MBTA wants to kill off Red/Blue connector idea once and for all

The state Department of Environmental Protection holds two meetings Thursday to consider the MBTA's request that it be allowed to shimmy out of requirements to extend the Blue Line to Charles Street.

The Department of Transportation, which now includes the T, formally asked its environmental counterparts last year to absolve it of the need to spend $49 million to design a $750 million project it says it has no money to build, even if it wanted to.

The meetings start at 1 and 5 p.m. at DEP headquarters on the second floor of 1 Winter St. downtown.



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    I know they don't have the money, but they shouldn't take it off the table completely. If the connector existed, people that work in Cambridge and beyond would actually consider East Boston and beyond as a place to live.

    The urban ring wasn't completely killed right?

    We've got a better chance of

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    We've got a better chance of seeing October baseball in Boston this year than we do of seeing an Urban Ring any time soon.

    Yes, but it should still be

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    Yes, but it should still be in the "master plan," as should the blue/red connector.


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    Out of curiosity, what's the value in keeping something in the "master plan" when it will never, ever happen under any combination of circumstances short of "eccentric billionaire leaves MBTA his vault full of money?" There would literally be hundreds of projects, costing tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars, ahead of the connector in the construction queue. By keeping it in the "master plan," all it does is open to door to people bitching about how it's not getting done.

    That makes me sad

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    Remember when millionaires used to invest in large public works for the greater good, instead of throwing down a few hundred thousand to create a tax deduction offset?

    You thing things like the

    You thing things like the Carnegie Libraries and etc? Yes, it would be nice if they use such wealth to do stuff like that again. Though I don't think they are just putting down a few hundred thousand. They aren't spending like a fat cat, I read that they are donating, but now to charities without oversight and many times to charities to international causes.

    Pre-federal income tax era

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    I don't personally remember it, but I am confident in saying that many such projects were undertaken before the the federal income tax came into effect. An interesting discussion for another place.

    Ah, but it also means that it

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    Ah, but it also means that it won't be forgotten immediately from the administration and ignore all of us in Eastie who would like to have an easier way to get over to Cambridge than changing trains multiple times or driving. Its stupid how every other line intersects with each other, sometimes multiple times, yet the Blue line does not.

    So? I don't care if the

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    So? I don't care if the delicate feelings of T management get hurt, and I don't care if they have to exert their lazy asses enough to even pretend to listen to riders.

    The T has been mismanaged for decades now. They need to focus on providing a safe, reliable, useful and inexpensive form of transportation for as many people as possible. Part of this means working hard at keeping things running now, but part of it also means planning for the future, and improving and expanding the transit network.

    Instead they've been solidly halfassed for ages, letting maintenance slip, ignoring future planning and development (and weaseling out of it whenever possible, as here), cutting back service, hiking fares, deliberately making riding less pleasant and useful, etc. Honestly, the way they behave, I wonder if they're deliberately trying to wreck the T, like the streetcar conspiracy back in the day.

    Master Plan?

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    Could you point me to that?

    I walk in this area a lot, and I'm always amazed that there is no T surface service to act as connectors between the Haymarket/Faneuil area and the Red Line. Since the July apocketbookalypse fare hikes, I have batted .000 in getting to anywhere in Boston from Watertown/Newton Corner shy of 1.5 hours. I can walk it in 2. Trains not running, stopping at every station for delays, buses off schedule or not appearing - you name it, but it happens on every single trip. That's on top of the 20 minute walk to get to the initial leg of the trip.

    Coming back from Haymarket laden with gawd knows what, it's a 15-20 minute walk back to Charles/MGH or the nightmare of the Green line to Kenmore and finding a 57 that will actually stop and pick up waiting riders. It's also turned into a battle of protecting the goods enough not to arrive home with premade smoothies.

    haymarket green or orange

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    haymarket green or orange line to park or DTX and change to red?


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    So all the yuppies could ruin East Boston too?

    How much pollution reduction?

    The justification for requiring the Red-Blue connector is reducing air pollution. The numbers probably show parts per billion improvement in air quality for each million dollars spent! Ending the war sooner in Afghanistan would likely make a bigger improvement in our air quality here besides save some money.

    Other than that, yeah, the connector would be good to have. The Green Line Extension on the other hand has negatives besides cost. It promotes gentrification and displacing lower income people from future condo sites near new stations and along newly sound walled rail line.

    Yeah those poor people should

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    Yeah those poor people should have to continue to be under-served by crowded buses. Screw them!

    How dare we develop density along a rail corridor either. That might encourage fewer people to drive!


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    Because real estate in "undesirable" areas (underserved by mass transit, next to a giant highway overpass, near a smelly sewage treatment plant) will always be cheaper, poor people will always live there. Because undesirable real estate is all they can afford.

    All it does is shift the desirable areas and the undesirable ones.

    Agree 100%

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    We should strive to make more areas accessible to transit, rather than simply say that good transit = gentrification, and then refuse to improve any transit in poor areas on that basis.

    You can make the same argument for roads, sidewalks, and parks.

    I don't think underinvestment in areas where poor people currently live is a good answer; I think it's a cop-out.

    The area is not underserved

    There are numerous bus lines already serving neighborhoods around the rail lines. Try again.

    Converting more land from commercial and industrial use to residential just increases business costs, driving away jobs.

    The whole scheme benefits condo developers more than residents or taxpayers. Doing repairs and having more reliable service is a far better thing to do with borrowed MBTA money. Otherwise, an over stressed system gets yet worse when more service and operational costs are added.

    If Somerville would pay all the non-federal costs, then I'd be fine with it. Its all for them, so chip in, much like a developer of an office park or Wegman's has to pay for road improvements.

    Walking Transfers?

    I don't have much background on this issue, but have they ever explored the option of a free "walking transfer" from Red <--> Blue? Gov't Center to Park Street is about a 5 minute walk, and Bowdoin to Charles/MGH is less than 10. Chicago has a similar system to allows you to access their downtown subway from elevated loop trains. It is likely that the Charlie Card system could be adapted to handle this type of setup.

    New York too

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    New York has a few "out of system" MetroCard transfers too.

    C'mon, snap out of it!

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    Walking transfers? How many T phoney-baloney jobs will and follow-on pensions will an idea like that create?

    Get with the program, will you?

    Good idea

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    The walking transfers is a good, cheap-to-implement idea that partially solves the problem. One of the issues is that for people coming in on the Red Line (specifically Cambridge and points NW) being able to switch to the Blue Line at Charles/MGH diverts a load of traffic that might be going to the Airport or Govt. Center/waterfront from having to go into the nexus of T stench and bum piss that is the center of the T universe at Downtown Crossing. The walk to Bowdoin (when it's open) would do people good, although with luggage in the winter it might be too much of a mess.

    An underground concourse like Winter Street, but with those moving walkways like in the airport (only without the Mayor's dulcet tones welcoming you to the "shitty") that would get people to Bowdoin and on to their destination would make sense.

    It also would, as was mentioned above, provide quicker access to the Kendall area (and its jobs) for people in Eastie and points North East, which could be a boost for those areas and for people looking for cheaper rents that are still T accessible.

    Now whether it would make financial sense, I'm not so sure. And as people have mentioned there are a number of other projects that should probably take precedence, but ruling this project out "for keeps" seems unnecessary. But if they do, well they then are on the hook for something else, as this project was the result of a law suit right? Seems like if a judge tells me that I have to do something, I can't just turn around some years later and say, I really don't want to do it....so I won't.

    "but ruling this project out

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    "but ruling this project out "for keeps" seems unnecessary. But if they do, well they then are on the hook for something else, as this project was the result of a law suit right? Seems like if a judge tells me that I have to do something, I can't just turn around some years later and say, I really don't want to do it....so I won't."

    Any sane person would think this, but my understanding is that a free pass, with nothing in exchange, is exactly what they're asking for. If this goes through, then the term "mandate" is officially meaningless. Incredible

    We already know the answer

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    We already know the answer to the concept to walking transfers. Everyone that has a T Pass is able to do a walking transfer between the Blue Line and the Red Line. How many people do you see doing it? Very few. No packs of people schlepping between Charles/MGH and Bowdoin. On a summer day, this can be a nice walk, but it is longer than you think if you're carrying something like luggage with you. And forget about doing it in a rain or snow storm.

    Connecting the Red and Blue Lines would enhance the functionality of the entire system, allowing a quicker connection between Cambridge and East Boston and points north of the airport.

    Don't even get me started on the bustitution concept of the Silver Line. Try taking it on a major travel day while everyone is trying to squeeze down the aisles with their suitcases. The free rides paid by MassPort help when boarding at the airport, but it is still a bus with a low capacity compared to a subway train. The T could not even design a better way cross D Street as the Silver Line emerges/descends into the tunnel. Instead, the bus waits there, and waits there, for the light to change. And even then, it still gets hit every so often. Talk about bad planning - epic FAIL at that intersection.

    Walking Transfer = Doubled Fare

    Attempting a current "walking transfer" forces one to pay an extra $2 each way. Over a year that is approximately $1000. Paying $1000 a year to walk 5 to 10 minutes extra a day isn't much of a value proposition. No surprise that no one is doing it. At the very least a no charge walking transfer could be introduced as a short term mitigation to a long term problem.

    No cost for those with passes

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    As I very clearly stated, anyone with a T Pass can already take advantage of a "walking transfer" with no additional cost. If I have a T Pass, there is no cost to prevent me from walking out of any T station and walking to a nearby one since the pass gives me unlimited travel for the duration of the pass. So where are the multitudes of people taking advantage of the "walking transfer"? Another example of such a "walking transfer" might be between Copley on the Green Line and Back Bay on the Orange Line or Symphony on the Green and Mass Ave on the Orange. I've done both of these from time to time, but I don't see a lot of other people doing it, even though it is cost-free for anyone with a T Pass.

    We already know the answer to creating "walking transfers", since they are already available to anyone with a T pass. Where are the multitudes that are doing this?

    How would you know who is or

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    How would you know who is or isn't doing a walking transfer?

    I suspect the busiest existing walking transfer is changing sides at Copley, to get from one Green Line branch to another.

    Shovel ready

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    It's important to have this designed so that when money unexpectedly becomes available for "shovel ready" projects, this one is ready to go. When the first set of Federal stimulus funds became available a few years ago, MA hardly had any projects that were ready to build.

    So we will spend billions to

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    So we will spend billions to build commuter rail to the middle of nowhere but can't provide a direct link to the airport, all the research facilities in Cambridge/the Seaport District, and several hospitals with a blue line transfer.

    MGH/Cambridge/Biotech/Tech companies/MASSport should be raising Hell about this!

    Diffierence: The folks in New Swamscottshire

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    don't have commuter rail service. The folks trying to get from Cambridge to Downtown Boston already have multiple options to get to Logan Airport.

    That having been said, I'd agree to drop the Red-Blue Connector, provided the DEP required that the money saved by not designing and constructing the project was channeled into additional trains (and staff to man and maintain them) on the Red, Green, and Blue Lines instead. That would benefit not only the Airport seekers, but all users of those lines.

    But as long as we continue to have these artificial barriers that prevent management from actually spending money on necessary and legitimate service improvements (the archaic and illogical divide between "capital" and "operating" accounts), it's highly unlikely that will happen.

    MBTA requests permission to cease providing transportation

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    In the interest of satisfying the debt incurred by poorly designed funding, a legislature that is limp, an citizenry that has the vapors when tax increase are required to care for the public good, the MBTA has decided to petition the Dept. of Transportation for permission to provide a much less expensive service such as beach cleaning.

    They can have a tax increase

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    They can have a tax increase when they stop blowing the current tax receipts on perks, pet projects, and patronage without addressing the basic services and infrastructure the public is constantly begging for scraps to maintain.

    How About Building...

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    ... a giant water slide from Charles to Bowdoin. Have an elevator take you to the top at Charles. Free transfer for T passengers, but charge a buck a head for anyone else. For folks who would complain about getting wet on the ride, hey, you should be used to getting soaked by now.

    If you want to go from Bowdoin to Charles, though, I'm stumped. Perhaps hot air balloons? They could be pumped directly from City Hall.


    That's ridiculous. Charles

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    That's ridiculous.

    Charles Cir. is downhill from Bowdoin Sq. so you can't have a waterslide from the former to the latter. Instead, I envision an elevator up to a significant height, where riders an strap into a zipline. They should build that midrise tower planned to go in the middle of Charles Cir. back in the 1920s, with the elevated tracks right through the middle. That would be transit oriented development!

    Now a waterslide from Bowdoin Sq. to Charles Cir. is perfectly fine. And if the river ever gets clean enough, there could be an offramp to dump people in for recreational purposes.

    Next time your train is stuck

    Next time your train is stuck in a tunnel, tell your neighbor you wish they'd take money out of the maintenance budget to fund a plan for a project that there's no money to build.

    I'd rather see them run the

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    I'd rather see them run the Blue Line more frequently off-peak.

    If you didn't have to wait 10-12 minutes for the train, it would save a lot of time for *all* Blue Line passengers, not just people coming from the Red Line.

    They could run trains more frequently at no extra cost if they figured out a way to speed up the turnaround time at the Boston end. Wonderland to GC takes 20 minutes. But then running the train around the Bowdoin loop back to GC takes another 7 or 8 minutes, even when Bowdoin is closed.

    Reducing the round trip time from 48 to 40 minutes would reduce the wait between trains by about 2 minutes, with no extra trains or employees required.

    That mysterious Bowdoin loop

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    I never could figure out why that loop from Government Center to Bowdoin back to Government Center takes SO long, even when Bowdoin is closed. It makes no sense. It's like the Bermuda Triangle in there. It apparently doesn't make any sense to the pre-recorded announcements either. The train always arrives in Government center from Bowdoin 3-4 minutes after the annoucement says "train to Wonderland now arriving".

    Agree with this 100%

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    The Blue Line is absurdly packed going outbound at all hours of the night, even on Sundays. Even the Red Line to Cambridge or the Orange Line between Downtown and Malden isn't as bad.