Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby Disney Guy » Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:54 am

What would the ridership demography be like with a Green Line branch from downtown Tremont St. via Dudley, Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan to Ashmont?

Given the three corridors Orange Line, Red Line, and Fairmont commuter rail, is there enough ridership to support Blue Hill Ave. as a rail corridor?

Beyond Mattapan northbound, we're heading "inbound" again so not that many riders will want to go "around the horn" via Mattapan to Ashmont. The new line will undoubtedly be built in stages if at all: Tremont St. to Dudley, and Mattapan up Blue Hill Ave. a little ways, with the final connection between the two being last.

Light rail needs good ridership to justify building it.

So we go back to considering new rolling stock for the existing line.

Type 7? Need to stick with wheelchair lifts or movable flap top mini platofrms.
Type 8? Need to regrind the rails to the profile the cars like.
Type 9? A possibility if the GL extension beyond Lechmere is scaled down.
Avantis or Skodas or Flexities? Would the T want to have a small fleet of something different?
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:54 pm

The big advantage of a Blue Hill Ave/Warren/Washington-running light rail line would be that it connects three of the poorest-served urban centers with the rail connection that their population justifies, while eliminating the currently crush-loaded busses that connect them.

The Dudley --> downtown connection would be the icing on the cake, but I'd bet that most of your ridership would instead come from point-to-point trips further out along the route.

Now if you were adding that line, then the next logical step would be to build another line perpendicular to it, running down the median from JFK/UMass along Columbia to Franklin Park, where it would cross Blue Hill Ave and continue along Seaver to Jackson Square or Ruggles, connecting Upham's Corner and Eggleston Square to the network. All of those roads are wide enough that median running would be a relatively painless process.

At that point though, you might as well stop trying to make it part of the green line and make it it's own separate network (Silver Line?) so the T could go with a more modern rolling stock type, etc, while laying the groundwork for extensions to Hyde Park Square via Cummins or American Legion.

As to Mattapan, I would love to see the T use it as a proving ground for some improved post-"type X" Green Line rolling stock design, but I sure aren't holding my breath about it.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:58 pm

Given the number of buses running up Blue Hill Ave, I have trouble believing it couldn't support light rail.

An F line to Mattapan would remain operationally separate from the High Speed Line, just like the other trolley lines which once radiated out from there. The High Speed Line has no need for multiple-car trains (Blue Hill Ave would), and you wouldn't want service issues on one line to affect the other.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:25 pm

Disney Guy wrote:What would the ridership demography be like with a Green Line branch from downtown Tremont St. via Dudley, Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan to Ashmont?

Given the three corridors Orange Line, Red Line, and Fairmont commuter rail, is there enough ridership to support Blue Hill Ave. as a rail corridor?

Beyond Mattapan northbound, we're heading "inbound" again so not that many riders will want to go "around the horn" via Mattapan to Ashmont. The new line will undoubtedly be built in stages if at all: Tremont St. to Dudley, and Mattapan up Blue Hill Ave. a little ways, with the final connection between the two being last.

Light rail needs good ridership to justify building it.

So we go back to considering new rolling stock for the existing line.

Type 7? Need to stick with wheelchair lifts or movable flap top mini platofrms.
Type 8? Need to regrind the rails to the profile the cars like.
Type 9? A possibility if the GL extension beyond Lechmere is scaled down.
Avantis or Skodas or Flexities? Would the T want to have a small fleet of something different?


The 7's will work just fine because the pre-existing mini-highs and bridge plates offer full accessibility for the high-floor cars. Why resurface the rails to the absolute perfection needed for the Bredas and go through the comedy-of-errors debugging period when a pole-equipped Kinki 'just works'? Stuff like the power draw increase must be done before the new Red cars go to Ashmont; that's already scheduled. The last weak Neponset bridge (if it hasn't been done already) gets taken care when its number gets drawn in the systemwide bridge SGR program. Track is probably getting close to due for a resurfacing anyway, so doing it to 7-spec is another generic SGR job just waiting for its number to get drawn. And the only track reconfig required is retiring Mattapan turnback loop for a stub-end.

The maint facility, if Mattapan shed isn't easily expandable, can just go on the SE empty wedge of Codman with a turnout that flings on/off Ashmont loop. The "new" Mattapan shed after the recent rehab wasn't expensive at all. An LRV-equipped one would only be incrementally more expensive. That's it. There really isn't any hand-wringing to do. General-purpose SGR over the last 10 years has been slowly prepping the line to open up the option to switch to LRV's, so it's not like they have to greenlight a big package of upgrades. Line wouldn't even have to be shut down. PCC's and 7's can easily co-mingle during the debugging phase.


Maybe then MUNI buys the PCC fleet as a service booster for its next F Market expansion. To a genuine heritage operator that still has the in-house expertise to maintain the original parts, those cars would fetch a premium resale price because of their excellent condition. It's only the T that can't really make a future out of prefabbing vintage parts and would need to do a SEPTA PCC II -type gut/rebuild job with modern components to justify keeping them. And I can't imagine that's going to price better than finishing up last to-do's, bringing down a few LRV's, and recouping the PCCs' value with a sale to another heritage operator that'll keep them in-service for decades to come.

This whole thing seems like much ado about nothing, since the bus option was only mentioned in passing nowhere near as prominent as the freak-out that came in its wake. They should be kicking off the process of evaluating what comes next. Unless there's political forces looking to kill off the line the highest-value options are pretty self-evident: some sort of rebuild that keeps the PCC's, or sending over some LRV's. No reason to mess with any more because the physical plant on the line is in excellent SGR with all remaining items being perfunctory and decoupled from a future rolling stock decision. The Fiscal Control Board would be doing the exact opposite of its mission statement to put too much stock in capital-intensive, off-the-wall kludges like paving it into a busway.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:13 pm

It would make more sense to upgrade the overhead to handle pans than put poles on the Type 7s. Especially if you plan to eliminate the loop at Mattapan.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:08 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:It would make more sense to upgrade the overhead to handle pans than put poles on the Type 7s. Especially if you plan to eliminate the loop at Mattapan.


In a perfect world, yes. But if costs are going to be constrained and the existing wire is good enough to do the job, one set of frogs/switches at Mattapan is a small price to pay for being able to address the fleet plan at low impact.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby jboutiet » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:53 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
MBTA3247 wrote:It would make more sense to upgrade the overhead to handle pans than put poles on the Type 7s. Especially if you plan to eliminate the loop at Mattapan.


In a perfect world, yes. But if costs are going to be constrained and the existing wire is good enough to do the job, one set of frogs/switches at Mattapan is a small price to pay for being able to address the fleet plan at low impact.
Plus the cost to remove the pans and install poles.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:00 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
MBTA3247 wrote:It would make more sense to upgrade the overhead to handle pans than put poles on the Type 7s. Especially if you plan to eliminate the loop at Mattapan.


In a perfect world, yes. But if costs are going to be constrained and the existing wire is good enough to do the job, one set of frogs/switches at Mattapan is a small price to pay for being able to address the fleet plan at low impact.


Speaking of poles...

Now here's a crazy out there sort of idea...

Toronto is in the process of replacing their LRV fleet with Bombardier Flexities. I know there are gauge differences, but what are the odds that you could pick up a handful of CLRV's for Mattapan?

It may not be as crazy as it sounds. They're basically plug and play PCC replacements, and the Type 7's were basically Japanese copies of them. Furthermore, the T has some familiarity with this, since they trialed them on the Green Line before ordering the Type 7's. The T also has a ton of experience working with other UTDC products on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines, so I'm sure there's a ton of parts/maintenance overlap there as well.

IF the GLX goes through, and IF the ridership situation afterwards is such that even with the type 9's (and that's assuming they have no major teething problems, which is a pretty big assumption), the T could feasibly find itself needing every car it can get its hands on for Green Line service, leaving no type 7's free to replace the PCC's.

If that were the case, I wonder if it would make sense for the T to try and scoop up a handful of refurbed CLRV's (and a whole lot of spares) on the cheap, since aside from needing new bogies/wheels (and there is already a documented process for making that conversion thanks to the T trialing them once upon a time), they are a 100% drop-in PCC replacement and would require zero changes whatsoever to the Mattapan Line's track, wire, station, and maintenance infrastructure, while likely having significant parts commonality with the Type 7's, 1600s, and 1200's.

And running on the Red Line, they wouldn't even need to be repainted!
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:06 pm

Clever suggestion, but... As one who has made a bunch of trips to Toronto over the years to ride North America's most extensive streetcar system, I'm fond of those cars and I'd love to see CLRVs on the Mattapan line when/if PCC replacement is required. The problem, aside from the gauge difference, is that after 30+ years of service they're on their last legs and would likely need as much of a heavy overhall/rebuilding as SEPTA's PCC IIs got in order to significantly extend their service life. I have the impression that these days the TTC shops are just patching them up enough to keep them running for a couple more years until the production-delayed Flexities fully take over. Some of the CLRVs in service up there last summer looked really beat. I even saw a couple running with pieces of the side skirting or rear fender missing.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:39 pm

jboutiet wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
MBTA3247 wrote:It would make more sense to upgrade the overhead to handle pans than put poles on the Type 7s. Especially if you plan to eliminate the loop at Mattapan.


In a perfect world, yes. But if costs are going to be constrained and the existing wire is good enough to do the job, one set of frogs/switches at Mattapan is a small price to pay for being able to address the fleet plan at low impact.
Plus the cost to remove the pans and install poles.


Seashore doesn't seem to have a problem with that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mBMDchcfl8


Pans, poles, and their mounts are considered "consumables" needing more frequent replacement than most other train components because they wear out quickly. So the parts-and-labor for that is already handled at mass scale on the T with all LRV's, PCC's, TT's, and Silver Line dual-modes. Because every user nationwide is in exactly the same boat, the parts are generified to the point where there's hardly anything custom about one vehicle's particular mount. It amounts to buying the single-pole version of the same parts the Neoplan TT's use and drilling some holes. Or, if you really want to get crazy, purchasing some of those automated mounts the Silver Line dual-modes use to re-wire/de-wire with push of a button from the cab console.

Pans-n'-poles will never factor into a big executive decision on Mattapan vehicles. It's like being at a car dealer and letting cost of annual windshield wiper replacements at Auto Zone decide whether you walk away from a deal. Doesn't even rate in all the considerations. The only thing that would get them deciding on pans is if they think the lineside physical plant is going to perform better and have lower total cost of ownership if they pay up-front to replace all the overhead before importing LRV's. It won't be the cars themselves and their completely generic collector hardware deciding that.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:24 pm

It's interesting that, although no one has said it in this thread, the Blue-Hill-Ave suggestions have a big helping of "put back what was there": there were separate ROWs next to Seaver St. and part of Blue Hill Ave (next to Franklin Park) and median reservations on Blue Hill Ave from there south. See here: http://www.bostonstreetcars.com/dorches ... venue.html. (Maybe one of you is the person who made the website.) Anyway, just pointing out that the idea of reservations on much of that route is reasonable because it has been done before.

How far north on Blue Hill Ave would you have to be before it would be faster to ride a trolley in a reservation via Dudley than to ride a trolley in a reservation that continued through Mattapan to Ashmont and change to the Red Line? Is there some area that would be better served by a light-rail line extending from Mattapan to feed the red? Because the hard, expensive parts of the "F-line to Mattapan" are between the Boylston St. subway (lovely piece of deserted infrastructure) and someplace south of Dudley where the street gets wide enough for a reservation. After all, narrow streets were one of the reasons given for not putting light rail on the Silver Line in the first place, right? And since the Mattapan line is already kind of isolated and doesn't run into the fair-paid area of the subway system (You have to tap in at Ashmont, right?) it would be a good place to experiment with proof of payment and therefore to build simple stations like this one in Salt Lake City https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Tem ... TA_station)#/media/File:Trax_north_temple_bridge_salt_lake.jpg instead of the expensive ones that we have debated so much in the Green Line past Lechmere thread. Just kind of wandering thoughts, not really connected to the main thread except to say that that piece of trolley infrastructure is worth keeping.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:13 am

When the head of the MBTA says he thinks the PCC's should go due to cost savings, you have to take that seriously.

Choices:
----------
If the "excellent condition" PCC cars are more valuable historically, maybe they could sell them, buy some others and refurbish them with "PCC 2" modern components that require less maintenance.

Contract out (with subsidy) operation to Seashore Trolley Museum for 10-15 year period. Museum supplies their own personnel. T easily absorbs the small number of Hi-speed personnel into green line or other operations, and is able to reduce overtime expenses. Perhaps a couple of T employees with specialist knowledge get "leased" to the museum operation. Museum markets line to heritage tourists, rotates in some type 5's & snow fighting equipment. Win-win!

Replace trolleys with Type 7 cars. Upgrade power substations. Upgrade catanery for pantographs, or downgrade pantographs to trolley poles. Upgrade loop for longer turning radius. How many passengers take Ashmont-Mattapan line? Do they fill the PCCs? Type 7's are higher capacity & draw more power, so service frequency will have to be reduced to meet budget.

Maybe the PCC cars are being maintained to "state of good repair" and rest of system isn't. If you fully factor in depreciation on red/orange/green/blue cars, I bet the cost of the PCC car maintenance would be comparable or less.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:29 am

More choices:
----------------
Use diesel (or diesel/electric) hi-rail capable vehicles. At end of rail, switch to rubber tires & continue to former streetcar destinations.

I think we should dismiss converting to red line cars as this will cost much more, not less.

Do nothing... but appear to be doing something. Create a blue-ribbon panel & commission a study.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:56 am

BandA wrote:When the head of the MBTA says he thinks the PCC's should go due to cost savings, you have to take that seriously.

Choices:
----------
If the "excellent condition" PCC cars are more valuable historically, maybe they could sell them, buy some others and refurbish them with "PCC 2" modern components that require less maintenance.

Since this is a genuine opportunity for cost recovery while serving the need at hand, it works best if they pull some in-house LRV's and use the PCC sale to underwrite some of the conversion costs. The FCB will look warmly on plans framed around this one-two punch. I'd rate odds pretty decent of this tandem being favored if no LRV-related blockers drive up the upgrade price. It's not the only option, but it's the probable easiest sell for what the FCB is tasked with evaluating.

Contract out (with subsidy) operation to Seashore Trolley Museum for 10-15 year period. Museum supplies their own personnel. T easily absorbs the small number of Hi-speed personnel into green line or other operations, and is able to reduce overtime expenses. Perhaps a couple of T employees with specialist knowledge get "leased" to the museum operation. Museum markets line to heritage tourists, rotates in some type 5's & snow fighting equipment. Win-win!
Seashore isn't the T's slave labor. They're too small. It would take a much more substantial public-private investment in the museum to get a shared operation like MUNI + Market Street Railway museum. That would've had to have been a partnership years in the making to be of use for leveraging Mattapan, and this just isn't the budgeting era to be initiating that.

Replace trolleys with Type 7 cars. Upgrade power substations. Upgrade catanery for pantographs, or downgrade pantographs to trolley poles. Upgrade loop for longer turning radius. How many passengers take Ashmont-Mattapan line? Do they fill the PCCs? Type 7's are higher capacity & draw more power, so service frequency will have to be reduced to meet budget.
You'd be surprised how much the PCC's fill up at peak. Some roomier LRV's would be welcome for those periods. Expect the ridership to increase a little when they complete the Neponset River Trail along the rest of the line. It's already very well-utilized around Lower Mills just for Point A-to-Point B walking trips, but completing it should flush a little bit more pedestrian activity all around the line and out to the tiny intermediates. Small potatoes, but it'll force a few more bodies onboard times of day when the trolleys are fullest.

LRV's may result in some slight off-peak service reduction, but it's already pretty sparse so there's a definite service floor it won't drop below. Power draw will not be a problem because the Ashmont Branch substations must be upgraded for the new Red cars' arrival in 2019-20, and the T's CIP states that line item is inclusive for future-proofing of Mattapan for LRV's.

Remember...the PCC's draw considerably more power than they did a decade ago because of those new air conditioner installs, so it's not like they were teetering on the brink of a blackout by running one more car at a time. It's a power reliability thing more than being flat-out tapped out; reducing strain on the substations improves the lifespan of their components. The SGR-related Red Line upgrades and fact that Mattapan service levels aren't going to increase leaves generous cushion for absorbing LRV's on an as-is system.

Maybe the PCC cars are being maintained to "state of good repair" and rest of system isn't. If you fully factor in depreciation on red/orange/green/blue cars, I bet the cost of the PCC car maintenance would be comparable or less.
Isn't that already the case? :wink:

Use diesel (or diesel/electric) hi-rail capable vehicles. At end of rail, switch to rubber tires & continue to former streetcar destinations.
"Moar Frankenstein vehicles, plz!" is not something T riders ever want to hear again. The FCB didn't even trust them with ordering FRA-compliant commuter rail DMU's. And they're already debating whether early retirement of the FrankenBredas for a Type 10 purchase is better value than rebuilding. This proposal will go over like a lead balloon.

Second, there aren't really any run-thru routes to dream up here. The High Speed Line and 28/29 both serve Mattapan as a terminus. There's very little run-thru ridership that would boomerang through both north-south routings, so the economics of run-thru would end up worse than terminating at the pre-existing terminal. The east-west 30 isn't really screaming for it either when the 21 ties Forest Hills, Morton St., and Ashmont together. Fairmount Line is also capable of picking up some of the Dorchester/Mattapan to Hyde Park load served by the 24 and 33, if only the T would get on with increasing Fairmount frequencies. That doesn't leave any logical run-thru combinations out of Mattapan that would pull their weight.

The spread of modes around here offers a lot more options to cover the needs than trying to force-fit the modes together. Finish the Fairmount service rollout, revisit that 28X BRT plan with less tortured community input, secure the High Speed Line's future rolling stock, and keep those east-west bus frequencies steady (and gradually increasing) as they ping between transfer points on all these north-south load-bearing trunks. Dorchester's density requires much more a transit portfolio of low-impact meshing like that, rather than some sort of 'killshot' mainline to end all mainlines.

I think we should dismiss converting to red line cars as this will cost much more, not less.
Yes, absolutely. This isn't the time for that. In advance of after-next generation of High Speed Line rolling stock decisions is when to start the Red debate, because this will be a recurring thing they have to go through when the 7's/8's are retired. There will be much greater need for one-seats to downtown from Milton and Mattapan post-2030 if one or more of the transit megaprojects like Urban Ring, Transitway-Downtown connector , NSRL gets put back on the front-burner. By that point heavy rail conversion will be a much more logical remainder to settle up and serve much more forceful purpose at piping in those east-west bus transfers. As will considerations like getting Orange at least as far as Rozzie or getting Washington St. to Dudley on trolleys. All those shock waves emanating from downtown hit the southern bus terminals in a big way and force a major needs assessment of how the north-south trunks through Dorchester--High Speed Line, Fairmount, 28/28X--and their east-west net of transferring buses are handling the shifting loads.

Lots of neighborhood-wide adjustments needed for the shifting landscape those downtown megaprojects create, and the economics will at that point favor a conversion to Red. But it's all post-2030...when we are hopefully back on track with 'exponential' transit expansion focused around downtown circulation. Any way you slice it that times better with the after-next decision on Mattapan rolling stock, rather than this 'status-quo' service decision. Nothing gained by jumping the gun on conversion now, since the SGR of the line's physical plant isn't what's driving the decision. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Do nothing... but appear to be doing something. Create a blue-ribbon panel & commission a study.
Yes. Unfortunately, this. :(
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby typesix » Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:03 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Remember...the PCC's draw considerably more power than they did a decade ago because of those new air conditioner installs, so it's not like they were teetering on the brink of a blackout by running one more car at a time. It's a power reliability thing more than being flat-out tapped out; reducing strain on the substations improves the lifespan of their components.


They started drawing more power starting with the first rebuild in the late 1970s, when dynamic brake heat was replaced with electric strip heaters. Also, heating can draw more power than AC.
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