MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:04 pm

I see that the Blue Line/Red Line connection is still not part of the plan. I think the T should consider extending the Blue Line under Tremont Street to Park Street. It would be cheaper since it's a shorter distance and would still allow a Red/Blue connection. A new "Super Station" at Park Street would create the first and only station that provided all subway connections.

A new Blue Line tunnel under Tremont Street just might also allow the straightening of the short stretch of Greenline that does that crazy jog between Park and Government Center to speed up things there.

Any guesses as to where "West Station" would be? I think somewhere near the old Sports Depot would make sense, but perhaps this is in anticipation of a new neighborhood in Beacon Park yard? The name "West Station" might not be the best. "BU West" on the Greenline is now no where near the BU West campus as the University has grown over the years. Another "West" station is only going to confuse things more.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:23 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Any guesses as to where "West Station" would be? I think somewhere near the old Sports Depot would make sense, but perhaps this is in anticipation of a new neighborhood in Beacon Park yard?

Beacon Park Yard seems the consensus here, and logical in serving The West (Worcester), serving Harvard's vast projects and with access to South Station, Grand Junction, and the Masspike.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby TrainManTy » Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:59 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I just hope MassDOT future-proofs the beacon park redevelopment by building or leaving room for a full-on wye between the Grand Junction and the Worcester line.


A wye in the traditional sense is never going to happen. Take a look at a satellite view of the area. I-90 is directly in the way of the missing leg. Just west of there the highway leaps up onto a bridge over the junction between the Grand Junction, Beacon Park Yard, engine terminal, and main line, but the elevated portion can't be extended east because of an underpass under Comm Ave and the Green Line B Branch.

Could it be done? Probably. Dive the highway down another level and have a triple-decker crossing of I-90, the GJ, and Comm Ave or have the GJ run alongside the north side of I-90 to tunnel underneath and pop up near Yawkey. But either of those would be outrageously expensive.

A better option to accomplish the same thing might be a balloon loop where Beacon Park Yard is now, allowing trains to reverse direction between the GJ and the main line without stopping.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:12 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I just hope MassDOT future-proofs the beacon park redevelopment by building or leaving room for a full-on wye between the Grand Junction and the Worcester line. If we're talking about Indigo service and Worcester-to-North Station on the GJ, allowing for a North-to-South-via-Cambridge shuttle and bringing the Downeaster and possible future Amtrak NH service to South Station should be a no-brainer.

It's a little OT and Amtrak focused, but a true wye at either end of the GJ is a great "poor man's N-S raillink" to get the ball rolling until when (IF) the real thing gets built. Since there's already considerable murmuring about Amtrak looking seriously at dual-modes for the NEC and branching lines like the Empire, Vermonter and VA service, this GJ improvement could allow for Downeaster-to-NYP or potentially Concord-NYP.

Given that, I'd imagine it would be fairly simple for MassDOT to get at least a little extra federal funding for the relatively inexpensive extra work that it would take to make this happen, and I can see the T getting a ton of usage out of this as well (Assembly Row to Kendall to Seaport via Harvard/Allston anyone?).


I strongly agree with you and think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now is the perfect time for the Mass Pike to be lowered under Comm Ave to allow for that missing leg.

Also, how much would Amtrak save by running the Downeaster out of South Station? I know it's a little bit of a "run-around" but this is common for Amtrak in most cities. One plan is to upgrade the Grand Junction to 30 mph. Also Kendall, Yawkey and Back Bay might add ridership and maybe an extra coach could be added by eliminating the cabbage? There is a semi-close wye for turning in Portland. Three Amtrak stations in one city is pretty crazy.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:06 pm

BrandeisRoberts wrote:What about offering a slight ($1 or less difference) fare gap between the DMU's and the push-pulls, at least during rush hour, with that $1 being a "convenience fee" for non-stop service. This might work so long as you keep the push-pulls from the outer suburbs running express all the way through most of the indigo-ized territories.

So say it's morning rush hour and I'm boarding at Salem or Bear Hill/Brandeis Roberts or Anderson or Readville/Route 128. I have two choices now, I can get on the commuter rail which will stop only at one or so stations between this indigo terminal and north/south stations, or I can get on the Indigo which leaves every 15 minutes and stops at every one of the old stops and possibly some new infilled ones as well. The difference in travel times could easily be 15 minutes or more during rush hour if they can manage headways well and keep the push-pulls cruising through indigo territory. I'm pretty sure that a significant number of morning commuters will choose to opt for the small fare increase and shorter travel time rather than chug along in the DMU's. And it should be that way.

I see this as a pretty viable alternative to split the difference between massive fare gaps at the edge of Indigo territory and total gerrymandering of the fare zones to accommodate DMU fares.


It won't work. Take one look at the Eastern Route rush hour schedules. On the entire A.M. peak Salem averages 14.7 minute inbound headways. Lynn's only slightly longer at 18 min. avg. headway because 2 of the 11 morning rush trains express straight from Salem to North Station. Because of the branch schedules it's a variable headway...as short as 8 mins. at either station and as high as 28 @ Salem and 32 @ Lynn around one of those expresses. But the push-pulls ARE the majority of service. You can dump DMU's into those headway gaps to even it up, but the mainline's tippy-top capacity will never ever allow DMU's to provide more than 20-30% of the total rush-hour service. There are simply that many Newburyport/Rockport push-pulls pounding the rails those hours. If they were to ever add a Peabody Branch outside the Indigo service area the remaining slots it claims may prevent DMU's from running at all to Lynn or Salem between 5:30-8:30am and 4:00-7:00pm.

Massive problem. You can't have inequitable fares when the push-pulls take so many of the slots the DMU's can only run far less often than the push-pulls at far more irregular headways because of the way some push-pull slots bunch. You might be able to fit 2 DMU's into a long gap, then not see another for 40 minutes when there's a conga line of push-pulls. You can't segregate the audiences when that's the traffic reality. It has to operate as one mode; the schedules will not work without both types of vehicles pitching in for the desired headways. DMU's can regularize the schedule at all off-peak hours when the push-pulls are intermittent, but the push-pulls have to shoulder the load at rush even at the Indigo stations for the Indigo audience. Kludges don't work here. They kill the ridership if you start tiering the pricing between what type of vehicle happens to pull in on any given slot. Vehicular separation of any sort is not physically possible.


Now...other lines have less of a problem. On Fairmount's the DMU's obviously have the whole schedule to themselves. On Riverside if the Worcesters are firmly segregated from stopping in Newton that's not a hard one, and some signal/speed improvements can make the overlap work without hurting rush hour headways for any one vehicle. Fitchburg simply isn't crowded enough for that to matter. But it's a fatal blocker for the Eastern Route. And could get a little clumsy on the Lowell Line where the trains per vehicles might be able to match 1:1 in total numbers during the course of the peak, but the DMU headways are going to be choppy and irregular when they have to dance around back-to-back push-pulls running local, express, to Haverhill, etc. (or even a Downeaster).




Again...any ONE issue isolated to one station or line can likely be fixed by ONE station- or line-specific fix. But it won't scale, and in most cases will open up a new conflict somewhere else. You can't make this work with 20 stations having 20 asterisks on the map. The solution has to be consistent across the system, and it has to be consistent for all vehicles stopping in the Indigo service area and transitioning to the next zone out of the Indigo service area. We can fill up another 10 pages of this thread with kludge fixes. They all fall apart on exactly the same seams when the system struggles to keep all these individual exceptions in balance.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:23 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:
BrandeisRoberts wrote:I just hope MassDOT future-proofs the beacon park redevelopment by building or leaving room for a full-on wye between the Grand Junction and the Worcester line. If we're talking about Indigo service and Worcester-to-North Station on the GJ, allowing for a North-to-South-via-Cambridge shuttle and bringing the Downeaster and possible future Amtrak NH service to South Station should be a no-brainer.

It's a little OT and Amtrak focused, but a true wye at either end of the GJ is a great "poor man's N-S raillink" to get the ball rolling until when (IF) the real thing gets built. Since there's already considerable murmuring about Amtrak looking seriously at dual-modes for the NEC and branching lines like the Empire, Vermonter and VA service, this GJ improvement could allow for Downeaster-to-NYP or potentially Concord-NYP.

Given that, I'd imagine it would be fairly simple for MassDOT to get at least a little extra federal funding for the relatively inexpensive extra work that it would take to make this happen, and I can see the T getting a ton of usage out of this as well (Assembly Row to Kendall to Seaport via Harvard/Allston anyone?).


I strongly agree with you and think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now is the perfect time for the Mass Pike to be lowered under Comm Ave to allow for that missing leg.

Also, how much would Amtrak save by running the Downeaster out of South Station? I know it's a little bit of a "run-around" but this is common for Amtrak in most cities. One plan is to upgrade the Grand Junction to 30 mph. Also Kendall, Yawkey and Back Bay might add ridership and maybe an extra coach could be added by eliminating the cabbage? There is a semi-close wye for turning in Portland. Three Amtrak stations in one city is pretty crazy.



We have to establish it's even possible to run that many passenger trains over the Grand Junction's grade crossings without shutting down traffic in Cambridge. When the state was studying Worcester-North Station service it was only about 10 round trips per day total. At 35 MPH through the Mass Ave. crossing that's tolerable for a relatively small number of trains. But how in the hell is this going to work 15 mins. each direction all day with a stop at Kendall keeping the gates at Main and Broadway down much longer per headway at the abutting station? You can't eliminate any of the crossings...the line can't change grades fast enough to incline up/down/all-around the middle of MIT. So they have to study what those kinds of traffic loads do to the GJ. Something they have never done before in a study. The Grand Junction may not have even had that frequency of train traffic period since before many people had cars and before the human population outnumbered the livestock population near Kendall.

My guess is that ceiling is going to be disappointingly low...probably too much so to support a viable DMU line here, meaning this may have to be the first cut from the fantasy map and the intermittent Worcester alt route plan (which was pretty useful in itself) may have to go back on the table as a consolation prize. Let's not get ahead of ourselves with $100M Pike alterations and Downsoutheasters and every other bell and whistle. The whole point of this is re-use of infrastructure and maximizing the heavy use infrastructure, not billions in brand new track and ROW capital and force-fitting it without regard to whether the line in question is up to the task of carrying that kind of traffic.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby MACTRAXX » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:58 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:Cross-posting my earlier comment on the article:

Major flaws in this "vision". I realize it's merely a 2024 timeline, but they're still thinking small and irrationally. First of all, the BCEC shuttle is outrageous, and I can't believe they're still "visualizing" it.

The DMU 'Indigo' lines are pretty solid, and I have some adjustments, but hey, I'd certainly take what they're giving.

It's incredibly disappointing that the outrageously bloated South Coast Rail Project is depicted. That thing needs a garlic-soaked stake to the heart, pronto! Interesting that they still don't expect a stop in Plaistow, NH by then, however.

The lack of a Red-Blue connector is also disappointing. At least TRY to pursue it. It's critical to system-wide capacity and to regional mobility. Give me a break, MassDOT!


-----

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I'm kind of surprised by the lack of indigo service to Waltham. Its a city with a fairly low-income and transit-dependent population, as well as a dense city center that's ripe for TODs, not to mention all of the big high tech employers and the potential for reversed commuters from Cambridge.


Agreed 100%. I'd also like to see DMU's to Salem, but we need to expand that single-track tunnel. And DMU's on the Reading Branch, with the Haverhill Line relying more on the Wildcat.

I'm also wondering if a Campello - East Weymouth DMU line is possible, with the focus on the Braintree transfer.



The thing to remember is that where they plunked these arbitrary termini on the map correspond to today's Zone fares. They did nothing that stretched beyond Zone 2, which is why the Eastern Route DMU stops at Lynn. Swampscott and Salem are Zone 3's. This map says nothing about how they're going to square the inequities in the fare structure and make the branded "Indigo" service some sort of semi-coherent pricing. On the North Shore that would require significantly dropping the fares at Swampscott, Salem, or (if they want to go that far) Zone 4 Beverly to make it work because the line has a steeper stop-by-stop increase than any other inside-128 service. And of course, since this document says absolutely nothing about how they're going to pay for it they didn't bother opening the can of worms about fare cuts or hikes on the Indigos.

Zone fares also play into the following which you would think would be study candidates:
-- Fairmount extension to Westwood/128: Zone 1 to Zone 2 jump.
-- Anything south of Braintree on the Old Colony: Zone 2 to Zone 3 jump. Plus the inequity of the Red Line-duplicated stops being a 1A to 1 jump @ Quincy Ctr. and a 1 to 2 jump @ Braintree.
-- Needham: Zone 1 from Rozzie to W. Rox inside the city of Boston to major bus transfer stations, not equitable with the Zone 1A Dorchester and Hyde Park enjoy on the Fairmount Line.
-- Waltham: Zone 1A to 1 jump at Belmont Ctr., Zone 1 to 2 jump at Waltham. Not too out-of-whack for commuter rail, but this is a very bus transfer-heavy corridor at all past-Porter stops so the difference between bus fare-->Zone 1 and bus fare-->Zone 2 matters the world at attracting patronage. Plus Kendal Green is a Zone 2 to 3 jump, so what does that mean if they replace it with a Route 128 stop?...is that a 2 or a 3?
-- Reading vs. Anderson: Zone 1A to 1 jumps at Wyoming Hill or Wedgemere; Zone 1 to 2 jumps at Greenwood or Mishawum. Pretty equitable overall, but West Medford is outside the rapid transit system and gets a Zone 1A while but Wyoming Hill is a Zone 1? When GLX puts both in the same walking distance to the last subway stop, how is that going to look?
-- Riverside: Note the conspicuous lack of a Newton Corner stop. Is that infill going to be the break between Zone 1A (Yawkey, New Balance/whatever-it's-now-called) and Zone 1 (Newtonville)? Is that going to work when the bus transfers here are going to so heavily weight towards Allston?



It's all little stuff, but you can see what sidestepping the fare question does to slice through all the sunshine and puffy clouds in this plan. Getting the Indigos equitable on the fare scale requires resolving all these inconsistencies. And resolving the inconsistencies can't be done without slashing fares to a lower Zone in most places. The stops that are disproportionately weighted to bus transfers have to be brought down so the bus-->DMU fare difference isn't so stark. They have to bring down all the ones with rapid transit overlap to Zone 1A. They have to decide how many zones Indigo will cover in total: 1A and 1? 1A/1/2? Which definitely means cleansing all the 3's, but probably some of the 2's. They have to decide how fast the Zones break intra-city, outside city limits, and in tough calls like Newton Corner where the stop is outside the city but most of the bus transfer ridership feeding the stop is bending back towards the city. And then these inner Zone recalibrations have to jibe with the full CR system so outside-128 trains whose routes and riders use these same stops aren't totally boned over by distorted rises in the Zones that are way more exaggerated on some lines than others. For example, if you fix the glitch at Salem and bust it done from Zone 3 to 2, does Beverly Depot stay a 4 or does that have to come down to 3? Doesn't matter if the past-128 commuters still have to pay much higher fares and higher per-zone rises than the Indigoers, they still have to pound out the big whoppers like Salem-Beverly...and the only way to do smooth that out is fare drops at the affected stations to even out the spread.


You get the idea. Every little fix weights to a fare cut and can't be solved by hiking elsewhere. With a mode that has much higher operating costs than all bus or rapid transit, they take on considerable new costs implementing this and have to find other means of bolstering their farebox recovery. All completely feasible with an agency-wide focus on exploiting efficiencies, but keep in mind that the Legislature has not reformed one bloody part of their agency-wide financing. These 4-year capital plans are still subject to year-to-year shocks in the economy and the same tax revenue shortfalls that have them annually begging for someone else's surplus to close a $20M gap here and threatening fare hikes + service cuts. And they're still strangled by the debt and these year-to-year variances impacted their debt service payoffs.

Yeah...a little premature to put out a pretty new spider map that requires considerable fare cutting to work at all as a service pattern...but assumes that the Zones stay exactly the same and says nothing about how the house of cards will hold up amid lower operating margins and the annual budget song-and-dance. Conceptually it's borderline-brilliant, but where's the beef?


F Line and Everyone: Has the MBTA ever looked into reducing the amount of fare zones in the system - especially for Commuter Rail?

Simplifying the MBTA's complicated fare structure could be a win-win for most riders especially those using the Charlie Card only instead of other media like Charlie Tickets or cash...

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby The EGE » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:01 pm

Cambridge will raise holy hell if the T tries to run passenger service over the Grand Junction. Maybe less so if they're consulted beforehand (unlike the failed Worcester Line deal), but shutting down Mass Ave, Main Street, and Broadway simultaneously at rush hour is several times worse than even the Chelsea grade crossings.

Grade crossing elimination would be near impossible - the Red Line is right below the surface at Main Street, and so you'd probably have to go under it. That's about 40 feet of vertical to have to get in a very short space - you're looking at 1-2% grades, which would not be fun for a diesel services.

For an electric service - like a light rail line - you can deal with much steeper grades. That would allow you to go deeper under the Red Line - so as to avoid disrupting the RL during construction - and do avoid all the grade crossings if you can raise Medford Street a bit.

Unfortunately, that also kills the GJ as a north-south link for CR equipment (unless you do something truly crazy like keeping one GJ track on the surface for CR equipment) so that's a bad idea unless you have the NSRL built.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:02 pm

The EGE wrote:Cambridge will raise holy hell if the T tries to run passenger service over the Grand Junction. Maybe less so if they're consulted beforehand (unlike the failed Worcester Line deal), but shutting down Mass Ave, Main Street, and Broadway simultaneously at rush hour is several times worse than even the Chelsea grade crossings[...]

Unfortunately, that also kills the GJ as a north-south link for CR equipment (unless you do something truly crazy like keeping one GJ track on the surface for CR equipment) so that's a bad idea unless you have the NSRL built.


Cambridge is mostly happy to wage war on rush hour cars in favor of bikes, peds, and the T.

CR got killed because it was:
1) A total surprise
2) didn't serve local mobility
3) has enough noise & vibration that everyone felt they were an abutter (there are suprisingly few)

And so was really seen as just a huge(Worcester-wins / Cambridge loses) imposition on the the area, with a stop at mass ave as a fig leaf.

I'm guessing DMUs with either have a fare box, proof-of-payment, fare-gate boarding--or at least that those options will be available for exactly this sort of situation.

DMUs can be:
1) Introduced as part of a long-term comprehensive plan...that isn't "CR II"
2) Stop at stations at that serve locals (and drain cars off roads...Cambridge likes that)
- MIT Westgate
- MIT Mass Ave
- Galileo Way
- Cambridge St / Gore St
3) And are lighter/quieter and "look electric"
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby rethcir » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:33 pm

If it can behave somewhat like the green line, it will be no problem in Cambridge.

Waltham is a no-brainer. Since Somerville is so gentrified (less affordable) now, it has a real chance to follow suit with some good TOD.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:20 am

Where is the best place on railroad.net to discuss MassDOT's plan(s) to start investing in the Housatonic RR with the goal of restoring service from NYC to Danbury Ct to Pittsfield?

It seems to me that that's a line a lot like the Cape Flyer, where Summer Weekend passenger service would pay for its operating costs.

Further, it has no effective competition from the Interstate Highway system...I-87 is 40 miles west and 1-91 is 40 miles east, meaning buses don't work well either.

And yet, along the line are 360,000 people with natural affinities with NYC who would, eventually, support a sort of 2x daily NEC train.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:14 pm

Arlington wrote:Where is the best place on railroad.net to discuss MassDOT's plan(s) to start investing in the Housatonic RR with the goal of restoring service from NYC to Danbury Ct to Pittsfield?

It seems to me that that's a line a lot like the Cape Flyer, where Summer Weekend passenger service would pay for its operating costs.

Further, it has no effective competition from the Interstate Highway system...I-87 is 40 miles west and 1-91 is 40 miles east, meaning buses don't work well either.

And yet, along the line are 360,000 people with natural affinities with NYC who would, eventually, support a sort of 2x daily NEC train.


The Housatonic forum. But that proposal has been so thoroughly debunked, destroyed, and discredited by folks who know that corridor that there's nary a "pro" argument left to stand on its own two feet.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby wicked » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:35 pm

Why not extend some NYP-Albany trains to Pittsfield during the summer? Guessing the speed would exceed running via Danbury given current conditions.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby The EGE » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:29 pm

Other quicker options include riding the Harlem Line and biking to Pittsfield, hitchhiking from New York, pogo sticking, or waiting for teleportation devices to be invented.

Right now you could do NYP-ALB-PIT in 3:45 on current schedules. 2:30 to Albany, 10 minutes to reverse direction, 1:05 to Pittsfield. Breaking three hours driving isn't easy except at the dead of night, so it's within the reasonable range of time-competitiveness. The key would be getting NY to sign on for seasonal stops at Niverville and Chatham.

You'd probably have to find an extra trainset to run - most of the current trains seem to have a pretty quick turnaround at Albany - and probably fund a passing siding or two (which could also help the poor LSL). Not the cheapest - but a whole lot better than the amount you'd have to pay for worse service on the Hoosy.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby BandA » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:26 pm

For the Cambridge / Grand Junction, perhaps some folks at MIT could design railroad crossing and block equipment that can tell the difference between a 30MPH through freight and a passenger local that is about to stop at Kendall. A slow moving passenger train pulling out of a station only needs the gates to be down for a few moments, and certainly not during station dwell.

Waltham. The idea of rabid-transit or indiglo service to Waltham 128 or beyond termininus would generate huge development and possibly divert drivers from the $$pike, RT 2, and Alewife. But major expansions should only happen when there is some hope of eventually covering their operating costs. Transportation should be treated as valuable infrastructure, not a welfare benefit.
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