MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:20 pm

djimpact1 wrote:Aside from the vehicle procurement process/selection (to which I understand the T's on-and-off history of being successful at it), what necessarily is bad about DMU implementation?

My personal opinion is have DMUs running weekdays (exclusively) during off-peak service for the 3 lowest-ridership lines: Fairmount, Greenbush & Kingston/Plymouth. Concerning weekends, DMUs would run exclusively during all hours of service for all lines that don't see at least 2,000 riders per every Saturday & Sunday: Needham, Fairmount, Greenbush, Middleborough, Franklin, etc.

Why bother using the same resources for peak ridership (a diesel engine, a single & a few bi-levels) as for non-peak & weekend ridership, especially considering the numbers can be drastically different? If you know a line might see 500 - 700 riders in an entire weekend, it seems foolish to operate a full set that I can otherwise understand seeing during weekday commutes. At least DMUs seem like they'd save some miles for the "big fleet" needed for those high ridership lines/days, while still giving a ridership option to folks looking for that off-peak commute to Boston.

Thoughts? (F-Line, go easy on me brother!)


It doesn't quite work that way.

Push-pull starts to overtake DMU's on performance the longer a route gets and the wider-spaced the stops are. The difference is in the diesel engines: DMU's have 2 high-performance engines, diesel locomotives a single low-performance engine. On a regular loco the electricity for the traction motors that drive the wheels is generated by a big main engine with large surface area that spins at (relatively speaking) slow RPM's. High-performance engines shrink themselves to small size by spinning a lot faster. In addition to DMU's, true dual mode locomotives like NJ Transit's ALP-45DP use high-performance diesel engines to shrink the engine enough to fit a full electric loco's worth of guts inside the carbody. And DMU's need two of these engines because at the very very small size those engines have to be to fit underneath the carbody they don't generate enough individual power to go it alone except when one engine fails and the other can keep the train going at restricted speed.

"Low" performance has a couple advantages. By spinning slow at a large surface area they do do much better fuel efficiency and emissions than high-performance engines relative to the power generated. And because they generate more power at slow RPM's they're very very efficient when they're either idling or cruising at full track speed. It's how those CSX commercials make their claim "we haul X tons Y hundred miles on a single gallon of fuel". The trade-off is that they have to work hard on starts/stops to carry all that bulk into motion. High-performance engines, because they spin fast, are less fuel-efficient at idle or track speed. NJT's dual-modes are guzzlers compared to similarly modern diesels of equal power. And DMU's, despite the much-reduced power required by each engine to push the trainset, are less efficient at full-speed or idling on the platform than a much bigger push-pull. Their primary advantage is starts/stops...not having to push so much weight into motion means less of a differential for how much the engines have to rev up on acceleration. As you lash up additional DMU's into a consist, you're burning a lot more fuel at cruise and idle but also having a much easier time accelerating from a stop.

It's a trade-off, and you can see where each has a performance advantage and where those advantages start to converge to evenness and eventually trade places in overall efficiency at a certain total distance and a certain decreasing stop spacing. An HSP-46 pulling a single car off Track 61 to West on a less-than 5 mile, 3-station, slow trip through the terminal district is going to be a pig to operate. By the same token lashing up 3 married-pair DMU's to run the whole 63 miles to Wickford Jct. on a Sunday is going to be a pig because the route's long, the station spacing is so wide it's significant stretches of 79 MPH (or 90 MPH) cruising, the consist has 6 diesel engines, and it's going to need more frequent refueling because the fuel tanks are small in addition to the engines draining the tank faster than the much bigger loco (i.e. it's going to be out-of-service more service hours in a given week in line for refueling if it can't make nearly as many trips in between refuelings). Use each vehicle type to their strengths or the operating costs start to bloat across the board. It can go wrong with either one.

DMU strengths -- Inside-128 lines that run 10-15 miles. Lines that have stops every 1/2 to 1-1/2 miles. Lines that have relatively short (non-terminal) platform dwell times, such as quick-hit interzone trips. Lines that don't require a lot of cars or require huge swings during the service day in number of cars. Usage that lets them cover higher number of runs between refuelings. Usage that lets them return immediately inbound with without long layovers (i.e. closer proximity to terminal-serving yards like BET and Readville instead of having to spend much time at the outer suburban layovers).
Push-pull strengths -- Outside-128 lines that run 20-50 miles (Wickford and Fitchburg are both 50+; Worcester if 44; Newburyport is 36; Kingston, Middleboro, and Rockport are 35; Haverhill is 32; Forge Park is 30; Lowell is 26). Lines that have 2-5 mile stop spacing with ample stretches of full track speed in between, lines with crowd-swallower stops where extra minutes of idling needed to load/unload an overstuffed platform. Lines on freight-clearance routes that have to have a lot of stops with low platforms + 1-car mini-highs instead of full-highs, because those platforms take longer to load/unload. Lines that require high seating capacity (loco engine gets progressively more efficient with each additional car), or have very large and distorted peak/off-peak swings in capacity.
DMU weaknesses -- Long lines. Wide stop spacing where the engines work harder to maintain track speed. Lines with long dwells. Lines that need > 4 single-level coaches' (i.e. >2 married pairs) worth of seating capacity to run the schedule. Clearance routes...depending on line (the 1-car mini-highs alleviate the problem but they're positioned differently at each station and sometimes that'll make the unloading spot awkwardly-placed...highly situational stop-by-stop). Lines that increase the frequency of downtime for refueling. Schedules that require longer outer layovers instead of immediate turnarounds (more fuel burned at idle, layover facilities may need modifications to their locomotive plug-in pads for overnight storage of DMU's). Lines that cross staffing districts requiring greater pool of certified engineers, conductors, inspectors, etc. qualified on every vehicle type (e.g. outer layover staff will need to be trained on inspecting vehicles for problems, Rhode Island has its own crew base that has to be brought in).
Push-pull weaknesses - Extremely frequent starts/stops burn fuel. Slower acceleration at tight stop spacing (note: makes more difference on straighter/higher track-speed lines like Fairmount than slow/curvy lines like Track 61 or Grand Junction that'll never get much above 30 MPH even with perfectly maintained track). Minimum consist length currently 4 cars; operating/maint regs have to be loosened to allow 3 or fewer like Metro North and Amtrak allow. While probably doesn't require many more locos or blind coaches to supply such short/quick runs, may need to get more cab cars for these short consists...and the only spares are 25 of the 1600-series Bombardier cars that would need their deactivated controls and signaling equipment reinstalled.



So...you can see why this is a bad idea for the 495-and-beyond lines any hour of the day. The operating costs do not wash despite the lower seating capacity. Remember, an HSP-46 is designed to haul 8 rush hour bi-level cars packed standing-room only to up to a 90 MPH track speed. 4 cars with the last 2 cars blocked off so they can staff 1 fewer conductor is such a light load the engine's not working very hard at all doing Providence or Forge Park late on a Sunday night. A married-pair DMU would be working harder. That's something they'd never want to do. The costs would wash worse. What they need to start doing is putting together more precisely-sized consists. MBCR really was haphazard about that, and that's why you saw so many overstaffed 5-car trains when 4 was fine. Keolis will probably be better at that simply by not flaunting how little they care. Also, those 5-cars don't have to be 5-cars all the time with the fleet now going bi-level. What ridership spikes do happen on at certain slots on the weekend they don't have to hedge so much at going long and can stick more conservatively at 4 cars with their margin of error being the bi-levels, not the extra car. Likewise, improved staffing levels can help. The 1 conductor per 2 cars rule works a lot more efficiently with bi-levels instead of singles, and even-numbered consists instead of odd. So put together 4 cars on the weekend, not 5, and spare the extra crewmember. And have a quicker hook at closing unused cars and doing front 2 cars only when a long (5-8 car) consist is on one of the first/last empty off-peaks before a peak period, or is assigned to a late-night slot for purposes of getting it to the outer layover for Monday morning's rush. All of those efficiency-minded practices will cost less than weekend DMU's systemwide.


Have to understand how unusual the RDC's-everywhere era was. Boston & Maine was the only passenger carrier in North America that replaced steam with 100% DMU. Nobody else did that. While they had fleet standardization controlling their costs, they had the same forced one-size-fits-all efficiency limitations that a DMU revival would have. LIRR, NY Central, and Pennsylvania RR primarily deployed RDC's on specialty services like outside transfers into the electric district (same as LIRR's diesel transfer shuttles today). CN and CP in Canada bought also primarily for specialty reasons: to serve the most remote, car-inaccessible settlements in the country they were mandated by the government to provide passenger and mail service to. NYNH&H was kind of #2 on the weirdness scale for how much the RDC's appeared on the South Station branchlines, but even they didn't go nearly as whole-hog as B&M did.

While it was a very progressive move on B&M's part and arguably kept some extremely marginal one-per-day branches barely alive enough to pass into public ownership (and in some cases survive to this day)...it arguably wasn't the greatest business decision on their part at a time when they were making a lot of less-than-awesome business decisions. For the same reasons the T going overboard trying to shoehorn them into the wrong situations or not running them often enough in the right situations wouldn't be a great business decision. Most railroads across the country went straight from steam to diesel loco, then immediately put their investment into cab cars to transition from pull-only to push-pull ops. And invested in a lot of general-purpose power that could be geared for passenger and freight. We weren't necessarily the vanguard up here in the New England...DMU commuter ops were the oddballs. Oddballs whose usefulness came later when they helped keep commuter rail breathing with a weak pulse past the bankruptcy era into the public ownership and rebuilding era. You can't chalk DMU's up to a revolution deferred...it wasn't like that the first time around either. Loco-hauled was always the every-vehicle, DMU always the specialty vehicle. Use them where they work best, and mix both instead of trying to shoehorn specialty vehicles as every-vehicles.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:22 am

Rich Davey resigned today!
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:55 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Rich Davey resigned today!


Basically he probably knew the incoming Governor would want his own team so it was time to move on.

Don't have much of a feel as to whether he did a good or a bad job so whether this is a good or a bad thing that he is stepping down.

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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:12 pm

jonnhrr wrote:
bostontrainguy wrote:Rich Davey resigned today!


Basically he probably knew the incoming Governor would want his own team so it was time to move on.

Don't have much of a feel as to whether he did a good or a bad job so whether this is a good or a bad thing that he is stepping down.

Jon


The job of MassDOT Secretary gets subject to so much interference from the Governor and score-settling from the Legislature it's probably impossible for anyone to hold that position for a couple of years without going insane, much less have enough room to operate to secure a legacy. His predecessors were more known for getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar on corruption scandals of varying levels of severity, so it's a pretty low bar for success.

He seemed to "get it" a lot better than anyone at how much state-of-repair mattered, the need to light a fire under the Legislature to get his agency's finances reformed, and the need to trim the fat. Given actual reins to affect change he was definitely smart enough to do good things. A little disappointed he's going into the private sector instead of trading up to a bigger (and possibly out-of-state) public service position where he's given more leeway. I'd hate to think he's going to put his smarts to work doing parasitic lobbying or something like that. But there's only so much you can do when your wings get clipped by Legislative turf wars from executing on any of that and the Governor has too much diarrhea-of-the-mouth at fanciful transit expansion pork binges that completely wreck--and then some--MassDOT's financial footing and put them further than ever from staying on top of the basics. You have to be a masochist--and to a large degree give up feeling human--to put up with that in long doses.

It is what it is. As long as the elected officials on Beacon Hill are from the same top-heavy ranks of cynical establishment pols, the Secretary position will never be an effective position for charting the agency's own course without interference. And is more likely to get another succession of cynical hacks than another like Davey who's got his head screwed on straight and at least tries to set a pragmatic tone.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:27 am

http://theswellesleyreport.com/2014/10/ ... commuters/

I remain concerned by the MBTA’s plans to expand service by adding a new commuter line to the South Coast and new stations on the Framingham/Worcester line, e.g. the New Balance and West stations. These new stations will undoubtedly result in schedule changes such as those experienced when Yawkey opened, and the new line will stretch resources needed to maintain service on existing lines. I will continue to press the MBTA to improve current service before expanding.


MetroWest legislators starting to get a little cranky that new station steel-and-concrete is starting overshadowing further efforts to de-gunk the bread-and-butter Worcester Line.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby NH2060 » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:11 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:http://theswellesleyreport.com/2014/10/relief-coming-to-wellesley-mass-pike-train-commuters/

I remain concerned by the MBTA’s plans to expand service by adding a new commuter line to the South Coast and new stations on the Framingham/Worcester line, e.g. the New Balance and West stations. These new stations will undoubtedly result in schedule changes such as those experienced when Yawkey opened, and the new line will stretch resources needed to maintain service on existing lines. I will continue to press the MBTA to improve current service before expanding.


MetroWest legislators starting to get a little cranky that new station steel-and-concrete is starting overshadowing further efforts to de-gunk the bread-and-butter Worcester Line.

Let's hope more voices jump on the bandwagon.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:42 pm

Revisiting the plan at a high level, note that there are just 4 "compass point" DMU termini:
- Lynn (N-G Line)
- Anderson Woburn (Lowell Line)
- Riverside (Worcester Line)
- Readville (but not Amtrak 128?) Fairmont Line

These don't make total sense: probably about 80% sense.
- Lynn probably makes the most raw sense. It already is TOD without the transit (and later you might take it to a Danvers-area park and ride and TOD terminus)
- Anderson, sure, as a park and ride, but the land use planning is soooo bad out there
- Riverside probably makes second-best sense, but not without structured parking and TOD
- Readville...why not all the way to Amtrak 128 for its connectivity and TOD?

If DMUs are going to "work" in these places, they need to work as more than just a glorified parking shuttle from the surface lots.

Aside: What is the real pronunciation of Mishawum?

Why has neither Mishawum nor Anderson RTC gotten any real TOD? They should be the Tysons Corner and DMUs would be their Silver Line. Instead, all the "nice" new stuff is on Presidential Way...as if purposely put beyond walking distance to Anderson. It should have either been closer to Anderson (walkable) or "put" at Mishawum to begin with.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:15 pm

Arlington wrote:Revisiting the plan at a high level, note that there are just 4 "compass point" DMU termini:
- Lynn (N-G Line)
- Anderson Woburn (Lowell Line)
- Riverside (Worcester Line)
- Readville (but not Amtrak 128?) Fairmont Line

These don't make total sense: probably about 80% sense.
- Lynn probably makes the most raw sense. It already is TOD without the transit (and later you might take it to a Danvers-area park and ride and TOD terminus)
- Anderson, sure, as a park and ride, but the land use planning is soooo bad out there
- Riverside probably makes second-best sense, but not without structured parking and TOD
- Readville...why not all the way to Amtrak 128 for its connectivity and TOD?

If DMUs are going to "work" in these places, they need to work as more than just a glorified parking shuttle from the surface lots.


I think it's utterly ridiculous that the T is pushing for Indigo trains to Anderson (though maybe they just reallly, reealllly want to justify all the money they spent on the "transportation center" there) when they seem interested in doing diddly squat for Waltham.

Let's do a little comparison shall we? Terminating Indigos at Anderson would presumably increase service only to Winchester and Arlington, when the biggest potential ridership source on that line is Lowell. Given that Lowell now has the high-techs and the colleges, not to mention the added service of the almost-inevitable Nashua extension, it's not unreasonable to expect Lowell to have the potential to generate Providence- and Worcester-level ridership. If you're going to be filling push-pulls on a frequent basis (which Lowell and Nashua service can and will), then why clog up service with DMU's on the inner part of the line, especially with the GLX to pick up any slack inside Medford.

Compare that to the Fitchburg line, where you have a critical rapid transit intersection at Porter (and can we add Alewife, if only as the opening salvo of a push to extend an Indigo branch out to Bedford via Arlington/Lex), as well as shovel-in-the-ground TOD's in Waltham, with the potential for more in Waverly and at Bear Hill, where a park-and-ride terminus with bus shuttles to the high-techs would ensure that the Indigos would be packed both ways during rush hour. All this on a line where, politics aside, the terminus cities of Leominster and Fitchburg will never generate a fraction of the ridership of say Lowell or Lynn.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby rethcir » Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:01 pm

Waltham is a no-brainer for rapid-er transit. Critical mass of tech and finance co's, colleges, vibrant nightlife and food options along Moody st, college kids, lower income and immigrant populace, and much cheaper housing than boston or Camberville. But it could be potentially a quicker trip downtown than getting even the red line at Davis or porter. The city gov of the Watch City should start their lobbying effort now.

Agree Waverly has massive potential, as there is a lot of rental property around, with a deficit of local destinations sadly. Not sure the swell taxpayers of Belmont would do too much to upset the apple cart there though.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:20 pm

Arlington wrote:Revisiting the plan at a high level, note that there are just 4 "compass point" DMU termini:
- Lynn (N-G Line)
- Anderson Woburn (Lowell Line)
- Riverside (Worcester Line)
- Readville (but not Amtrak 128?) Fairmont Line

These don't make total sense: probably about 80% sense.
- Lynn probably makes the most raw sense. It already is TOD without the transit (and later you might take it to a Danvers-area park and ride and TOD terminus)
- Anderson, sure, as a park and ride, but the land use planning is soooo bad out there
- Riverside probably makes second-best sense, but not without structured parking and TOD
- Readville...why not all the way to Amtrak 128 for its connectivity and TOD?

If DMUs are going to "work" in these places, they need to work as more than just a glorified parking shuttle from the surface lots.

Aside: What is the real pronunciation of Mishawum?

Why has neither Mishawum nor Anderson RTC gotten any real TOD? They should be the Tysons Corner and DMUs would be their Silver Line. Instead, all the "nice" new stuff is on Presidential Way...as if purposely put beyond walking distance to Anderson. It should have either been closer to Anderson (walkable) or "put" at Mishawum to begin with.



Really...I think Lynn makes far and away the least sense of any of these. It goes the shortest distance out, fewest number of stations out by a lot, and is the only one that doesn't trace the outer margins of the T bus district. There's 4 routes at Swampscott, 7 routes at Salem, and the most direct transfers for the routes to Marblehead, Peabody, Danvers, and Beverly pinging those 3 omitted inside-128 stations. It's a joke to say "well, Lynn's the home terminal so let's draw the line at Lynn". Just look at the system map and the route duplication through Swampscott and Salem and how much of that still has to go an extra +5 miles against traffic on Routes 1A and 107 for sake of reaching the "terminal". And all of them continue right on to Wonderland...so who's going to opt for the Indigo transfer over Blue?

That one's hopelessly broken if they don't bring it out to Salem. And they won't bring it out to Salem because the Eastern Route has Zone fares way higher than any other inside-128 line and they refuse to recalibrate. Swampscott is the nearest-to-Boston Zone 3 on the entire system, and no other line on the system exceeds Zone 2 before it crosses Route 128 (or the geographical average of it). Swampscott and Salem have the same Zone fares as the 3 Wellesleys, the 2 Norwoods, the 3 Westons, the 2 Wilmingtons, Sharon, Stoughton, Holbrook/Randolph, Islington, South Weymouth, and West Hingham. It's also the only line on the system that has no Zone 1 stations whatsoever...it jumps from 1A at Chelsea straight to 2 at Riverworks.

The service is broken if they can't get that in line with what's fair for every other line. And the rigors of the bus routes out there pretty much demand a Salem terminus or it won't be useful for more than a small slice of the North Shore. The extremely distended territory the Lynn/Wonderland bus routes have to cover makes Lynn's catchment area way more than big-city Lynn. It's joined at the hip by Swampscott and Salem because of the way transit in that part of the district is organized. This isn't a serious plan cast as a Lynn-terminating dinky.



Westwood/128 extension of Fairmount might not be too far away. Don't forget...
1) The current Readville platform has to be moved. It's on the single-track Franklin connector which pinches turnback capacity. It only allows thru-routing to Franklin at the moment. And it's on the CSX freight clearance route into the yard meaning that one spot can't get a full-high platform. They have to move it about 250-300 ft. north past the diamond in the island space between tracks, reconfigure some switches so it's accessible on both tracks, and reconfigure the CSX turnout so they pull clear of the start of the full-high when they're backing in/out of the yard off the Franklin. Minor stuff, busywork...but it has to go first. And that's what'll enable thru-routing to Franklin or the NEC. Pre-2024...all in due time.

2) NEC is going to be tri-tracked from Readville to Canton Jct. and the outbound side platform at 128 will turn into a 2-track island when the new track is plopped down. But Amtrak is responsible for the trackwork itself while the T funds station mods, so the Amtrak side of the funding and scheduling has to come through before the T can ponder anything. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind until then.

3) 128 station has this much extra space on the easterly (inbound) side. That's the former access driveway to the previous station's platforms which poked out the other side of the 128 overpass. The NEC 3rd track is going on the westerly (outbound) side. There's enough room for a 2-track turnout under here, widening the outbound platform into an island, and adding still 1 more side platform...like, 5 tracks total. If NEC growth alone is going to fill in that 3rd track's slots in due time, then a permanent 128 terminus for Fairmount really needs to be looking at building its own track turnouts and platforms on this empty side. A moderate-sized expense that will take awhile to plot. And they may want to give it a few years to see how this Westwood Landing development takes off behind the station. As well as wait to see if these Indigo headways to Readville are truly going to be real or just a mirage tarted up in expensive toy vehicles that don't run nearly often enough to matter.

They can do this. They can step it out to 128 on a reasonable timetable. It's just not something they can pin with a bullet on that 2024 fantasy map because of various other stakeholders (Amtrak and Westwood Landing) that have to come through first.



I think it's "MISH-AH-WUM".


MISH-AH-WUM is a failed location that, frankly, ought to be closed Indigo or no Indigo. Woburn-proper needs its infill stop at Montvale Ave. near the buses, the Stoneham Branch trail head, and the easy walking distance to Woburn Ctr. way way way more badly than Mishawum needs more money lit on fire trying to bail out 30 years of failure to attract ridership. Cut it. It's a distraction from better improvements to this route more than it is a gimme. Indigo's not going to boost ridership demand that has been proven many times over not to exist here.

As for Anderson...jeez, will they build a footbridge to the New Boston St. side already? There's a dense-ish pocket of residential a 1500 ft. walk down Merrimac St. who stare every day at a station they can't physically get to without a 3-mile detour to the other side they're also staring at. Seriously...who builds a pretty nice intermodal center then forgets to put an entrance on the side where the local street grid is. This guy right here can see the light fixtures in the parking lot from his front lawn of a train station he should be able to walk to in 4 minutes. But he has a shorter drive to Wilmington station up in Zone 3 than he does getting on the other side of that fence to the Zone 2 stop that lights up his 2nd floor windows at night. Wow.

Also...where the hell are the Anderson buses? The 134 blows right past it on the west side...oops, the same side you can't get to the station from. The 355 bails out and terminates at Mishawum instead of looping or hanging the right a block earlier onto Commerce Way. The 354 gets as close as Salem St. then bails west for Burlington Mall. Why is there not an Anderson-Burlington Mall bus? Reading has decent bus coverage...why is there no link-up 2 miles to the east? Whose bright idea was it to let the nonprofit 128 Business Shuttle that used to operate out of Anderson to the office parks die after 2 years when the economy turned sour when a little token grant could've helped them ride out the downturn? That's not going to restart itself from scratch.


Etc., etc. At a pretty fundamental level the T still doesn't "get" what makes 128 tick. All those office parks, all that redevelopment money pouring in the whole length of the highway...so little transit accessibility. And they're just deer-in-headlights at what to do with their surroundings beyond "well, we built a big parking lot...I give up."
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby The EGE » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:18 pm

Mishawum was supposed to get a fairly large mixed-use development on the old Logan Express lot. The MBTA (!) proposed it in 2004, the Woburn City Council shot it down over concerns about "density". Yeah, that's right, they're so happy with office-park sprawl that multiple stories freaks them out. Developers bought the site, the City Council approved 7 stories. 210 apartments and an office building. The office building got built in 2010, but the residential got tied up in red tape somewhere.

Woburn is blind dumb about proper suburban planning. There's been no agitation for that Montvale Avenue stop that closed in 65-ish to be reopened.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby octr202 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:11 am

Agree with all the comments above. Waltham service is desperately needed at higher frequencies than the Fitchburg trains can provide, and if the outer suburban service is really as enhanced as it should be, there will be a need to infill the service on the inside-128 portion to free up room for longer commuters on the Fitchburg trains. I don't think Belmont would be too opposed - frankly, relieving some pressure on the 73 by attracting more riders around Waverly would probably be welcomed.

The Lowell Line is a superb park & ride collector, but it needs a lot of station improvements and relocations inside of 128 to make sense for DMUs. I suspect that everyone is spot on that the state is looking to try to ramp up service at Anderson to justify the white elephant parking lot, but if they don't improve the other stations as F Line outlined, they'd be much better upping Anderson service by simply routing more Haverhill trains that way (and perhaps expanded Lowell line service if it ever makes it to at least Nashua).

Perhaps I'm biased since I ride it, but it blows my mind that the Reading line seems completely off the radar for this. If the Fitchburg inside 128 makes sense for frequent DMUs, I can't figure out why Reading doesn't either. Frequent stops are already in place, walkable neighborhoods, and a huge time savings over spotty parallel bus service. All those local stops are a killer for Haverhill trains - if Merrimack Valley service is ever properly expanded and improved, you'll end up with the same scenario - you'll need to divide the line up to provide capacity. Those close communities aren't well suited to 6 car push pulls running every 45 minutes - if the line's going to be really successful it's going to be with short sets running on 15, 20, 30 minute headways.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:17 pm

octr202 wrote:Agree with all the comments above. Waltham service is desperately needed at higher frequencies than the Fitchburg trains can provide, and if the outer suburban service is really as enhanced as it should be, there will be a need to infill the service on the inside-128 portion to free up room for longer commuters on the Fitchburg trains. I don't think Belmont would be too opposed - frankly, relieving some pressure on the 73 by attracting more riders around Waverly would probably be welcomed.

The Lowell Line is a superb park & ride collector, but it needs a lot of station improvements and relocations inside of 128 to make sense for DMUs. I suspect that everyone is spot on that the state is looking to try to ramp up service at Anderson to justify the white elephant parking lot, but if they don't improve the other stations as F Line outlined, they'd be much better upping Anderson service by simply routing more Haverhill trains that way (and perhaps expanded Lowell line service if it ever makes it to at least Nashua).

Perhaps I'm biased since I ride it, but it blows my mind that the Reading line seems completely off the radar for this. If the Fitchburg inside 128 makes sense for frequent DMUs, I can't figure out why Reading doesn't either. Frequent stops are already in place, walkable neighborhoods, and a huge time savings over spotty parallel bus service. All those local stops are a killer for Haverhill trains - if Merrimack Valley service is ever properly expanded and improved, you'll end up with the same scenario - you'll need to divide the line up to provide capacity. Those close communities aren't well suited to 6 car push pulls running every 45 minutes - if the line's going to be really successful it's going to be with short sets running on 15, 20, 30 minute headways.


Reading does need a lot of capital improvements to be Indigo-able. And one of the key flaws about this 2024 fantasy map is how some of the overdue to-do's like the Worcester Line's total inflexibility inside Framingham because of the ancient signals and lack of crossovers, the Chelsea grade crossings slow zone on the Eastern Route, and various Lowell Line cruft like that old signal system's differing north vs. south speed limits that imbalance round-trip scheduling, and so on and so on affect their ability to implement. Fairmount's kind of the only one that's ready-serve as it just needs funding for the platform-raising at Fairmount and the Readville platform relocation...both pretty mundane jobs. You can't do Riverside at all without fixing the Newton single-track platforms and that crossover-few straightjacket of a signal system. Even the West Station dinkies are going to put additional stress on the ability for regular Framingham/Worcester trains to stay on-time. Silver Line Gateway and the relocated Chelsea station are going to make Everett Ave. an even bigger grade crossing nightmare than before, and they still haven't acted on the North Shore Transit Improvements top rec to grade separate Eastern Ave. All that harms Lynn's viability, especially if the Chelsea clog makes it more difficult to stay out of the way of Newburyport/Rockport at rush hour.


So you kind of need to answer those burning questions before adding additional routes that need work. Reading has almost no ADA'd stations whatsoever. 4 out of 6 past Malden have to be done over completely. Reading has to get the +1/3 mile of extra DT to handle the traffic. Both of the 2 mini-high stations have to go full-high. The unidirectional ABS signals with no controlled crossovers north of Oak Grove has to be ripped out and done anew; it's the most archaic signal system on the commuter rail now that Fitchburg's has been replaced. The Wellington passing siding has to be done. The Somerville pinch where it splits from the Eastern Route has to be fixed with a full double-track junction, which requires a mild amount of earth-moving to bring the second track from the Somerville-side passing siding up the grade with a little superelevation in order to interlock with the Eastern Route outbound track. If they won't even pay for the Worcester stuff that are literal, absolute blockers for the 2024 map...how are they going to pay for this package of small but numerous fixes?

Waltham's simpler. It's the ADA backlog at Belmont and Waverley, the DT and platform fix at Waltham, and raising Porter and Brandeis primarily. Then moving forward with the big Route 128 turnback station that gets all the park-and-riders, serves the Polaroid complex redevelopment, ties in with the end of the 70 bus at the kiss-and-ride, connects to the Central Mass trail head, and gets some badly-needed 128 office park shuttles just like Anderson does. Less work than Reading, but still...where's the state-of-repair funding for the stuff they did put on the map?


Lowell, as noted, has got the station spacing problem. And the freight clearance route problem that prevents full-highs without expensive passing track installations. The signal system could get some help from Downeaster funding sources, since Wilmington-south is one of the biggest bottlenecks to Portland due to that asynchronous N vs. S speed limit. But you've got to solve Anderson's isolation by finishing the west-side access and bringing in the nonexistent buses. You've got to stop skipping all of Woburn and nearby Stoneham.

And it's reckoning time for the long-term future of Mishawum and Wedgemere: two of the most redundant and/or useless stops on the system. I've already said my piece about Mishawum...it's irredeemable even with more frequencies. Wedgemere's another matter. It gets decent ridership, but mostly by siphoning ridership that could/should be going to Winchester Ctr. Does it really have another gear that Indigo would bring out, or is Winch Ctr. the really big locus. What's the effect of GLX going to be in Medford? The 94 goes from Davis Sq. to College Ave. to West Medford and the 80 from Union to College Ave....that's 3 different rapid transit transfers to choose from on 20-minute trips with not-bad frequencies. West Med's definitely got enough native demand given the buses there to anchor some good all-day Indigo ridership. But does Wedgemere...which is literally a quiet walk through the Ginn Field park path to the Winch Ctr. entrance and duplicated by the 134 bus to Winch Ctr...really worth its weight? Would a "94A" Davis/Red--College Ave./GLX--West Med--Wedgemere--Winch Ctr. on similar frequencies and similarly brisk 15-20 min. travel times be a whole lot better a bet for Wedgemere's ridership? Would deleting those two stations ration some money for the Montvale infill, doing the "94A" compensation at Wedgmere and focusing West Med and Winchester Ctr. as the walkable downtown centerpieces of the line, re-doing West Med as a full-high station with center passing track (there's room) to limit the unavoidable mini-high restrictions to just Winch Ctr., an all-stops full relocation of the Haverhill schedule floating the 15 min. rush hour frequencies, and off-peak Anderson short-turns accomplish all of Indigo's basic goals on that corridor? Does this one even need DMU equipment beyond that little bit of off-peak Anderson backfill? Would that free up enough equipment to go for gusto at Waltham or Reading? Is <--THAT a better use of equipment when some small-scale adjustments on Lowell accomplish the same service at benefit to better scale on the rest of the system?

I think, whether any of those individual questions have merit (and they're all debateable) that a lot more thought needs to go into that particular one than just sticking it on a map because "well, we gotta do something with Anderson because parking lots and reasons".


It's nowhere near fleshed-out. There isn't nearly enough talk about the service, the fares (like the extreme inequity inside-128 on the Eastern Route), how one transfers to rapid transit without getting dinged twice, and what are they going to do to pay for the track work. It's all been renderings of West Station, that spider map in a vacuum, and "Look! Shiny vehicles!" That's not a service. Those are tangential details that really don't answer the question of what they want Indigo service to be. Get to work fleshing this out, or else we're just going to get another station edifice visible from the Mass Pike, a fare structure riders won't flock to, and expensive vehicles that don't run nearly often enough to do what they do well.
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby octr202 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:50 am

Thanks for reminding me of a few things there. I keep forgetting that they'll likely hamstring these DMUs by making them high-platform only. Yes, Reading gets knocked in that case since it'll take a lot of work to raise all of those platforms.

It's just every time I ride an all-stops Reading local (like last night on 271 - 1 Rotem, 5 flats, two cars closed) slogging through those close-in stops, it just seems to scream for something more efficient.
Wondering if I'll see the Haverhill double-tracking finished before I retire...
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Re: MassDOT Capital Plan & Vision for MBTA 2024

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:21 pm

octr202 wrote:Thanks for reminding me of a few things there. I keep forgetting that they'll likely hamstring these DMUs by making them high-platform only. Yes, Reading gets knocked in that case since it'll take a lot of work to raise all of those platforms.

It's just every time I ride an all-stops Reading local (like last night on 271 - 1 Rotem, 5 flats, two cars closed) slogging through those close-in stops, it just seems to scream for something more efficient.


In a similar vein...

Why is Wakefield not a high-level platform? There's not even a mini-high. The outbound platform could be made into a high-level very easily, I imagine, given the geography. The inbound side might be difficult, though, but they could move it to the other side of Albion St. There's plenty of room there. That would also mean the inbounds could clear Albion when stopping, eliminating that little traffic nightmare.

I mention Wakefield in particular because I recently saw the platform was swamped and it took a while to board. It would obviously be a higher priority than the Melrose stops.
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