Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby The EGE » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:48 pm

Someday, there is going to have to be transit to JP again, because there will be no choice. The only question is, are the NIMBYs going to prefer losing a little bit of street capacity all the time, or all of it for a year while they dig a tunnel?
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:34 am

Subways by cut and cover method have gotten increasingly difficult to build from a traffic and political perspective. These aren't the 10's or 20's of last Century when street traffic consisted of mostly streetcars (which could be easily abated with the signing of an order). Now, to close down a street(s) for months makes for chaos above as we saw in the Dig. The alternative, deep boring, is costly, risky, and time-consuming. Blocking off roadways in Boston is also a problem as our roads are not generally layed out in grids. Often, if you block a street, especially a main artery, for all intents and purposes youv'e made travel extremely difficult for many miles around due to the fact that there are no alternate routes that either exist or are generally known for people to use to get from point a to b.
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby jaymac » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:38 am

At the risk of seeming to beat a dead streetcar line, a few more observations.
-There's more to JP than South Huntington and Centre even though, neighborhood centrist that I am, those roadways are where I grew up.
-JP does have transit, but along the NEC, not South Huntington and Centre.
-People along South Huntington and Centre have gotten used to rubber-tired feeder service.
-Adding to 3rdrail's observations, tunneling, however done, won't be just a few months of just inconvenience. All underground water, sewer, electrical, and communications lines will have to be relocated. Private, commercial, public safety, and in an area of more than one hospital, emergency vehicles will have to be rerouted, as will the T. The costs, financial and political, of such a project are too daunting in the do-less mode in place.
-If there is blame for not further extending the Huntington Avenue Extension, it probably belongs with Hirohito and Hitler. The start of WWII and then the post-war recovery ended any possibility of further extension.
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:44 pm

Before everyone gets mad at me, notice my username and read this: I rode the Arborway car once, watched it out of school bus windows from 1979 until 1985, and wrote a bunch of letters to bring it back in the late 80s and early 90s, before I moved to the midwest. But I lived in Roslindale, and wanted to ride the trolley to Boston Latin. The only reason I wanted the trolley back was that I liked trolleys. I think it's really hard to argue that trolleys were somehow more real transit on Center Street or on the outer half of the Watertown line that buses were or could be. It's just as easy to argue that the trolleys were equivalent or inferior to buses and were just there for external reasons.

By the 60s, Boston was left with its 5 light-rail lines (BCDE and Mattapan) in private ROW, a light-rail subway, and two street-running lines that were largely on streets too narrow for private ROW. Those two lines lasted longer because they were yard leads that they used for revenue service because they were there anyway and the T had the cars. While many riders probably liked the one-seat ride and some probably preferred trolleys to buses, thats not why those lines survived longer. When the cars were needed for light-rail lines, the A came off, and so did the E part of the time in the 70s (weekdays? weekends? rush hour? I read it once and forgot). Once LRVs had replaced all the PCCs except on the E, the T didn't need the Arborway yard for anything, so they could abandon the lead, which must have made it even easier for the T to imagine bustituting the E. In the early 80s, the remaining street-running trolleys looked and felt like part of the rapid transit system to people looking at the maps, and to people riding into the subway, in a way that I assume the Dedham Line and the Charles River and the lines out of Everett and so on hadn't felt like part of the RT system back when everything was trolleys. So when the E closed, it felt like losing part of the RT system, but most of the line wasn't rapid transit.

Except for emissions and the possibility of getting more pax with fewer operators, street-running trolleys are basically equivalent to buses until you get to a private right-of-way that isn't set up for buses. This is much more true than the other way around: bus rapid transit, even in a dedicated ROW, is not necessarily equivalent to rail rapid transit. Trolleys started as little cars that ran all over the place in the middle of streets, before gasoline engines. A few busy routes got private ROW, multi-car trains, longer cars, articulated cars, etc., and became light rail. In most places, the rest of the routes were bustituted, first the twice-an-hour lines that didn't justify the cost of maintenance etc., then the other routes as car lobby demanded better pavement, buses got more reliable, etc. (Zach Schrag makes a convincing argument that NYC bustituted as a way of getting rid of the streetcar companies, and the technology was irrelevant.) For people going from Forest Hills or the Monument to the Longwood Medical Area -- a big part of the current and potential ridership, and a much busier place now than in, say, 1940, -- street-running trolleys have no particular advantage (except emissions) over rubber-tired alternatives. On some days, buses would be faster (such as when an accident blocks one lane of Center Street and buses can go around). Leaving buses on Centre St. is a lot less of a loss than not reviving the A in a private ROW as far as somplace in Newton, as Newton wanted in the 80s or 90s (right?); that would have been a new RT line, much more "rapid" than anything on Centre St. will ever be except at 3 am.

Given all this, I'm not surprised that there are JP residents who are transit activists on both sides of the issue. I've known two pro-transit, anti-trolley activists from JP personally, and one of them did not even own a car.

So for an oddball idea, why not copy BERy and build a super-easy cross-platform transfer station at MFA or Northeastern, instead of the awkward arrangement at Copley?
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby jaymac » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:53 pm

Arborwayfan-
From BLS to Terre Haute? Dag! How many transfers did you need for that ride?
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:25 pm

I went to summer school there for math. Does that count ? (It gave me the opportunity to ride the "school bus specials" - the "Texas Rangers" back and forth from/to the Arborway and sit in the pretend motorman seat, so I guess it was worth it !)
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby jaymac » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:50 am

Anyone who steps even once inside the less-than-hallowed halls of the institution that gave downtown's School Street its name forever carries the mark. We called them Texas Twisters because their Toonerville handling characteristics made the 5s seem regal. Both the 5s and Dallas cars provided the opportunity for the fleet of foot to experience -- if only in fantasy -- being operators in reverse. The Dallas cars did -- unlike the 5s -- have the advantage of a non-removable seat.
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby Teamdriver » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:57 pm

Some old trolley pictures at Egleston Square : ( from City of Boston Archives' photostream )
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Egelston Squaare 1948.jpg
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1940 egleston square  trollley snow plow.jpg
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:35 pm

Clickety-Clackety-Clickety-Clackety. Nice !
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby octr202 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:39 pm

Wow, very nice, especially the plow pic (seeing as I spent the weekend operating 5106, wishing it was in snow rather than hot & humid weather). ;-)
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: Light rail to Arborway officially dead

Postby Teamdriver » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:31 am

[quote="3rdrail"]That was Ruggiero's Market. They were there and displaced by the city, who built them a new store one lot north.They went to 3345 Washington St. Back then, it looked a lot different. With the stairwell coming down from Green Street Station along with the El itself, it was a dark corner.Somewhere, I recall somebody mentioning an envisioned new routing for the Arborway streetcar line as using Green St. from Centre. The line would cross Wash and come in through the back door into the Arborway via Dungarven/Stedman alignment. I can see that working, although I'd like to see the direction on Seaverns change and for it to allow for easy westerly travel by emergency vehicles.[/quote

My Rail Check this out 1948 @ Green & Washington ! Also rear view ! ( From City of Boston Archives )
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Green & Washington Rear 1948.jpg
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:54 am

That first pic is interesting, it looks like the road is cement (a complete guess here, I'm assuming it's before asphalt, that's all) but between the rails and between each track is cobblestone. Was this a common phase all streetcar lines saw? I would have expected the road to be either all of one or the other.
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby Teamdriver » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:02 am

I think it is hot top , not concrete. It was probably easier to rip up the cobblestones up to the tracks, but leave the inside cobblestones between the tracks to retain the alignment, and perhaps that area was not the domain of the city paving gang but the MTA track gang. Here is the link to the City of Boston Archives on Flickr. There are 591 old time pictures there, alot of them MTA related, and that cobblestone/hot top scheme is repeated there at various locations throughout the city of Boston.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/

( At one time I got a few loads of excavation out of Dorchester, that came from the North End originally, and it was loaded with cobblestones. I managed to sort through and keep a good amount, but some got used as fill,now the second generation of fill from the old North End streets. )
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:11 pm

That store either was, or became Ruggiero's and that rear shot looks identical to what it looks like today - except that that building was torn down, the store was moved up one lot north, and the new BPD District 13 was erected on that site. The Dist. 13 parking lot looks identical today to that rear shot. That cobble within the gauge was standard practice throughout the city. Nice photos TD !
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Re: Light Rail to Arborway Officially Dead

Postby FP10 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:20 pm

Going back to a tunnel to Brookline Village for a second, you wouldn't even have to run down Huntington after Brigham Circle, in fact it would be better not to.

Image

The blue is a new tunnel for the E line (just under 4000', as shown). The Brookline Avenue Playground is a perfect staging area for construction, a TBM launch box, and in the end a flying junction. By going this way you are also able too add a loop track (red) allowing for short turns, storage for cars for events, or perhaps even limited rush hour revenue service. I don't think the section from Longwood Ave to Camden Street would have to be put underground right away either. You could slowly remove grade crossings one at a time, and then finally add in two stations at the MFA and Ward Street to complete the project in phases.

The biggest headache during initial construction would be the actual building of the Brigham Circle station, as you would have to dig up a better part of that intersection. However it wouldn't be nearly the nightmare going down Huntington would be. The only disadvantage I see here is that you loose the potential for a station near the current Back of the Hill. I think this could be mitigated by having the 39 loop at Brookline Village instead of going all the way downtown (I would argue for the 60 as well). Access to two subway lines straight downtown would be a much faster trip then sitting on the bus in traffic, and would allow for faster turns on both lines, leading to an overall better quality of service.

In an ideal world that Citgo Station and the vacant lot to the south would be eminent-domained and the intersection widened, allowing for a nice sized off street bus stop there, giving the residents a sense of permanency for its transit. Costs could be offset by reselling it for some TOD project, and filling in that huge gap in the street wall. I would argue for this method at a few stops down the line as well. Perhaps even re-brand the 39 as a silver line route.

The other thing I added is the "Riverway" station (which I believe existed historically). This could be either a permanent D-Line stop (with construction of a pedestrian bridge across the Muddy River and the Riverway) or an emergency/events only stop if the loop (red) is used for revenue service in either direction. I think it would be a good idea as a permanent stop since it could help siphon off traffic from the now condensed boardings at Brookline Village and Brigham Circle. Even now it's a conspicuously large gap on the D line. I'm not sure if this causes any issues currently but I'm sure residents in the area would appreciate it (then again with Brookline NIMBYS you never know), but its also closer to the nexus of the Longwood Medical Area then the Longwood stop.
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