Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

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Ashmont-Mattapan Trolley Line Discussion

Postby charlesriverbranch » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:44 pm

There is a lively discussion on the topic here:

http://www.universalhub.com/2016/ending ... ent-498697
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby CRail » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:55 pm

My understanding is that someone asked if it were on the table and the response was slightly more specific than "everything's on the table." I suspect this is much to do about nothing.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby BandA » Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:01 am

No, there was an article that I can't seem to find now where the head of the MBTA said the trolleys should be replaced with trackless trolleys. It was clear that this is what he thinks is a good idea. New trackless trolleys are expensive. Rewiring the overhead wire, ripping out the track & paving will cost a lot more than maintaining the existing vehicles. Gee whiz, these things are 70 year old technology. They should be simple to maintain. Maybe the PCCs need another overhaul. Perhaps the problem is the MBTA has the highest maintenance costs in the country - if they focus on lowering their costs

Or, sigh, just rip out the wires, pave over the tracks and run diesel buses :( You can run buses over pavement without inspecting the ties and rails and the track gauge, just fill in potholes for 20 years.

The number of passengers on this line seems to be low, so replacing the trolleys with larger vehicles is going to result in longer headways.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:56 am

What's left of the ancestral Metropolitan Transit Authority trackless trolley system, the lines out of out of Harvard Square, survived because the smoke-belching diesel buses of the day would have asphyxiated passengers in the tunnel under the square. The Silver Line similarly uses dual modes because of the lengthy tunnel. Trackless systems in San Francisco and Seattle survive because tracklesses are better than diesel buses on steep hills. None of those conditions applies on the Mattapan-Ashmont line. If the MBTA decides that the beloved PCCs have finally reached the end and doesn't want to invest in upgrading the line to accommodate standard LRVs, then it will be paved over and converted to a private right-of-way bus line. (I hate the term "bus rapid transit" as an oxymoron, but that's what they'll call it.)
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby typesix » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:25 am

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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:29 pm

Well, if the T devices that spending millions to turn tracks into a paved-over busway while spending millions more to buy new trackless trolleys is somehow more cost-effective than buying spare parts to keep a dozen PCC's running, it'll be nice to see more MTA-liveried vehicles running on the MUNI lines in SF.

Our loss, their gain.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:15 pm

Knowing the way the T operates, I foresee a "temporary" solution where the trolley is shut down and replaced by increased service on the 27 bus while they pretend to plan to convert the line which never happens and the bustitution becomes permanent, like what happened to Watertown and Arborway.

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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby SemperFidelis » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:23 pm

Aside from cost I'm sure there's a dozen reasons why the heavy rail can't be extended to the end of track even though doing so would eliminate the transfer, enhance service, and eliminate a set of older equipment (PCCs).

Has such an option ever been given any serious thought? Seems like an obvious solution...except for the massive costs associated with such an undertaking.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:19 pm

If the Old Colony trunk was double track, I'd dare to suggest a branch line to Mattappan. But at this time, it's not feasible at all.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:40 pm

SemperFidelis wrote:Aside from cost I'm sure there's a dozen reasons why the heavy rail can't be extended to the end of track even though doing so would eliminate the transfer, enhance service, and eliminate a set of older equipment (PCCs).

Has such an option ever been given any serious thought? Seems like an obvious solution...except for the massive costs associated with such an undertaking.


Several times dating way back to pre-MBTA. Milton always pitches a fit about losing its intermediate stops, since if you were to have it re-done as heavy rail Cedar Grove, Butler, Valley, Capen, and probably Central Ave. (if only because of the need to build up an incline out of Milton station to grade separate Central Ave. with a rail bridge) all go.

It's not that hard a sell job, as Milton's transit access and ridership are infinitely better with full-on Ashmont Branch headways to/from downtown hitting Lower Mills and the cluster of bus transfers at Milton/Central Ave. But in the absence of truly compelling forward momentum to get the conversion over with, they haven't seen quite enough value proposition in taking on the opposition to closing those intermediate stops. It's been light nudge, then back off.


Someday it'll have to happen. And it won't be ridiculously expensive by the going rate for transit builds...just too expensive for today's debt crisis. Most of the formerly weak bridges have had their decks repaired, eliminating the weight restrictions. If either of the Neponset River spans are still waiting their turn, churning through the bridge SGR list takes care of those before any rolling stock decisions need to be made. The power draw--shared by Red-Ashmont and the trolleys--is scheduled for upgrade necessitated by the arrival of the new Red Line cars. And DCR is completing the missing links in the Neponset River Greenway path alongside the tracks, which will preserve pedestrian accessibility from the small intermediate stops in the event they have to get consolidated for heavy rail.

Therefore, the bucket list of conversion upgrades is more or less:
-- Grade separate Central Ave. and Capen St. with 2-track rail overpasses.
-- Build an appropriately understated heavy rail prepayment station at Milton under the overpass, with egresses direct-connecting to the adjacent Greenway path and busway that can capture all the routes on that block and the Central Ave. block.
-- Modify Mattapan into a minimalist outdoor prepayment station. Stub island platform. Maybe just take the current small island platform, make that full-length, wrap the station entrance facade around the westerly/driveway end into a single-egress outdoor "lobby", and leave the longer side platform totally as-is as bus waiting area with fence separating it from tracks. Demolish the yard + shed, install a 3rd pocket layup track for OOS trains that need to sit clear of the platforms and wait for next deadhead slot to Codman.
-- Trench 3rd rail + signal cabling, re-do trackbed and rail hardware, security fencing. Do any above-and-beyond power draw upgrades not settled up beforehand (unlikely needed).
-- Modify Codman Yard leads into thru-running mainline track and a wye leg accessible from the Mattapan end. Demolish Ashmont trolley loop. Abandon/demolish the other intermediates.



Straightforward enough if temptation for overbuilt stations can be avoided. I just don't know if you'd rank conversion all that high on the "tying up loose ends" bucket list for outer neighborhood transit. Personally I'd put extending the Orange Line +1 stops to Roslindale as a much bigger value-for-money small/midsize job than Mattapan conversion. Can do that one as 2 OL tracks alongside a single Needham Line track, since ROW has room for triple. Enormous bus congestion relief down Washington St. from FH terminal, large native ridership, big help in shortening bus trip times in from West Roxbury to a rapid transit transfer, serves as manageable first down payment of the ultimate swallowing of the Needham Line into the rapid transit system before escalating NEC congestion squeezes it for slots.

Another generation of trolleys on Mattapan is no raw deal at all if it opens up a crack at some high-upside infilling like ^that^ as first order of business. Red-Mattapan will have its turn in the future project queue all the same.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Jan 15, 2016 5:04 pm

jonnhrr wrote:Knowing the way the T operates, I foresee a "temporary" solution where the trolley is shut down and replaced by increased service on the 27 bus while they pretend to plan to convert the line which never happens and the bustitution becomes permanent, like what happened to Watertown and Arborway.

Jon


They floated that a decade ago as one of the alternatives to the closure/rebuild of the line. As well as floating the same "pave it for BRT" turkey. The opposition was severe and unified enough that it didn't have a chance. This corridor, despite Milton and Boston being so different, is a lot more immune to the divide-and-conquer tactics that split the restoration camps in JP and Brighton. They circle the wagons fast, tight, and with vigor when there's a perceived threat to the High Speed Line.


Odds are trolleys are once again going to be path of least resistance. The PCC's, because they've been in continuous service, are not considered heritage rolling stock nor is the line considered a heritage operation. One of the considered options they mentioned in passing at the meeting is simply making the next PCC rebuild a car gutting that rebuilds them with new modern components instead of refurbished Wartime parts. Other cities (SEPTA PCC II's, for instance) have done that; it's not an unheard-of blasphemy. The other is trucking in the Type 7's or whatever (mini-high platforms fully ADA-compliant for the high floor) to run pole-mounted on resurfaced track. But instead of fighting with utlity relocations in Mattapan Yard to try to squeeze a longer maint shed equipped for articulated LRV's, take a slice of the barren SE wedge of Codman and build the LRV shed there instead, then bust down Mattapan to layup storage only. Odds are either of those options, or other variations on therein, are going to price out much less expensive than trying to make all the ROW width corrections necessary to drive a 40-ft. bus or TT down there.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby SemperFidelis » Fri Jan 15, 2016 5:43 pm

Thank you, sir, for such a detailed level of response. A slow approach is probably best when proposing change to people who are concerned for the stability of their community. As we all know from Philadelphia, temporary bustitutions are almost always anything but.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby YamaOfParadise » Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:39 pm

There's also some difference between the "temporary" substitutions the A and E branches saw, in that those were fully streetrunning ops without reserved space, and the Mattapan Line is a fully dedicated RoW.

Mentioning the LRV's reminded me of something; since I just happened to read it for the first time earlier this week, one of the long-term recommendations in the Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan Transit Needs Study from Sept. 2012 was to do the long-suggested push to install light rail to Dudley Square as the F Branch of the Green Line, and continue that branch past there to the Mattapan station. It's a snowball's chance in Hell that this would ever happen, but that'd certainly provide a better way to have LRVs down there if you just annexed the Mattapan Line into that. :wink:
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Sat Jan 16, 2016 10:16 am

In an ideal world, you could pull off an F-Line to Mattapan via Dudley and Grove hall. Blue Hill Ave is wide enough that it could run down the median from Mattapan Square all the way to Grove Hall, where you would have to do street running cut-and-cover as it hooks to the left down Warren until Quincy Street or so. From there it would be median running until again either diving into a cut and cover tunnel or running with traffic between Dudley and Melnea Cass, where it then could run down a median alignment until again entering a tunnel around the Cathedral or East Berkeley to make the final connection with the Green Line.

What it would do to central subway congestion is another issue entirely, but as light rail projects go, it would be about as straightforward as they get.
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Re: Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line to be converted to bus?

Postby Red Wing » Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:55 am

Bramdeisroberts wrote:What it would do to central subway congestion is another issue entirely, but as light rail projects go, it would be about as straightforward as they get.


Shouldn't hurt the central subway at all. Turn B, or D around at Park street on the inner tracks and run F through to wherever that turn around would be, Government Center, North Station or Lechmere.
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