Lynn or bust

Blue Line to Lynn

A.P. Blake spotted this poster from the T Riders Union on the Blue Line today.

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Blue Line can't handle an extension

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I don't think the Blue Line could handle an extension to Lynn and Salem. It already cannot handle the ridership it has.

Wikipedia's schematic map of

Wikipedia's schematic map of the Blue Line already has the Lynn station on it, so I don't see the problem. The transit nerds have decided!

Right after we finish the

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Right after we finish the green line extension to Medford in 2035.

Or this:

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Value capture. Lynn may not be in the best shape today, but it's got good bones. Anyone who follows Dirty Old Boston on Facebook should be able to see that the exponential value, relative to capital cost, that smart infrastructure improvement adds to cities and neighborhoods with good bones has been demonstrated. Especially since large swaths of Boston were no better off thirty years ago than much of Lynn is today.

Why?

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I mean... they know they're tilting at windmills, right? I totally get the sentiment, but everyone knows the MBTA is so deeply buried in debt that they're hundreds of millions of dollars over budget even with zero construction or repair efforts. So why drag them into a public forum? Even if the T Riders Union wins, nothing will possibly come of it. They'd be better off lobbying for the Big Dig debt to be pulled off the MBTA's books. That's the only way any service extensions can even become part of the conversation.

Maybe ...

they are turning up the heat now because, unlike their counterparts in cities that are managing to actively build transit, the MBTA takes about 40 years to get anything built - even with a court order and available right-of-way.

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Exactly this

But the heat has been turned up for 50 years, and according to one speaker at the hearing, 100. But I'm not sure about 100 - the narrow gauge ran up until the 1940's.

Long-time Lynners are mostly too jaded to believe it will happen, but more recent Lynners, politicians, and others haven't given up. That's good, but it's not enough. We need to re-convince the jaded group, somehow.

I live within steps of the Central Square Lynn Commuter Rail platform. But, when I think about going into Boston for dinner or to see a band, I don't think about public transit. The schedule is too sparse on weekends. That's kind of sad. It's woefully underserving a population of 90k people, not to mention people from nearby communities who would park in the really cheap MBTA garage there and use it as well. But, it's too expensive, and doesn't run when a lot of folks need it to.

I did the math. It's cheaper for me to drive to work than take the commuter rail, even though it goes from my doorstep to within a couple of blocks of my job in Chelsea. That's sad! I thought I was moving to a transit-oriented community, 9-5'ers needs are barely met.

I know the T can't afford its current level of service. Something's broken, because other cities are able to provide even greater service for less. Maybe they ought to think about attracting new riders for new revenue.

Instead of lobbying for the

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Instead of lobbying for the Blue Line extension, you should be lobbying for more off-peak commuter rail service. That has a much more realistic chance of happening if there was enough political heat to do it.

We need to aim high

We do need more "off-peak" commuter rail service, but I don't even think we'll get that unless we keep asking for the Blue Line.

The other problem with the "purple line" is the price. As long as I can park for free in Cambridge on a Sunday, it's cheaper for me to drive there than take mass transit. It's just not competitive. What is the MBTA/MBCR doing to make themselves the better option? Not enough, in my opinion. I don't think they'll ever make a major profit on the operation, but they can narrow the gap if they attract more riders, and to attract more riders, they'll have to first improve and then market their improvements effectively.

Nothing the MBTA runs makes a

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Nothing the MBTA runs makes a profit. MBCR is just the MBTA's contractor, they do what the MBTA tells them to do. The MBTA sets the fares. If the Lynn political delegation lobbied for more frequent commuter rail service and perhaps Lynn station being in a lower fare zone despite its distance from Boston, there is a posibility that could be implemented. Aiming high hasn't gotten Lynn much more than an overbuilt parking garage for the last 50 years. Time to aim for something that can be done.

I used to commute from

I used to commute from Chelsea to Lynn and then Chelsea to Salem for college and would agree. Part of the problem is the pricing structure of the commuter rail. It seems very unfair that it costs less to get from Braintree to Downtown Boston then it does to get from Chelsea to Downtown Boston via non bus transit. Space wise Quincy and Braintree are similar to Lynn and Salem.

I very quickly gave up on public transit to Lynn and Salem when I had the chance because it was too hard, took too long and cost too much. Downtown Lynn would be a great hub for buses from other North Shore communities.

A subway stop in Downtown Lynn would have a Davis Square affect (for positive or negative depending on your definitions.)

I see what you did there -

I see what you did there - picking Braintree and it's Red Line station as a reference, as opposed to, say, Dedham or Canton or Westwood or Needham. So if Braintree can have it, we all should have it? They'd run out of colors pretty quickly if they tried. Never mind the money. Would you be happier if Braintree station closed?

I chose Braintree because I

I chose Braintree because I am familiar with the station, the location in relation to other cities and other transportation options near them. If anything Braintree is station is in a much more suburban area than either Lynn or Salem stations would be. I did not choose those other cities because I am not as familiar with their transportation systems having never worked/commuted to them on a regular basis. I do not live in Lynn or Salem and a station in either of those cities would not benefit me at this point in my life, I just have past experiences trying to get to those cities via mass transit.

The TRU's priorities are horribly backwards

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First of all, in deference to the first anon's comment - the Blue Line can handle the ridership it has now, no problem. It's doing much better than the other three lines relative to its capacity ceiling, and there's plenty of room to expand it.

No, the capacity problem here is the other three lines - but especially the Orange Line. With Government Center set to be shut down (against all common sense) for its two-year overhaul and the perennial Red-Blue Connector having been recently spiked yet again, the core of the MBTA network itself just can't handle the new ridership that Blue-Lynn would dump into the system - let alone Blue-Salem.

The TRU's got it ass-backwards in a big, big way. There is, unfortunately, only one right order of priorities here - and that's constructing the Red-Blue Connector FIRST, overhauling Government Center SECOND (but forcing the MBTA to keep, at least, the Blue Line service to Government Center OPEN for the duration of the overhaul), and then - ONLY then - Blue Line to Lynn. This is the only path to success. There's no other way to get any of these things done without triggering a cascading failure and causing a shitshow of epic proportions.

Frankly, it's somewhat horrifying to me that advocacy groups have chosen to try shooting the moon (and damn the consequences!!) on Blue to Lynn in the wake of the announcement that Government Center is to be closed for two years. If there's anyone affiliated with them reading this, I urge you - please, please reconsider in what order you want to tackle these issues. This isn't an indictment of Blue Line to Lynn, which I would and will support absolutely - but we need to fix the mess that is our system's core before we can press onwards and outwards with network extensions. That's the only way this can work.

Your premise is only true if

Your premise is only true if Blue line to Lynn-Salem occurs in less then 10 years. Even if these guys manage to get both Deval Patrick and Obama magically give executive orders to start designing and building immediately no matter the cost, Government Center is still going to be finished first and the design and construction of Lynn-Salem will have plenty of time for construction a Red-Blue connector.

More realistically, if Lynn-Salem ever happens, it going to take years of pressure including this meeting. If no meeting happens, no step is taken to get closer. Then the same steps will have to be taken later. With all the same time needed. Might as well pressure on this as well as a Red-Blue Connector.

it's more likely than you think...

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....when you consider that the Suffolk Downs Casino proposal has not yet been laughed right out of the state. It wouldn't be all that much of a stretch to assume improvements to the Blue Line would be in order - whether those are court mandated, or the Casino Group's initiative, doesn't matter - and among those improvements could be Blue to Lynn. (60000 new riders passing right through the casino? Not bad.)

Of course, that's neither here nor there because my actual premise was (and is) that because it's guaranteed that the Government Center overhaul is happening long before Red-Blue OR Blue-Lynn enter the conversation, pressuring for Blue-Lynn now instead of pressuring for Blue at Government Center to stay open is a completely nonsensical decision. And because Blue-Lynn could very well be constructed without Red-Blue, the absence of any mention of Red-Blue here or anywhere else by the TRU is incredibly worrisome to me.

And, again, I'm not saying "never do this." I'm not trying to fight, block, or impede Blue-Lynn. (And, honestly, if I had any sort of avenue to block a project, I'd be blocking the Government Center overhaul unless and until the MBTA discovers that it's possible to shut one line off and keep the other open there, so take Green offline and keep Blue running there.)

It is important to keep

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It is important to keep Government Center open for the Blue/Green transfer. There is no point to keep it open only for the Blue Line during construction without a Green Line transfer. State and Bowdoin can handle the Blue Line load that is diverted from Government Center. It is the lack of a Green Line transfer that matters. Go look at the MBTA's Blue Book numbers, there are far more Blue/Green transfers taking place at Government Center than there are people starting or ending there trips at Government Center, especially for the Blue Line.

Lynn and Salem already have

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Lynn and Salem already have rail service. The problem is that the schedule sucks.

A Blue Line extension would be so expensive and take so many decades that it's never going to happen. Just look at the Green Line Extension. Wonderland to Salem is twice the distance.

Fortunately there *is* an affordable way to provide excellent transit service to the North Shore, on a short time frame:

Run shorter trains more frequently.

And the next time the T orders new commuter rail equipment, don't buy more of the same outdated heavy slow stuff that's designed for 120-year-old operating practices. Buy some self-propelled DMUs that only need one employee.

Then as ridership climbs, start looking into electrification.

This isn't rocket science. Germany has been reactivating rural branch lines all over the place, because they've figured out how to do it affordably. It's ridiculous that cities as big as Lynn and Salem have such terrible rail schedules.

Labor rules would not allow

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Labor rules would not allow one person operation on commuter rail here. But there is no reason even for DMUs or EMUs. There is plenty of extra conventional commuter rail equipment available nights and weekdays. Just running conventional equipment every 30 minutes in the off-peak between Boston and Beverly would be a major improvement. Metro North has lower horsepower diesel locomotives they use for short shuttle trains on their Danbury and Waterbury lines. If they can do it, so could the MBTA. The MBTA doesn't need every new locomotive to be a 4600 HP unit capable of hauling a 10 car train of bi-levels.

Another douse of reality: If a Blue Line to Lynn project ever advanced to the point of seeking Federal FTA New Start funds for construction, the FTA response would be "why not just improve commuter rail service?". You can do it now with existing equipment, just need to have a properly funded MBTA that could actually afford to add service.

Brilliant.... When the MBTA

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Brilliant....

When the MBTA is in debt thanks in part to extension projects imposed upon it, the T Rider's Union wants to "demand" extending the Blue Line, not just to Lynn, but to Salem as well.
What they should be advocating for, if they truly want to maintain and increase transit service, is agitate for a rule forbidding the MBTA from building any extensions and aesthetic renovations until it has a balanced budget, repealing any laws which prevent "dollar vans" from operating and then replacing the equipment with more cost effective rolling stock.

Couple of things. Borders are

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Couple of things.

Borders are huge in this discussion, because the North Shore is effectively cut off from Boston proper because of the harbor and Mystic River. Rt. 1 is tolled, and so are the tunnels into the city. The Blue Line extension to Lynn (or Salem) alleviates the car traffic plowing down Rt. 1 on weekday morning and afternoons. Especially since a lot of people sitting in the traffic are actually driving to Wonderland to park and ride. A station in Lynn cuts down on the traffic on Rt. 1, decreasing traffic accidents and pollution.

To address a point made earlier, no, increased commuter rail travel would not be ideal because of the glut of at-grade crossings all over the North Shore (Beverly has the most in the state). The extension (length-wise) to Lynn is equivalent that godforsaken Greenbush line, probably shorter. I for one would have loved to see that money be dedicated to the lengthening of the Blue Line to make it more practical. The North Shore is very dense, more so than the South Shore and probably MetroWest as well, so it only makes sense to extend public services to the area.

And like someone said, this would bring Lynn back, and potentially also rescue Chelsea if the MBTA does this right. But I'm realistic. The MBTA will just sit on what it currently has with the Blue Line, and make every station on it look like the Louvre.

Grade crossings should not be

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Grade crossings should not be an obstacle to better commuter rail service.

The line is almost entirely grade-separated from Boston to Salem. The only crossings are a few industrial streets in Chelsea, and one residential street in Revere Beach. Could they add service just on this segment?

In any case, increasing off-peak service from every 2 hours to every 20-30 minutes would not be a big deal for grade crossing traffic. The LIRR has some crossings that see trains every 5 minutes or less at rush hour, and people manage.

And incrementally building overpasses on the Commuter Rail would be a lot cheaper and easier than constructing a brand new Blue Line extension, which itself would need a lot of new overpasses.

The Greenbush Line was a terrible waste of money. They spent so much building it that they don't have the money to operate it. (It could have been built for a lot less money, but that's not how things are done around here.) So it should not be a justification for future wasteful projects.

If Beverly is a problem to

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If Beverly is a problem to add more off-peak trains, then just run them as far as Salem. They can change ends on the platform. Given the low-frequency of Rockport and Newburyport trains on Sat/Sun, they wouldn't be blocking much on the single track.

Salem has a weird

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Salem has a weird turn-around, not much space to keep trains at that station, but I do believe they are re-doing it, not sure if the platform is part of the re-do, too lazy to look it up. Would make sense since they already do this to Beverly Depot - a lot of rush hour trains are express from Boston - Salem, then making one more stop at Beverly Depot and turning around there. The turnaround in Beverly is HUGE and is used a lot already, so actually running the trains no further than the Depot makes tons of sense.

I like the idea of running trains 20-30 min apart, but I'm not sure if above poster if familiar with where these at-grade crossings are, and the traffic they already cause. Obviously stopping at the Depot would make this null and void, but at Dodge St. there is a left turn that goes DIRECTLY onto the tracks, before N Beverly station. That train hangs over into the road, as does the one at Montserrat. The yuppies in the Farms already have bitched about train horns (what a horrible thing, saving peoples lives and all, pesky train horns...), not sure if they would like the increased train traffic through the yuppie corridor of the city.

The North Shore needs better public transportation options: period. Regardless of how this is done, the area just needs increased usable transit. The bus routes going through the North Shore are great, except a few bumps here in there. But Lynn would benefit GREATLY from this extension. Lynn has tons of promise, tons of housing options, great parks and the ocean. Its Revere on steroids, and people are already flocking to Revere because of the lower cost of rent and great access to transportation. My 6 cents.

North Shore Transportation Abortion

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Either Blue Line to Salem or commuter trains of some sort every 30 minutes. It's critical because the North Shore commute is a complete shit-show. There are basically three routes to get from Boston northeast to 95 heading towards Newburyport or 128 out to Cape Ann: Route 1, Route 107 or Route 1A (or sit on 93 north until you hit 128/95 and fart your way up and around - no thanks). Route 1 was widened somewhere back in the 30s and since then has just had a couple of rotaries and lights removed, but otherwise NO INCREASE IN CAPACITY SINCE THE THREE STOOGES WERE ACTIVELY PRODUCING SHORTS.

Back in the planning nightmare that was the post-war period (MarkK refers to it as "the good old days when a man was a man and a cam was his best friend") plans for things like massive highways slashing through the centers of neighborhoods were cooked up and in some places implemented. Just like the stoppage of the SW expressway, the Northeast expressway was likewise killed before it blasted through Rumney Marsh (and continued through the n'hoods of Lynn). After that the planners said, "fuck it, let em take route 1, ingrates..."

Which brings us up to today. Except in the intervening 40-50 years we've had a bit of development up on the Nort'Shore. And now they're talking about a casino somewhere down in the crotch of those three roads. Completely loopy. No way the roads can handle any more. There will be no major highway changes in there (the land takings would be astronomical) so the only alternative is to give drivers alternatives that are convenient and affordable (or more affordable than trying to drive into wherever and pay for parking) -- as Seth pointed out both here and at the listening session in Lynn (I'm assuming that was you).

Best option - frequent public transit up to Salem. Commuters would drive/bike/walk to stops along the line rather than deal with those 3 roads. You also get the plus of dragging some of the Freedom Trail staggering zombies up to Salem to wander the streets there leaving money all over the place. You also get folks from Boston looking at downtown Lynn for cheap apartments with handy T access a la Revere, Malden, etc... (another option- the Bike to the Sea trail that eventually could at least get you from Cape Ann to Malden.)

The issue of where you dump these people out when they get into Boston (need for Red-Blue connector) is a legit concern. The mental block people have about reading a train schedule and planning out their day to catch a commuter train is a huge hurdle. All in people's heads, but still I believe it's enough to cause irrational people to prefer driving (when parking is available) - and I can say that because I'm one of those irrational people who think bullshit like that. "It's just easier on the T." (How's that for a slogan...maybe next to someone passed out with no pants, covered in vomit?)