Commuter Rail To Millis and Milford

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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby The EGE » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:10 pm

jonnhrr wrote:Perhaps some kind of skip stop arrangement if OL ever extended to Needham, expresses after Back Bay would only stop at Ruggles and Forest Hills then all stops to Needham. That would reduce overcrowding and make ride more comfortable. Not sure if the infrastructure could support that kind of service though.

Jon


Some sort of express solution would definitely be useful. Unfortunately, that's very difficult on a two-track railroad with no passing/express tracks.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby HenryAlan » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:47 pm

novitiate wrote:
highgreen215 wrote:F-line: I ask you the same question. Given the choice of the three modes, which one would you prefer to ride every day from/to Needham? Have you ever ridden the Orange Line during rush hour? Would you prefer to STAND cheek to jowl with sneezing strangers and loud jousting teenagers outbound every day, sometimes as far as Forest Hills? Or would you prefer the comfort of CR? Your choice.

So is the argument here basically "no one will ride rapid transit, it's too crowded"?

Combined with a touch of "Needham deserves better at the expense of everyone else."
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:35 pm

highgreen215 wrote:F-line: I ask you the same question. Given the choice of the three modes, which one would you prefer to ride every day from/to Needham? Have you ever ridden the Orange Line during rush hour? Would you prefer to STAND cheek to jowl with sneezing strangers and loud jousting teenagers outbound every day, sometimes as far as Forest Hills? Or would you prefer the comfort of CR? Your choice.


The comfort of only 16 round-trips per day at a zone fare so your butt can sit on an extra-padded seat vs. a train every 10 minutes at peak at a flat fare with free transfers across the rapid transit system? Good lord. And you even trotted out the tired old "Rowdy Orange Line teens" stereotype to boot. You know...anyone with that kind of contempt for fellow transit riders is going to drive and park their own car--alone--rather than ride ANY train. Because even if your butt is nicely padded, chances are you are transferring at SS or BBY and going cheek-to-jowl with the same germy folk and 'undesireables'.

Your argument is moot.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby highgreen215 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:06 am

Okay, let's go back to basics. Have you EVER ridden the Orange Line? Rapid transit vehicles as currently designed with longitudinal seating, narrow butt space, standees, no overhead racks, noisy running and maximum speeds of about 45MPH, are suitable only for short distances where comfort is not that important.

Don't underestimate the importance of "comfort" for longer runs - it means heat in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer, and most importantly room to stretch out, read the paper, work on a laptop or just snooze. The Orange Line works very well to carry maximum loads relatively short distances. It does provide heat and air, but not much else. I can see it running as far as Roslindale, but I can assure you West Roxbury and Needham folks would not like being forced to switch from CR to HRV unless the next batch of cars are totally redesigned.

There was a time in the 1950s when the MTA equipped one complete Harvard-Ashmont train with bus-style leatherette double seats. The public loved them. And when the Red Line was completed to Braintree, the new cars had bus-style seats and the ride was very pleasant. But apparently the passenger loads per car were not high enough so they were soon converted to longitudinal seating. My point is that rapid transit cars are typically designed for maximum passenger loads, not "comfort", and that does not attract longer distance riders out of their automobiles.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:48 am

highgreen215 wrote:Okay, let's go back to basics. Have you EVER ridden the Orange Line? Rapid transit vehicles as currently designed with longitudinal seating, narrow butt space, standees, no overhead racks, noisy running and maximum speeds of about 45MPH, are suitable only for short distances where comfort is not that important.

Don't underestimate the importance of "comfort" for longer runs - it means heat in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer, and most importantly room to stretch out, read the paper, work on a laptop or just snooze. The Orange Line works very well to carry maximum loads relatively short distances. It does provide heat and air, but not much else. I can see it running as far as Roslindale, but I can assure you West Roxbury and Needham folks would not like being forced to switch from CR to HRV unless the next batch of cars are totally redesigned.

There was a time in the 1950s when the MTA equipped one complete Harvard-Ashmont train with bus-style leatherette double seats. The public loved them. And when the Red Line was completed to Braintree, the new cars had bus-style seats and the ride was very pleasant. But apparently the passenger loads per car were not high enough so they were soon converted to longitudinal seating. My point is that rapid transit cars are typically designed for maximum passenger loads, not "comfort", and that does not attract longer distance riders out of their automobiles.


You realize a West Roxbury OL terminus is only 2.8 extra running miles, do you? That's slightly less than 9 miles inbound to North Station and only 14 miles to Oak Grove. Needham Jct. via the Green Line is 13 miles to Gov't Center vs. 12 miles for the D. The "short" Blue Line is 6 miles from Wonderland to Bowdoin. Very few people are doing West Roxbury to Malden or Needham to Medford commutes; they're going downtown to the transfer stations. I used to do a Porter-Quincy Ctr. commute on Red at >20 miles. It wasn't bad. If I had to put up with commuter rail frequencies on that run, comfy butt and all, I probably would've had to drive half the time it would've been so inconvenient. This is trivial distance.

And there is not end-to-end overcrowding. A 6-car train originating at West Roxbury is going to have seats, and if it happens to be packed to the gills by the time it hits Roxbury Crossing or something it's going to empty out by State. A 2-car Needham trolley is not going to fill up until it's in Brookline. The Needham Line already frequently overcrowds to/from Rozzie thereabouts on peak-hour trains because of very few trains on the schedule and platforms only long enough to board short consists. You think those standees are living the comfy life? And the 59 bus north out of Needham Jct. frequently overcrowds to Eliot on its generally pathetic schedule. Demand is far outstripping available schedule. That's why Needham and the outer Boston neighborhoods want rapid transit so badly. It'll be much easier to get a seat with the line split in half and frequencies of 1 every 10 minutes on OL and 1 every 15 on GL instead of the paucity of CR trains. The Orange side obviously significantly faster than the Green side, but the neighborhoods in Boston-proper need that more than downtown Needham.


This "comfort" argument is BUNK. Either it's the product of an over-sensitive tush, or I have to question how well do you actually know the services on this corridor. If you think residents in transit-deprived neighborhoods inside the city of Boston and in downtown Needham are going to protest a denser schedule because they don't have adequate 'comfort' (and, please, describe what makes a utilitarian 30-year-old single-level CR coach the Lincoln towncar of transit vehicles)...you are sorely, sorely mistaken. NOBODY will do that. If that matters to them as priority #1, they already drive a car and do not take any public transit. What you're arguing does not exist in the real world.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby wicked » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:33 pm

I've never boarded a subway car and thought of creature comforts. I only thought, "How fast can we get there?" And I regularly did Andrew-Harvard/Porter runs for a number of years.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:23 pm

I grew up walking distance from the Roslindale station, and would not have it converted to OL for hte world even though I don't live there now. 19 minutes from Rozzie to South Station, less to Back Bay. An easy, straight shot to the Financial District, which OL doesn't give. Pleasant walk, appreoach platform from all directions no turnstiles easy-on easy-off. For the capital cost of extending the Orange Line to Needham Heights, they could endow the cost of doubling Needam CR service for how many years? (Assuming the corridor can handle it, which I don't know. I also realize you can't get capital grants to endow operating costs like a college or a museum does, but I can dream and the principle makes sense.)
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby The EGE » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:43 pm

That's the problem - you cannot increase Needham frequencies. Even if you somehow manage to open up new slots (especially at rush hour), they're likely to go to the Providence and Worcester Lines which can bring in more passengers per train. Even if you do decide to use those slots for Needham there's only so many more slots you can get. Even if you do get slots, you have to double-track the line to get it reliable enough to use those. And then you need to electrify because fuel usage is high with closely spaced stops. At that point, you might as well just throw up a couple faregates and have a subway line.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby joshg1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:18 am

In the 1945 and '47 transit proposals the future Green Line was to branch down to Needham and the Elevated/OL extended to Dedham. Of course it was assumed that the bankruptcy court would abandon all commuter service on the New Haven near Boston.

With that in mind and the sainted one seat ride beloved by consultants but ignored by actual transit riders-

Does the GL have the capacity for a F line to Needham? Would a short turn/transfer along the D branch spoil the commute?
If the OL goes to Needham, what about the obligatory massive park+ride garage, where's that going? Not on a park or on wetlands.
Whatever happened to the plan to buy the postal annex at SS and add more tracks?

And my 2¢ is that standing, sitting, tires or rails, as far as transit goes I'm not driving and that's about it. A packed bus is a unique hell because there is no standing room because the seats are perpendicular (darn you 66, darn you to heck!!) As far as the euphemism "rowdy teenagers" goes… I'm a middle aged angry white guy and I've never gotten grief from anyone but other middle aged angry white people on transit or anywhere. Although, be fair, Concord NH (my home town) is a hole so I'd pretty much have to be assaulted to take much notice.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby highgreen215 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:47 am

Did I read correctly that "Needham . . . wants rapid transit service"? A majority of Needham residents want it?
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby octr202 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:59 am

With fleet expansion and three car trains, the Green Line should handle the Riverside/Needham split just fine. Ridership drops off quite a bit after Newton Center (or at least it did a while ago when I lived out that way), could probably handle alternate trains going to different terminals.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:43 am

Arborwayfan wrote:I grew up walking distance from the Roslindale station, and would not have it converted to OL for hte world even though I don't live there now. 19 minutes from Rozzie to South Station, less to Back Bay. An easy, straight shot to the Financial District, which OL doesn't give. Pleasant walk, appreoach platform from all directions no turnstiles easy-on easy-off. For the capital cost of extending the Orange Line to Needham Heights, they could endow the cost of doubling Needam CR service for how many years? (Assuming the corridor can handle it, which I don't know. I also realize you can't get capital grants to endow operating costs like a college or a museum does, but I can dream and the principle makes sense.)


It can't. That's the problem. The SW Corridor tunnel's 3 tracks get prioritized for Amtrak, Providence, Stoughton, and Franklin above Needham. And even in an expanded SS Needham is still competing with the same platform slots as those other services. Even if you plot ahead to a future where the Fairmount Line starts serving more Franklin slots as a load balance for both NEC and platform assignments, the exploding Amtrak/Providence service growth and probablility of some sort of Stoughton/South Coast(ish) extension overwhelms Needham's chances for additional service. You can't do it. All the double-tracking in the world on the branch won't let very many more trains get there from SS the times of day it matters most. It clogs up too much track space. "Fairmounting" it is not an option.

If they'd ever intended Needham to stay as CR forever on more than a spotty schedule, they would've designed the SW Corridor tunnel at 4 tracks from Day 1. But the default assumption in the 70's was that either Rozzie-W. Rox were going Orange, or Needham was going Green and the most CR you'd ever have out of there was a not-very-dense Millis schedule. Punting it to the rapid transit system is necessary at some point in the future not only because the service ceiling falls so far below what the outer neighborhoods and downtown Needham need, but at a certain point the NEC's going to grow to a point where navigating around those Needham slots is going to become a sore point. The service is most definitely not going to get any more useful if they have to decide in a couple decades that a Heights-Forest Hills dinky shuttle has to start displacing priority schedule slots.




And YES, highgreen, Needham wants rapid transit service. They hold town meetings on it every 18 months or so. There's were major Highland Ave. corridor studies last year that re-stated it as a town priority. Google it.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:57 am

octr202 wrote:With fleet expansion and three car trains, the Green Line should handle the Riverside/Needham split just fine. Ridership drops off quite a bit after Newton Center (or at least it did a while ago when I lived out that way), could probably handle alternate trains going to different terminals.


Might be a little tricky as long as the D is attempting to run end-to-end to Medford, but if they had a better way to segment short-turns from either direction it could probably work. The D branch itself is way below capacity and Needham service would probably be slightly sparser on headways by a couple mins than Riverside (e.g. whatever overall D service increases space out to 3 Junction trains for every 5 Riverside, if Riverside frequencies stay unchanged). One possible option for rush hour to keep a load off the Central Subway is to build the D-to-E connector at Brookline Village and thru-route every other Needham train over the E to load-balance at peak load. Huntington can easily handle--and benefit from--the service increase if there's any concern about Kenmore-Copley congestion. The additional load wouldn't rise to the level of requiring a massive resignaling of the entire Central Subway.
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby wicked » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:14 am

Is the ROW still big enough for two tracks, especially in the Falls? I know it is in Needham.

The most expensive part of the project would be the bridge over 128, right?
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Re: Commuter rail extensions to Millis and Milford.

Postby novitiate » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:08 pm

wicked wrote:Is the ROW still big enough for two tracks, especially in the Falls? I know it is in Needham.

The most expensive part of the project would be the bridge over 128, right?

If I'm understanding this right, you would build the Orange Line to West Roxbury Station, and the Green Line to Needham Junction (or Hersey?), and then you wouldn't have to cross 128 at all. Though it would be inconvenient for riders who want to go from, say, Needham to Jamaica Plain.
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