"inbound" "outbound" designations

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Hub and Spokes

Postby AmeriKenArtist » Sat Apr 10, 2004 11:31 pm

....and Outbound is any train traveling away from the hub, which is Park Street. The confusion lies within the person who does not adhere to that concept. What confuses the tourist, is that an Inbound train changes to Outbound once it passes through Park Street. Think of Park Street as the hub on a bicycle wheel! The train lines are the spokes.
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Postby efin98 » Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:10 am

I split this topic from the first two posts(just found that feature, sorry for the delay).

Hub based directions would work if there was a central hub, like Chicago and other cities have. However it doesn't work here in Boston. It's confusing to newcomers and tourists, which is something that should not happen in a tourist reliant city like Boston.
I concede that it might have worked in the past, but it just does not work now. An easier system, maybe directional based would work as each line heads for a general direction or letter driven is better suited for Boston. I think the T might be going for something like that already, since they have the Red Line lettered like the Green Line(A, B, C, and M, albeit only used on the 1800s) to simplify things on the Red Line as more and more people are heading North and South beyond the "hub" of the line.

T logic, you have to admire it's simplicity in the past but it's idiocy in the present.
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Postby apodino » Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:33 am

Wait a minute. The Square consisting of Park St., Government Center, State, and Downtown Crossing isn't a hub? That is a central hub as far as I am concerned, and the T subway is for all intents and purposes a Hub and Spoke system, with the hub being the aforementioned square, and the spokes radiating to Wonderland, Oak Grove, Lechmere, Alewife, Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Riverside, Heath St. Forest Hills, Ashmont, Braintree, and even Bowdoin. The system works perfectly for Boston. Also remember that the destination is usually written next to the inbound or outbound, so the destination is clear. One exception of course being Harvard Square, which is probably the worst station outside of downtown for this to be true.

Some other systems if they did this would worry me without this central hub. Such systems include NYC Subway(they use Uptown and Downtown), DC Metro, and London Underground. But with a hub and spoke system, it works perfectly. If you have any suggestions on ways to improve this, I am listening.
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Postby efin98 » Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:14 am

apodino wrote:Wait a minute. The Square consisting of Park St., Government Center, State, and Downtown Crossing isn't a hub? That is a central hub as far as I am concerned, and the T subway is for all intents and purposes a Hub and Spoke system, with the hub being the aforementioned square, and the spokes radiating to Wonderland, Oak Grove, Lechmere, Alewife, Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Riverside, Heath St. Forest Hills, Ashmont, Braintree, and even Bowdoin. The system works perfectly for Boston..


It worked perfectly in the past when things were centralized around the "hub" but that has changed. The only lines that I think might have that viable is the Blue Line and the B and C Lines because they actually terminate in the "hub". Things have changed greatly on the system, people are not concentrating on the central for points as they did in the past. Now the intermediate stations are the key places. It's gotten to the point that the system could used an upgrade directionally, focusing either on the terminals.

Also remember that the destination is usually written next to the inbound or outbound, so the destination is clear. One exception of course being Harvard Square, which is probably the worst station outside of downtown for this to be true


Clearly written? Not by a long shot. They could be alot clearer and the focus of directions but they are pretty much not. That's especially true in the unrehabbed stations, where they are almost too small to be noticed by anybody other than those who are regular commuters on the lines.

Some other systems if they did this would worry me without this central hub. Such systems include NYC Subway(they use Uptown and Downtown), DC Metro, and London Underground. But with a hub and spoke system, it works perfectly. If you have any suggestions on ways to improve this, I am listening.


It doesn't work for run through systems like the T. Look at New York as an example which has very few spokes at all, just straigh lines that intersect all over the place. They use a directional based system, either "Brooklyn Bound" Queens Bound" "Uptown" or "Downtown". That would work to great effect on the T, with trains going to their terminals rather than "inbound" and "outbound".
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Postby apodino » Sun Apr 11, 2004 10:41 am

Maybe I am just used to the Inbound and Outbound and am comfortable with that. Anyway, your point about much of city life taking place away from the hub down in the Copley area is well taken.

Where it does work well is on the commuter rail, where most people is either going to boston, or away from boston. However, the problem I have with this is that often times the Outbound train will use the Inbound platform, which doesn't make sense to me. This is most common on the Middleboro line, where the Outbound train uses the inbound platforms at Montello and Brockton. I don't think people who are going outbound would know to use that without looking at the new LED signs. Its not that big a deal at Brockton since Brockton is an island platform, but Montello has two outside platforms. I caught a train there one day into Boston and waited on the Inbound platform, but then I saw the train coming on the outbound side, so I had to cross the tracks at grade, along with other riders. I think this is dangerous. And Canton Junction is a nightmare. There are two inbound platforms there, one on the NEC, another on the Stoughton Spur. There are a couple of hard to notice signs which tell you which train comes on which track, but if you had never used the station before, how do you know this? Readville is the same way, with trains being on either the Fairmount Line, or on the Franklin Line.

I know this discussion started with the T's Inbound/Outbound on the subway, but I wonder what your thoughts were on the commuter rail problems I have just mentioned.
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Re: Inbound and Outbound

Postby KidRailfan » Sun Apr 11, 2004 7:49 pm

I, being a New Yorker, and having been to Boston, know that it's very hard to figure out the system of inbound and outbound. Coming off of Amtrak at South Station, my family and I had no clue as to which way Park Street was. We finally figured it out after seeing a sign that said Inbound: Alewife, and figured that Inbound was towards the square of Park Street, State, Government Center, and Downtown Crossing. But that took a long time, and a trip to the ticket booth. They should make signs that disregard directions and simply say "to Park Street, Harvard, and Alewife" at North Station, or to Park Street, Ashmont, and Braintree" at Harvard. This way, people who don't know which way is which (tourists) can figure out the system. There is really no organized system. If they don't want to change all of their signs, they can simply print in the subway maps which way is inbound. The signs are really for tourists. If you live in Boston, you really aren't going to look at the signs, are you?
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Postby MAG » Mon Apr 12, 2004 8:51 pm

Usually the Inbound/Outbound signs do list 1 or 2 transfer or major stations that the train will pass through. For instance, if getting on a train at Broadway station on the redline, the Inbound sign will say To Alewife in large letters, and then in slightly smaller letters on the side it will say "via Downtown Crossing & Park Street". On the Outbound side the sign would list Braintree & Ashmont as the 2 destinations. Nearly every station I have gone to has this same type of sign listing the final destination and 1 or 2 intermediate stations along the path. It seems to be very effective and efficient for Boston.

What probably led to your confusion coming from South Station was that it has been under construction for years, and does not have all of the full signage that a normal station would have. I am sure that when it is finally renovated that it will have the same type of Inbound and Outbound signs that I described for Broadway.
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Re: Inbound and Outbound

Postby KidRailfan » Tue Apr 13, 2004 4:57 pm

I did notice a lot of construction along the way to the train, now that I think about it. I didn't know that other stations had that explanatory signage, so thanks for pointing that out. I hope that they put in good signs in South Station, since most of the tourists that will take the T come in through there.
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Postby Leo Sullivan » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:22 pm

The square in the middle of the map, Red, Orange,Blue and Green, is 'in'.
Signs in the four corner stations give place name destinations or, I believe, sometimes compass directions. At all other stations, inbound is toward that square and, outbound, away. This means, for instance, that a sports fan making a rare trip, from Riverside to the Fleet center, must board an inbound car both ways. I've explained this to confused passengers, more times than I can remember. It seems like a good system but, in practice, even the members of this forum are confused and, no place else does it so, ??
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Postby Zaphod » Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:17 pm

I always thought that each line has two termini, and a transfer station in the middle is the center. Heading towards the nearest terminus is Outbound, heading towards the furthest terminus is Inbound, because you're going to head through the "center."

I'm sure there's less confusion towards the ends of the lines which is Outbound/Inbound.
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Postby JayZ » Sat Apr 24, 2004 10:17 am

On the red line, the inbound/outbound designations are based around Park Street. On the orange line they're based around DTX, I think. On the green line - it's more complicated, they are based around both Park and GC. At GC the designations are "Westbound" (towards park) and "Eastbound" (towards Lechmere). The same designations are apparent on the transfer stairs between the Red and Green lines at Park, plus on the green line level itself, but only on the walls, not on the platform signs. But when you go to either Arlington (West) or Northstation (East), for example, you'll see that on both stations the designation "inbound" applies to opposite tracks - IE on the Northstation it will be the Westbound track, and on Arlington - the Eastbound track. Inbound is always in the direction of Park Street or GC.

I dunno about other people, but that system always seemed rational to me. Inbound is into the city, which is Downtown.

The only line with a "solid" Inbound/Outbound designation that doesn't shift in the middle of the line is the Blue line, as it terminates at Downtown Boston.
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Postby helium » Tue Apr 27, 2004 3:55 pm

the whole thing is stupid. i've lived here all my life, been using the T daily for 15 years, and still think they should switch to N/S/E/W. other than the small amount of people who are so caught up in tradition - even though it is very flawed - everyone would benefit.
now, the T actually updating maps to refelct a change to N/S/E/W is another matter entirely, considering that orange line trains still have 'auditorium' and 'heath st' listed on the system maps...
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue Apr 27, 2004 4:08 pm

What's wrong with having "Heath Street" on a map? That is the name of a real stop (and, for the time being, a terminus).

''Eastbound' and 'Westbound' present a real problem. From Government Center, Lechmere is westbound -- and so are Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Heath Street, and Riverside.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Tue Apr 27, 2004 6:21 pm

I know it can be confusing but I like the Inbound/Outbound system. It can be confusing but then most things can be for the first time. THe first time I went to NY and looked at a map of the subway my head almost exploded! But after using it for a bit I realized it was pretty easy.

As long as there are T employies around to help tourists (or explainations in those tourist maps they hand out) it should be ok...IMHO.
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Postby helium » Wed Apr 28, 2004 7:40 am

"What's wrong with having "Heath Street" on a map? That is the name of a real stop (and, for the time being, a terminus). "


right. what i meant was the orange line connection at "arborway", not heath....
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