South Station could be renamed to honor Mike Dukakis

Boston Metro reports a transportation financing bill now wending through the legislature would rename the terminal the Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station.

It would be a fitting tribute for the former trolley-riding governor and one-time Amtrak board member, both for his longstanding support for public transit in general and because, as governor, he stopped the BRA from tearing down South Station altogether.



Free tagging: 


Dukakis and the military

Of cours, he DID spend 2 years in Korea in the mid-1950s, right south of the demilitarized zone. But what really matters that he looked funny in one picture, decades later.

Oh Look

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Oh Look, another "conservative" boomer stuck in the 60's/70's, with the policy mindset of the 80's. This is my suprised face.

Call it "The Duke"

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I'd give it 5 days before it gets called "The Duke" by Bostonians.


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That's exactly what I was going to write. The Duke will be the unofficial nickname

I like the Duke and all...

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....but that's kind of a silly idea. It's confusing enough to outsiders that Boston has 2 major stations that do not in any way connect. Don't make it even worse by having North Station and Duke Station.

I can't remember

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my memory is fuzzy but didn't he ride the commuter rail into NORTH station a lot?

Yeah I get that the purchase of South Station in 1978 by the MBTA was pushed ahead by Dukakis, but he rode into NORTH station because South Station (as a major commuter rail hub) didn't exist until the late 1980s long after he left to try to run for President.

I think?

Yes and still lives

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Still lives there.

He did ride the Green Line from Longwood Station to Park Street early in his administration but his State PD escort asked him to stop eventually for security reasons.

He works at Northeastern and has offices just off the circle at Ruggles Station.

He recently chaired a regional rail conference in which reps from the transportation business (Keolis and others), multiple state governments (Gov Chaffee of RI for one), and transit agencies (MBTA), participated


It was held last month in Lowell.

Is it really?

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It's confusing enough to outsiders that Boston has 2 major stations that do not in any way connect.

Just like it is so confusing that NYC has Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, which do not in any way connect?

I agree that in an ideal world, they would connect, but it's not something unusual at all, since most railroads were built by companies which all had separate terminals at the edges of cities, and were slowly combined over time (South Station being one of many examples).

Actually, the name change that should happen is to swap "Station" for "Terminal." At least until the N/S Rail Link is built. That would help with any confusion: North Terminal and South Terminal.

Of course, renaming South Station to Dukakis Terminal would be kind of funny, since he has been pushing for the rail link for decades...


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NYC finished blasting a tunnel to connect Penn and Grand Central via the Long Island Rail Road. So in a few years (well, a few Government Project Years), they'll be connected.

That's the stupidest way

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That's the stupidest way imaginable of connecting them.

Grand Central was designed so that several tracks (8, IIRC) on the lower level could be extended into a new tunnel dug on Park Av. south of the station. Such a rail tunnel could then turn west to go under 31st St and connect to the tracks under Penn Station. And Penn Station was always designed to accommodate a new tunnel on 31st.

There's a diagram here:

But this required several different agencies in NY and NJ (it was recently proposed as part of improved rail transit to Jersey) to cooperate, and then that ass Christie killed the whole thing.


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That's like saying Hoboken and Penn Station are connected, in that they're not but that commuters can change at Secaucus to alter their destination from one to the other. Even when the LIRR finishes, I won't be able to take Amtrak to Grand Central (or Hoboken). LIRR trains will go to one or the other, not both. I could easily claim that south side and north side service are connected via the Orange Line.

Not really

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East Side Access is going through to a new deep level station underneath Grand Central. There won't be any track connection between that and the rest of the station, which will still require backtracking to the Bronx in order to switch over to tracks that runs to Penn Station. And all of that is irrelevant because the point of thru-running is to take a quick and fairly direct route between the two stations, one that could actually be part of normal schedules.

BTW, the insanity of ESA is that GCT has the most number of tracks of a train station in the world, largely unused, yet, the moron executives at the NY MTA hate each other so much that ESA "had" to build a whole new set of platforms to get in. And now it's delayed another few years and billions of dollars more! Bureaucrats!

NJTransit was going to do the same kind of stupid redundancy under Herald Square but Christie canceled the project. Not because he cared about technical details, but because he wanted to steal the money for the NJ Turnpike.

The real connection between Penn Station and GCT ("Alt G") was considered but never chosen.

NY/NJ makes MA look well-governed.

We're getting side tracked here, but...

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The Alt G scheme doesn't allow the current primary push of East Side Access, which is to allow LIRR trains to get to Grand Central. They would have to run into Penn, change ends, and go back out. The idea is to get them (some LIRR trains) out of Penn to reduce congestion there.

Not 100% sure, but I believe the third rail between the Long Island RR side (Penn Station) and the Metro-North side (former New York Central into GCT) are not compatible. I know that since the move to Penn, any time Amtrak equipment has had to detour into Grand Central, the third rail pickup shoes have to be modified.

Not that any of this has to do with Boston...sorry for the diversion.

Side track

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Alt G isn't part of East Side Access, it's part of ARC, which was the NJTransit/North River project.

Had ARC Alt G gone ahead, and had ESA been constructed properly with connection to existing tracks, then yes, you could have run LIRR thru to NJ via GCT and PS.

Alt G by itself would have allowed MN to run thru to PS via GCT, and NJTransit to run thru to GCT and beyond.

Modulo the power-supply/third-rail issues which you pointed out, which would need to be rationalized somehow.

Not that this has anything to do with MA, except to make us feel better about our own failings.

Union Stations

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most railroads were built by companies which all had separate terminals at the edges of cities

Thus, in many cities were built Union Stations. "Union Station" wasn't just a name referring to the States being a Union, it actually meant that the station was served by a union of different railroad companies.

Union Station

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My understanding that North Station was called Union Station at first (as a consolidation of half the city's terminals)- then North Union Station after South Station was built, and then I guess the union got lost somewhere along the line.


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North is South

So that way North Terminal would be at the south end of the line and South Terminal would be at the north end of the line. I think Dick Flavin would like this as it fits right in with his observations about Boston (e.g. the north end being east of the west end).

They're not renaming it exactly

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Since they're naming it “Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station,” I assume the logic is that it'll still be South Station, it's just that the building proper will have a different name from the train station itself or something. That sort of arbitrary hair-splitting is still moderately confusing, but since North Station has coexisted with the Boston Garden/Fleet Center/TD Garden since the original garden was built, it's not really all that unprecedented. South Station the train station is different from the broader "transportation center."

While I do think the Duke

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While I do think the Duke deserves such an honor, the station has been known as South Station for a century and it seems silly to change it now.


I get the impression this is being overblown. I think that the station building will be known as the Dukakis Transportation Center, while it will still be regular ol' South Station to everyone else. Just as the station in Lowell is by all means Lowell Station to everyone, but the building is technically coined as the 'Gallagher Terminal' -- but who the hell calls it that?

Dukakis remains a huge

Dukakis remains a huge proponent of rail travel, and so I think this is a great idea.

I think he has always walked the walk when it came to public transit, so I give him a lot of credit. When he taught at UMass/Boston, I used to see him on the Red Line, when probably jumping in his car and driving over there from Brookline would have taken less time. He waited with everyone for one of those stupid UMass shuttles, which he definitely would not have had to do if he used his car.

Another comment/question,

Another comment/question, this one for all you "true Bostonians."

Adam's March 2013 post about South Station mentions that it was mostly abandoned in the 1970s before it was sold to the MBTA which restored it. Anyone have pictures of its 1970s decrepitude? I would be curious to see it.

The abandoned parts weren't

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The abandoned parts weren't the parts the average commuter saw (although they were in dire need of maintenance). It was the office floors that were abandoned due to fire, leaky roofs, and a general lack of care.

For starters

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rent the original "Out Of Towners" (1970) with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Has some good interior shots of South Station and how decrepit it had gotten by that point.

Before it was redone ...

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It was basically a giant nothingness of a space, empty save for the seats, the pigeons and one tiny little coffee stand that sold green bagels on St. Patrick's Day.

The old South Station (1970s)

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The main South Station building used to be much bigger than it is today -- it extended south next to Atlantic Avenue (to where the bus station is today), and east next to Summer Street (where the 245 Summer St. building is now). Basically these wings weren't areas for passengers, but they housed facilities such as baggage and express, along with offices upstairs. Both wings were demolished in the 1970s.

Where the large waiting room is today, there was an area known as the concourse. This had been erected in the 1930s, replacing an earlier structure called a train shed. The concourse was pretty dark and nondescript -- if there was any architectural detail, you couldn't see it because of the dim light and grime. There was a newsstand in the middle and another kiosk which housed Mother's Bakery -- a branch of a small local chain. My mouth waters every time I think of their fig squares and turnovers. And some benches. Although the concourse was pretty large, that was about all it had. You walked out directly from the concourse, through a series of gates, onto the platforms between the tracks. (You couldn't get from one platform to another without going back into the concourse.) I think the area now used for the ticket office was off-limits, and the upstairs lounge for Acela passengers was definitely closed off to the public.

During the restoration project In the mid 1980s, they closed the building entirely, and built a temporary station. You entered the temporary station via a narrow walkway off of Summer Street, next to the 245 building. The temporary station itself was a tiny building with a couple of ticket windows and a very few benches. There must have been some restrooms, but not much more. It was located in back of the main station near the platforms for Tracks 10 & 11, I think.

It was so nice when they reopened the main building with that great waiting area with all the sunlight! Such a contrast with the old dingy concourse!

I once read a book, published in 1916 I think, which said that South Station was the busiest railroad station in the world. Second busiest was Boston's North Station. (Back then a lot of big cities had multiple stations, often spreading the ridership among the depots. Chicago had at least six.)

The concept of building a rail tunnel through downtown Boston, to connect the southern lines with the northern ones, dates back to the mid 1800s.

The state of Mass

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Only in the state of Mass, last month the MBTA put out a proposal for the fee of one million dollars for the naming rights to South Station. Today the legislature proposes a bill naming the station after the Duke for nothing. Who gets to decide ? Either way the taxpayer looses


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Either way the taxpayer looses

Looses ... meaning???


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The "D" line is sort of already named for him, the line he used as governor.

Dukakis line

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Nope, Dukakis rode (rides) the C.

My father was hired by the MBTA to determine the optimal way to introduce then highly anticipated, much faster, Boeing LRVs to the Green Line. He provided the mathematical proof that starting with the D branch, with its greater distance between stops, would result in the greatest improvement of service.

They thanked him for his study, paid him his fee, and as the LRVs were delivered began dispatching them on the C line. Why? Because Governor Dukakis regularly rode it to the State House.


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He lived on Perry Street, and the Brookline Village stop on the D line is much closer. And I took both lines in those days and I am sure the D line came like clockwork while the C line did not.

For what it's worth

I used to take the C line into town daily, and saw Dukakis on it once in a while. He would chat with anyone who came up to talk to him.

C Line vs D Line

The C Line has a lighter passenger load than the D Line (or than any other line, actually). So I could see why he may prefer it. Maybe he even enjoyed a coffee or breakfast at a place along the C Line somewhere.

Really? I thought I heard

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Really? I thought I heard that the Boeing LRVs were prone to derailment, so they kept them off the D line because of its higher speeds.

And I didn't think the PCCs were any slower than the LRVs.

At First, Yes...

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... but eventually, after many years of modifications, the Boeings ran pretty good. I miss them; I think they were better looking than the Kinky trains that came after, and I really loved the noise they made when they started up! Nowhere near as musical as Montreal's MR-73 trains; but, a little bit like the sound the Bombardier Red Line trains make; the Boeing LRV's sang their own special song!
Photo by ck4049 on Flickr

The PCC's are surely the fastest trains of all; they're used on the only "High Speed" rail line in Massachusetts. The Acela's max speed is 165 mph, so the PCC's must go faster than that!