Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lines?

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

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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:57 pm

octr202 wrote:Based on 15-odd years occasional weekend Red Line experience (on the Alewife end), another consideration is that frankly they can use the six-car trains for a good chunk of Saturdays, if not even some times on Sundays. Don't know what the south end looks like, but the north end of the RL is pretty busy seven days a week. And when it's not packed to the gills, it's nice for folks to enjoy some of their trips at less than sardine-can conditions.


This too. There are weekend ridership surges now where there didn't used to be. And not always stuff with an obvious point of origin, like a Sox matinee. Sometime's it's just inexplicably crowded for a whole Saturday afternoon, students being students, or some event so hyper-local it evades detection. So who at the T has to decide what event calendar in the city qualifies as "6-car worthy", and who has to be on-call at Cabot or Wellington to scramble some 6-car sets into service when they hit a few hours of random crowding they were caught unprepared for? Just having those contingencies set up costs money and requires too much guesswork they're likely to whiff on from time to time. So why bother when it's that fine a line to massage the cost/efficiency? Keep It Simple Stupid™, by keeping the train lengths consistent, and nobody has to play any guessing games about sudden influxes of people in a city that's known to get sudden influxes of people during non-commute hours.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Disney Guy » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:11 pm

Six car (4 man) trains in 1962 in the McLernon era?

Which line(s) did they run on? I only recall seeing trains up to 4 cars back then. I didn't think that platforms were long enough for 6 car trains, even using older cars.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:32 pm

Disney Guy wrote:Six car (4 man) trains in 1962 in the McLernon era?

Which line(s) did they run on? I only recall seeing trains up to 4 cars back then. I didn't think that platforms were long enough for 6 car trains, even using older cars.


Orange went to 6 cars in 1987 after the SW Corridor opened and all stops Haymarket-Chinatown had platform lengthenings. Prior to that Washington St. El stations were only long enough for 4.

Red went to 6 cars in 1988 after a platform lengthening project at all the non-Alewife/non-Braintree extension stations, and upon delivery of the 01700 cars.

Blue went to 6 cars within the last 10 years after that platform lengthening project and arrival of the 0700's.


Pretty sure no service pattern on any line would've fit 6 cars prior to these dates.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby caduceus » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:53 pm

Gerry6309 wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
caduceus wrote:IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.


The second operator was only recently eliminated. Much later than they stopped breaking down sets into smaller ones.

The end of six-car four-man trains in about 1962, during the McLernon era. Four-car three-man trains persisted until the guard law was repealed. When six car trains were introduced on the Orange Line they had three man crews and were cut to four off-peak. This was also true when the Red Line got its first six-car trains ca. 1988. The second guards were eliminated and full time six-car operation was introduced in the 1990s.

One-man operation began on the Blue Line with four-car trains, and continued when six-car trains were introduced with the No. 5 cars. It spread slowly to the Orange Line and finally the Red Line. The four-car train became extinct with the retirement of the last No. 4 Blue Line cars in 2009.

BTW Two dead cars are allowed in a six car train, one in a four-car train but none in a two car set.


Yup, this is what I was referring to. Once the guard law was repealed, it cost the same personnel-wise to run a six-car train vs. a two-car or a four-car. Then it was a matter of cost of crews to make/break and wear and tear on the coupling, vs. cost to operate and wear and tear from operation.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:32 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Disney Guy wrote:Six car (4 man) trains in 1962 in the McLernon era?

Which line(s) did they run on? I only recall seeing trains up to 4 cars back then. I didn't think that platforms were long enough for 6 car trains, even using older cars.


Orange went to 6 cars in 1987 after the SW Corridor opened and all stops Haymarket-Chinatown had platform lengthenings. Prior to that Washington St. El stations were only long enough for 4.

Red went to 6 cars in 1988 after a platform lengthening project at all the non-Alewife/non-Braintree extension stations, and upon delivery of the 01700 cars.

Blue went to 6 cars within the last 10 years after that platform lengthening project and arrival of the 0700's.


Pretty sure no service pattern on any line would've fit 6 cars prior to these dates.


Red and Blue lines were never set up for more than 4 cars. Original stations built by the Transit Commission on the Red Line were long enough for 5 cars, but those built by the Elevated could only platform 4, just barely at Kendall. The Dorchester extension varied greatly, with only four cars accommodated at Savin Hill and Fields Corner, five at Columbia and Ashmont, and six at Shawmut. The El built gates at Shawmut to prevent access to the southern third of the platform, which became a dingy cavern. The Orange Line was able to platform 8 46 foot cars (368') or 6 55 foot cars (330'). The only limitations on the operation of 6 65' cars (390' was the need for platform extensions of about 20 feet at the older stations and the need to modify the north end of the northbound platforms at Dudley which were cut back to allow for the swing of the longer cars and reinstate the sliding platforms. Despite other investments made in the Washington St. El, this work was never done.

Eight cars were indeed operated on the el for a short time in the teens, but these were reduced to seven, which persisted into the 1920s. Depression era cutbacks brought train lengths to six cars during peak hours and two or four at other times. Eight car trains were not reinstated during World War II, headways were tightened instead. Platforms were modified to allow six car trains of 55 foot cars in 1957, and these were operated until 1962. The removal of the six car trains allowed 100 01100s to cover the entire service, and the last 0900s were retired.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Yellowspoon » Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:01 pm

Everybody talks about the expense (man-hours & equipment wear) of breaking trains, but it's done all the time on the green line. I've seen one car trains on Sunday mornings on the C & E branches, but they're back to two car trains by mid-morning. If the green line can routinely break/assemble trains, why can't the other lines?
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Gerry6309 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:23 pm

Yellowspoon wrote:Everybody talks about the expense (man-hours & equipment wear) of breaking trains, but it's done all the time on the green line. I've seen one car trains on Sunday mornings on the C & E branches, but they're back to two car trains by mid-morning. If the green line can routinely break/assemble trains, why can't the other lines?

Because EVERY car on the Green Line needs an operator, and uncoupling trains requires only one man, unless something goes wrong.
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby CRail » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:04 am

Not buying it. Having a yard motorman at the end of the line (doesn't matter which end) to pull a deuce off would be a simple way to shorten trains after the rush and wouldn't incur that great of an expense since the position already exists.

What would cost more money would be to run shorter trains with shorter headways during the off peak (or rush hour headways but with shorter trains) but, in my opinion, that's the cost of providing better service.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Arborwayfan » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:18 am

Does anyone have a breakdown of the actual costs of operating a subway car, so that we can have a clearer idea how much money we're talking about here? Any of these would help:

Per-mile wear-and-tear to wheels, bearings, motors, brakes, etc., including costs of inspections or replacements required every so many miles.
Per day or per hour cleaning costs, maybe any estimates that exist of wear and tear on seats etc.
Energy use for traction per mile.
How much more it costs, per hour, to keep a car warm or cool when it's in use with the doors opening every stop and people in it than it does to keep the same car warmish or coolish for a few hours when it's out of use, or get it warm or cool before it goes back into use when it's been out of use for a while.
Precise estimate of how much employee time it would take to break up trains and the marginal cost of an extra hour of the necessary employees (operators, others) whether that's by adding a shift or paying regular overtime for an hour.
Total hourly cost of an additional hour of an operator, including payroll taxes and benefits.
Etc.

I realize there's a lot of room for argument about some of this, especially about how much work it would be to uncouple, store, and recouple all those cars, but I feel like it would be easier to understand the situation with more specific information.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Gerry6309 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:01 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:Does anyone have a breakdown of the actual costs of operating a subway car, so that we can have a clearer idea how much money we're talking about here?


We can discuss this ad nauseam, but such discussion is not going to change MBTA policy. Also remember that all trains stop at the same point. Deuces or fours would require different stopping points, and signage telling people where to wait. And I might not be able to pick a car to reduce my walk getting off.
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby csor2010 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 2:46 pm

Ran across a four-car 01800 set late last night on the Red Line; not sure if it was a planned short train for late-night service or if other factors were at play.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby CRail » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:53 pm

On the red line, there are 2/4 car markers at every stop. I don't know whether or not the orange line has car markers for different lengths. The issue now is that the screens are all up at the front of the platforms so stopping short isn't an option unless displays are added. What might be a good idea is to put signs up saying something like "OFF PEAK TRAINS DO NOT BOARD BEYOND THIS POINT." That way people aren't running 3 car lengths because they were aiming to board the 6th car. It wouldn't take long for regulars to get used to it.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:03 am

So apparently the T does still sometimes run short trains on the red line. First time I can remember seeing one in who knows how long, but I'm typing this standing in a 4-car Ashmont train.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby leviramsey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:52 am

deathtopumpkins wrote:So apparently the T does still sometimes run short trains on the red line. First time I can remember seeing one in who knows how long, but I'm typing this standing in a 4-car Ashmont train.


At AM peak, no less.

Methinks this points to equipment failure.
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