Harvard Square Station and Tunnel Discussion

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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:17 pm

Interesting factoid, RB. I didn't know that about the Arborway. I have no doubt that you are correct. "It would seem only logical" -Mr. Spock that the trackless group would be in with the buses as the tracklesses have the unique position of actually being designed more like a trolley but operated more like a bus. One of the many features of them that I find so interesting.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby MBTA3247 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:55 pm

3rdrail wrote:3247 - No, I mean the No. 77, which both Brad Clarke's "The Trackless Trolleys of Boston" and the Boston Elevated Railway Company (in their sixth edition "System Route Map") describe as a trackless trolley route running between "Harvard Square - Lechmere Station via Cambridge Street". (The 66 is described as a bus route running between Dudley Station and Allston.)

That is the 1943 map you're referring to; I'm using the 1938 map, which is more appropriate to the original question of what the Huron Avenue route (today's 72) was doing in that year. There was a major reshuffling of route numbers between the 4th (1940) and 5th (1942) editions of the system map, so while your route numbers are correct, they're from a different era. Let's try to be consistent as to which set of route numbers we use. ;)
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby CRail » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:04 am

That's like the two unions (589 Boston Carmen's Union which operates all revenue vehicles and maintains all electrically propelled revenue vehicles, and 264 Diesel Mechanics [don't know the affiliation]) fighting over who will get the work for the dual modes. The 589 prevailed because they're essentially electric vehicles with their power station on board (similar to a diesel electric locomotive).

Teamdriver wrote:Thanx 3rdrail for the explanation but I was more wondering about the liabilities regarding perhaps property damage in the event of an accident with one of them.As there is no RMV registration with a proof of insurance stamp issued to these things, do they carry a proof of insurance certificate or some such thing? Just writing a MBTA fleet number on an accident report seems a little shaky to me.


The bus number is all you need. If involved in an accident, location, time, and the driver's badge number are also things you should take down. However if you give the T the location, time, and the bus number, they can figure out the operator, vehicle and whatever else is necessary. The T also conducts their own investigations. You'll notice that buses (and probably all MBTA vehicles) lack the registration sticker on the rear license plate. This is because being an MBTA vehicle (which is self insured, as 3rdrail said) insurance and therefore registration are automatically implied. That is similar to a personal vehicle's registration in the commonwealth implying insurance coverage, so proof of insurance is not necessary.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:39 am

...and just to add to Corey's informative post, I have found the MBTA to be extremely responsible regarding dealing with accidents. They don't fool around. Operators will tell you that as well. (I have a friend who was fired on "The Ride". He was bumped slightly, no damage. He dropped off a passenger who ran to the phone and claimed that he was injured. My friend was going to report the contact as soon as he got back to the office. Fired on the spot for not calling it in when it happened.) The MBTA used to be a con-magnet, primarily because they settled their cases so quickly. Mucho dolores went out on what were numerous phoney claims, but they have since gotten wise. They have a crew professionally look at all of their accidents, no matter how small, both on-scene and in the shop. Reports are gotten and examined. Physical evidence is processed much like a crime scene. They've put cameras in their bus fleet which already has caught insurance fakes in the act. They've even gone public with them ! You may have seen the one locally where they reported how there are persons that will look for the slightest bump and fall to the floor. They have film of one guy reacting to a small bump by looking at his friend with a big smile on his face, then gradually lowering himself onto the floor. A classic ! I'd like to see them prosecuting these idiots and then we'd see how long that big smile lasts.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby jamesinclair » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:20 am

This stuff about trackless trolleys being classified more as rail vehicles than buses is very interesting. Thats for the informative posts.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby Disney Guy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:31 am

Could it be that the transit authority proposed to change over to (trolley) buses and remove the tracks from the street but only if some of the ordinary motor vehicle laws did not apply? For example the transit authority got to authorize persons to operate in the public streets and authorize the vehicles for operation in the public streets as opposed to give that control to the state department of motor vehicles?
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:48 am

When did trackless trolleys stop running from the Arborway? I remember seeing them in the 50's, not sure afterward.But I had a neighbor that drove the route when it was on the old buses, not sure if he was a trackless operator beforehand.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:54 pm

James - Thanks, James. I find it interesting also. Tracklesses are truely a hybrid. I can think of no other vehicle that is more so.

Walt - No, I don't think so. In Boston, still, as well as other cities at that time, trackless trollies were looked at as supplemental transportation augmenting the fleet. Usually, traffic congestion, particularly along a narrow but main thoroughfare was where it was thought that the trackless trolley shined - and it did ! With their long poles and wide radius deviation from the wire, they could keep a line running when the same line with streetcars would be frozen in it's tracks. Boston liked them for this reason. San Francisco liked them for their hill climbing abilities with their electric motors. In fact, San Francisco was going to replace their cable cars with them until a grassroots mass protest petitioned to keep the cable cars running.

TD - There were three lines out of the Arborway, the 36 Charles River (1951), 34 Dedham Line (1952), and 32 Cleary Square (1953). In 1958, the system was abandoned and replaced with Mack buses. One of the reasons that are attributed to the small life span of the system is that the left-hand doors on the Pullman coaches were needed for the Harvard Square Tunnel. There is a rumored, possibly bigger picture here also, that you won't read about in any books. Reportedly, the powerful Harvard University immensely disliked the overhead wires outside it's institution in the Square. This necessitated putting more coaches in the tunnel. Heavens, it was so uncivilized, I'll have you know ! The ironic (and sad) part to this, considering that an entire well-run system was demolished, is that now, both trackless trolleys and buses unload regularly out the right side doors in the tunnel !
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby RailBus63 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:24 pm

3rdrail wrote:Enclosed multi-mode terminals were actually pretty common. Forest Hills, Egleston, Dudley, Sullivan Sq., Everett, Ashmont, Fields Corner, Andrew Sq., Harvard Sq. had them, running rapid, surface, trackless, and buses - and yes, they were way cool !


I agree. I've always found the BERy-era terminals to be a fascinating example of good engineering and customer service, with passengers having to walk only a short distance for multi-modal transfers at many locations. It's a shame that modern-era MBTA architects and engineers couldn't find a way to incorporate those lessons. They can't even leave well enough alone at existing stations - was there any good reason why the cross-platform transfers at Ashmont and Fields Corner had to be removed and replaced with uncovered trolley and bus terminals that require long walks to reach the Red Line platforms?
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:36 pm

I would say that there's only a good reason if you're a politician or construction company owner. I agree with you also that what BERy did far exceeds anything that has been done since. Compare their facilities to the Southwest Corridor Orange Line. (???) In my opinion, Harvard Station was the coup d'grace. A combined rapid transit/trackless trolley/streetcar underground station that gave travelers a few feet walk to different modes, all underground in added comfort in bad weather and giving service immediately in a thickly settled area, but being "invisible" at the same time ? Priceless !
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby octr202 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:08 pm

And not only that, but at Harvard BERy's engineers and architects set the stage to make the modern Harvard Station one of the easiest underground subway stations for ADA accessibility, given the use of connecting ramps in place of stairs. While they are going back now and adding redundant elevators, and access at the auxiliary entrances, all it took was one elevator and all passenger platforms were accessible without further need for elevators. Quite impressive considering the layout is essentially an offshoot of what was put in nearly 100 years ago.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby jamesinclair » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:01 pm

Harvard is certainly well designed, although the modern access between the bus tunnel and the red line is lacking. If you want to reach berth 77 (the busiest bus line in the tunnel), it's a lengthy detour thanks to the ramps. This can be frustrating if youre trying to transfer, as you can see the bus as you walk from the train, but know you wont make it in time.

A large set of stairs could easily fit, directly connecting the 77 with the fare gate area. The fare machines would simply need to be moved a bit.
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:27 pm

3rd rail I guess time flies when you are having fun. I moved off a trackless trolley line in '58 and moved onto watching NHRR trains so I must have missed the transition. But I surely do remember those smoky Macks. Come to think of it, the A&P disappeared too!
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:49 pm

Well, you didn't miss much by leaving that year. That's the year that they left. I'll probably have a lynch mob chasing me through town by saying this, but I always thought that the Macks had a lot of personality, smoke and all - loved the arched rear windows ! I had the New Haven and MTA on one side of me and the tracklesses on the other, all no further than 100 feet. A&P on top of Bellevue Hill at Wash/The Parkway where CVS is now ? If it is that place (as Purity Supreme), it holds an embarrasing memory for me. I'll give some word clues - me 16, she 20 check-out clerk, ( . )( . ), carriage full of groceries as a ploy to ask out, rebuff, groceries abandoned (after purchased) as I fled in horror ! hahaha!!! :-(
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Re: Harvard Square station.

Postby Disney Guy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:00 pm

jamesinclair wrote:Harvard is certainly well designed, although the modern access between the bus tunnel and the red line is lacking. If you want to reach berth 77 (the busiest bus line in the tunnel), it's a lengthy detour thanks to the ramps.
A large set of stairs could easily fit, directly connecting the 77 with the fare gate area. The fare machines would simply need to be moved a bit.

In today's "equal access" world, the addition of a non-ADA component (stairs) could remain on the back burner unless the existing (ADA compliant) parts became overly crowded.

In the old Harvard station there were straight ramps between the train platforms and bus (streetcar) platforms although I don't recall whether that included all permutations (northbound bus platform to inbound train platform etc.)
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