Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri May 17, 2013 11:20 pm

Your post represents a generic "no streetcars" voice that we've heard countless times, not taking intp consideration any of the points or suggestions which have been made on this thread. I'll speak of myself only here when I point to my plan to set up alternate driving plans, placing automobiles on parallel streets which JP Centre is made for. And as far as your lofty historical perspective is concerned, I grew up in Rozzie so JP was my back yard, went to school at Northeastern on the streetcar, and then came out and piloted a Ford Police Interceptor at high speed thousands of times in the area, both with and without streetcars. Not once was I ever delayed. Get a life yourself, perhaps picking up some imagination at the same time !
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby highgreen215 » Sat May 18, 2013 2:17 am

I have seen Centre and South Streets clogged with cars and, yes, buses at certain times on certain days of the week. But the traffic always seems to move, even better than some other places like Cleary Sq., Hyde Park. I have also driven on Centre and South when there were so few vehicles that, if trolleys were still here, they could have sailed right through. And the "clear" times were not, as you might think, in the middle of the night. JP is NOT constantly clogged with heavy traffic as the naysayers would have you believe. The fact that there are periods when trolleys could travel freely through JP means that only the heavy traffic periods need to be addressed, and here's where the out-of-the-box ideas come in. For instance, how about running the trolleys curbside and replacing the lost parking with 2-level parking in existing or new parking lots behind the stores - there is some limited space back there on certain blocks. That would give you a wider roadway and less impediment for emergency vehicles. Just a thought.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat May 18, 2013 7:34 am

highwayman wrote:( as with just about every other taxpayer funded entity )


So, your precious highways as well?
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby atlantis » Sat May 18, 2013 7:57 am

I mentioned this on another thread a while back, but I wonder if there could be a special "dual-mode" vehicle that could run as a streetcar and also as a bus on Huntington Ave. Similar to a "hi-railer" this vehicle could run on rail tracks and roads. I remember seeing a you-tube video of an experimental "rail bus" that was tried on a branch line in Japan. Perhaps one could be designed that ran on electric power in the subway and on battery/bio diesel on the street, also switching between road and rail modes. Such a vehicle could be used to effectively re-extend the E branch to Arborway and even "re-extend" the Green Line to Watertown. Not as a "forever solution" but maybe one that could work for the near-term. Granted, many logistics would need to be worked out.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby 3rdrail » Sat May 18, 2013 12:08 pm

Talking above about driving through JP Centre in an emergency vehicle (responding as such since that has always been the battle cry of the anti-streetcar people), the streetcars don't block them. The trick is to run with lights and siren on a priority call. Mass General Law allows for emergency vehicles to disregard speed, traffic signals, lanes and lights.The motormen are great. They always stop - never side by side - they know better. A streetcar will stop regular vehicle traffic when it picks up and drops off passengers (hopefully !) but life isn't perfect. Police cruisers and EMS get anywhere, fire apparatus can be blocked at Centre turning into Seaverns Ave. heading towards eastern JP with the cars parked in the fire lane - nothing to do with the streetcars. A paper war of ticketing there will take care of that. With my alternate vehicle routing, this would be considerably lessened (eliminated where cars are restricted).
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby highgreen215 » Sat May 18, 2013 1:56 pm

Not only do streetcars stop traffic for passengers, the artic buses do too. I know, they are supposed to pull into the bus stops, but many times they don't bother. They usually pull in at Seaverns, but otherwise. . . . . I like to think that curbside tracks would cure that, but then there is the issue of snow removal. BTW, the corner of Seaverns and Centre is where I usually see illegally parked cars that could block fire apparatus. I think it may require a stand-by tow truck.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby SM89 » Sat May 18, 2013 3:27 pm

highgreen215 wrote:Not only do streetcars stop traffic for passengers, the artic buses do too. I know, they are supposed to pull into the bus stops, but many times they don't bother. They usually pull in at Seaverns, but otherwise. . . . . I like to think that curbside tracks would cure that, but then there is the issue of snow removal. BTW, the corner of Seaverns and Centre is where I usually see illegally parked cars that could block fire apparatus. I think it may require a stand-by tow truck.


Studies have shown that the stops to the side of the road don't really help traffic because the backs almost always remain in the lane blocking the roadway. I feel like they are unsafe too since people try to go into the opposing lane to go around and then there's the people who just got off trying to cross the street who are exposed.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby joshg1 » Sat May 18, 2013 4:04 pm

A bus stops traffic, a trolley stops traffic for passengers- no difference. Pulling out a few parking spaces for longer buses, not that bad. Eliminating all street parking over a two mile stretch- that's a lot of parking spaces to be moved into garages- expen$ive to build garage$. Turning parallel streets into bypas- what parallel streets? Pond and Arborway, Amory and Washington? Those broad, wind swept expanses of Lamartine? Bang goes a pokey residential street and that's always popular.

Why not bypass Centre St in the sainted "Quest for Arborway" by running out Perkins to the Jamaica- and Arborways? Rail transit bypassing JP… you know, like the Orange Line!

Digging up two miles of city streets and buying additional LRVs to provide transit service no better than what exists; because the romance of rails trumps ugly buses; because people likey trolleys- they're so quaint and lovable! I don't want the T, however funded, to spend a fortune on a pretty pet project when long lists of actual service-improving-ridership-increasing projects collect dust on shelves.

To get back to the title of this thread (scroll up -it's there), the only possible advantage of extending E to Hyde is to give Whole Foods customers a rail ride. Until they open one near Fenway, and don't need to venture so far south. Ah, now I've shown my horrible bias- I like Trader Joe's better.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby wicked » Sat May 18, 2013 4:43 pm

highwayman wrote:Besides, the MBTA's bottomless pot of gold will soon run dry,


Um, it ran dry a long time ago.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby CRail » Thu May 23, 2013 2:21 pm

I think some are threatened by the growing public movement to steer people out of their cars. The once profitable railroads were forced out of business in favor of the heavily subsidized 1 person, 1 vehicle. As our economy experiences its own version of mother nature (our expanse once impressive infrastructure inherited by a generation who doesn't want to maintain it, gas gouging, environmental awareness, and the simple fact that personal automobiles are simply inefficient and impractical for dense urban environments), you notice a natural shift back to what makes more sense; albeit a slow, reluctant one. Some, as we've seen here, are terrified of that shift and will be pried from their automobiles kicking and screaming.

highwayman wrote:This is America, and you will fail at separating Americans from their automobiles.
Yeah, this is America... where big vehicles carry small individuals and big unhealthy meals cause terminal illness to otherwise would-be small individuals, but god forbid we protect ourselves and practice responsibility because dammit we have FREEDOM! Thanks for reminding me.Image

Hyde Sq. is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, serious progression will only bring us back to where we were. A lot of damage was done to transportation in the last 50+ years. The people who speak in favor of service restoration do so not just because they're interested in watching the streetcars go by (I didn't travel those streets when the cars ran on it, and I don't travel them today... it has no impact on my life whatsoever), they do so because they've paid it enough attention to recognize the advantages unlike those who shun it at the initial thought of their automobile trips being inconvenienced.

I'm interested in transportation in general, all modes, I just personally favor rail-borne methods. Because of this interest, I pay attention to tendencies and characteristics of all of these modes, and I've generated a relatively educated opinion of what works well. I explain this because I'm not alone (especially on here). To tell people who've spent their lives educating themselves in the transportation field both professionally and recreationally that their opinions aren't credible because of an ignorant assumption that they wish to experience the "romance" of rail is downright insulting and arrogant, especially when the real "romance" is between highwayman's "Americans" and their precious automobiles.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby 3rdrail » Thu May 23, 2013 4:05 pm

Adding to what Corey has just said, I think that there is a mediation that can be had here. As I see it, the whole thing boils down to freedom- of which I myself fall victim. I would much rather bop out my door to my waiting Benz in the driveway, put on my own personally selected Myles, have my seat automatically configure to my own personal shape and drive by myself in my own little world, usually to pretty close to my destinations front door than jump on public transit...on a personal trip. However (leaving my own personal circumstances out of the pot) as far as going back and forth to work or going "in town" to shop, trips that I don't care about personalization, I just as soon be on the cheaper and more social streetcar or rapid.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby joshg1 » Fri May 24, 2013 1:33 am

I say that extending the E branch all the way to Forest Hills is a bad idea for one major reason- Centre St is too narrow, and a lesser- the OL is too close. I base this on the three transit systems I am familiar with are the T, Toronto's TTC, and Minneapolis pre- light rail.

In Toronto, the streetcar routes added since the nadir of the system are on streets with four lanes of traffic and/or parallel parking in addition to the double tracked car lines- Spadina, Queen's Quay, and St Clair. Some streetcars run in streets as almost as narrow as Centre, but have two advantages JP lacks- parallel streets just a block away and wider side streets, both of which make driving and parking easier. Streetcars on Queen East, for example, run at the same speed as buses.

Consider how wide the surface Green Line streets are- Comm has a boulevard, sometimes two (lots of parking), and Beacon has angle parking on the median. An aside in favor of the F line to Dudley- although it narrows as it approaches the Pike, Washington St is 5 lanes plus parking- plenty of room for rails.

I looked at the 2010 Blue Book and the 39 bus had 14,000+ boardings on the sample weekday, as did the surface C branch, SL5 (aka749), and the 66 (my nemesis). That figure impressed me- if any bus was to be railtitued, on numbers alone the 39 are equal to the SL5, my first choice (F-Line to Dudley, if you like). However- we don't know how many 39 passengers boarded on the section parallel to the E branch, and how many boarded on the section that a renewed Arborway line would cover. If the 39 ended wherever the E trains terminate, passengers going from BB to LMA would have to walk up to Copley to take an E train and their boardings would not be included in the 14,000.

Why did I mention Minneapolis- because when I lived in St Paul in the early '90s the busiest bus was the University Ave-all-the-stops between the two downtowns. Those buses had more standing room (may have been longer, too), therefore more capacity. Better buses is a much cheaper alternative to a 1.9 mile rail line, (additional LRVs not included. Termsandconditionsapply) when the LRVs travel at the same speed as buses. Yes, they are removing two lanes on University for a LRV line, but again JP lacks St Paul's nice grid of streets.

Acceptance of people driving and the importance of street parking is not an endorsement of private cars over transit of any kind. Removing parking from 1.9 miles of main street is too much, especially when there are no alternatives,

"Romance of the rails" is a real psychological phenomenon that plagues transit planners. I read about it years ago in a dour, serious magazine (most likely The Atlantic), and it is a double edged sword. People who would never ride a bus would ride a train or streetcar. People who would never take a taxi, never mind carpooling, will vote for a rail bond issue they'll never use. They like the idea of rails more than tires, and don't think about the lack of advantages a particular rail project has. Building rail lines of any description is a hell of a lot more expensive than making buses better.

So, wait 10 years Arborway fans, get some numbers together, get JP businesses on board, waft the hint of a rail line under the big property owners, and see if you can't get the T and Beacon Hill on board. Maybe get the city to back a few parking garages along the route.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri May 24, 2013 1:44 pm

joshg1 - Are you from or have you spent any appreciable time in JP ? Have you negotiated the streets and spoken with persons when the streetcar service was and was not intact ? All the points in your argument sound like talking points gleaned from reading material produced from someone like (it would seem) yourself with no real first-hand knowledge.
It's unfortunate that I should even have to ask this question as our system at RRN is designed to pretty much supply all this information. This info gives you key information where someone is coming from without having to inquire, including whether the poster is a 14 year old high-schooler or a transportation engineer at a major transit company ? You will find my page all filled out. I suggest that everybody do the same. For all you timid souls out there that are afraid that "Big Brother" will be able to hone in on them this way, I hardly doubt it and suggest that it would just make our experience more enjoyable !
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby octr202 » Fri May 24, 2013 1:56 pm

joshg1 wrote:

"Romance of the rails" is a real psychological phenomenon that plagues transit planners. I read about it years ago in a dour, serious magazine (most likely The Atlantic), and it is a double edged sword. People who would never ride a bus would ride a train or streetcar. People who would never take a taxi, never mind carpooling, will vote for a rail bond issue they'll never use. They like the idea of rails more than tires, and don't think about the lack of advantages a particular rail project has. Building rail lines of any description is a hell of a lot more expensive than making buses better.

Except that it's not just a delusion in planners minds. There have been multiple studies (both opinion polls/focus group research) and ridership studies that show rail systems outperform comparable bus systems in generating new ridership, attracting larger numbers of riders, and attracting more affluent riders (which helps broaden the political support for transit in the larger community). In some cities where new rail (usually light rail) has been built, there's even been evidence that new-to-transit rail riders are more likely to start using bus service as well. This isn't just something plaguing planners, it's actually been shown to occur.
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Re: Proposed E-line extension Heath St. to Hyde Sq.

Postby joshg1 » Sat May 25, 2013 1:07 pm

The heavy and light rail lines in Los Angeles are successful not because they are moving bus passengers onto rails but because they are drawing new passengers to the system. That's why new rail lines are a double edged sword- they bring in new passengers at a high cost. I can't tell you why they prefer rails- riding a bus is the same as riding a train to me- not driving, not walking. The only appreciable difference I have found through years of experience is service. Crushed in the front of a big red trolley stopped five minutes in Toronto is exactly the same as being crushed in the front of a 66 looking at the Coolidge Corner marquee for five minutes. I'd rather be on the subway.

I don't wander the streets asking people what they think about things about which they don't think. I pay attention to the world around me. I read news stories and follow railroad and transit because I find them interesting, even in places I'll never go. Operations, engineering, finance, economic development, the psychology of passengers- all sorts of things to think about. I see something I want to know more about, I look it up online.
And I'm interested in other people's experiences, which is one reason I joined RR.net, the other being history. I don't trust enthusiasm, though. Enthusiasm doesn't last, tends to be expensive, isn't well thought out. It's never been my goal, but I've stopped a few threads dead by pointing out the flaws in some dreamy schemes. I welcome anyone who wants to address the issues I raise with a response more thoughtful than you just don't get it.

Because I do- Some posters want a thing- I think it's a bad idea and show why I think it's a bad idea based on evidence. You don't have to agree but you should at least make a stab at reading the fine print first.
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