The Green Line Revisited

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The Green Line Revisited

Postby ThinkBoston » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:51 pm

I'm tepidly posting the address of this site I've assembled in response to what I've surmised is a public transit initiative blunder. Poor judgments by local officials have become all too common in this country with our massively large bucket of federal money enabling them. This is not at all an anti public transit critique, quite the opposite, it espouses getting the best public transit, but for the least amount of dollars, which is extra ordinarily difficult in this time of highly over priced public works.

The URL is http://greenlinerevisited.blogspot.com/. It isn't meant to be a blog, was just a convenient domain to use. I'm working on another site which concerns the Blue Line, titled, "The Blue Line Turns Left".

Your comments are welcomed.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:21 am

Robert - (or "R") I see that the original preaching on the pulpit link was apparently accidental and fixed by our moderator, so all is well and good with that. You have been looking for feedback, so if you would like, I'll be happy to do so. Please take what I say as genuine and not intended to demean, but rather to offer what I believe to be constructive criticism, hopefully.

At RRN, we sometimes get vivid fantasies of what this line should have or where this station should be built..."The Orange Line should be made up of new 2012 Sumiaku Z-4000 cars coming out soon and they should extend it to Canada." When we see these, generally, we understand as adults that this is the fantasy of a young person who is in the process of maturing and focusing their ideas regarding transit. So, we listen, smile, and agree, and often throw in a word or two that's based in the real world, as we were in their position at one time also. "R" - if I didn't know better, I would think that your blog regarding your vision for the MBTA in metropolitan Boston to be one of these. To give you credit, I don't think that you have much real knowledge of our city, it's history, or the way construction projects are carried on at the T. First of all, as a tax payer living in the city, I would be mortified if the MBTA suddenly decided to just tear everything up and start anew, which it seems as if would be required for much of your suggestions to take place. I'll be honest with you that I only got to a few pages in your blog. When I saw the fantastic ideas out of Buck Rogers, the photos on the "Boston Think" page - (half of which are photos of locations in Cambridge), the unfamiliar wording of something that I know a little bit about ("the Orange Line Rapid Rail Branch" ??), the statements that are irrelevant ("The color coding of MBTA lines doesn't distinguish between light rail and heavy rail, thus the immediate thought is to extend the Green Line into Somerville"" Platform length would be the chief differential between an Orange Line station and a Green Line station"), and the boorish "...the immediate thought is to extend the Green Line into Somerville without considering whether or not it is the best solution to the needs at hand", I could go no further. It was then when I picked up my copy of the National Enquirer for more hard hitting and serious journalism. (Do you really think that you know what is better for Somerville than engineers at the T ? Have you ever been in Somerville ?)

I'll conclude by saying that about the only paragraph that I liked in the whole blog was the last paragraph in the "South Station Problem". It was the only one that I didn't find extremely presumptuous, pompous, and blithering.

If you're interested in the MBTA for whatever reason, either for mere personal mental stimulation as you claim (you'll find a lot of like-minded persons here) or for a Master's thesis (which did happen to cross my mind as a possible reason for all this), learn about it by reading journals and reports, excellent books on the subject, join the Boston Street Railway Association, Inc., or just read and absorb posts by the many knowledgeable folks on RRN whom you will soon call friends. By the way, RE: your "Boylston Arcade" chapter ? And how it's been crying out all these years for another retail mall ? Ask a real Bostonian about the LaFayette Mall and how that worked out for the visionaries that thought the same way.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby Teamdriver » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:58 am

Alot of interesting stuff there general. But as you say ,its your blog.This place is kinda like a fantasy football league,except with OPM.But it made for interesting reading. On a side note,isnt it almost a miracle Boston Sand and Gravel remains where it is,after all that roadwork,wedged in as it is.If it had been forced to move,think of the scenario regarding the aggregate rail car siding.Where could have been a worthy location that could be served by rail and still be feasible keeping in mind moving concrete which has a limited shelf life in regard to time and miles to spill point?
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby ThinkBoston » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:59 pm

3rdrail wrote:Robert - (or "R") I see that the original preaching on the pulpit link was apparently accidental and fixed by our moderator, so all is well and good with that. You have been looking for feedback, so if you would like, I'll be happy to do so. Please take what I say as genuine and not intended to demean, but rather to offer what I believe to be constructive criticism, hopefully.

At RRN, we sometimes get vivid fantasies of what this line should have or where this station should be built..."The Orange Line should be made up of new 2012 Sumiaku Z-4000 cars coming out soon and they should extend it to Canada." When we see these, generally, we understand as adults that this is the fantasy of a young person who is in the process of maturing and focusing their ideas regarding transit. So, we listen, smile, and agree, and often throw in a word or two that's based in the real world, as we were in their position at one time also. "R" - if I didn't know better, I would think that your blog regarding your vision for the MBTA in metropolitan Boston to be one of these. To give you credit, I don't think that you have much real knowledge of our city, it's history, or the way construction projects are carried on at the T. First of all, as a tax payer living in the city, I would be mortified if the MBTA suddenly decided to just tear everything up and start anew, which it seems as if would be required for much of your suggestions to take place. I'll be honest with you that I only got to a few pages in your blog. When I saw the fantastic ideas out of Buck Rogers, the photos on the "Boston Think" page - (half of which are photos of locations in Cambridge), the unfamiliar wording of something that I know a little bit about ("the Orange Line Rapid Rail Branch" ??), the statements that are irrelevant ("The color coding of MBTA lines doesn't distinguish between light rail and heavy rail, thus the immediate thought is to extend the Green Line into Somerville"" Platform length would be the chief differential between an Orange Line station and a Green Line station"), and the boorish "...the immediate thought is to extend the Green Line into Somerville without considering whether or not it is the best solution to the needs at hand", I could go no further. It was then when I picked up my copy of the National Enquirer for more hard hitting and serious journalism. (Do you really think that you know what is better for Somerville than engineers at the T ? Have you ever been in Somerville ?)

I'll conclude by saying that about the only paragraph that I liked in the whole blog was the last paragraph in the "South Station Problem". It was the only one that I didn't find extremely presumptuous, pompous, and blithering.

If you're interested in the MBTA for whatever reason, either for mere personal mental stimulation as you claim (you'll find a lot of like-minded persons here) or for a Master's thesis (which did happen to cross my mind as a possible reason for all this), learn about it by reading journals and reports, excellent books on the subject, join the Boston Street Railway Association, Inc., or just read and absorb posts by the many knowledgeable folks on RRN whom you will soon call friends. By the way, RE: your "Boylston Arcade" chapter ? And how it's been crying out all these years for another retail mall ? Ask a real Bostonian about the LaFayette Mall and how that worked out for the visionaries that thought the same way.
Respectfully,
"P"


I hope the moderator will give me the same courtesy here that has been given to the above poster.

I should really pause a bit longer before deciding to respond, but alas I have a little time here. Had I not already read a few of your responses to other posts, I would have been taken aback a bit, but fortunately I was armed with the caveat of 'consider the source'. Nevertheless, I did you the courtesy of reading all of what you offered to me before drawing a final opinion, and certainly before publicly commenting. You, on the other hand, not only failed to fully read the piece I presented as the subject of the post, you went beyond that which I offered as a finished thought, using excerpts of works in progress, mere chalk boards of ideas, to berate the author, and why, because, and I'm speculating here as did you in your response to me, you are too insecure to pass up an opportunity to belittle the ideas of others.

I'm befuddled at where you got the inspiration for your critique, "Buck Rogers" for one? I'm sure you have many friends on here, so it behooves be not to go any further with my observations on your disquieting commentary. Please do me the favor of not responding to my future posts or commentary, and I will likewise do the same for you, as I have to date.

As I stated out of the gate with posting the topic, I was wary of placing this subject on this forum for review and discussion for the very reason of which the above post is illustrative. While I know there are many great minds and/or otherwise amicable participants in this forum, I also know it is not unlike other special forums, which are heavily visited by dominating personalities for whom the forum is their dominion.

This isn't my only outlet, but I hope to find I can engage in constructive, informative and respectful dialogue on here. For those who've read the details on the site I offered for review, I'd love to find out any specific flaws in the idea, which will challenge me (or us) to make it better, or, even more desirable, to realize that all is right with the world and I can be at peace.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:37 pm

ThinkBoston wrote: you are too insecure to pass up an opportunity to belittle the ideas of others.


"R" - I would bid you "adieu" had I not been rolled up in a fetal position after your scorching repartee'.
- "P"
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby madcrow » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:05 pm

Unlike some people here, I find that in general the list of problems with the Green Line extension and the proposed solutions to them to be pretty well researched and thought out. While the plans don't deal with everything (NIMBYism and the general anti-passenger/pro-frieght bias of the FRA are key things that aren't addressed in the proposal), they do come across as a coherent thought experiment and good topic of conversation. Given the large amount of "what if" threads that happen on here and that tend to be great fun, I don't see the harm that 3rdrail sees in this one.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby BostonChicken » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:59 pm

Hi, I've been lurking for some time but this topic actually touches upon what brought me to this forum in the first place. I observed the same area around Lechmere while browsing with Google Earth and started to wonder why none of the Green Line extension-related websites had anything to say about the Orange Line. I decided to do some web searching which brought me to many fine posts on this and other forums.

Now, to preface, let me say that I think an Orange Line branch would indeed be preferable to a Green Line extension. However, I will turn around and argue the other way. The gist of what I learned in my searches is twofold: making the connection between the Orange Line tracks and the Lowell right-of-way is significantly harder and costlier than you think; and the capacity of the Washington St tunnel is not sufficient to support a second branch while still maintaining decent headways.

I'm sorry that I can't be more specific or formal, it has been some time since I investigated, and I didn't bother to take the matter any further. Other potential issues: rerouting the Lowell line is not an option; the noise pollution of the Orange Line is significantly higher than the Green Line; the originally planned extensions of the Orange Line could exacerbate the problem I mentioned above, if they ever took place.

I also take issue with your characterization of light rail. I am a daily rider of the B-line, so I know how bad it can get. However, the issues with the B-line are not integral to light rail, but are due to poor placement of stations and inefficient traffic planning. The D-line is a better example and hopefully, with the re-introduction of 3-car trains, it will finally overcome some of its capacity issues. Expanded 3-car service should be a relatively cheap option (especially if they can ever find a way to have driver-less rear cars). The West Medford branch is planned to be an extension of the D-line, so it appears the ultimate goal is 3-car trains from Riverside to West Medford. I think that is reasonable.

I agree about the price-tag of the Green Line extension, and I think it's a shame given the existing infrastructure.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby Arlington » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:46 pm

ThinkBoston wrote:I'm tepidly posting the address of this site I've assembled in response to what I've surmised is a public transit initiative blunder. Poor judgments by local officials have become all too common in this country with our massively large bucket of federal money enabling them. This is not at all an anti public transit critique, quite the opposite, it espouses getting the best public transit, but for the least amount of dollars, which is extra ordinarily difficult in this time of highly over priced public works.

After watching the Greenbush line come in at twice its planned cost and 1/4 its promised new transit riders, it is worth considering that both the GLX and Greenbush were entirely fantasies of the Conservation Law Foundation, drawn on the map and tangled into a legal settlement at the last minute, and may, in the end, be entirely alien to good transit planning and a good use of taxpayer dollars.

I find your fantasy transit at least as good, and in some ways better than the CLF's line-drawing. In particular, its suggested use of the Orange Line (whose central section has fairly lazy headways) instead of the near-its-max Green Line.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby MBTA3247 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:46 am

BostonChicken wrote:Now, to preface, let me say that I think an Orange Line branch would indeed be preferable to a Green Line extension. However, I will turn around and argue the other way. The gist of what I learned in my searches is twofold: making the connection between the Orange Line tracks and the Lowell right-of-way is significantly harder and costlier than you think; and the capacity of the Washington St tunnel is not sufficient to support a second branch while still maintaining decent headways.

It occurs to me that if the current OL bridge over the Eastern Route were replaced with a tunnel, that tunnel could easily be built with a branch over to the Lowell line underneath the existing spur along New Washington St. The trick is getting one of the tracks deep enough for a flying junction (Sullivan Square Station might have to be rebuilt below the existing grade to make the grade on the tunnel incline shallow enough). Also, the Washington St Tunnel has capacity to spare because the current fleet is smaller than it ought to be.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby octr202 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:42 am

However, should the Orange Line ever be extended on the north or south ends (I know, a separate fantasy, but let's not go there now), the need to run additional service on the Washington St tunnel would be difficult with any new branches. Conversely, the focus on the Green Line is precisely because there isn't as much heavy digging or aerial construction required on the city end in order to access the corridor.

A few other thoughts from reading your site (which I admittedly skimmed quickly, but did go all the way through).

-I'm disappointed to see the focus on running freight service out of the area in favor of transit expansion. Given that EOT has historically not paid much attention to rail freight, and well, Guilford being Guilford, we've seen this contract, but there's likely still some respectable business there. Given what some other states (just look at how RI works with the P&W to encourage rail freight) we could always potentially see more inside 128. It's never going to be 80 car freights in and out of a large yard, but it could be more.

-Hobbling the Lowell Line (the model line for the northside) at Anderson is a huge mistake. As you have it proposed, trains from Lowell (and hopefully north at some point) seem to be required to reverse direction in the station at Anderson, and then proceed north out of the station, in order to arc over to the much slower Western Route on the north side of Reading. You're looking at a 10 minute delay to change ends at Anderson, then probably 5-6 minutes to get over to Reading Station - from which point you have a longer ride to North Station than from Anderson, where you just were. Keep in mind there are multiple low speed restrictions on the Western through parts of Reading, Wakefield and Melrose that won't be easily removed (grade separating many of the crossings on the Western through this route would entail almost as much work as extending the Orange Line to Reading) , plus having to contend with the single track through Malden. That would be a sure-fire way to destroy ridership from Wilmington, Billerica and Lowell - I'm not in favor of taking away existing transit to improve it for others.

-Another item not mentioned is that the current GLX proposal includes both the Union Sq stub branch and the Medford line. The increased frequencies of light rail service make it much easier to provide service to both points - and the Union Sq branch is of interest since it could be extended across Somerville towards Porter Sq at some point in the future). I can't see the Orange Line operating with THREE northern branches, especially when one is a one-stop stub, with any level of efficiency.

As others have pointed out, don't automatically dismiss the ability of well-planned light rail to carry large numbers of people efficiently. What I've seen of the plans so far seem to indicate that this line is being built right, and built to handle the traffic. Three-car trains will be possible, and stations are being designed for off-train fare collection allowing the use of all doors - they'll essentially be outdoor subway stations. In the review process for the yard/shop area, as it was debated about, you could see that a lot of attention was paid to handling the yard leads so as to manage traffic flow.

One other note about balancing branches and traffic on opposite ends of lines: In an earlier round of planning for the GLX, the Alternatives Analysis several years ago, there was another line considered for the West Medford route - the Blue Line. The belief was that the Blue Line to West Medford would finally balance out the most lopsided line on the system, allowing it to operate much like the Orange Line does with more equal loads on both ends. Unfortunately, much like your Orange Line branch and commuter rail relocation, this project would have required EXPENSIVE (probably even more so) construction to at minimum extend the BL tunnel from it's current end either to the Science Park area, or tunnel under the river to Lechmere. An interesting idea, but too much heavy lifting to make it worthwhile compared to going with the Green Line.

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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby SM89 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:07 am

If there were two branches of the Orange Line on the north side, the headways to Oak Grove would be doubled to allow the flow of Medford trains from that branch into the main subway (whose headways would stay the same).

While I think it is an interesting idea, I don't think they would want to reduce service on an already crowded line. Have you ridden the Orange Line north during rush hour?!? This is why extending Green or Blue were the main options. They expanded the system without reducing service for others.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby Arlington » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:27 am

SM89 wrote:If there were two branches of the Orange Line on the north side, the headways to Oak Grove would be doubled to allow the flow of Medford trains from that branch into the main subway (whose headways would stay the same).

While I think it is an interesting idea, I don't think they would want to reduce service on an already crowded line. Have you ridden the Orange Line north during rush hour?!? This is why extending Green or Blue were the main options. They expanded the system without reducing service for others.

These sentences can be read either to mean one thing or their exact opposite. Can you clarify "Medford"? and "Whose headways"? Let's call one branch Oak Grove, and the other branch Lowell, and the Washington Street part the "main subway".

The creation of a Lowell branch (whether Orange, Green or Blue) has the potential to divert a large number of riders from the Wellington and Sullivan Sq Oak Grove Branch stations, which would relieve Oak Grove crowding. If the Lowell branch is Orange, assume main subway headways would double, to accommodate a Lowell Branch with about as many trains as Oak Grove today, leaving Oak Grove better off (same frequency, diverted passengers).
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby SM89 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:12 pm

The orange line is usually near full leaving Malden Center. People who board at Oak Grove and Malden Center would not be diverted to the Lowell Line Orange Line. Additionally, I'm not sure that the subway through downtown could handle the additional trains during rush hour that would be required to keep the Oak Grove branch with the same headways while also adding Lowell branch trains into the mix.
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby Arlington » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:00 pm

SM89 wrote:The orange line is usually near full leaving Malden Center. People who board at Oak Grove and Malden Center would not be diverted to the Lowell Line Orange Line. Additionally, I'm not sure that the subway through downtown could handle the additional trains during rush hour that would be required to keep the Oak Grove branch with the same headways while also adding Lowell branch trains into the mix.

What kind of "full?" an all-seats full or a crush-standing full? Presumably when there's a net influx of people at Wellington and Sullivan, they get Fuller and Fullest
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Re: The Green Line Revisited

Postby SM89 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:25 pm

Arlington wrote:
SM89 wrote:The orange line is usually near full leaving Malden Center. People who board at Oak Grove and Malden Center would not be diverted to the Lowell Line Orange Line. Additionally, I'm not sure that the subway through downtown could handle the additional trains during rush hour that would be required to keep the Oak Grove branch with the same headways while also adding Lowell branch trains into the mix.

What kind of "full?" an all-seats full or a crush-standing full? Presumably when there's a net influx of people at Wellington and Sullivan, they get Fuller and Fullest

All seats full and a comfortable amount standing. If the orange line were branched to Medford though, that would double since there would be half the amount of trains running to Oak Grove.
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