MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

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MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:58 am

Boston Magazine says they found this MassDOT 2024 Vision map and with lots of Indigo-style overly in a recent MassDOT visioning document.
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MassDOT 2024 Vision Overview
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Interesting Elements Include:
1) A new "West Station" on the Worcester Line
2) Inner Indigo service, with CR operating "express" past the inner stations (connections at Lynn, Anderson Woburn, West Station and Readville and a CR connection at Riverside.
3)"Connecting Service to Cape Cod" from M'boro line terminus.
4) and a shocking lack of an Indigo-to-GLX connection

The title of the document is DRAFT FY2014 - FY2018 Transportation Capital Investment Plan. So far the best I can do for finding a source document is this link from a MassDOT tweet: pdf printout of a draft (which is fairly low-res)

Above and below I've linked to Boston Magazine's version (click on the small version).
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MassDOT 2024 Vision Map Detail
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Anyone have a better version?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:18 am

Cross-posting my earlier comment on the article:

Major flaws in this "vision". I realize it's merely a 2024 timeline, but they're still thinking small and irrationally. First of all, the BCEC shuttle is outrageous, and I can't believe they're still "visualizing" it.

The DMU 'Indigo' lines are pretty solid, and I have some adjustments, but hey, I'd certainly take what they're giving.

It's incredibly disappointing that the outrageously bloated South Coast Rail Project is depicted. That thing needs a garlic-soaked stake to the heart, pronto! Interesting that they still don't expect a stop in Plaistow, NH by then, however.

The lack of a Red-Blue connector is also disappointing. At least TRY to pursue it. It's critical to system-wide capacity and to regional mobility. Give me a break, MassDOT!


-----

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I'm kind of surprised by the lack of indigo service to Waltham. Its a city with a fairly low-income and transit-dependent population, as well as a dense city center that's ripe for TODs, not to mention all of the big high tech employers and the potential for reversed commuters from Cambridge.


Agreed 100%. I'd also like to see DMU's to Salem, but we need to expand that single-track tunnel. And DMU's on the Reading Branch, with the Haverhill Line relying more on the Wildcat.

I'm also wondering if a Campello - East Weymouth DMU line is possible, with the focus on the Braintree transfer.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:31 am

There's also no mention of Amtrak service via the Inland Route and the double-tracking that that would require. Is that now off the radar screen?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:33 am

Rockingham Racer wrote:There's also no mention of Amtrak service via the Inland Route and the double-tracking that that would require. Is that now off the radar screen?


Is that on the 20-year 2024 plan? Or is that 2050?

Also, this seems to be exclusively an MBTA article, so it probably wouldn't get mention anyway.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby emannths » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:39 am

Is the plan to run Riverside-bound DMUs and Worcester-bound trains (skipping Newton) along the Pike realistic with only two tracks? If the DMUs run with near-rapid-transit frequency, won't the Worcester trains get stuck behind them? There's not enough space to add a third track along the Pike, right?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby octr202 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:25 am

I think the best sign is that the Commonwealth seems to be behind the general idea of DMUs on the commuter rail system, period. This is the most concrete planning we've seen for it yet, even though it's pretty far away. As long as they're properly designed (i.e., can deal with things like low level platforms) so as to not be captive to just these 'Indigoized" lines, they I think once they get their hands on the first installments of DMUs, they will find how much potential they have. So many parts of the system could stand to benefit from more frequent trains with these types of cars - pretty much most of the lines have areas inside Route 128 that would be able to benefit. As mentioned, the Reading portion of the Western is prime,* extension to Beverly on the Eastern, Waltham on the Fitchburg, etc. Honestly, while the Anderson line is good, the running times to Lowell are short enough that it might be worth using off-peak DMUs to up the frequency all the way up the line, given the direct rail route and size of the city at the end.

On the south side, the Needham Line just screams out of DMUs. I'm really surprised it wasn't included here.

*I've got a really crazy idea for the Western. While it might take a while to re-align the development around the line, there's a huge commercial complex in the Wilmington/Andover area around Wilmington Jct. As part of a multi-phase process to accommodate a Plaistow extension (probably left off this plan since it'd depend on NH wanting to play ball) on the upper Western Route, extend these Reading-Boston DMU services to a new station near where the line crosses under I-93 to serve the business area. It'd be a tough start since that area is so spread out and I think mostly lacks sidewalks, but that station could serve as a connection point between the Reading DMU services and through trains to Haverhill (and hopefully Plaistow) that would operate over the Lowell Line, saving running time to/from Boston for Merrimack Valley services on the Western. The connection point would mean that you could still protect passengers looking for through service from the Merrimack Valley area to points on the Reading section, but without slowing down travel times for those going to Boston.

*Edited to fix Western/Eastern screw up. Thanks, RR.
Last edited by octr202 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:39 am

Octr,

Where you use "Eastern route" in your proposal, I believe you mean "Western Route".
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:45 am

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I'm kind of surprised by the lack of indigo service to Waltham.


Likewise. Waltham has a bunch of express bus routes to downtown plus the godawful slow Route 70, but the point where the Fitchburg line passes under Route 128 is just so perfect for a big park-and ride lot for frequent rail service downtown and bus connections to the local industrial parts for reverse commuters from Cambridge and Boston.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby octr202 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:13 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Octr,

Where you use "Eastern route" in your proposal, I believe you mean "Western Route".


Yes, thanks. Clearly I didn't have a large enough coffee this morning.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:46 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:Cross-posting my earlier comment on the article:

Major flaws in this "vision". I realize it's merely a 2024 timeline, but they're still thinking small and irrationally. First of all, the BCEC shuttle is outrageous, and I can't believe they're still "visualizing" it.

The DMU 'Indigo' lines are pretty solid, and I have some adjustments, but hey, I'd certainly take what they're giving.

It's incredibly disappointing that the outrageously bloated South Coast Rail Project is depicted. That thing needs a garlic-soaked stake to the heart, pronto! Interesting that they still don't expect a stop in Plaistow, NH by then, however.

The lack of a Red-Blue connector is also disappointing. At least TRY to pursue it. It's critical to system-wide capacity and to regional mobility. Give me a break, MassDOT!


-----

BrandeisRoberts wrote:I'm kind of surprised by the lack of indigo service to Waltham. Its a city with a fairly low-income and transit-dependent population, as well as a dense city center that's ripe for TODs, not to mention all of the big high tech employers and the potential for reversed commuters from Cambridge.


Agreed 100%. I'd also like to see DMU's to Salem, but we need to expand that single-track tunnel. And DMU's on the Reading Branch, with the Haverhill Line relying more on the Wildcat.

I'm also wondering if a Campello - East Weymouth DMU line is possible, with the focus on the Braintree transfer.



The thing to remember is that where they plunked these arbitrary termini on the map correspond to today's Zone fares. They did nothing that stretched beyond Zone 2, which is why the Eastern Route DMU stops at Lynn. Swampscott and Salem are Zone 3's. This map says nothing about how they're going to square the inequities in the fare structure and make the branded "Indigo" service some sort of semi-coherent pricing. On the North Shore that would require significantly dropping the fares at Swampscott, Salem, or (if they want to go that far) Zone 4 Beverly to make it work because the line has a steeper stop-by-stop increase than any other inside-128 service. And of course, since this document says absolutely nothing about how they're going to pay for it they didn't bother opening the can of worms about fare cuts or hikes on the Indigos.

Zone fares also play into the following which you would think would be study candidates:
-- Fairmount extension to Westwood/128: Zone 1 to Zone 2 jump.
-- Anything south of Braintree on the Old Colony: Zone 2 to Zone 3 jump. Plus the inequity of the Red Line-duplicated stops being a 1A to 1 jump @ Quincy Ctr. and a 1 to 2 jump @ Braintree.
-- Needham: Zone 1 from Rozzie to W. Rox inside the city of Boston to major bus transfer stations, not equitable with the Zone 1A Dorchester and Hyde Park enjoy on the Fairmount Line.
-- Waltham: Zone 1A to 1 jump at Belmont Ctr., Zone 1 to 2 jump at Waltham. Not too out-of-whack for commuter rail, but this is a very bus transfer-heavy corridor at all past-Porter stops so the difference between bus fare-->Zone 1 and bus fare-->Zone 2 matters the world at attracting patronage. Plus Kendal Green is a Zone 2 to 3 jump, so what does that mean if they replace it with a Route 128 stop?...is that a 2 or a 3?
-- Reading vs. Anderson: Zone 1A to 1 jumps at Wyoming Hill or Wedgemere; Zone 1 to 2 jumps at Greenwood or Mishawum. Pretty equitable overall, but West Medford is outside the rapid transit system and gets a Zone 1A while but Wyoming Hill is a Zone 1? When GLX puts both in the same walking distance to the last subway stop, how is that going to look?
-- Riverside: Note the conspicuous lack of a Newton Corner stop. Is that infill going to be the break between Zone 1A (Yawkey, New Balance/whatever-it's-now-called) and Zone 1 (Newtonville)? Is that going to work when the bus transfers here are going to so heavily weight towards Allston?



It's all little stuff, but you can see what sidestepping the fare question does to slice through all the sunshine and puffy clouds in this plan. Getting the Indigos equitable on the fare scale requires resolving all these inconsistencies. And resolving the inconsistencies can't be done without slashing fares to a lower Zone in most places. The stops that are disproportionately weighted to bus transfers have to be brought down so the bus-->DMU fare difference isn't so stark. They have to bring down all the ones with rapid transit overlap to Zone 1A. They have to decide how many zones Indigo will cover in total: 1A and 1? 1A/1/2? Which definitely means cleansing all the 3's, but probably some of the 2's. They have to decide how fast the Zones break intra-city, outside city limits, and in tough calls like Newton Corner where the stop is outside the city but most of the bus transfer ridership feeding the stop is bending back towards the city. And then these inner Zone recalibrations have to jibe with the full CR system so outside-128 trains whose routes and riders use these same stops aren't totally boned over by distorted rises in the Zones that are way more exaggerated on some lines than others. For example, if you fix the glitch at Salem and bust it done from Zone 3 to 2, does Beverly Depot stay a 4 or does that have to come down to 3? Doesn't matter if the past-128 commuters still have to pay much higher fares and higher per-zone rises than the Indigoers, they still have to pound out the big whoppers like Salem-Beverly...and the only way to do smooth that out is fare drops at the affected stations to even out the spread.


You get the idea. Every little fix weights to a fare cut and can't be solved by hiking elsewhere. With a mode that has much higher operating costs than all bus or rapid transit, they take on considerable new costs implementing this and have to find other means of bolstering their farebox recovery. All completely feasible with an agency-wide focus on exploiting efficiencies, but keep in mind that the Legislature has not reformed one bloody part of their agency-wide financing. These 4-year capital plans are still subject to year-to-year shocks in the economy and the same tax revenue shortfalls that have them annually begging for someone else's surplus to close a $20M gap here and threatening fare hikes + service cuts. And they're still strangled by the debt and these year-to-year variances impacted their debt service payoffs.

Yeah...a little premature to put out a pretty new spider map that requires considerable fare cutting to work at all as a service pattern...but assumes that the Zones stay exactly the same and says nothing about how the house of cards will hold up amid lower operating margins and the annual budget song-and-dance. Conceptually it's borderline-brilliant, but where's the beef?
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:44 pm

How about that DMU (?) route via the B&A to Riverside!
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:47 pm

F-Line, would it really be necessary to lower Indigo fares to Zone 1A levels so they can compete with buses?

This is just my two cents, but I think maybe they should consider a zone-based system for Indigo lines, but on a cheaper scale than the existing fares. This way it would be more expensive than buses (which is logical since it costs more to run and is a higher service quality), but not $4 more. Call them zones 1A, B, C, etc., and have an increase of somewhere around $0.50 from the $2.00 base fare for each zone. Then you'd end up with, using Rockburyport as an example, Chelsea at $2.50, Lynn/Swampscott at $3.00, Salem at $3.50. I think expecting someone to pay that amount is reasonable.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:04 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:F-Line, would it really be necessary to lower Indigo fares to Zone 1A levels so they can compete with buses?

This is just my two cents, but I think maybe they should consider a zone-based system for Indigo lines, but on a cheaper scale than the existing fares. This way it would be more expensive than buses (which is logical since it costs more to run and is a higher service quality), but not $4 more. Call them zones 1A, B, C, etc., and have an increase of somewhere around $0.50 from the $2.00 base fare for each zone. Then you'd end up with, using Rockburyport as an example, Chelsea at $2.50, Lynn/Swampscott at $3.00, Salem at $3.50. I think expecting someone to pay that amount is reasonable.


Yes...but how does that square with commuter rail trains that are making these stops too? If you're on a combo pass that covers "Indigo" are you verboten from boarding a push-pull commuter rail train at Lynn that makes exactly the same inbound stops in within 2 minutes of the same travel time without paying an entirely different premium zone fare? Those Rockports and Newburyports still carry the water on a significant portion of the headways, especially on-peak. They aren't going away; the DMU's are filling the between-headway gaps and the off-peak. Why would anyone patronize a service where they don't know what the next train that pulls in is going to cost or whether they have the correct tier of combo pass that lets them board it, and when the Indigos make up a lower % of the total trains at peak when the push-pulls are at their most frequent. It has to track with the CR fares or the whole concept starts to collapse on itself. So that Zone 3 escalation in Swampscott is a problem, and so is the Zone 4 escalation in Beverly at the first CR-only stop if Swampscott and Salem have to get taken down a Zone. It's still a single mode after all. Both forms of service contribute directly to the desired frequencies that are generating the intended ridership at these key stops.

I just don't see how they can gerrymander around the pricing snags without bringing them down at a lot of stops and eating the loss in farebox recovery. 1:1 tradeoffs or cut here and hike there or cut for some/hike for others aren't enough to recalibrate it equitably. Especially on the Eastern Route the way those Zones are structured as the system's most expensive inside-128 outlier.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby deathtopumpkins » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:03 am

I thought it was implied that traditional CR trains will NOT be making Indigo stops? The map omits dots for them. So as I understand it, at least during peak times, the traditional trains will be running express past the Indigo stops.

In all likelihood though, you're right, and they'll need to adjust the zone fares down a bit. I just think that rather than jumping straight from $2 to $7.75 or whatever Beverly is now, they might want to gradually increment up to it.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby The EGE » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:29 am

The map calls for both CR and DMU service to Lynn, Readville, Anderson/Woburn, and West stations.
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