What is lacking? For one thing, a spirit of innovation!

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

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What is lacking? For one thing, a spirit of innovation!

Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:48 am

My brief point is this,
It is unfotunate that the T Commuter Rail section never sems to "think outside the box". While some area may lack the capacity for traditional heavy rail commuter service what about alternatives? In Ottawa, Ontario an experimental railcar service has been quite successful. The equipment is not allowed to mingle with conventional rail equipment so regular operations are suspended while the railcar is operating. Could future growth come from branch feeder service? It would be at a fraction of the cost. Maybe Millis service could operate in this manner and feed into the branch at Needham Jct? What about the old B&M Saugus Branch, it runs through a heavily populated area that does not have good transit service.

I'm not arguing specifically for service to these points, I'm just wondering why such a large system with lots of talented people never seems to come up with any new ideas.
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Postby Leo Sullivan » Sun Mar 06, 2005 10:02 am

Many of those doing planning for the MBTA are as well informed as any European or West Coast planner but, construction priorities for the T are
not set by planners or transit proponents. Carefully promoted clamour and simplistic newspaper articles put projects in the public eye so, a carefully thought out project without a 'popular' following has little chance of seeing the light of day. The Saugus branch, as you mentioned, is probably the best chance for a West Coast/European line in the Boston area but, it would take an innovative engineering approach (not very) and, the idea
just hasn't caught the imagination of those who could promote it. There is no 'demand'. Everyone has an agenda, consider the railfans. the
Silver Line will soon provide a two seat ride from Cambridge to the airport but, on this forum and in the public press, there is still a demand for the three seat ride via the Charles St. connection. Is this just because it involves rail construction? It would provide a good route from Central Sq. Cambridge to Orient Heights but, is that worth a Billion? Those who set the priorities, no matter how sensible and informed they are personally, can lose their influence if they ignore the 'popular' agenda. Remember, out system is, with all its shortcomings, one of the most successful in America or Europe.
We have ridership/market share better than most of Europe's famous systems and, better than any American ones outside of New York and Chicago. As we are not America's third largest city, that is quite an accomplishment and, should be kept in mind.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:04 pm

Points well taken
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On the subject of feeder service

Postby CSX Conductor » Sun Mar 06, 2005 3:05 pm

While on the topic of feeder services:

Any word on the feeder service that was supposed to come over the canal to connect to a proposed Commuter Line in Buzzard's Bay?
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Postby Ken W2KB » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:19 pm

NJT's River Line uses diesel light rail vehicles on a freight line during daytime hours when freight is not running, to keep it legal under FRA rules. It connections with NJT, Septa and Amtrak at Trenton.

It was built without federal aid and thus extra costly to the state. While the idea has merit, funding is inadequate here and in New England, I'm sure, for new lines of this sort.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 ::
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: [/url]
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Postby octr202 » Mon Mar 07, 2005 11:02 am


Great topic to bring up, and I think it applies to far more than just the commuter rail. Unfortunately, the T seems to be stuck in a closed loop in the political world here.

The T ends up being agaisnt trying anything new, and doing anything that increases service, and attracts new riders, since that will cost money. (This theorey of course exempts the "anointed ones" like the Silver Line or Greenbush.) Any new service that's not operated now, or even doing anything that results in a meaningful increase in ridership on existing service only makes their world miserable. More passengers means more need for service, which in a world where few if any trips on the MBTA cover their costs fully from teh farebox, means the T will need more subsidy.

Enter the realm of state politics. What is the number one mandate that the state's politicians have given the T? Improve service? Maintain the system? Carry more riders? Get people out of their cars? Help improve the environment, mobility, communities? Nope. The only mandate the T gets from the state is "Cost us less." As long as that is the only leading priority of the Commonwealth, don't expect much to change at the T. All improving and expanding service would do is make their lives tougher.

Its sad, but its seeming more and more like the most logical explanation for the "MBTA thought process." It all boils down to politics, though, and until people who employ the politicians make it a priority, its not too likely to change.

What's even more sad is that Boston and Eastern Mass. are blessed with one of the greatest transit systems in the country (even the world), yet its pretty much stuck in neutral. Whenever I hear light rail plans being knocked by the T, its just tough to hear the mode trashed so much here in the city that started the modern light rail revolution back in 1959.

Just my two cents. Thought I'd throw some more out to keep this moving. :wink:
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Postby DanDubs » Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:13 pm

I wonder if there is anybody of Beacon Hill calculating the building construction and investment that would enter Boston if it had a superior transit network, and the tax windfall thereof.

If anybody is putting out risky proposals its the City of Boston. I believe they are pushing a proposal to route DMUs over the fairmount line to Back Bay, Yawkey, and Allston Landing rather than terminate at South Station. It would sure beat taking a bus to Ruggles, as most commuters do, or waiting for a train to crawl into South Station and take the Red to the Orange Line to get to Back Bay. For those who live along the line, it would save and easy 15-20 minutes.

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