Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby leviramsey » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:31 pm

BandA wrote:Interesting how the T is still chasing new customers in the Seaport District for subsidized service while not serving existing customers well (Roxbury, Somerville, Newton stops on the Framingham line).


What's surprising at all? The Seaport is far more politically powerful than, among many others, the places you listed.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby BandA » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:53 am

leviramsey wrote:
BandA wrote:Interesting how the T is still chasing new customers in the Seaport District for subsidized service while not serving existing customers well (Roxbury, Somerville, Newton stops on the Framingham line).


What's surprising at all? The Seaport is far more politically powerful than, among many others, the places you listed.


Getting a bit off topic, but services such as a BBY-Seaport DMU will only exacerbate the effects of transportation haves and have nots, which effects the whole financial stability of the cities.
Mass Taxpayers Foundation, Municipal Finance Data 45th ed. pp4
fiscal 2015 growth was concentrated primarily in
Boston and Cambridge, which together account
for nearly 25 percent of the increase (24 3 percent)
The growth in Boston alone was more than twice
the combined growth in Springfield, Worcester,
and the other nine original gateway cities
I thought the focus was supposed to be fixing existing services.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby octr202 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:54 am

leviramsey wrote:
BandA wrote:Interesting how the T is still chasing new customers in the Seaport District for subsidized service while not serving existing customers well (Roxbury, Somerville, Newton stops on the Framingham line).


What's surprising at all? The Seaport is far more politically powerful than, among many others, the places you listed.


Not to mention that increasing frequencies on the inner portions of commuter rail lines would require huge investment in stations, rolling stock, terminal capacity, signal systems, etc. in order to operate the kind of service that would be needed. Would "RER" or "S-Bahn" (or even SEPTA regional rail) style service on commuter rail lines inside 128 revolutionize the area and generate more ridership? Absolutely. But you're talking about a multi-billion dollar effort to ever get there.

Without a long-term vision, there's just chipping away at little projects with sometimes don't make a whole lot of sense in the long run.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:54 pm

Where would the ROW end? I know for a fact that over the summer the IDB building paved over whatever remained on the ROW for their parking lot. I'm confused by this entire thing.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:53 pm

theseaandalifesaver wrote:Where would the ROW end? I know for a fact that over the summer the IDB building paved over whatever remained on the ROW for their parking lot. I'm confused by this entire thing.


Right now the division post between state ownership and private ownership is the parking lot it passes through right before crossing Drydock Ave. All of the passenger proposals would terminate west of there closer to BCEC's front door. Freight access to Marine Terminal would spur off the private ownership segment at corner of Drydock & Tide St., then run along Tide up to the Terminal.

Reason for allowing IDB to pave over the tracks is that it's extremely unlikely that they'd keep them in the same place right up against that building for the Marine T. buildout. It's just too much easier to relocate the tracks along Drydock to a reservation next to the sidewalk and ban overnight parking on the outer parking rows at those buildings rather than half to clear the spots and any obstructions right next to the building every night of the week. Common sense to relocate rather than re-use that 1200 ft. stretch before the Tide St. turnout.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby diburning » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:21 pm

On a semi-related note, was Conley Terminal ever served by intermodal cars for container transport? (I know it's a stretch, but did this ever tie into the track that goes beyond the BCEC?) I ask because if you look on Google maps, you can clearly see tracks running along the north side of the terminal, but do not actually leave the terminal. I noticed the tracks when I was at Castle Island and saw that there were two track bumpers not unlike the ones at South Station inside the container terminal.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:39 pm

Historically, all trains to/from what is now the Conley Terminal operated via East 1st Street. They did a brief run on West 1st Street before making an S-curve towards Cypher St at E St. You can see the S-curve tracks still on Google Maps, in the empty lot at West 1st & E. I believe these were very recently removed, as that large vacant plot currently has a lot of construction activity on it.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:29 pm

Yeah, street running through South Boston! Interesting railroad watching days.

In regards to the tracks through the parking lots. It looks like the slope from the existing track (along the loading dock next to the buildings) to Tide Street would be a bit too much anyway. So those tracks would probably be moved closer to the edge of Drydock Ave although I have never seen plans that show that. I wonder if they plan to leave a connection to the dock at the far end of the existing track? Always felt that would have been a nice alternative for Eimskip instead of moving from Everett to Portland.

BTW - if you do a Google Earth search, you can still see a piece of the original tracks curving off at the end of E 1St Street into the Conley Terminal entrance!

P.S. Just looking at the most recent Google Earth images, a lot of work that was recently done along Drydock Ave doesn't seem to leave any space for a rail line. I wonder why that was allowed? Checking for alternatives, I wonder if they ever considered running all the way to the end of the Haul Rd and crossing Northern Ave and going in that way? Nothing but a parking lot in the way.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby TomNelligan » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:59 pm

diburning wrote:On a semi-related note, was Conley Terminal ever served by intermodal cars for container transport?


No. The track out there was a legacy of the days when assorted bulk freight and oil were the commodities transloaded between rail and water, and it was out of service by the time containerized rail/water shipments became important. The New Haven RR did however haul a lot of piggyback (truck trailer on flatcar as opposed to shipping container on flatcar) traffic out of its waterfront yard off Northern Avenue until Penn Central took over in 1969 and moved all the Boston intermodal business to Beacon Park.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:31 pm

[quote="bostontrainguy"]

P.S. Just looking at the most recent Google Earth images, a lot of work that was recently done along Drydock Ave doesn't seem to leave any space for a rail line. I wonder why that was allowed? Checking for alternatives, I wonder if they ever considered running all the way to the end of the Haul Rd and crossing Northern Ave and going in that way? Nothing but a parking lot in the way.[/quote]

Same thing I was wondering. It doesn't seem like it would only go as far as the convention center. Which might be all that's planned, anyway.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:13 am

bostontrainguy wrote:Yeah, street running through South Boston! Interesting railroad watching days.

In regards to the tracks through the parking lots. It looks like the slope from the existing track (along the loading dock next to the buildings) to Tide Street would be a bit too much anyway. So those tracks would probably be moved closer to the edge of Drydock Ave although I have never seen plans that show that. I wonder if they plan to leave a connection to the dock at the far end of the existing track? Always felt that would have been a nice alternative for Eimskip instead of moving from Everett to Portland.

BTW - if you do a Google Earth search, you can still see a piece of the original tracks curving off at the end of E 1St Street into the Conley Terminal entrance!

P.S. Just looking at the most recent Google Earth images, a lot of work that was recently done along Drydock Ave doesn't seem to leave any space for a rail line. I wonder why that was allowed? Checking for alternatives, I wonder if they ever considered running all the way to the end of the Haul Rd and crossing Northern Ave and going in that way? Nothing but a parking lot in the way.


All plans I've seen stick to Drydock & Tide as the most direct possible route with fewest curves. The parcels up north are all claimed by developers...including a couple more food distro warehouses recently greenlit by Massport on the far west side of Marine T. next to Legal Sea Foods warehouse. Would be a very delicate S-curve to get around the buildings that'll eventually be massing up around there, and that's not a derailment risk worth putting up with (even in wee hours of the morning).

All of that land at Black Falcon Terminal/Design Center is owned lock, stock by Massport and leased out for redevelopment...so whatever streetscaping has been done in the parking lot certainly isn't in self-contradiction to their port plans. Maybe they didn't communicate that very well to the City of Boston or their tenants, which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest given what passes for state-vs.-local communication on TOD. Although the Boston Redev. Authority should've known better being headquartered a mere block away (I mean, geez, there are still rails sticking out of the pavement for an OLD freight spur at the Tide intersection!). I guess whoever paid for the new sidewalk, plantings and those abstract-art doorway things is going to get rude awakening and a few hundred grand in reimbursement check when their handiwork gets jackhammered to move the rails. But shouldn't be an issue otherwise since it's all under one Massport landlord, that track was never abandoned in the first place, and the alternative--trains against the building--is far worse to shut up any tenant complaints.

Design Center might've been a nice terminating stop for the dinky +1 past BCEC since it's on Silver Line SL2 and the crowded 4 bus, but there's simply not enough room along that sidewalk to do so much as a 1-car only platform. Not to mention a tough place to runaround compared to BCEC and +2 yucky truck-heavy intersections to cross.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby highgreen215 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:06 am

I wonder if the powers-that-be ever considered having tour operators use that track, modified as needed at the pier, for transferring cruise ship passengers to special tourist trains, and visa versa, especially in the Fall for foliage excursions. It seems to me with the heavy use of the Black Falcon Terminal by cruise ships there's some kind of missed opportunity here.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:54 am

highgreen215 wrote:I wonder if the powers-that-be ever considered having tour operators use that track, modified as needed at the pier, for transferring cruise ship passengers to special tourist trains, and visa versa, especially in the Fall for foliage excursions. It seems to me with the heavy use of the Black Falcon Terminal by cruise ships there's some kind of missed opportunity here.


We already have a foliage train: it's called the Downeaster. And an intrastate seasonal one: it's called the Cape Flyer. We could realistically have a third one if the Inland Route gets greenlit: the Boston-flank Vermonter/Montrealer. Other than that, tourist trains are simply not a thing that clusters near the cities in the northeastern megalopolis because the rails closest to the urban hubs with the highest numbers of schedule & carrier co-tenants are far too busy to accommodate much in the way of excursion niches. Besides, for the incredibly tiny slice of cruise ship passengers who are actually transferring outbound from Boston on a train instead of just hanging around town...SL2 picks right up and delivers them right to South Station where they can take any train. Since many of them are transferring to/from the airport, Silver is going to be far and away the mode of choice and probably the only recommendation out-of-towners are going to get from their tour packages for simple ease-of-wayfinding's sake.


The crush load in the Seaport isn't from the tourists; it's the commuters paralyzing the Red Line to their Silver transfer. Then the regular commuter overload taking an additional hit the days BCEC's hosting a particularly large convention. The dinky doesn't even begin to address the enormity of that whole very Red Line-centric problem, but at least the front-door stop at BCEC is a direct attempt to corral those 'surge' days when conventions make the traffic much worse than usual. Demand from the cruise ships needs an electron microscope to quantify in comparison to the normal load...and the tourist travel patterns are very different, much narrower, and much more confined to downtown than anybody else. Narrower than even the convention-goers, who are more liable to cast a wider net bargain-hunting for hotel rooms outside of the CBD. Since this dinky already has impossibly narrow farebox recovery prospects, the ham-fistedness of going +1 more stops to Black Falcon at a jury-rigged platform adjacent to the SL2 bus shelter...then turning around in the middle of a parking lot...literally becomes a bridge too far. If the extra stop only has a ceiling of 30% of the BCEC stop's ridership (extrapolated from SL2 ratios in the Blue Book...with generous benefit of the doubt), then that extra cost alone is enough to tank it. We're already chasing breadcrumbs trying to find something that'll work within such thin margins; chasing the breadcrumbs' breadcrumbs just isn't going to work no matter how inviting the proximity to the cruise terminal looks.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby electricron » Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:18 pm

highgreen215 wrote:I wonder if the powers-that-be ever considered having tour operators use that track, modified as needed at the pier, for transferring cruise ship passengers to special tourist trains, and visa versa, especially in the Fall for foliage excursions. It seems to me with the heavy use of the Black Falcon Terminal by cruise ships there's some kind of missed opportunity here.

I'm having problems spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a tourist rail service that lasts maybe 8 weeks at most.

What would you do with the rolling stock and rails the remaining 44 weeks every year?

Any public transit service deserving of public support needs to be useful and needed 52 weeks every year.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby highgreen215 » Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:55 am

I am NOT suggesting that any public money be spent on a tourist train. I am suggesting that a private train operator, or even individual private cars, could access Black Falcon Terminal for convenient near across-platform transfer. Of course they would be appropriately charged for use of the facilities.
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