West Station discussion

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Re: West Station discussion

Postby The EGE » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:51 pm

West Station is quite obviously a naked attempt to get transit dollars to pay for a highway project. Without both a massive amount of development at Beacon Park, and true DMU service from South Station to Riverside, there is zero point to a station there. BU wants nothing to do with it - threatens to block it unless all the cross streets remain as dead ends. Unsurprising, considering as it has little benefit to BU. Students are going to choose the more frequent and Charliecard-compatible Green line even though it's a miserable experience, and professors and staff are more likely to use Yawkey which is much closer to East Campus.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BandA » Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:10 pm

In this situation, the no build option may be a better choice. Just like Boston 2024.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Disney Guy » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:07 pm

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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Arlington » Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:34 am

The EGE wrote:West Station is quite obviously a naked attempt to get transit dollars to pay for a highway project.

I don't see how this fits any of the available facts. Harvard is paying 1/3 of West Station's costs to ensure it is built, and BU is paying 1/6th so they could limit access from their side. EIther way, that isn't "transit dollars" paying for a highway project (though relocating the Pike also opens up far more Transit-oriented Development than leaving it where it is. Relocating the pike is not being funded from transit dollars, but it is part of the "whole" TOD vision here)
The EGE wrote:Without both a massive amount of development at Beacon Park, and true DMU service from South Station to Riverside, there is zero point to a station there.

Are you saying that Harvard isn't going to Massively develop Beacon Park? Harvard clearly has motive, vision, & checkbook to deliver *exactly* the sort of massive develoment you seem to doubt. As for CR/DMU, something has to break the the chicken-and-egg station-or-service cycle. Station first. Service later. At West Station's opening, it'll have the same service and justification as New Balance's station complex.
The EGE wrote:BU wants nothing to do with it - threatens to block it unless all the cross streets remain as dead ends. Unsurprising, considering as it has little benefit to BU. Students are going to choose the more frequent and Charliecard-compatible Green line even though it's a miserable experience, and professors and staff are more likely to use Yawkey which is much closer to East Campus.

BU has chosen a self-fulfilling view of "nobody 'we like' will use it, so our contribution will be used to hobble it" Their view is better debunked rather than promoted. BU has begun with the assumption that nobody on their side of the tracks will use it. But they have chosen to contribute 1/6th the cost conditioned on bus traffic not "cutting through" their campus. They will get the car-dependent, stagnant campus they deserve, and limit West Station's usefulness *on their side*, but that doesn't make West Station a bad project, and maybe some BU leadership in a traffic-choked future will revise their deal and let the circulator buses flow.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby The EGE » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:09 am

By including West Station and the incidental bike and ped routes (whether or not they will ever be used), this becomes a "multimodal" project and thus the range of funding sources it can access becomes a lot wider. Same reason they're including local and intercity bus facilities that no one will use - and will make some buses worse. The neighborhood wants it located closer to Cambridge Street so the 66 doesn't get rerouted and it'll actually serve Union Square, and MassDOT has zero interest in that.

This isn't Assembly, with a driving force of engaged developers and local politicians ensuring that the station matches the development, and a stated aim to reduce car trips. This isn't Boston Landing (however past the original promise it is) where the developer is cutting the entire check for the station, and the surrounding neighborhood might actually use the station as a one-seat ride to Boston. Harvard is very shadowy with their development processes; they don't need the land for their purposes until about 2030, and they've been notably absent from the public process on this. There's no guarantee that anything is going to get built right away; we very well might end up with an empty grid of far-too-wide streets.

DMUs are at least ten years off - besides no procurement likely during Baker's term, and SSX going nowhere at the moment, there are zero plans to do the $200M or so of state of repair work to make DMU service even possible. That means a total signal redo, high-level platforms and full accessibility at Riverside, Auburndale, West Newton, Newtonville, and Back Bay plus probably Newton Corrner, passing tracks for many of those stations, and a bump to 79mph to let Worcester and Inland Route trains clear that section faster. Zero plans for track and station work + North Station expansion + Cambridge appeasement for GJ DMUs either. That that means you're talking at least 2025 before this station is anything but a time-wasting stop on Worcester Line trains.

I don't exactly agree with BU's motivations for harming the station; the administration has zero clue that anyone gets too/from campus other than driving. However, it is not something that offers a measurable benefit to anyone at BU. Yawkey will always be more useful to most people coming in from the west, and Yawkey has a solid argument for being an all-trains stop because it serves dense Fenway/Kenmore and the Longwood Medical Area. Improvements to the 57 and the B would be far more of use to BU than West Station.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:43 am

Arlington wrote:Are you saying that Harvard isn't going to Massively develop Beacon Park? Harvard clearly has motive, vision, & checkbook to deliver *exactly* the sort of massive develoment you seem to doubt. As for CR/DMU, something has to break the the chicken-and-egg station-or-service cycle. Station first. Service later. At West Station's opening, it'll have the same service and justification as New Balance's station complex.


Caveat emptor: everybody was saying that about the rest of Harvard's Allston Campus after the city sunk considerable $$$ into infrastructure improvements. And Harvard's response has been to sit on a lot of the land and take its sweet time doing the development. Presumably it sees some sort of profit motive in that for publicly opaque reasons (artificial scarcity or something otherwise related that pumps up their endowment?), but the pace of the Allston redev has been a great disappointment for the public stakeholders.

If that's their established pattern of behavior, there is considerable concern that they are going to sit on BP as a weed-strewn wasteland for years longer than their Master Plan spelled out. And it will end up being a tax revenue black hole for the city with development infilling that acreage at a glacial pace.


This is relevant to West. The station was always expected to precede the ridership by several years because it would take awhile for 1) the space to get filled all the way, and 2) the people to fill the filled space to full utilization. But the city and state now have to think in the back of their minds that Harvard is very likely to see self-interest in sitting on an undeveloped BP for 5-10 years longer than originally expected while it continues infilling the rest of their Allston land holdings at a plodding pace. And if that's going to be the likely case, then they have to re-evaluate the timetable for building West. Not whether they'll build it, and not whether they should keep the funding agreement intact. Clearly it's a slam-dunk when there's a redeveloped Beacon Park for it to serve. But if it's going to be a zero for that many years because Harvard won't do anything, then it's pointless to front-load the build. They'd be far better off allocating the state-level resources from Gov. Patrick's Transpo Bill to a Newton Corner build or some other Boston-proper station expansion and punting it until the actual fulfillment of transit demand on that site gets closer. Then fish for a separate state appropriation in some later fiscal year to fulfill their share of the West funding. At the very least they need some hard answers from Harvard on the timetable, because it's just pointless to do this station 5 years before a redev target that's likely to get delayed 10 years.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BandA » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:52 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Arlington wrote:Are you saying that Harvard isn't going to Massively develop Beacon Park? Harvard clearly has motive, vision, & checkbook to deliver *exactly* the sort of massive develoment you seem to doubt. As for CR/DMU, something has to break the the chicken-and-egg station-or-service cycle. Station first. Service later. At West Station's opening, it'll have the same service and justification as New Balance's station complex.


Caveat emptor: everybody was saying that about the rest of Harvard's Allston Campus after the city sunk considerable $$$ into infrastructure improvements. And Harvard's response has been to sit on a lot of the land and take its sweet time doing the development. Presumably it sees some sort of profit motive in that for publicly opaque reasons (artificial scarcity or something otherwise related that pumps up their endowment?), but the pace of the Allston redev has been a great disappointment for the public stakeholders.

If that's their established pattern of behavior, there is considerable concern that they are going to sit on BP as a weed-strewn wasteland for years longer than their Master Plan spelled out. And it will end up being a tax revenue black hole for the city with development infilling that acreage at a glacial pace.


This is relevant to West. The station was always expected to precede the ridership by several years because it would take awhile for 1) the space to get filled all the way, and 2) the people to fill the filled space to full utilization. But the city and state now have to think in the back of their minds that Harvard is very likely to see self-interest in sitting on an undeveloped BP for 5-10 years longer than originally expected while it continues infilling the rest of their Allston land holdings at a plodding pace. And if that's going to be the likely case, then they have to re-evaluate the timetable for building West. Not whether they'll build it, and not whether they should keep the funding agreement intact. Clearly it's a slam-dunk when there's a redeveloped Beacon Park for it to serve. But if it's going to be a zero for that many years because Harvard won't do anything, then it's pointless to front-load the build. They'd be far better off allocating the state-level resources from Gov. Patrick's Transpo Bill to a Newton Corner build or some other Boston-proper station expansion and punting it until the actual fulfillment of transit demand on that site gets closer. Then fish for a separate state appropriation in some later fiscal year to fulfill their share of the West funding. At the very least they need some hard answers from Harvard on the timetable, because it's just pointless to do this station 5 years before a redev target that's likely to get delayed 10 years.
New Balance is paying 100% for Boston Landing (why haven't they started building it?), which is less conveniently located than Allston Depot that it "replaces". Maybe Harvard should pay 100% for West Station. Is there an actual plan to build Newton Corner (Newton)? There is a plan being developed for Auburndale, which is the only one of the three present Newton stations wide enough to easily be made ADA. Would be nice if they raised the platforms so that the conductors can spend more time collecting fares and less opening and closing traps: BOS (high), BBY (low), Yawkey (high), Newtonville (low)
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby rethcir » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:23 am

Not seeing a lot of point to the newton corner stop. The express bus service is fantastic and if the pike gets straightened out and converted to open-road tolling, the quality of that service will improve at least until capacity induces demand on the pike.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:26 am

Harvard shut down its Allston construction projects in 2008 or 2009 in response to the great crash. I suppose the money they were planning to use to build things was in stocks that collapsed or something. President Faust sent out a letter that even said they were going to pause at least one building as soon as the foundations were ready to be left without being damaged. I'm not sure what they're waiting for now.

Could "West Station" be built as just a platform at first, with limited service, and then expanded to the full terminal when there is more development around it?

Any idea if West Station (and the New Balance stop, for that matter) are being planned for people coming in to work from the suburbs, or going out to work from the city, or both? I'm just wondering which direction would have more trains stop if there were limited service.

Is BU insisting on blocking all access to West Station, or just car and bus access? That is, will there at least be direct pedestrian access?
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:17 am

I thought the whole idea was to reconnect the neighborhoods, not separate them!
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:33 am

rethcir wrote:Not seeing a lot of point to the newton corner stop. The express bus service is fantastic and if the pike gets straightened out and converted to open-road tolling, the quality of that service will improve at least until capacity induces demand on the pike.


One word: Arsenal

You have the passenger flow all wrong, Newton Corner will likely become much more of a destination than a departure point. The plans for the Arsenal parcel are so ambitious that if you throw in a shuttle bus between Newton Corner and the new Arsenal developments, you'll have waves of people coming to Newton Corner both from in town as well as from the outer burbs, especially once the former mall area starts looking like Kendall Square. Add in the possibility of a Newton Corner <---> Kendall via the GJ, and the possibility for ridership only gets bigger and bigger.

This is especially important since once the Allston tolls are eliminated, the biggest chokepoint on the Pike heading inbound will be that Newton Corner/Watertown exit. That mess will never be improved because everything else is so densely built around it, and it can back traffic up as much if not more than the tolls on a bad day, and that's without all of the new office developments planned for that area.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby The EGE » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:09 pm

In 2004, the PMT estimated that extending the 71 trolleybus to Newton Corner would only cost $1.5 million. That gives you a two-seat ride to Harvard that's somewhat quicker than with the Red Line - approximately 23-33 minutes (23 minute ride / 10 minute headways) versus 32-37 minutes (17 minute ride, 5 minute headway, 15 minute ride). West would be potentially even shorter if they did a 66A Harvard-West route timed to meet trains.

Watertown and Newton Corner are also a big inbound market. The express buses are about as fast as commuter rail, but their schedule adherence is miserable. Think mid-80s OTP on the commuter rail is awful? The 501-504 are all between 52 and 60%; the Waltham buses that stop are in the 40s.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby Disney Guy » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:09 pm

The plan has excellent bike and pedestrian access from Commonwealh Ave. to West Station and the neighborhooe-to-be to the north.

The only thing missing is a new public thoroughfare for private automobiles that would tend to greatly increase traffic in front of Nickerson Field notably traffic going to the Longwood area and to Kenmore Square.

It is not specifically DMUs that are needed but more generically there is a need for more engines and more engineers to improve the Worcester to Boston performance by providing more separate local and express service.
Last edited by Disney Guy on Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:06 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:46 am

rethcir wrote:Not seeing a lot of point to the newton corner stop. The express bus service is fantastic and if the pike gets straightened out and converted to open-road tolling, the quality of that service will improve at least until capacity induces demand on the pike.
Newton station replaces the "temporarily suspended" A-Watertown trolley. Call it transportation justice for what they did in the 1960s. Straightening the Beacon toll plaza won't be enough to fix the pike, while the railroad tracks are incredibly underutilized. MassDOT would be better off if they remove the tolls completely and add a few pennies to the gas tax. Then they can get federal money to pay for the plaza and digging a second level of highway ("a little dig"). Which will inevitably be necessary.

The express bus is frequent at rush hour and packed. Express Bus fare and commuter rail fare should be equal. Extending the trackless trolley makes great sense, but a new busway should be built in the center of the circle ala Kenmore.
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Re: West Station discussion

Postby rethcir » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:25 pm

Arsenal is pretty deep into Watertown and far from Newton Corner. Realistically, I think anyone who gets on at Athena is going to drive there from MetroWest, despite the horrendously bad traffic in east Watertown.

I recently moved to Nonantum and now take one of the 500 series rubber wheeled vehicles every day to get to. Y job downtown. The on time percentage really doesn't matter very much since they are so frequent, and there are so many overlapping lines. Basically you show up any time between 7 and 10 and there will be a bus to downtown within 10-15 minutes.
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