Government Center station shutdown set for March 22

Government Center station to shut

Artist's rendition by the MBTA

The T announced today Government Center will shut for its two-year makeover on March 22.

The T's posted some background info, including the answer to the question: "How will this affect my commute?"



Free tagging: 


are you for real?

yeah, that's definitely what we need. more buses clogging the streets in that area. it is amazing how many people think they are entitled to door-to-door service because they paid two bucks. suck it up folks. it is only two years. won't hurt you to lose a few pounds.


are you for real?

yeah, that's definitely what we need. more private cars clogging the streets in that area. it is amazing how many people think they are entitled to door-to-door service because they bought a car. suck it up folks. won't hurt you to lose a few pounds.



Not really

Just reflecting your attitude back at ya. You think buses clog up streets? Think again. You seem to be hating on bus riders for some reason.

I don't think anyone riding the T is expecting "door to door" service. After all, they're not riding in a car.

But you know, an "accessibility project" (as I mentioned earlier) ought to consider making accessibility a priority during construction. And people with disabilities are going to be hardest hit by the added transfer, and would benefit the most from having the shuttle bus cover Park Street as well.



The main goal of this renovation project is supposed to be to enhance accessibility for people with disabilities.

It would be thoughtful if an accessibility project like this one incorporated some enhanced accessibility measures, for people who are unable to walk, during construction, as well as after.


All in all, there is quite a

All in all, there is quite a bit of useful info on the Web page. The only thing I'm curious about is why are they recommending that people use Haymarket as a transfer point to access the Blue/Green lines via the Orange line. Why not recommend the Winter Street concourse at Park Street?


The page explicitly says that

The page explicitly says that whether you're going towards Lechemere or towards the B/C/D/E lines, to switch at Haymarket. The only rationale I can think of is maybe they're referring to people for whom the walk through the Winter St. Concourse would be difficult (elderly, disabled, etc.)

That's true, the Winter

That's true, the Winter Street concourse is a haul.

Unfortunately, it's also the official accessible route between the southbound Orange Line platform and the Red Line. I don't know how people who walk very slowly, and can't manage stairs, deal with that one.

The accessible route from the northbound Orange Line to the Red Line isn't much better. It involves leaving the system and re-entering at the far end of the Red Line platform (hey, an out-of-system transfer!), which isn't clear from signs.

The Orange Line is at

The Orange Line is at capacity between State and Downtown Crossing in the peak, so they are trying to encourage people to take it in the direction where there is still room (from State to Haymarket in the AM and from Haymarket to State in the PM).


MassDOT streamline

With the whole MassDOT streamlining a couple years back, projects have tended to be more likely to be at or under budget and on or better than schedule. I don't have hard facts, but I think anyone surveying transportation projects as of late has noticed that merging Mass Highway and the MBTA into MassDOT has been a positive gain for the state.



It's easy to be cynical because it is true the MBTA has a horrible recent record for station re-construction and smaller projects. Think back to the other recent projects like Copley, Arlington, and Kenmore. Or that Park Street Project, how hard is it to rebuild some stairs? It is these projects that makes me agree with the cynical anon than you.

However, I like to be optimistic on transit. Because I want to believe I can live to see a functional transit system for Boston sooner than later. And there's evidence for this too. Science Park is one of the most recent re-construction. It was was done early and underbudget. The only times I hear those words seems to be stuff about history from the 1910's. But here's one very recent. The reason they cited they manage to pull this off was because they said they learned their lessons of the past including and this also includes as why they closed the station.

From the second paragraph, perhaps they are telling the truth now. If they are, this is a big test. If they actually pull this off, this would be a big sign of actual reform. We'll find out in 2 years from March.


One difference

Government Center is an urban renewal zone that was entirely gutted (tragically) in the 1960s to build this monstrosity.

But, at least, that means less likelihood of running into unexpected problems like unmapped utilities and historic building impacts -- the kind of problems that Copley and Park Street projects had experienced, problems that cause significant delays while trying to sort them out.


Yes! Boston CIty Hall is one of the few

structures in the city that actually meets the criteria for "historically significant". It was designed by a prominent architect and is one of only a handful of buildings of that design.

But the Landmarks Mafia - er - Commissions in this town are more obsessed with preventing people from putting air conditioners in windows on non descript 'dime a dozen' brick buildings in questionally justifiable "historic districts" then they are in undertaking actual preservation efforts of significant structures.

Art is fine for museums and galleries

Well, this is a tangent, but okay...

A city is not a museum nor a gallery, and one of the biggest mistakes of "modernism" was the treatment of the city as some sort of canvas, without any regard for the people who live there.

Government Center destroyed a vibrant city square because of some puritan distaste over the activities that happened to be there at the time.

It was created by arrogant men who did not understand the first thing about how cities work, or why people live in them. They treated it as a space to create an ego-stroking monument to themselves. And they displaced thousands of people to do it.

The architecture looks like something pulled straight out of Stalin's Russia. It repels life -- intentionally. It was created by the suburbanite mind -- which only sees a city as a place to be exploited, not a place to live. Such a mind sees the normal chaos of a city district and reels in horror, rather than reveling in the diversity.

I would say that the only good thing about Government Center is that it is a constant reminder of just how stupid, ugly-minded, short-sighted, ignorant and arrogant city planners can be.


I asked this

to the PM at the time.

the answer I got was because funding was not 100% secured for the Science Park Station remodel when the North Station viaduct was reconstructed.

remember it takes YEARS to secure funding before a spec of dust is moved on a project.

And watch out, in the next few years Lechmere will be bustituted again when Lechmere moves across the street for the GLX


walking transfer

The linked page includes maps showing just how close and walkable the downtown stations are to each other. And yet twice the page points out how T management dropped the ball on setting up an out-of-system walking transfer between, say, State and Park, so only pass-holders can avoid the extra 15 or more minutes of having to use the Orange Line to get between the Blue and Green Lines.

But should we be surprised, given the complete lack of any other innovation related to the CharlieCard (hello, commuter rail) since its introduction?


I imagine this is related to

I imagine this is related to the fact they have no idea where you leave the system. I'm pretty sure that a subway fare is for "one entry into the system" rather than "2 hours of rides;" they would have to know where you left the system to be able to set up a rule on out-of-system connections.

That isn't to say the problem is completely unsolvable (e.g., set up a reader at the exit to a station to tap a single-fare CharlieCard to put the "transfer" on the card), but it would require something rather novel/unique which is difficult to communicate, at best, to thousands of people. Given the large number of pass-holders, and that an "out-of-system" transfer is a pretty expert maneuver, the group of non-pass-holding-experts may be too small to justify setting up such a workaround.

This is, of course, all speculation and I speak for no one as I know nothing for sure.

The suggestion was brought up

The suggestion was brought up at a public hearing last year and the project managers essentially shot down the idea right away.

The problem is not technological: heck, set up a time-stamped paper transfer you can hand to a CSA (oh, wait, that'd require station entrances to actually have a working CSA at all times).

The problem is one of, "That's not something we do at the T: CharlieCards and Tickets aren't time-based, we've never done this, and it's not something we're going to start now."


It's not "downtown stations"

It's not "downtown stations" though, it's effectively ANYWHERE on ANY LINE to a downtown station since the system doesn't know where you leave. This is, indeed, what they do with buses, so it's not unprecedented, but it does mean that for anyone entering a downtown station, they are able to enter as long as they tapped in within the last two hours anywhere on the system.

…have only certain stations

…have only certain stations allow you in with a subway to subway transfer. For the purpose of Government Center being closed, have only the fairgates at State, Haymarket, Charles and Park allow you in if you tapped in on the subways. They may even be able to make it so only people who tapped in on the green or blue lines can do it.

Charlie system

I asked about this at a public meeting a while back. I never got a good answer as to why they really can't fix this, but the closest was "we can't significantly reprogram anything because the vendor refuses to do it."

It's stupid, I know.

Well, I think their answer

Well, I think their answer actually is more-or-less what I said above. If the tickets are not time-based, there isn't any particular way to make the CharlieCard do it without completely re-envisioning what a ticket for MBTA rides mean at a fundamental level. That conversation may be worthy (plenty of cities do a two-hour block ticket), but is probably not something to do just for the gov't center project.

Paper transfers are a pretty messy solution (including, yes, lots of paper all over the place). Unless you're handing them out to everyone exiting at the station (which seems unreasonable), you'd still have to track someone down for the paper (or, find the new machine they bought to time-stamp transfers?) and then do the same at the receiving station for them to let you in (even if there IS a CSA at all entrances, they may well be helping someone else at a vending machine, who is lost, etc.) since that "simple" solution doesn't interact with the faregates. Such things certainly do exist elsewhere around the world; they are not impossible, but they add a layer of uncertainty/complexity and the one-off nature of it makes it much harder to do and communicate successfully.

Moreover, I maintain that a huge majority of the people desiring an out-of-system transfer likely have passes in the first place. Tourists aren't going to leave the knowable (if circuitous) confines of the rail system and infrequent users likely don't encounter this specific situation enough to have a good plan of attack for the out-of-system option (especially if they have to use some new method like finding someone to give them a transfer slip, which doesn't exist anywhere else in the system).

I was not at the meeting, so I don't know what their tone was, and perhaps it was condescending, which they obviously should not be. But I don't think this is either a) simple or b) a widespread/large benefit that warrants the work to make it happen.

Again, I speak for no one other than myself and know only what's in these articles, and haven't bothered to register with uhub, so take with whatever size portion of salt you prefer.


A subway fare includes a free

A subway fare includes a free bus transfer within two hours of when the fare was paid. All they need to do is to have two types of transfers: Subway fares that provide transfers which are accepted on subways and buses, and bus fares which provide transfers, which are only accepted on buses. (Or just let any bus transfer in at certain stations, and suck up the loss, knowing that really not very many people are going to take advantage of that compared to how lax ticket taking has been on the Commuter Rail for example)

Some people might take advantage of this for round trips on a single fare, but that's already possible with any sort of out of fare control transfer, and depending on the length of the window provided, it also probably wouldn't be worthwhile for most people, and so wouldn't cause a significant amount of abuse.

Correction for transferring from Green to Blue

The instructions for transferring from Green to Blue are slightly confusing!
Correction below. Adam, do you have contacts at MBTA to alert them to fix their page?

The recommended path of travel for Green Line customers desiring access to the Blue Line is to travel to Haymarket Station and transfer to the Orange Line toward Forest Hills (southbound). Customers should transfer to the Orange Line at State Street Station for Blue Line connections. The recommended path of travel for Blue Line customers desiring access to the Green Line is to travel to State Street and transfer to the Orange Line toward Oak Grove (northbound). Customers should then transfer at Haymarket Station for Green Line connections.


Silver line

All of a sudden, Green B Line to Park Street, transfer to Red line, and then get the Sliver line at South Station doesn't look so bad.


There really wasn't any great

There really wasn't any great way to do this. MBTA just kind of found itself in a Catch 22. I mean, in reality, this work should have been done way earlier, since it has been out of code for how long? The only redeeming thing about this is how quick they did over Orient Heights. Gov't Ctr is a whole different beast, but they were working non-stop on OH, so it gives me some hope that they will put the same effort into this project. It's sad how the MBTA has to focus on rebuilding neglected infrastructure, and not on expanding the system to make it work more completely.


I'm pretty sure it didn't run

I'm pretty sure it didn't run over? Believe they said by fall 2013 it was to be finished, which it was. This is why the MBTA doesn't say something will be done "by 3pm on May 6th", because you set yourself up for disaster. They said fall, and I think it reopened in November? I'm not one to defend the MBTA construction woes (just look at Copley, Arlington), but I think they have at least gotten most of their shit together.

Mother of Gawd!

two years? For ONE station? Seriously? It's obscene that much time and money is being spent on one station, when other system's stock, signal systems, and overall infrastructure is is serious disrepair due to allegedly lack of funding. And never mind adding capacity to deal with the record large number of riders. All to make ONE station compliant with the federal disabilities act?

Two is better than 7

One of the plans being floated suggested that the work would be done while the stations were in use with only periodic occasional closures, such as the service busing on the Orange Line when they are working on the new Assembly Square Station.

Had that been chosen the construction would have required the construction of a temporary entrance - all ADA compliant - which would then be demolished when the actual entrance was completed and opened. That would have driven costs up and lasted as much as 7 years.

By closing the station to pedestrians, but still allowing trains to pass through to the next stations down the line, they come in at around 2 years with substantial cost savings.


A compromise would have been

A compromise would have been to keep the station open only for Blue/Green transfers, with just a temporary emergency exit. There are 20,000 people a day that transfer from Blue to Green or Green to Blue, but only 11,000 that actually begin their trip entering at Government Center. Losing this critical direct transfer for two years, and putting more people on the already overcrowded Orange Line, is going to be a harsh price to pay for keeping construction down to 2 years.

A disaster in the making

The Blue Line platforms at State Street Station are going to be disastrous during this ill-conceived renovation. There is no way the narrow platforms can handle all he Government Center traffic as well as the usual State Street traffic, which they can barely handle as it is. A disaster in the making.

Court ordered

The rebuild is required by a court decision.

Gov't Center is one of the last of a series of stations that the T was ordered to make ADA compliant. In fact I think it is the last one that needs this work done.

It is surprising so few people have a grasp of the history of the station, how it came into being and when, and why it must be rebuilt now. This has been well covered in the press.

The shock an awe expressed here is frightening. I can just see the public panic when the station actually closes, even with signs posted for weeks in advance.

It might be funny to just stand there and wait for people to arrive and ask why the station is closed, and tell them "They heard you were coming. This is your fault."


...but try to catch a Train

So during construction, D line trains will now:

• D Line (Riverside) will end at Park Street during rush hours, and North Station at other times

Which makes no sense. During rush hour when people are trying to get to North Station, they're going to run fewer trains to north station??

That's what the MBTA says

There are limits on how many trains can be turned around at North Station and Lechmere without slowing down other trains.

Says the MBTA website Adam links to. And the D trains never went to North Station in the first place, so if you ride the D train on a regular basis and continue on to North Station, you are used to getting off and waiting for a C or E train to come along. That is a commute I am glad I no longer have.

This is total BS

that smacks of "we don't want to improve capacity east of Park Street at all, so let's give a thinly-veiled excuse".

The platforms at North Station are long enough to hold at least two two-car trains. Second, there are two turnback tracks at North Station, not one. As for Lechmere, there are two loop tracks, each of which can hold a pair of two car trains.

The capacity "problems" the T alludes to in their response have nothing to do with physical limitations in the system, and everything to do with oudated operating rules and procedures. Like not allowing more than one train to berth on a platform at a time - except at Park Street west. And let's not forget the parade of train slowing "absolute stop at all times" signals between North Station and Haymarket.

Route 800...

Bring that back (Blandford Street-Lechmere) during rush hours and make them RAD. A few deuces may likely be freed up from the "B" and "D" to use for the 800. Hopefully, you can improve pax flow through the Central Subway without whittling down headways on the branches.

Easier way to improve pax capacity

in the Central Subway. Run Bs to North Station, run Ds to Lechmere, and abolish the practice of 5 to 10 minute holds at Park Street and Kenmore for "headway adjustment" to account for the time differences. Also, as I noted in another post, eliminate the unnecessary non-interlocking "must come to absolute stop before proceeding" signals scattered throughout the Central Subway. And allowing multiple berthing of trains on platforms long enough to accommodate them would also help as well.

Way to miss the obvious contradiction

in the T's information. The T is stating that B and D trains will terminate at Park Street during rush hour, yet they are telling passengers to go to Haymarket to transfer to the Green Line. Which means said passengers must also make an extra transfer from E or C to B or D.

But I guess this is another example of "for the safety and convenience of our employees". Not to mention the typical garbled communciations from their "customer service" people.