Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

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Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:58 pm

As its the anniversary of the blizzard of '78 and I wasn't around then I'm wondering what effect this had on the mbta at the time.
Thanks for any replies from people that experienced one hell of a storm.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby wicked » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:17 pm

Items from the MBTA route history file:

February 6, 1978-March 13, 1978:
Wonderland station was closed due to flood damage following the “Blizzard of 78”. Trains terminated at Revere Beach. Buses were run from Revere Beach to Wonderland. Normal service to Wonderland resumed in March.

Private bus routes to the South Shore:
In February 1978, all service was operated to Downtown Boston and South Station (instead of Ashmont) following the blizzard of '78. This emergency service became permanent, and Hudson never operated to Ashmont again.

-Unda's, using the name Interstate Coach, began emergency operation of Boston-Stoughton commuter service in February 1978, following the Blizzard of '78. The service proved successful, and was retained as a normal operation.

-Metropolitan Coach began emergency express bus service from Boston to Lexington via Route 128 and I-93 in February 1978 (after the Blizzard of 78). This route became a regular service after the emergency conditions had passed, and was later transferred from Metropolitan Coach to affiliate Hub bus lines in 1979. The Gray Line took over this route by the early 80s (see Gray Line entry).

IIRC, service never resumed on the Lexington/Bedford branch after the blizzard.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby The EGE » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:30 pm

Nope, Lexington Branch was the previous year. Last run there was January 1977.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby TomNelligan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:03 am

It was interesting... I remember having to swim over a six-foot-high snow drift to get out of my Somerville apartment. One of my co-workers was among the many who were trapped overnight in buried cars on Route 128 the first night of the storm, getting evacuated the next day by the National Guard.

Most commuter rail service was running within a couple days after the storm ended, on special shuttle schedules, and the underground portion of the T was operating as well. Amtrak also restored Northeast Corridor service within a day or two, running slowly but running. Since driving was banned throughout the region due to impassible roads, trains were the only way to get around if you had to travel. I remember walking from my girlfriend's apartment in Cambridge (where I had holed up for the duration of the storm) to Harvard Square and taking the Red Like to South Station to photograph snow-covered equipment. The North Side commuter service was all RDC in those days and trains ran with B&M GP7s/GP9s on both ends to plow the way.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby wicked » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:12 am

What about the El? I'm not a weather person, but would snow have piled up on elevated surfaces as quickly as on the ground?
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby BostonUrbEx » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:19 am

wicked wrote:What about the El? I'm not a weather person, but would snow have piled up on elevated surfaces as quickly as on the ground?


I would imagine so. Bridge decks freeze over before the regular road surfaces do. So it probably would have stuck to the elevated especially quick.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:09 pm

Wasn't the el's deck mostly open to the ground? That would allow a lot of the snow to fall down onto the street below.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:42 pm

The El's right of way, being made up of steel bents and wooden beams was a natural porous strainer for snow, an experience that most Boston motorists experienced at the time when a train went rumbling by overhead - chunks of snow and ice would come cascading down onto your roof. The main problem was the station platforms and stairwells which were not so porous and had to be cleared before the general public could safely use them. For a while, the T hired snow sweepers off the street as the storm was way beyond the limits of it's own work force.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:51 pm

Thanks for the replies. My dad has his own blizzard story, he told me this yesterday. After the governer banned driving for non-emergency vehicles, my grandfather and dad went to Roche Bros in westwood from their house in Dedham. They ended up getting pulled over and luckily my grandfather had his New England telephone hard hat in the car and he told the cop he was going to work. The cop let him go and my grandfather continued on to Roche bros. I also just happened to realize today that we are getting our first real snow storm this winter 35 years almost to the day of the blizzard of '78
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:06 pm

This looks like it could be the new blizzard of '78 since it looks like we are gonna be getting the same amounts from 35 years ago. Ch 5 has boston getting 27in at the airport. Worcester just above 30in. Welcome back to New England's winter everyone. I'm expecting the mbta to have delays on every single line and service.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby typesix » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:06 pm

http://viewoftheblue.com/photography/bosbliz/bw34b.jpg

The link shows cars westbound from Allston St to Warren on the Green B line. Either a train couldn't get up the hill or autos blocked the way.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby wicked » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:13 pm

This coming storm is going to be a mini-disaster if the high end forecasts are correct.

The T is ill-equipped to handle this, especially now with half its infrastructure falling apart.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby Komarovsky » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:24 pm

This might be the first time the T runs it's snow storm schedule. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

For the commuter rail, I can see a few issues with timing and capacity cropping up and causing some major headaches.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:31 pm

Not to mention the winds their predicting will play havoc on old tree and cantanary along the NEC.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby Dick H » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:36 pm

Back in 1978, the B&M supplied a number of GP7s and GP9s to haul the Budd Cars after the storm
It actually became mostly a permanent arrangement, as the Budds were no longer able to haul
themselves. The MBTA does not have too many spare locos. If the storm is real bad, would
PAR provide some GP40s for a few days to haul MBTA trains, providing there was an MBTA
unit providing HEP, even if it is not up to hauling the train? PAR has "rescued" a few
Downeasters over the years, but that was in a short notice emergency situation. Maybe.
P&W would pony up a couple of locos.
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