Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby BandA » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:29 pm

RDC's were introduced because they saved money. Present DMU's are more expensive than locomotives + coaches, and fuel efficiency and saving a little space by not having to store the engines doesn't make up for the huge pricetag and FRA inspection requirements. The Patrick administration and the MBTA were out of control. Now the adults are running things. When/if DMU relative prices come down it will make sense to buy them. As for South Station not being the right destination for those poor minorities, south station is a 5 minute walk from downtown & you can change for the red or silver, so that's a red herring. What is true is that poor people are more price sensitive than rich, so they don't want to pay commuter rail fares 2-3x the bus rate to save 15 minutes.


As others have mentioned before, this is crying out for a 1 year demonstration service using push-pull equipment, subway frequency and fares, and Charlie Card readers handheld by conductors, onboard and/or faregates.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:42 pm

BandA wrote:RDC's were introduced because they saved money. Present DMU's are more expensive than locomotives + coaches, and fuel efficiency and saving a little space by not having to store the engines doesn't make up for the huge pricetag and FRA inspection requirements. The Patrick administration and the MBTA were out of control. Now the adults are running things. When/if DMU relative prices come down it will make sense to buy them. As for South Station not being the right destination for those poor minorities, south station is a 5 minute walk from downtown & you can change for the red or silver, so that's a red herring. What is true is that poor people are more price sensitive than rich, so they don't want to pay commuter rail fares 2-3x the bus rate to save 15 minutes.


As others have mentioned before, this is crying out for a 1 year demonstration service using push-pull equipment, subway frequency and fares, and Charlie Card readers handheld by conductors, onboard and/or faregates.


Not just 1-year. If the DMU's get re-RFP'ed you're looking at a 6-year wait--at least--from the new RFP in 2016 to delivery to shakedown testing to full fleet availability where they can cover all slots in the service plan. No matter what the equipment order, it never runs shorter than that. So you've got a fixed timeframe to wait of about 7 years from today more-or-less if they intend to reissue that RFP. How does one put 7 years of time to good, productive use on this corridor? Not by the T sitting on their hands and waiting 6 or 7 years. If the implementation plan for real Indigo service has 4 gears to step up from "starter" to "full-blown" and needs to be running for a few years before empty trains start to move onto the growth curve...what's a transition plan? What's Step 1 that still resembles a conventional CR schedule...but more frequent one...that you can implement, like, now? What's Step 2 that still quasi-resembles conventional CR but has a much more even keel on reverse-peak and off-peak frequencies? What's Step 3 that really starts converging on the clock and starts feeling frequency-wise less like CR and more like rapid-transit? And what's Step 4 when those frequencies finally crack the 20-minute mark, no longer drop off except for the furthest of far off-peak, and are functionally the real-deal Indigo? And let's say on the fixed timeline DMU unit #x000 arrives somewhere middle-late in Step 3, and Step 4 is where the push-pulls pass the baton to them as the full-schedule dedicated fleet?


What's the best sequence of events that initiates the step-up on a sequence of service milestones that they hold to...and that are not vaporware. What makes the best use of currently available equipment during that fixed waiting period. What proves that Keolis knows how to narrow-cast its ops practices to a service specialty different from conventional commuter rail. What cultivates the ridership, because Year Zero to Year Paydirt will always involve meager ridership for a few fiscal years until it catches on by word-of-mouth. And what are the service milestones that differentiate Step 1 from Step 2 and so on so there's a schedule to hold it to, and not a lot of wishful thinking that it won't get ensnared in a budget trap where "if you build it, they will come" quickly turns into "first weekend service on the chopping block because we need to save cash this year not in 4 years when the riders start coming".


That's how to make both the Indigo service and the DMU's designed for it meet on equal efficiency grounds. They have to step out what the implementation plan is. Tell us what the implementation plan is. Most definitely tell us what the fare collection and Indigo zone plan is, and how they're going to handle transfers so it's got true rapid transit portability.


Nothing's stopping them from sharing some details today, then taking Step 1--conventional CR at not-pathetic service levels--for the first year of that 7-year fixed wait for the re-RFP thru complete DMU fleet availability. If they want to. What they do or don't do during this pause will tell us all we need to know about whether they still want to.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby BandA » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:32 am

Can't even get to step 1 until they fix their equipment shortage of traditional equipment.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby NH2060 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:15 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:Fairmount has the lowest ridership numbers for a reason. It cuts through Boston's poorest neighborhoods, the ones with the lowest metrics in terms of %'s of people with college degrees, etc and terminates at a dead end in the Financial District, the central nexus of white-collar jobs in Boston. And the only easy connections from South Station are either A: The Seaport (read: more white-collar jobs) or B: Cambridge/Kendall/MIT/Harvard (read: even more white-collar jobs). The Fairmount line as it stands simply does an awful job of connecting people in the neighborhoods it serves to where they actually want to go, which is why the trains run nearly empty to South Station while the 28 bus is packed like a sardine can pretty much all of the time.

It might not be so much as the fact that those neighborhoods have the lowest %'s of residents with college degrees (heck, a number of those WITH degrees aren't doing all that well either..), but the fact that some of those neighborhoods -unfortunately- have a reputation for really bad crime. Geneva/Four Corners is probably the most prominent example. Blue Hill Avenue -which more or less traverses the same territory as the Fairmount- is another one. You're not exactly going to get those decent ridership levels unless the neighborhoods they serve are ones where people from surrounding neighborhoods (including other parts of Boston as a whole) won't feel skittish about venturing into. And this isn't a "keep your wits about you" thing. Just look at this map of murders committed in the past 10 years or so:

http://www.universalhub.com/crime/murder

The highest concentration is along the Roxbury/Dorchester border. From what I can tell until those neighborhoods are aggressively cleaned up to the best of the city's abilities there's not going to be that much positive change that would pave the way for economic recovery there (which ironically is probably the very reason why crime continues to breed there. Little to no employment opportunities of any sort (including lower level jobs) = steady enough levels of crime that persist.

I just ask what in the hell they were trying to accomplish by turning the Fairmount into a DMU rapid transit line terminating at South Station, because I see no good answer beyond keeping "the community" happy.

Well at least it's a start. The 9 car platforms were much more than what is actually needed, but they did get upgraded just the same. And keep in mind the reliability and economic scalability factors of DMUs have yet to been proven or debunked so for the time being the T can't afford to "be bold and innovative" when it has enough trouble keeping itself together.

Even then, the only real "improvements" I could envision an indigo-ized Fairmount line leading to in the neighborhoods that it serves would be the inevitable waves of South End/South Boston-style whirlwind gentrification as all of these new affordable neighborhoods are now given easy, convenient access to the Downtown and the Seaport.

Well in some capacity it's already happening. Parts of Dorchester are being or have been gentrified in recent years (I believe Mayor Walsh is one of those residents). And with Dudley Square being primed for a new "innovation hub" (tech stuff, etc.) Roxbury could begin to follow suit as well. And it's long overdue.

Those check cashing places and Caribbean markets would turn into coffee shops and food co-ops reeall quick.

I wouldn't be surprised if the folks running those places would be happy to.. ahem.. "cash the check" on their property and move elsewhere.

Now Indigoing the Fitchburg to Waltham, the Worcester to Riverside, or the Eastern to Chelsea/Lynn/Salem would be a different and much, much more useful plan, which is probably why no headways were made towards it during the Patrick administration.

Make that Chelsea/Lynn/Salem/Beverly. That whole corridor has IIRC the highest concentration of daily boardings for a Commuter Rail route outside of the Providence/Stoughton Line. It certainly has the highest levels of service after P/S with 28-29 roundtrips.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby dowlingm » Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:41 am

6 years from RFP to rollout might be credible if there was no Buy America-FRA option. It seems excessive given that SMART will go from nothing (no existing design/production line) to service in 6.5 years with no previous heavy rail expertise in the agency. I'd have some issues with how Metrolinx rammed through the purchase of SMART's DMU options but they have gone from contract to EIS in less than 4.5 years, again some of which was design and tooling time. The only other issue would be if MBTA just didn't want to buy from Sumitomo/NipponSharyo for some reason, but that seems more likely in the event of Rotem offering something.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby WatertownCarBarn » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:22 am

Well in some capacity it's already happening. Parts of Dorchester are being or have been gentrified in recent years (I believe Mayor Walsh is one of those residents). And with Dudley Square being primed for a new "innovation hub" (tech stuff, etc.) Roxbury could begin to follow suit as well. And it's long overdue.


The Mayor is a life-long resident of Savin Hill/Dorchester; his parents are Irish immigrants. If you mean Savin Hill is being gentrified to some extent, that would be correct.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:50 am

WatertownCarBarn wrote:
Well in some capacity it's already happening. Parts of Dorchester are being or have been gentrified in recent years (I believe Mayor Walsh is one of those residents). And with Dudley Square being primed for a new "innovation hub" (tech stuff, etc.) Roxbury could begin to follow suit as well. And it's long overdue.


The Mayor is a life-long resident of Savin Hill/Dorchester; his parents are Irish immigrants. If you mean Savin Hill is being gentrified to some extent, that would be correct.


As someone who works in Dorchester, almost everything east of Dot ave has been more or less gentrified for at least a decade now. Cedar Grove and the Lower Mills area is essentially an extension of Milton, and Savin Hill and anything north of that has become an extension of the South Boston gentrification.

Go a half-mile inland though, and it's a completely different story, and the Fairmount line cuts a path through what are more or less the poorest, roughest neighborhoods in the city. Upham's Corner, Bowdoin-Geneva, Talbot Ave, Morton Street, and Blue Hill Ave are all stops on the Fairmount, and they're the closest thing that Boston has to the bad parts of Baltimore or Philadelphia.

Given the trend towards re-urbanization, etc and the gentrification spreading from West Roxbury, Southie, Dot ave, etc, it's almost inevitable that those neighborhoods WILL eventually improve, but as it stands now, that improvement is almost a prerequisite for any increased service on the Fairmount to actually make sense.

If you actually want to give those neighborhoods the transit boost that they truly need, then build separate busways down the medians from Dudley to Mattapan Square via Warren and Blue, and from Jackson Square to JFK via Seaver and Columbia, and run prompt, proper Silver Line service across them, with traffic light triggering, etc. And make it a long-term goal of making the jump to Light Rail when the funds materialize.

Do that, and now that Fairmount line which would otherwise dump people at South Station (who have no need whatsoever to get to the finance and biotech jobs around there, nor the fancy restaurants and expensive bars), now would tie into this new BRT/light rail network at Columbia AND Blue Hill Ave, creating a transit network that actually serves the immediate needs of these communities. Only then do DMU's and clock-facing headways make sense on the Fairmount.

As to other routes, where there is a clear and demonstrable need for better service into the city, I say bring on the DMU's. With rising costs of living in every part of Suffolk County, Indigo to Chelsea/Lynn/Salem and Waltham would allow those cities to truly fill their potential roles as much-needed "safety valves" for the inside-128 urban real estate market, just as the RL did for Somerville and Quincy, the OL did for Malden, and the BL is now doing for East Boston and Revere. These cities to the north and west already have large transit-dependent populations of Latin-American immigrants who actually DO have a need to get into town (to keep the city's entire restaurant/hospitality/service industry afloat), and they also have excellent potential as locations for first-time homebuying millennials who otherwise can't afford anything remotely urban (much less with transit access) inside 128, or even 495, where you don't have to worry about getting shot.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:50 am

Bramdeisroberts wrote:
WatertownCarBarn wrote:

If you actually want to give those neighborhoods the transit boost that they truly need, then build separate busways down the medians from Dudley to Mattapan Square via Warren and Blue, and from Jackson Square to JFK via Seaver and Columbia, and run prompt, proper Silver Line service across them, with traffic light triggering, etc. And make it a long-term goal of making the jump to Light Rail when the funds materialize.



They tried to do that but the communities balked.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Jul 28, 2015 10:30 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:They tried to do that but the communities balked.


The communities didnt revolt.

The politicians who felt like their hands were slapped away from the cookie jar were furious.


Anyway, I feel like this whole DMU discussion could be put to a nice rest by doing the simple thing and stringing up wire.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:52 am

Not sure if this was discussed in another topic, but according to NETransit. The proposal to secure DMU's was canceled.


"New Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) cars:
The MBTA has requested proposals to purchase 10 three-car sets (30 cars) of DMUs. ... Update: The request for proposals was cancelled in late November 2015."

http://www.transithistory.org/roster/
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:45 am

Adams_Umass_Boston wrote:Not sure if this was discussed in another topic, but according to NETransit. The proposal to secure DMU's was canceled.


"New Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) cars:
The MBTA has requested proposals to purchase 10 three-car sets (30 cars) of DMUs. ... Update: The request for proposals was cancelled in late November 2015."

http://www.transithistory.org/roster/


Since they allowed the RFP to continue on after passing on funding next steps, the extended deadline for receiving proposals back from manufacturers was 4 days ago. If they moved to cancel just 3 or 4 weeks ago, chances are that's because every manufacturer that showed initial interest notified them that they wouldn't be sending back any proposals at all...meaning there wouldn't have been anything to collect on or before the 9th. Which would be kind of strange, because most builders wouldn't pass up the opportunity to showcase their product and options to keep their foot in the door for next time. Were their vehicle specs so overcustomized that the T's procurement arm...again...ended up being its own worst enemy?
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby caduceus » Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:33 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Adams_Umass_Boston wrote:Not sure if this was discussed in another topic, but according to NETransit. The proposal to secure DMU's was canceled.


"New Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) cars:
The MBTA has requested proposals to purchase 10 three-car sets (30 cars) of DMUs. ... Update: The request for proposals was cancelled in late November 2015."

http://www.transithistory.org/roster/


Since they allowed the RFP to continue on after passing on funding next steps, the extended deadline for receiving proposals back from manufacturers was 4 days ago. If they moved to cancel just 3 or 4 weeks ago, chances are that's because every manufacturer that showed initial interest notified them that they wouldn't be sending back any proposals at all...meaning there wouldn't have been anything to collect on or before the 9th. Which would be kind of strange, because most builders wouldn't pass up the opportunity to showcase their product and options to keep their foot in the door for next time. Were their vehicle specs so overcustomized that the T's procurement arm...again...ended up being its own worst enemy?


Who's available to bid? I think the only US manufacturer who at least advertises FRA-compliant cars would be US Railcar, and I don't know if they've actually got any buyers currently. They haven't updated the media portion of the web site in a while. Their predecessor, Colorado Railcar, produced a few units but as I understand it the buyers passed on more units.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby leviramsey » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:21 pm

caduceus wrote:Who's available to bid? I think the only US manufacturer who at least advertises FRA-compliant cars would be US Railcar, and I don't know if they've actually got any buyers currently. They haven't updated the media portion of the web site in a while. Their predecessor, Colorado Railcar, produced a few units but as I understand it the buyers passed on more units.


I believe the Nippon Sharyos in testing right now on SMART in California are FRA-compliant.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby BandA » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:57 pm

I suspect vendors aren't going to prepare a quote if they think the project isn't serious.
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Re: Seaport District to Back Bay DMU Plan

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:53 am

BandA wrote:I suspect vendors aren't going to prepare a quote if they think the project isn't serious.


Not necessarily. This RFP had been underway many many months before the funding was passed over for FY2016 during the summer. Any vendor who committed to putting together a bid package would've been pretty far along by then, and passing over funding for one fiscal year doesn't mean (despite the T's financial situation and glass-half-empty views therein) that it'll be passed over for all fiscal years. Doubt about funding commitments is not at all unusual when it comes to bid proposals for perpetually cash-strapped public agencies. Low-odds RFP's that never proceed to Step 2 happen all the time. So that in itself isn't something that's going to cause a vendor who put in a lot of prelim work with the proposal to throw it in the trash and say, "Oh, whatever, they're not serious." These are billion-dollar conglomerates like Nippon-Sharyo, not crippled little Colorado Railcar that was a mirage of gov't research grants and a demonstrator they couldn't reliably reproduce. A few reams of paperwork is nothing for these companies. Especially if it keeps the door ajar for most-favored status should the Step 2 funding ever get picked back up.

It's also a chance to showcase one's wares in a publicly documented process, which for emerging vehicle tech is important. How many Top 6 ridership commuter railroads in the U.S. have formally specced themselves out for DMU's? The T isn't a single-line upstart like SMART or TriMet; it's the big leagues on a large established system. Worst comes to worst, the next time NJ Transit pours money down a hole doing yet another scoping study for yet another a DMU line (they've already got a couple for FRA-compliants collecting dust in a file cabinet) there'll be real documents from real vendors to reference instead of everything being predicated on the myth of CRC's demonstrator car...and that could either be worth another RFP opportunity or a consulting gig. It keeps them in the foreground, and sooner or later one of the big boys is actually going to make a purchase. Maybe the T was too improbable a bet for that, but somebody will actually do it in the next 10 years. No vendor looking at the deep long-term of this market is going to start work then say, "Nah, forget it."


So there's a mystery here that's goes some place other than that. Something messed up with the process? Something unfavorable with the specs that got them passing it up as impossible or utterly unprofitable (and I'd be curious to know what that was, because the initial specs sounded a lot like what Nippon-Sharyo delivered for SMART and Union-Pearson Express)? Back-and-forth follow-ups that fell apart over "we can't make it work for what you're asking here, here, and here"? Any of those problems causing vendors to simply pass on initiating the process (in which case it would've been over 1 year ago except for any vain efforts to try to rustle together more vendors)?
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