Fairmount Line gets beefier

The MBTA has released a new schedule for the Fairmount Line, effective July 1st. The schedule reveals the opening of Newmarket Station and Four Corners Station. In addition, the schedule features 12 additional trains, bringing the total to 22 inbounds and 21 outbounds each weekday.

h/t The EGE

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Comments

Zoning

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Why are most of the stations that are within city limits Zone 1A, but stations in Roslindale and West Roxbury Zone 1? Is Roslindale and West Roxbury no longer considered to be part of the city of Boston? Also, with the logic (or lack thereof) shouldn't Readville now be Zone 1?

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Zone 1 vs. 1A

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It looks like Fairmount is also being moved from zone 1 to zone 1A, unless the new schedule lists it incorrectly. The old schedule says zone 1 while the new schedule says zone 1A. I wonder how the folks who use the nearby Hyde Park station (in zone 1, even under the new schedule) will feel about that - perhaps they'll just walk over to Fairmount.

The price difference between zones 1A and 1 is enormous - the one way fare jumps from $2.00 to $5.50. At $3.50, that must make the mile between Roslindale Village and Forest Hills the most expensive mile on the MBTA, right? Zone 6 fare is $8.75, meaning that the difference in cost between zone 6 (out near 495, with stations in places like Mansfield, Lowell, and Bridgewater) and zone 1 is actually smaller than the difference in cost between Roslindale Village and Forest Hills.

Roslindale, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park need to get in on whatever it is that makes West Medford (which also has service 7 days a week) a zone 1A station. Roslindale Village seems like it should have a particularly strong case since it looks to my eye like it's a fair amount closer to downtown than Fairmount.

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Agreed

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The cost to the end user of the MBTA's commuter rail is exorbitant. If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to promote a "greener" way of getting to work, than it shouldn't cost passengers an excessive amount of green. In my opinion, ALL stations that are within the city of Boston should be Zone 1A. Zones 1 and higher should apply to stations south and west (South side service) and north (North side service) of Boston. I haven't done much research into it, but I find it hard to believe that similar services in other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. cost as much as ours does.

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$$$$$

From a financial standpoint, the MBTA can get the $5.50 fare/$173 monthly pass revenue easier from West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Readville and Roslindale because passengers are willing to pay that convenience, rather than riding a cramped bus, transferring to the Orange Line, and then having to submit to delays of every excuse.

Add the $4 per day parking fare, and the T makes a TON of money per commuter rail passenger in those areas. That's money the T is not willing to give up easily, if at all. Changing those stations from Zone 1 to Zone 1A would be fantastic for passengers, but the T would lose $3.50 per fare/$103 per pass unless they see that passenger revenues have substantially increased.

What should really happen is that the T institute a City Zone. Convert the current Zone 1A's to City Zone 1, and let Roslindale, West Roxbury, Hyde Park have fares comparable to Inner Express Bus service ($3.50 fare/$110 pass) with City Zone 2. This way, the leap from $2 to $3.50 isn't as much of a shock as $2 to $5.50.

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Morality

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Just because something is legal, doable and desirable doesn't make it right. Sadly, most people do not think this way.

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A couple of points

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I understand that there's more going on here than my post specifically mentioned. I'm sure that running the commuter rail has some high fixed costs that need to be spread across all of the riders regardless of the distance they ride. I'm also guessing that zone 1A costs only $2.00 in part because of "competition" from the T, and that $2.00 probably isn't a true reflection of how much it actually costs to run the commuter rail to those stops. I also agree that the commuter rail is a more pleasant ride than taking the bus to Forest Hills and the orange line, so a somewhat higher cost could be justified.

That said, most of what is so frustrating is the inconsistency and lack of logic. Fairmount and Hyde Park are about 2 blocks from each other. West Medford isn't particularly closer to downtown than Roslindale. All of the arguments you make about commuters being willing to bear the $5.50 fare apply to Fairmount and West Medford, don't they? Interzone fares are crazy, too. Zone 1 fare is the same as interzone 8 fare zone, so the cost to ride from Hyde Park to Providence is the same as the cost to ride from Hyde Park to Back Bay. Just what city does the MBTA think Hyde Park is in, anyway? Yes, I understand that there's more demand for the latter ride than the former, but still.

Regarding the parking fees, sure, the MBTA can charge whatever they want, and charging $4.00 someplace like the red line stops out in Braintree might make sense because (I'm guessing) there aren't too many other parking options nearby. But I live near the Roslindale Village station and can tell you that train commuters compete with residents for the free on-street parking while the MBTA lot goes underutilized. If the MBTA charged a more rational fare that took the location of the station into account they might not lose too much money (due to increased usage), while being a better neighbor at the same time.

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1A to 1 = $3.50 but 1 to 2 = $0.25!

The pricing is crazy. I understand and accept that the first mile is the most expensive, but Zone 1 should really be called F.O., because that's what the 'T is saying with that pricing.

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Zoning

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The Fairmount coalition has been fighting for a fare revision, added stations and service levels for years. The T changed the zoning of Fairmount Station and have adopted a new policy for travel to and from Readville on the Fairmount Line only because the activism and public pressure of these folks.

Clearly, it's an inconsistent policy, but if folks in the Roslindale and West Roxbury neighborhoods want lower fares (perhaps a City of Boston Zone 1A?), then I think they will need to fight for them just like those in the Fairmount Corridor have.

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Zoning

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Fairmount was re-zoned and a new policy adopted for Readville ($2 to and from anywhere except S. Station, Fairmount Line only) due to public pressure from residents and other stakeholders along the Fairmount Corridor.

While the policy is definitely inconsistent, I think if residents in Roslindale and West Roxbury want to see a similar fare revision, they're going to have to fight for it like the Fairmount Coalition has.

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Why is Readville still zone

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Why is Readville still zone 2? Fairmount is 1A and Readville zone 2. Shouldn't it be 1 or 1A as well?

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Hyde Park is Still Zone 1

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...because Hyde Park is a tremendously bad station.

As was mentioned, Fairmount's a block away. What wasn't mentioned is that, in order to provide the capacity for Amtrak trains to hit 150+ MPH through this area, commuter rail needs to be moved to the outside tracks and two dedicated high-speed center tracks would need to be provided. As there's no way to add a fourth track here without destroying one (or both) existing platforms, Hyde Park would be obligated to build full high level platforms and, in turn, completely redo its station access for ADA accessibility.

With the same requirements for compliance needed over at Fairmount, and the walking distance to anywhere from either station being effectively the same, and because Hyde Park is a tremendous drag on the schedule of both Amtrak and Commuter Rail along this line - it makes no sense to double up on effort here.

Keeping Hyde Park at Zone 1 should start driving a LOT of traffic over to Fairmount - and once traffic through Hyde Park is sufficiently depressed, it can safely be closed with comparatively less of a public outcry, YOU'RE CUTTING SERVICE!!!, protest song and dance requirement.

...not that the MBTA cares about inciting protest, either way.

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Another thing...

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If the T "claims" that South Station needs to be expanded to accommodate increased ridership and future lines, how did they manage to increase the frequency of the Fairmount Line, effective July 1st?

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Those projections include

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Those projections include this service, and more worcester service.

In fact, SS can support the Fairmount line at 20 minute frequencies, max.

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Commuter times

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Hence the phrase "commuter rail". The midday frequency is similar to many bus and other commuter rail lines, so if you are sure the train is coming at a certain time, you plan accordingly.

The peak headways could be better, but there are only so many platforms at South Station.

It's still quicker than the alternative.

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Far from complete...

The line isn't complete yet. We still don't even have Blue Hill Ave Station beginning construction. We have yet to see any promise of South Station expansion, extra equipment purchases, nor DMU procurement. One or more of those things has to happen in order to consider this the Indigo Line. Peak hour trainsets are maxxed out. As well as time slots at South Station.

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Anyone want to place bets for

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Anyone want to place bets for how long it will take the T to add these stations to the maps on their website?

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Map Updates

The T and MassDOT have been fairly timely with updating maps online. In stations, however, would be costly. They'll likely wait until extensions to Wachusett and the infill of Assembly Sq are also complete.

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Updating station maps would

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Updating station maps would be much easier if they were paper maps in a plexiglass case, instead of expensive baked porcelain.

On the other hand, I like finding the very outdated maps in back corners of the subway and railroad system. Like this one from 1986, which shows commuter rail lines ending in Gardner and Ipswich: http://transitmaps.tumblr.com/post/46969631589/rea...

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Pared Rant

Shucks, now I only have half of my Fairmount-Line rant left. I used to be able to complain about:

  1. Infrequent day service
  2. No weekend service
  3. No trains late enough for dinner or entertainment in town
  4. Absurd price when places like West Medford were subway fare

They left me 2 and 3. I won't mind if they fixed those too.

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