Boston Super Ride [very long post]

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Boston Super Ride [very long post]

Postby Mdlbigcat » Sun Sep 19, 2004 10:49 pm


I finally broke my New York-Philadelphia-Washington transit axis by taking a trip to Boston to ride the MBTA. This ride was mostly a rail ride, with a Trackless trolley and a bus ride thrown in for good measure, plus, two layovers in NYC. So without further delay, here’s my detailed ride taken over a three-day period starting on Labor Day.

1] 9/6/04 - 403 bus - Collings Ave and White Horse Pike to Walter Rand Transit Center.
The usual crappy Flxible Metro B, on a bus trip that came late.

2] River LINE - WRTC to Trenton.
It was somewhat busy, since it was the last day the Aquarium was open. It will undergo an expansion so it will be closed for nine months.

3] NEC line - Trenton to NY Penn Station.
I thought this late-night holiday train would not be so crowded. It turned out it was packed
All the way to NYC. Mostly holiday travelers, and people extending their weekend to the last

4] A train - 34 St Penn Station to W. 4th St.
Got on a R-38 and realized it was going to Lefferts. So I got off at W. 4th and sat around for the Far Rockaway train.

5] A train - W. 4th to Howard Beach.
Looked like I was riding the last Express trains. But the slowness of the train going through the
Fulton St stations was somewhat annoying. Here in Philly, the Broad St Express trains barrel through the local stations going at least 50 m.p.h. Rode a R44 car on this line.

6] Airtrain - Howard Beach through the Airport.
I was surprised how busy JFK was on this holiday. The trains were crowded, particularly the Howard Beach trains. The trains to Jamaica was not so crowded, then I went back to Terminal
4. I spent about 1 and ½ hours there getting on and off the Airtrain.

7] Q3 bus - JFK Airport to 179th St.
I rode a 95xx RTS bus. I must have gotten on during shift change. The bus was almost full.

8] F train - 179th St to 42nd St and 6th Ave.
I noticed that the MTA runs full-sized trains during overnight hours. I remember years ago,
they shortened the trains overnight. Rode a R46 on this line.

After getting off at 42nd St, I took a walk to Times Square. I took a couple of pictures and noticed
how surreal this area looked at 1:30 in the morning. Normally when I’m there, this area is so traffic-choked, with people , buses, cars , and trucks, and when I walked to Penn Station, I noticed the over-flowing trash cans and the smell they give off. But the NYC Sanitation Dept. will have the area spic and span for the morning. When I arrived at Penn Station, I saw the remnants of the GOP convention crap like the big bridge over 8th Ave, and all of the TV trailers. I got in at 2:00 A.M. and tried to get a nap for the 3:15 departure to Boston.

9] Amtrak Train #66. New York Penn Station to Boston South Station.
Those train seats are horrible. I tried to get some sleep on the train, but could only muster a short nap, I went to sleep around Stamford, and woke up passing New London. After passing New London, I saw a New England sunrise, and it is quite beautiful. Hoped to get into Boston at
8:15, but signal trouble near Attleboro slowed us down. We arrived in Boston at 8:45 a.m.

I arrived at South Station, and went outside and marveled at the impressive skyline of this city. For a first-timer, it was beautiful, and for me a major accomplishment. I finally went to a city other than the four [New York, Philly -(I live here), Baltimore, and Washington (I used to live here)] Now that the accomplishment was made, it was time to explore this new city, but first, I had to make my arrangements to get on the last train.

10] Red Line - South Station to Alewife.
I notice the way Boston constructs their subway, and it harkens more to the deep WMATA subways than the cut-and-cover types in Philly and NYC. Another thing I noticed is the ancient fare-collecting equipment. It looks like the old NYC turnstiles before the conversion to Metrocards. You can buy tokens [ bought 4 of them - only used one] or go to the cashier and they will let you through, but they seem to have no real control. The fare booths are ancient, the token machines tend to be broken [where do I see that?], and this system needs a major fare upgrade. I rode a 01600 series car-rode very rough, and the car looks worn.

11] Red Line - Alewife to Harvard.
At Alewife, I bought a Visitor’s Pass so I won’t have to constantly buy tokens. I use the pass to
Ride to the famous Harvard Sq bus-trackless trolley tunnel. Rode a 01700.

12] 77 bus - Rode from Harvard to the nearest Starbuck’s Coffee.
I do not know what street I got off at, but I managed to get a picture of the old Flyer Trolley- bus. The sight of the left-side door is quite unusual. When I got off, I was originally going to Starbucks, but I saw a new Neoplan coming, so I dropped the idea of getting coffee, and hopped on the new Neoplan. The Neoplan looks really nice [wish SEPTA would get something like this, but without the left-side door. On a low-floor bus, it kills seating capacity.]

13] 77 bus - Back to Harvard.
Rode back into the tunnel, and got off the left-side to get back on the subway, but I took some time to do a little stroll around the square. It’s quite an area, and I went to the other side of the tunnel and saw both diesel and trolley-buses go in and out.

I noticed that most Boston bus lines tend to be very short, many lines has one-way runs under 30 minutes , so far I saw one line with a 45 minute one-way run. but the vast majority of routes seem very short.

14] Red Line - Harvard to Charles-MGH.
Rode a 1800 series car. It has the sound like the WMATA cars, and the door chimes of the SEPTA Broad St Kawasaki car. Got off at Charles-MGH to get a couple of pictures. The train was quite packed, a lot of people crammed into a 4 car train.

I will publish Part Two on Tuesday.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:25 am

Alot of construction still going on at South Station due to the Bi Dig as well as he construction of the new Silver Line station there.

Yes the fare collection system is quite antique, but then again Boston was the first subway........and many people around here either don't like or can't handle changes.

As far as your ride on the "trackless trolley". That was the bus to Watertown Square, which is around the corner from the MBTA's former car-barn on the former "A" line on the trolley system. It is mainly just a parking lot for busses to layover now.

The name of the street which you got off the bus at Starbucks is Mt. Auburn Street which runs from Watertown Square in Watertown, Ma. to Harvard Square in Cambridge.

As for the 1600 series car on the Red Line, those are some of the oldest cars in revenue service on the Red Line, built in the late 1970's/early1980's.

Hope to hear about the rest of your trip. :wink:
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Postby octr202 » Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:30 am

Actually the Red Line 01600's are from 1969-70, so at 34-35 years old they and the 01500's are definately a bit long in the tooth. Probably their seemingly simple design works in favor of their longevity. But, being from the Philly area, you know all about antique electric traction equipment in revenue service! :wink:
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:01 am

If he rode a 77 bus to Starbucks he didn't go down Mt. Auburn Street towards Watertown. He went up Mass. Ave. and got off at Shepard Street.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:02 am

Actually the Red Line 01600's are from 1969-70, so at 34-35 years old they and the 01500's are definately a bit long in the tooth. Probably their seemingly simple design works in favor of their longevity.

Yeah, they were also rebuilt in 1986/87 by Jeumont-Schneider dba PX Associates at Cabot Yard, thus making them last more durable for at least another decade and a half from now, so unlike the Green Line Borings which are being yanked slowly but surely, the 015/01600s are NOT going anywhere till late next decade.

Lately, their performance function seems at a high level as well, again unlike those GL Borings........
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:11 am

For future reference, you can buy a Visitor's Pass from the MBCR ticket counter at South Station. (The railroad station, not the subway station)

You can get a list of all locations that sell passes from the MBTA web site. Leave "Select city/town" blank but select "Visitor" from the second menu.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:04 am

I stanorrected Ron, I was thinking of the one that is the old Friendlys restaraunt in Watertown. I forgot which route he took.

The one I was thinking of would have been a longer and more scenic ride too.
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