Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby Aerie » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:45 am

I wonder if consideration has ever been given to extending the MBTA Lowell line to UMass Lowell's south campus. The tracks pass right through the campus http://goo.gl/maps/ZVYpu and are at grade next to the big parking lot shown in the map. Trains typically wait a few minutes at Lowell station before returning to Boston, and since it's really only a few thousand feet up the line to reach UMass Lowell, I suspect they could run the train up the line to UMass, reverse, and get back to Lowell station in time to leave for Boston.
Aerie
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:25 pm

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby CRail » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:02 am

Trains laying over don't just sit and wait. After changing ends, crews must conduct a pretrip inspection, set the train up for the inbound trip, and communicate with the dispatcher regarding any circumstances which may affect the trip. If the line were extended, the schedule would have to be adjusted. Also, a new station with ADA compliance would likely have to be constructed. Unfortunately, the days of simple grade crossing and wayside clearing flag stops are a thing of the past (excepting the grandfathered).
Moderator: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Avatar:3679A (since wrecked)/3623B (now in service as 3636B).
User avatar
CRail
 
Posts: 2122
Joined: Tue May 18, 2004 8:27 am
Location: Eastie

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:04 am

Bus coverage is already pretty good around campus between the campus shuttles and LRTA:
http://www.uml.edu/student-services/Tra ... uttle.aspx
http://www.lrta.com/fixedroute.html

I don't know the area well enough to parse exactly which routes amongst the available options provide easiest access, but it's overall a pretty easy city to get around. A second CR station has never really gotten any public mention, and that's probably because their transit options are already well-served. Figure that if they weren't densely-served enough, with all the ongoing studies about an extension to Nashua the school--which is bulking up big-time--would've surely tried to insert itself into the discussion by now and throw its weight around. Hasn't really happened at any widespread level.


For what it's worth that is a constrained section of track with heavy freight traffic, so the engineering for a station is going to be tough unless they tri- or quad-tracked it. Current Lowell station to Bleachery Jct. is 5 tracks: 2 passenger + 3 freight (with a stretch east of the station having additional freight turnouts). And they're frequently full of boxcars if you look at any Google overheads of the station area. If you figure that a full passenger schedule to NH is going to need 2 running tracks, I don't know how a UMass station is going to be able to fit more than one platform and anything close to a full passenger schedule's worth of stops there with all those thru freights. If Nashua + new full-size layover yard means extending the full Lowell schedule to/across the border then UMass is most likely going to have to be a limited-stop station on the Nashua schedule with many trains having to skip that single platform in order to keep traffic flowing on that very busy N. Chelmsford Jct.-Bleachery stretch. It probably will have to remain running-track only between junctions to manage all that mixed traffic quickly and orderly with the projected traffic growth.

North Chelmsford would get a stop at Vinal Square in the area behind Wotton St. and Butterfield St. in any Nashua extension scenario, which would space operationally a little close to any potential UMass stop. It would probably also get higher ridership because of proximity to MA 3A, Rourke Bridge/MA 113, MA 4, MA 40, and two different exits off Route 3. And it would be a few thousand feet past the junction and all the freight interference. That stop would be able to take 100% of the schedule whereas a UMass intermediate would probably be hard pressed to hit 50%. Nothing you can really do about it...junction-to-junction here is already one of the busiest stretches of freight track in the state with ever-escalating volumes, and could become one of the busiest passenger segments in the state if NH happens.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7111
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby CRail » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:36 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote: A second CR station has never really gotten any public mention, and that's probably because their transit options are already well-served. Figure that if they weren't densely-served enough, with all the ongoing studies about an extension to Nashua the school--which is bulking up big-time--would've surely tried to insert itself into the discussion by now and throw its weight around.

Plus, all of the political focus regarding area transportation has been the circulator streetcar service that's been in talks for years and is starting to look rather promising. When implemented, that will likely serve the school much better than a CR stop would.
Moderator: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Avatar:3679A (since wrecked)/3623B (now in service as 3636B).
User avatar
CRail
 
Posts: 2122
Joined: Tue May 18, 2004 8:27 am
Location: Eastie

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby Red Wing » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:14 pm

I agree with all the arguments just made, I would add one more. The parking lots all around your proposed station are reserved for the UMass Community so there would be no parking for commuters. I also can't imagine what the Rourke Bridge/ Drum Hill traffic would be like with the new station. But if someone suggested this to Marty and the Nashua extension happened, I guarantee there would be a station. Chancellor Meehan still has a ton of political pull.
Red Wing
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:55 pm
Location: On the B&B

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby Arborwayfan » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:41 am

I assume that Aerie's suggesting a station for people headed to the university, not a new park-and-ride. Do a lot of students/staff/faculty commute to UMass Lowell from places along the line, outside the range of Lowell RTA buses? If hte school wanted to make a pitch for lots of people in Woburn or Boston itself to commute out, they might have reason to push for a CR stop, and the CR might be in a position to benefit from increased reverse-commute traffic, which would bring in revenue, benefit the public, and not increase operating costs a whole lot as long as it fit into more or less the current schedules. Otherwise the stop wouldn't make sense.

Anyone know if many people use CR to get to Bridgewater State College?
Arborwayfan
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby Aerie » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:01 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:I assume that Aerie's suggesting a station for people headed to the university, not a new park-and-ride.


That is my suggestion...to enable students to get to UMass Lowell more easily from Boston and the northern suburbs. Although the University operates an extensive shuttle bus service connecting the various campus locations, the shuttle buses are not permitted to serve the railroad station during hours when the LRTA is operating. Students arriving at the railroad station must take the LRTA #6 bus, which runs only every 35 minutes. Since the UMass Lowell south campus is only a short distance up the line from Lowell station, and since the tracks are level with the parking lot at Pawtucket Street, and since a new dormitory (Riverview Suites) is being built across the tracks from the campus right at that location, I thought it might make sense to include a commuter rail stop at that point. http://goo.gl/maps/LE2iQ I am not sure how the University is going to get students from the new dormitory to the campus, but they will need either a bridge over the tracks or a tunnel under them, and it might be possible to combine a commuter rail platform as part of that. I have no idea, however, how many students make the commute to UMass Lowell by train, but the MBTA does have a history of providing services at Colleges/Universities (Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, Brandeis, Tufts (GLX), etc.)
Aerie
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:25 pm

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby M&Eman » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:41 pm

Aerie wrote:
Arborwayfan wrote:I assume that Aerie's suggesting a station for people headed to the university, not a new park-and-ride.


That is my suggestion...to enable students to get to UMass Lowell more easily from Boston and the northern suburbs. Although the University operates an extensive shuttle bus service connecting the various campus locations, the shuttle buses are not permitted to serve the railroad station during hours when the LRTA is operating. Students arriving at the railroad station must take the LRTA #6 bus, which runs only every 35 minutes. Since the UMass Lowell south campus is only a short distance up the line from Lowell station, and since the tracks are level with the parking lot at Pawtucket Street, and since a new dormitory (Riverview Suites) is being built across the tracks from the campus right at that location, I thought it might make sense to include a commuter rail stop at that point. http://goo.gl/maps/LE2iQ I am not sure how the University is going to get students from the new dormitory to the campus, but they will need either a bridge over the tracks or a tunnel under them, and it might be possible to combine a commuter rail platform as part of that. I have no idea, however, how many students make the commute to UMass Lowell by train, but the MBTA does have a history of providing services at Colleges/Universities (Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, Brandeis, Tufts (GLX), etc.)


Wouldn't the cheaper solution being negotiating with the LRTA so university shuttles can serve the train station? Bureaucratic problems have bureaucratic solutions. If the problem isn't a physical one, no need to build new infrastructure.
"The Erie only sells 1 way tickets on the NJ&NY because it only has a 99 year lease on the line."
User avatar
M&Eman
 
Posts: 1198
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 4:53 pm

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby trainhq » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:29 pm

Yeah, providing shuttle bus service probably makes more sense. I don't think there are many people who ride
the CR to Umass (maybe a few); would be more local students heading into Boston. The campus is too close
to the existing CR station to be worth a special stop for anyone else.
trainhq
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:07 pm

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby caduceus » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:09 pm

There was a shuttle at one time...don't know if it still exists or not.

Now, if they could extend the trolley to the station... :)
First law of public transportation: You can never be early, but you can always be late.
User avatar
caduceus
 
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:43 pm

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby Red Wing » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:12 am

caduceus wrote:There was a shuttle at one time...don't know if it still exists or not.

Now, if they could extend the trolley to the station... :)


There is still a shuttle that goes between UMass and the train station. There was a study for your trolley option:

http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/dpd/DLTEP/Trolley_Study
Red Wing
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:55 pm
Location: On the B&B

Re: Extending Lowell Line to UMass Lowell

Postby MarkB » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:38 pm

The MBTA is already beyond bankrupt in any proper accounting sense. Adding new spending for new construction - and new operating costs - would be the height of folly. Then again, that hasn't stopped them in the past.

If you're on the edge of going into default on your mortgage, do you talk about getting a second mortgage to add a room?
MarkB
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 11:16 am


Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests