I have a set of goals then:
1. Finish this book, most of which is ordering chapters and modifying it with maps and such.
2. Figure out how I am going to distribute a 130+Meg Pdf (Might have to restart my website!)
3. Start gathering material for the first REAL book. Heck, I can start this now - anyone who has info, let me know!
4. Use my contacts in the book making industry(where I used to work) to get some copies published.

Also, I'm big on open source, so the process of writing this will be pretty open - Mods, feel free to change the title of this thread to reflect
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby modorney » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:19 am

This would be a wonderful contribution. As mentioned, much of the data is in print form in various libraries (Seashore), BERY, etc.) but not online.

Having a map of the old Eastern Mass Street Railway would be great, along with the other lines.

Trackless brollies (trollyeybusses) would also be good.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby The EGE » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:47 am

It doesn't have some of the line that came later, but you may be interested in this 1899 Massachusetts street railways map.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... ilways.jpg
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:27 pm

EGE, I love it. I want it as a poster, but I think my wife would kill me. I do, however, intend to use it as a good reference and starting point!
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:57 pm

/Speaking of references, I'm trying to figure out where to start - What resources and books actually do exist that talk about streetcars in the Metro-Boston area? I have Streetcar lines of the Hub, and both of the Boston Trolleys in color books, both of which have some basic info about the Eastern Mass, and some pictures of a few lines outside of the Boston Area. Who should I start talking to? I know there is the state transportation library, is Seashore worth the trip for info?
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby 3rdrail » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:38 pm

Are you a member of the Boston Street Railway Association ? Monthly meetings with presentations on local historical transit goings-on, along with complementary "Rollsign" magazine and any other publication that BSRA puts out. Also, a room full of guys who probably have the answer to any questions that you might have.
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:43 pm

That's on my todo list - I've been to their presentations before, and enjoyed them. I'm going to have to check to see when the next time I can get into Boston will be!
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby 3rdrail » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:02 pm

Well, my friend, I can tell you for certain that the subject regarding historical Boston transit is a huge subject...and huge on many different levels, any one of which one could get lost in, believe me ! We have guys in the hobby who are only interested in track plans. Normally, you would think that blueprints for an installation would be pretty cut and dry - not track plans. You could search for different BERy plans for a lifetime and keep finding additions, subtractions, alterations, truncated lines, new lines, etc. etc. That's just one of about hundreds of primary interests in the hobby. My advice to you is to make sure that you are willing to spend a lot of time researching, travelling, and talking with people if you are going to even scratch this subject as a novice (with all due respect). One good thing in your favor is that railway buffs like to share their knowledge, myself included, so that's a plus. But you still have to take the initiative and it's really not the kind of thing that you can do within a matter of years by fitting it into your schedule only occasionally. Good luck !
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Re: MBTA Wikibook

Postby jrc520 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:26 pm

Thanks! I fully intend to get far more into this in a month or so - need to get settled into my new job first. I think one of the hard parts is going to be figuring out how deep I want to go - very much part of me wants to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes. The other part reminds me that I should keep the topic accessible. Then a third part reminds me of who my audience is, and that I should just go hog wild:-D

That said, I think I have a tentative structure for the book, if only to give me a focus:
Chapter 1: Overview of Metro-Boston streetcar companies.
Chapter 2: Eastern Mass Street Railway – northern
Chapter 3: Eastern Mass Street Railway – southern
Chapter 4: Middlesex and Boston
Chapter 5: Fitchburg and Leominster
Chapter 6: Union St. Railway.
Chapter 7: Worchester Consolidated
Chapter 8: Boston & Worchester Air Line
Chapter 9: Nashua St railway company
Chapter 10: Manchester st railway company
Chapter 11: Providence Streetcar company
Chapter 12: Other lines.

I know I'll need to be contacting a few people right off the bat for information, as well as hitting up the libraries. I'll also be bugging everyone here a lot:-D Hm, that gives me an idea...

The other thing I think I'll be doing, in concert, is updating wikipedia with some general information that comes from my research. I'm a firm believer in fair and open access to information, so what better way to share what I find? Mind you, I'll most likely use the amazon self publish feature to distribute the book, as, having worked in the book industry, I've seen the cost involved in doing a print run - oh my, as you could say. 3rdrail, I'd love to pick your mind of one these days btw, as I consider you a respected source of information in this community.
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