Best Tunnels / Stations

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Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby cjf » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:23 pm

Hi,

I've lived in Boston for a little less than a year, but I've just recently become really interested in the subway system. I don't have a job right now, so I was thinking of taking a day (or a few days) and just exploring the T. What would be your suggestions for the best places to go? I get on at Eliot, and the only places I've been more than once or twice are Park Street where I transfer to the red line, then I get off at Porter or Davis (and I've been to Harvard a few times). Ideally I could stay within fare control, but I'm willing to buy a one day pass if you think it would be worth it. Also, I'm kind of concerned about safety - I'm small and often confused for a middle schooler (I'm 19, but only 5'4"), and since I grew up in a small suburb I'm concerned I might accidentally end up in a really unsafe situation without noticing.

Should I just try to go all the way on all of the lines, or are there certain ones that aren't that interesting (or ones I should focus on)? I'm really interested in the tunnels (and trying to find abandoned stations / old tunnels), and I'd be willing to go back and forth between two stations a few times if it means I could get a better view.

The different types of trains also interest me - I've read a lot about them on here, but I'm not sure whether I'd be able to recognize them just by sight. The green line ones are easy from the inside - some of them have seats facing forwards, some of them have seats facing sideways, and some of them have stairs in the middle, but how can I tell on other lines?

Thanks!
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:57 am

cjf wrote:and since I grew up in a small suburb I'm concerned I might accidentally end up in a really unsafe situation without noticing.


Assuming you'll only be out and about during daylight hours only, then just remember that for the most part, nothing goes on in this city while the sun is out.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:02 am

cjf wrote:The different types of trains also interest me - I've read a lot about them on here, but I'm not sure whether I'd be able to recognize them just by sight. The green line ones are easy from the inside - some of them have seats facing forwards, some of them have seats facing sideways, and some of them have stairs in the middle, but how can I tell on other lines?


The Orange Line has all of the same cars. The Blue Line has all of the same cars.

The Red Line and Green Line cars can most easily be differentiated by their numbering system. A Type 8 Green Line LRV has a 4 digit number that starts with 38 (ie: 3800, 3801, 3801, etc). A Type 7 will start with 36 or 37 (ie: 3600, 3634, 3654, 3710, ...). The Red Line I am less familiar with the cars, but there's 1500's, 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's. The 1800's (1800, 1801, 1802, etc) are easiest to spot because they are stainless steel, whereas the others are white. They are also the newest. The 1500/1600/1700 cars are very, very similar but each of those 3 sets is different.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby Rbts Stn » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:40 am

Everything you ever wanted to know about Red Line Stock (But Were Afraid to Ask): viewtopic.php?f=65&t=99550
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby jonnhrr » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:51 am

As far as places to go, of course everyone's interests vary, but to me the most interesting and scenic rides would be:

1) Blue Line to Revere. Not sure whether you can reverse at Wonderland without paying another fare. The day pass is probably the best bet.

2) Red line to Braintree, also the ride between Kendall and Charles over the Longfellow bridge.

3) Mattapan - Ashmont for the ride and for the PCC's, oldest equipment still operating on the T

4) For Green Line, maybe the C out to Cleveland Circle for an interesting center reservation ride in a nice neighborhood, then walk over to Reservoir and ride the D to Riverside.
On the way back ride out to Lechmere to ride the last bit of elevated right of way on the T. Another possibility is the E to Heath for the last bit of street running on the T system.

I haven't been on the extremities of the Orange line since they tore down the El so I can't speak for it. I suspect the concrete canyon south to Forest Hills would not be that exciting

As far as safety, the only issue you might have in the daytime is when school gets out in some areas the kids can be rowdy. Not a problem this time of year though.

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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:27 am

jonnhrr wrote:Not sure whether you can reverse at Wonderland without paying another fare.


Yeah, you have to pay again at Wonderland.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby cpontani » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:57 pm

It all depends on what you're looking for. Off the top of my head...

Red Line out to Alewife is all underground after the Charles River Bridge. On the other end, it's all at grade from after Andrew to Braintree. Same pretty much to Ashmont. Mattapan high speed line is a relic and should not be missed.

Orange Line concrete canyon or underground from Forest Hills to Sullivan Square. Can view the yard from Wellington (?).

Blue line goes near the beach. Swap from 3rd rail to catenary at Maverick (that's the slight delay at the station). Wonderland requires re-entry.

Green Line will eat up a chunk of time. Lechmere to the old North Station is on elevated tracks. I haven't been on the new station yet. E has street running after Brigham Circle. D is on an old railroad ROW, so it's quick running from Fenway to Riverside. C is most scenic street-running ROW. Can't remember if B is in the street the whole way, but I think it loops on the local streets.

If you're just looking to bang out the entire system, I'm sure you can do it in a day. Not sure what the price of day passes vs tokens (if they're still even using them), if it would make the passes cost effective. But if you want to stretch it out over two or three days, and get out and see the stations outside of fare control (Porter has the longest escalator in the system, and isn't Shawmut pretty architecturally different?), then a pass may work out better. And don't forget bathrooms and food...maybe the passes may be better, but you better ask somebody who still lives up there. :P
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby cpontani » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:00 pm

Also, Harvard has the split level station, and the old station is now the bus/trackless trolley loop. Aquarium was renovated. I'm sure there's more to cram into a day... :P
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby cjf » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:47 pm

Does anyone have any suggestions on the order of stations? I was thinking of transferring from D to E at Arlington, turning around at Lechemere (is there any way to get around having to pay another fare there?), then going to GC where I transfer to blue, go to Bowdoin, then to Revere Beach (You have to pay again at Wonderland, right? And I assume I'm not worth $2). What should I prioritize after that? I've been on the red line more - should I go for the orange, or explore different branches of the green?
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:08 pm

The D is definitely worth a ride, since it's on the r/w of the former Highland Branch of the Boston & Albany, which at one time saw steam trains. There are still two original Richardson-designed stations on the line. The B is all on reserved r/w and I am always struck by how stately and well-preserved the buildings are -- Commonwealth Ave. is one area that has never deteriorated.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby bozepravde15 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:29 pm

Lechmere requires a separate fare to reenter, you can switch back for free at Science Park but besides a nice view of the Zakim there isn't much to see at that station. Paying the reentry fare at Wonderland IMO is worth it to check out the new station and busway, it's pretty cool to see, they actually did a decent job with it. You can even walk along the beach and get back on at Revere Beach, they are only about 10 minutes apart by walking. Exploring different branches of the Green is fun, but you'd have to pay for every reentry, so I'd only do it if I got the day pass. I agree with what everyone else said, the Mattapan trolley is a real must-see for any railfan. If you are really concerned about safety and don't want to go to Mattapan station (it's perfectly safe during the day, but even so) you can always get off at Capen Street (stop before Mattapan, in a very nice residential area of Milton) and get the trolley back. Also, someone said earlier the third rail/catenary switch occurs at Maverick on the Blue Line, it actually happens at Airport. And the Orange Line yard is quite viewable from Wellington Station, and the Red Line Cabot yard is viewable from the Broadway Bridge right next to Broadway Station. The Green Line yards at Reservoir and Riverside are viewable from their respective stations, but I don't know if they're worth going out of your way for. Blue Line yard at Orient Heights is very obscured, IIRC you'd have to go to Winthrop to be able to see it from the back.

Personally, I'd also recommend Courthouse station on the Silver Line, it gives you a chance to see what HUGE waste of money that whole thing was, because Courthouse is easily one of the most impressive stations in the system. Can't go wrong with the 71/72/73 trolleybuses out of Harvard Square either.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:22 am

So everyone's on the same page...

End stops that don't require you to pay to re-enter:

Oak Grove
Forest Hills
Braintree
Alewife
Government Center (end of the line for the Blue Line weekday evenings and weekends)
Bowdoin
Riverside

End stops that require you to pay to re-enter

Wonderland
Ashmont
Leachmere
Cleveland Circle
Boston College

I'd definitely suggest in purchasing either a weekly or daily pass. You won't have to worry about paying over and over again if there are multiple stations you'd like to leave and see.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby cpontani » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:40 am

Didn't mean to mislead about the power swap on the Blue Line. It's been over 10 years since I've lived there, but remember it being done in Maverick in the mid-90's.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby Commuting Boston Student » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:15 am

Something that should be noted - a 1-day pass is $11, but a 7-day is $18 and can be loaded onto a CharlieCard if you buy it at a pass office (Downtown Crossing's probably your best bet), and as others have said, you're probably not going to see everything in one day.

I would always, always, always advise against buying the 1-day pass and getting a 7-day instead unless you are absolutely certain that you will not be riding the T for more than one day out of a week.
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Re: Best Tunnels / Stations

Postby The EGE » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:44 pm

Things worth seeing inside fare control:

Old stations at Harvard, on the curve just inbound of the modern station. On outbound trains, the old Harvard station is on the right. On inbound trains, Harvard/Holyoke is on the right and old Harvard on the left. Old Harvard is harder to see but has neat old tilework; Harvard/Holyoke is a pretty typical 80s station. What you have to do is get on the front car of an 1800 series train (silver and grey with the modern LED signs) and plop yourself in front of the railfan window, so that the car's headlights let you see. Late nights are the best timing for this; even then, between Harvard and Charles (free changeover to return outbound for a second look) there's enough people on board for safety.

Porter, Harvard, and State have neat stacked platforms. Porter's are the best for viewing.

The Park Street / Downtown Crossing complex (you can walk between them inside fare control at the Green/Orange level) is a historical labyrinth. I love the tiny, twisting staircases at Park - just not at rush hour.

The Tremont Street Subway portion of the Green Line has all the abandoned stuff. Old Haymarket (look left out of cars in either direction between Haymarket and North Station); Canal Street Incline (look right out of a northbound car after Haymarket); the Brattle Loop platform at Government Center (look left out of a southbound car pulling into the station), Public Gardens stub (look right out of an outbound car between Boylston and Arlington), and the never-used stub for a Post Office Square subway (look right out of an inbound car after Arlington).

The inbound platform at Boylston has a PCC car and a Type 5 on display. The south branch of the Tremont Street Subway is visible, and Boylston itself has scarcely been changed since 1897.

Much of the system is built in twisty tunnels. I love Kendall/MIT, Arlington, and Shawmut because you really feel like you're underground - you can see the train coming a long while away. Look down the tunnel, and you get the sense that you're in a little side cutout in a monstrous tunnel. (Central and Copley are similar, but slightly less of the feeling.)


If you're getting a one-day and are going to go outside fare control:

The Ashmont-Mattapan line is a must, for obvious reasons. I'm a fan of the rear seat.

The D Branch has the fantastic old stations, and it's the most beautiful scenery of all the lines.

The Broadway streetcar tunnel is under heavy modification, but it's still a nifty thing. Cabot Yard is next door, including the set of 1400 series Red Line stock used as a work train.

Not trains, but I love the trackless trolleys. They're the last remains of a once-huge trolley and trackless system.

Lechmere station is nothing to write home about, but the Lechmere Viaduct is fantastic.
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