MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:58 pm

joshg1 wrote:I read the scant paragraph in the report about the Indigo line as diesel rapid transit, and think Salem remote but running up to Anderson may have Alewife potential- depends on zoning and the RE market. Has anything concrete on frequency of Indigo service come up? What about length/capacity of trains? I think it important to differentiate between-

DMU- diesel rapid transit, because we're not going to extend or build any subways

and

DMU- a different type of CR train that runs at the the same frequency with the same stations as current loco hauled trains.



Yeah, and if they don't eat their peas on the requisite track work and at getting primo on-time performance on the routes it's going to be a lot of the latter and very little of the former.

http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/scor ... p?id=18476

Go average together 1-2 year's worth of per-line OTP on the agency's Scorecards and tell me those consistently abysmal Newburyport/Rockport numbers don't give a little bit of pause as to how effective the Lynn or Salem DMU is going to be. I think there's reason to be bullish about Fairmount, certainly Worcester is getting better, and for future expansion routes certainly Fitchburg's present-day performance is in no way indicative of how things will be after the ongoing rebuild is done. But some of this stuff just ain't viable until mainlines like the Eastern Route get a large capital infusion to improve reliability and reduce bottlenecks. And there's precious little said about that here.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:03 pm

joshg1 wrote:I read the scant paragraph in the report about the Indigo line as diesel rapid transit, and think Salem remote but running up to Anderson may have Alewife potential- depends on zoning and the RE market. Has anything concrete on frequency of Indigo service come up? What about length/capacity of trains? I think it important to differentiate between-
DMU- diesel rapid transit, because we're not going to extend or build any subways
and
DMU- a different type of CR train that runs at the the same frequency with the same stations as current loco hauled trains.

Its unlikely to be exactly the same frequency--and probably more likethe DMUs will run every ~20 minutes--simply because that's all that makes sense on the shorter "inner" segments that they've made (and for which they show the CR skipping these "inner" stops).
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby stevefol » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:31 am

It is extremely disappointing that the Green Line extension to Mystic Valley is so notably absent. Having the terminus at College Ave will mean more bus traffic on the already gridlocked Boston Ave through Medford Hillside.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:54 pm

stevefol wrote:It is extremely disappointing that the Green Line extension to Mystic Valley is so notably absent. Having the terminus at College Ave will mean more bus traffic on the already gridlocked Boston Ave through Medford Hillside.


The state passed a non-binding IOU statement saying they're going to proceed with pursuing funding for the Route 16 extension after College Ave. and the Innerbelt carhouse are fully funded. But emphasis on the "non-binding" part; never trust a non-binding rail transit promise from the state. Yes, that was disappointing. Although they can easily fix that by killing the asinine Berkshire Rail folly.

In addition to the traffic, 16 is badly needed for the buses. A 16-Alewife pingback would be excellent for tying in the Green Line to all the buses running out of Alewife (more the buses than the Red Line, since College Ave.<-->Davis does that well enough). It would make for easy, silly-easy buses from Arlington Center and Arlington Heights to take a big load off the 77. And every bus that currently terminates at West Medford should get thru-routed down Boston Ave. to loop at the station. This could become a very big bus terminal in its own right at a site that has generous room and ample road capacity for it.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:33 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
stevefol wrote:It is extremely disappointing that the Green Line extension to Mystic Valley is so notably absent. Having the terminus at College Ave will mean more bus traffic on the already gridlocked Boston Ave through Medford Hillside.


Although they can easily fix that by killing the asinine Berkshire Rail folly.


So true and an excellent point. BTW - the Governor just happens to have a new mansion in the Berkshires. Coincidence? I think not!
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:13 am

bostontrainguy wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
stevefol wrote:It is extremely disappointing that the Green Line extension to Mystic Valley is so notably absent. Having the terminus at College Ave will mean more bus traffic on the already gridlocked Boston Ave through Medford Hillside.


Although they can easily fix that by killing the asinine Berkshire Rail folly.


So true and an excellent point. BTW - the Governor just happens to have a new mansion in the Berkshires. Coincidence? I think not!


5 miles away from the nearest Berkshire Scenic station...coincidentally.

It's also no coincidence that every declared candidate for Gov. so far is from inside Route 128 and has probably never laid eyes on HRCC's godawful track except for maybe the pictures of their latest derailment in the papers.


But...back somewhat on-topic. A possibly more consequential changing of the guard may be happening in the State Senate with Senate Prez. Therese Murray declining to run for re-election. House Speaker and Senate President are the de facto two most powerful pols in the state because of the legacy dating back several decades of them being able to bully their caucuses into voting straight down the line to their wishes with only exceedingly rare opposition. Both positions--whoever is occupying them--like to assert their control over the Gov. with periodic reminders of who's really boss by making an example out of some signature legislation pushed by the Executive Branch. Bob DeLeo and Murray exerted this power on the Transportation Bill by gutting the tax revenue and leaving a funding shortfall that Gov. Patrick has yet to adequately explain how he's going to apportion to these projects (which is why Berkshire Rail is likely D.O.A., if it was ever serious in the first place). While there is usually a deputy/heir apparent frontrunner every time an alpha dog leaves (or gets indicted...*cough*..Sal DiMasi), fresh blood can always change the chamber's priorities. So it'll be interesting to watch what the frontrunners for that job--as well as the gubenatorial frontrunners--hold near and dear to them transit-wise. And hopefully those positions will be publicly articulated before the voters. I still think it's going to be an uphill climb to fill in the gaps in the transit funding because DeLeo has still got his iron grip on the House and the state's purse strings and I have little confidence that the slate of Gov. candidates will come to their senses about South Coast FAIL. But the pending regime change just got a whole lot bigger with the second of two-thirds of the most powerful jobs in the state now going vacant.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:46 am

Another issue with this vision is the specs for a new Type 9 Greenline car. They are basically the same design as the Type 8s but with plug doors.

The MBTA should really consider more off-the-shelf equipment like the Bombardier Flexity line which offers almost completely flat floors. I think the stairs in the Type 8s are problematic and should be avoided at all cost. The MBTA carries a lot of senior citizens and disabled people and the stairs present safety problems not to mention the annoyance of younger people sitting on them and blocking the passage of others. I cringe every time I see an elderly person walking down those stairs as the train begins to more.

I have seen many people fall on those stairs and considering the potential legal problems, why not consider a better available tested option.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby SM89 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:31 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Another issue with this vision is the specs for a new Type 9 Greenline car. They are basically the same design as the Type 8s but with plug doors.

The MBTA should really consider more off-the-shelf equipment like the Bombardier Flexity line which offers almost completely flat floors. I think the stairs in the Type 8s are problematic and should be avoided at all cost. The MBTA carries a lot of senior citizens and disabled people and the stairs present safety problems not to mention the annoyance of younger people sitting on them and blocking the passage of others. I cringe every time I see an elderly person walking down those stairs as the train begins to more.

I have seen many people fall on those stairs and considering the potential legal problems, why not consider a better available tested option.


I don't understand why they spec a 60% low floor vehicle. That should be the minimum percentage, not the required. 100% low floor would be very helpful on the E where there is front door only entering and exiting on the street running portion.
Last edited by SM89 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:14 pm

I should add that the elimination of the "Bridge Plate" should also be considered. Because of the present outward opening folding doors, the platforms are a bit lower than the car's floors so a problematic high-maintenance "Bridge Plate" must be deployed.

The MBTA should consider a better solution which puts the car's floor at the same height as the platforms, eliminating the fussy Bridge Plates and giving the capability of a person in a wheelchair to simply enter and exit the car with independence and dignity.

I am not sure if the plug doors would allow this, but there must be a door design that would. The Bridge Plates and all of those handicapped lifts should be history.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25569766@N ... 664281744/
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:21 am

A story on Toronto's GO Transit: Cutting commuter rail headways to 30 mins throughout the day raised ridership 30%
http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014 ... d-transit/
One year ago, GO [Metro Toronto Transit] took the most significant step yet in that direction, bringing all-day, half-hourly, two-directional service to the Lakeshore commuter lines, up from one-hour headways. The change has already increased ridership by 30% on those lines.


Now, you might say that a 100% increase in service that only garners a 30% increase in ridership is a money-loser--and you'd be right. But give it time. Modal choice is not easily changed. I think MBTA should give it a try.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:25 am

>>a 100% increase in service that only garners a 30% increase in ridership is a money-loser<<

It might well be, but that is not a valid calculation. Apples and oranges. The correct calculation would be: $ cost of increased service vs $ gain in revenues.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:39 am

ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:>>a 100% increase in service that only garners a 30% increase in ridership is a money-loser<<
It might well be, but that is not a valid calculation. Apples and oranges. The correct calculation would be: $ cost of increased service vs $ gain in revenues.

Let's just stipulate that it will all, initially, look like a loser. Seats going unfilled (my math) will translate into money being lost (your math)and the story will not be a happy one particularly if you include the capital costs of the DMUs (it'll be hard for them to save enough on operating costs to justify their capital costs..but we can hope they still look better than running full CR service, mostly because they can be operated by 1 person)...and yet, 30% increases in ridership are hard to come by, and cost per new rider--even including the DMU acquisition--is likely better than many other transit projects.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby boblothrope » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:59 am

ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:>>a 100% increase in service that only garners a 30% increase in ridership is a money-loser<<

It might well be, but that is not a valid calculation. Apples and oranges. The correct calculation would be: $ cost of increased service vs $ gain in revenues.


Exactly. The whole *point* of DMUs is that you can run a short train cheaply. So if you replace trains of loco-hauled coaches with DMUs that run twice as often, you don't double the operating costs.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:37 pm

boblothrope wrote:Exactly. The whole *point* of DMUs is that you can run a short train cheaply. So if you replace trains of loco-hauled coaches with DMUs that run twice as often, you don't double the operating costs.

The direct variable costs of operating DMUs--labor, fuel, "wheels & brakes & lube"--may be 1/3 or even 1/5th that of CR, but *everything* else is very expensive. Having bought them, sure, I think they've kicked around even 15 or 20 minute headways. Its like a Nissan Leaf: if you pay a fortune to buy one, yes, you get to drive it around basically free. Given the potentially very-high purchase price though, 30% growth is not looking so good, but if you knew it could mean 100% growth, that would be easier.

For 30%, You might be better off just running the trains you have more often (as GO Transit has) and sucking up the ops costs.

Guys, I want this to be a slam dunk as much as anyone--my stop, West Medford (in Zone 1A) would be a huge winner, and the lives (and property values) of me, mine, & my neighbors would be radically transformed for the better on every dimension (except driving on Rt 60)

Problem is, DMU are going to impose huge capital costs
- Buying them
- Acquiring yard space and building it out.
- Finding/building place to maintain them
- A whole second parts inventory

For this, I'd like to see the actual capital costs per added rider.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:55 pm

boblothrope wrote:
ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:>>a 100% increase in service that only garners a 30% increase in ridership is a money-loser<<

It might well be, but that is not a valid calculation. Apples and oranges. The correct calculation would be: $ cost of increased service vs $ gain in revenues.


Exactly. The whole *point* of DMUs is that you can run a short train cheaply. So if you replace trains of loco-hauled coaches with DMUs that run twice as often, you don't double the operating costs.


In theory. Other agencies' DMU experiences to-date throw some cold water on that logic due to the currently extreme premium those outlier vehicles cost to buy and maintain, and ops inflexibility (or "we've always done it this way" syndrome) making too few distinctions between push-pull practices and DMU practices. I would classify those as more bureaucratic hurdles than natural hurdles, but it's hampered DMUs' adoption in the U.S. bigtime with no one yet scoring a breakthrough. At least with FRA-compliants co-mingled with RR traffic...the LRT-by-any-other-name installations like the NJT River Line have fared much better, but obviously aren't applicable here.

It's appropriate to exercise caution until a big agency like the T can actually produce the numbers in advance saying how a rollout of DMU service will live up to the cost efficiency hype. Given their tortured history with vehicle procurements and unwillingness to try more efficient optimizing of push-pull service to show they're institutionally capable of uncovering new efficiencies...I wanna see some solid evidence they're capable of executing before blindly trusting them to do good on a very expensive vehicle purchase. I don't trust them on-spec to be trailblazers here until they can fill the 'citation gap' with real service numbers and real cost numbers based on a real DMU purchase operated and maintained by their real staff and standards/practices. Not just "generic reference DMU" from a feasibility study loosely based on 10-year-old assumptions about that Colorado Railcar lemon or hypothetical Euro transplants could perform on idealized U.S. commuter service. Call it bad memories from the BRT hype-a-palooza vs. what the truncated Silver Line actually became after they began backpedalling from the challenge. But the T's going to have to show their math a lot more than it has before I believe them, and believe the follow-through on the scale of surface. Much less believe the notion that they're capable of being the first big transit agency to break DMU's big in this country.
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