State approves T fare hikes, new trolleys and buses

New trolleys

Hess trains?

The state Department of Transportation today approved an average 5% increase in T fares, starting in July. The Globe has details.

The department also voted to spend $118 million - half to come from the feds - to buy 24 new Green Line cars in anticipation of the opening of the Green Line Extension one of these years.

The new cars will be built by CAF, which will manufacture the shells and frames in Spain and then ship them to Elmira, NY for final assembly. The new cars will be delivered between late 2017 and late 2018.

In addition, the T will buy 40 hybrid buses from New Flyer, to replace buses built in 1994 and 1995. About 80% of the $38 million cost of the order will come from the federal government. The T expects to save money on fuel and on the contract itself, which involves picking up options on a contract Connecticut has for the same basic type of buses. They'll join 25 other hybrid buses the T has had in service since 2009.

The board is expected to vote later this year on proposals to buy 74 new Red Line cars and 152 new Orange Line cars.

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    Comments

    Kinki Sharyo's proven

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    Kinki Sharyo's proven capabilities and the AmeriTram design got cheated by this decision!

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    We already have two different streetcars

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    that electrically and mechanically are basically two different designs - despite the past efforts of the MBTA to "modify" the Type 7s so they play (but not well) with the Type 8s.

    At this point, I am reminded of two sayings:

    Penny wise and pound foolish

    and

    Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it

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    While standardization would

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    While standardization would be a good thing, this order won't have the fiasco-inducing requirement of being able to hook up with existing trains of a different design. That was a requirement of the Breda Type 8s, since the T needed a way to include a wheelchair-accessible car in every train. Now that every Kinki Type 7 has a Type 8 to go with it, the Type 9s won't need to fill that role.

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    The fisaco of that requirement

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    was not the original specification per se, but the fact that Breda was allowed to meet the specifications by retrofitting and rewiring the Type 7s to meet their design, instead of insuring their design was compatible with the Type 7s in the first place. Now, this may sound like semantics to most reading this, but there is a HUGE difference between the two approaches.

    Regardless, the fact remains that we'll wind up with yet another unique design that requires the T to carry yet another separate parts inventory. What's particulary interesting about all this is that the MBTA used this same rationale (parts availablility and inventory) to accellerate retirement of the PCC fleet once the Boeing LRVS were ordered in the early 1970s (but before most of them were delivered). And those of us who are old enough realize how well THAT decision turned out for the MBTA.

    And yes, I realize you are in agreement with me that, in a perfect world, the entire Green Line fleet should be replaced and standardized. Just offering some clarification to others regarding the Breda issue

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    I Hope They Work As Good As These

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    I share your dismay that the Ⓣ has to use yet another completely different vendor and design. However, this CAF company does seem to have a lot of experience with many different kinds of rail vehicles.

    Their website shows examples in service all around the world. None of them are quite like the one shown in the picture for Boston, though the trams CAF made for Nantes, France are somewhat similar. It sure would be nice if the ones they make for Boston work as good as these!

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    Seconded.

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    I have ridden similar trams in (at least) Zurich, Paris (near the Rue Peripherique) and Nice. I don't know if CAF had a hand in manufacturing them or not (e.g., as part of a consortium), but I do know that the tramways of which I speak are much more open (space-wise) and airy than the existing Green Line cars (particularly at the articulating portion of the cars), have a much smoother ride and are much, much quieter.

    I have to say that given my experiences, I would favor a European manufacturer - and all the better if it is in a country that needs some economic help (presumably we can get a better price - in this respect, it's too bad Spain couldn't leave the Euro, then we'd REALLY get a good price after a devaluation).

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    Zurich and Basel

    They reminded me of the trams that dominate the roadways in the central areas of Zurich and Basel.

    The ones in Berlin are their kin, too.

    World Class

    Now we can ride around at all hours of the night (on weekends anyway) to our soon to be unlimited number of bars on trains that may actually get us to where we're going in a reasonable amount of time. AND the Orange Line may not reek of piss (as often) anymore to boot?

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    Not until

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    2019 at the earliest. And that presumes the new equipment won't have the sort of teething problems the T has experienced in the past - think Boeing LRV for starters.

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    Semi-Sarcastic

    Is what I was going for there. It's exciting to see the MBTA doing something to improve local service that isn't required by law (ADA settlements, etc.). But I'll believe it when I see it, and as you noted, even then sometimes it isn't enough.

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    It is required by law

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    This order of 24 trains is to fulfill the needs of the Green Line Extension project, that adds several kilometers worth of track to the system, and therefore needs additional equipment to service. The GLX is a settlement from a lawsuit under the Clean Air Act.

    So really, the origins of this order trace back to legal action.

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    Well...

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    Admittedly, the Red and Orange Line have much more pressing and immediate needs. On the Green Line, the Type 7 cars are being progressively overhauled right now and the first batch should start returning in a few months. After that we should be in okay shape until the Type 8s start to need overhaul. I hope that the MBTA chooses to scrap them instead, and will have some replacement ready. But they probably don't need to get started on that until after the Red and Orange cars are on their way.

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    Deja Vu

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    When has the state ever *denied* fare hikes? And it's still a disgrace.

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    A brief chance not to be invisible

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    http://willbrownsberger.com/forums/topic/2014-green-line-forum-a-progres...

    Last year, Senator Brownsberger hosted a forum on the state of the Green Line. More than 100 riders attended to voice their concerns about service and capacity issues. MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott attended, accompanied by a panel of MBTA personnel to answer questions and hear concerns from riders. Senator Brownsberger summarized the issues raised in a letter to MassDOT Secretary Davey. The MBTA responded in a letter that outlined current MBTA initiatives to improve service.

    This year’s public meeting, will be held Wednesday, May 28, 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Rabb Lecture Hall at the Copley Library. Once again, Senator Brownsberger will host the event. Dr. Scott and MBTA personnel will discuss the progress that has been made towards addressing concerns raised during last year’s event and update riders on new initiatives. Attendees will be able to ask questions and bring their concerns to the attention of senior MBTA staff.

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    we need more money

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    We need more money for new subway cars, buses, and new subway lines. Massport has buckets of money. We should get it from them.

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    I don't disagree with your point

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    But remember that Massport is bound by far more complex (and IMO niggling) rules as to how and where they can spend their revenue (thanks to the FAA) than either MassDOT or the MBTA is. This is the principal reason that Massport was not folded into the MassDOT "merger" in 2009.

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    Thank you, roadman, for paying attention (at least someone is)

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    That is precisely correct. It is called "revenue diversion". In general, airport revenues are not allowed to be used for non-airport projects. Massport, as a multi-modal port authority that existed prior to the rules gets way more leeway than everyone else (excepting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Sea-Tac, which are similarly situated) and is able to send airport revenue to its other properties (i.e., the port). The dirty little secret is that Massachusetts and Massport have gotten away with murder over the past few years vis-Ă -vis diversion thanks to some political help (i.e., FAA has been "persuaded" not to take a hard line). It would be wise to not provoke the feds (nor the airlines, who end up paying for most of this, and who can bring their own diversion action under Part 16 of the fed. aviation regs) any further.

    But this all misses the larger point that "frustrated citizen" inadvertently raises. Massport is by far the best run transportation entity in the state, and its not just because of the money (although, that plays a large part, as, for example, it allows them to hire very talented people who otherwise could not be persuaded to leave the private sector).

    It makes absolutely no sense to me from a policy standpoint that Massport should be cannibalized to merely (and barely) slow the decline of the rest of the state's transportation entities. Rather, we should be spending huge amounts of time and energy on devising a way to make the other transportation entities function more like Massport.

    For anyone who might care, I have written about this before.

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    Massport gets huge amounts of

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    Massport gets huge amounts of tax money from the Federal Government, like all airports, so its disingenuous to say Massport is this magic money maker. They have also taken lots of property from Boston (look at the money they get from renting land in the Seaport to hotels and office towers. Its like the BRA, they have lots of money but its not earned.

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    Massport and the City

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    I'm not sure who said that Massport is a magic money maker or talked about whether it "earned" it's money (whatever that might mean).

    With respect to "taking" lots of land from Boston, almost all Massport property "in" Boston was transferred to Massport by the legislature as part of Massport's creation in 1956 (and by the way, Massport had to, and did pay the state back for it, along with the other assets it acquired such as the Tobin Bridge. Of course, when the state took the Tobin back in 2010, it didn't pay Massport).

    If you are suggesting that Massport properties are lost tax revenue for Boston, well, maybe (or maybe not), but of course you know that Massport is BY FAR (more than half the total collected in FY 2010!) the largest payer of PILOT to the City? You also know that many Massport tenants also pay real estate taxes to the Cit on the value of their leaseholds?

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    Tiny door?

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    Is it just me, or does the front door on these things look a tad...small? It's difficult enough as it is getting around those idiots who insist in standing in the doorway rather than moving into the car. If the door is actually only one person wide, rush hour is going to take ffffoooorrrreeevvveeerrr...

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    So NO front door?

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    That's going to make fare collection even easier... And now everyone will clump around the middle doors. Fewer exits seems to be asking for trouble...

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    Same thing

    I thought the same thing. But they are expecting people to memorize the look of the cars and get on them differently even if they run on the same line? It would sure cause a lot of confusion when you need to explain to people that you can _only_ use front door on some cars but _can_not_ use the front door of other cars on the green line.

    Also, if the rear doors don't have fare collection the trains can never be used for revenue beyond Kenmore eastbound. "But why would we ever want to do that", they say showing an utter lack of foresight.

    The specifications for the

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    The specifications for the Type 9 called for the same number of doors as the Type 7 or Type 8. So unless they made a major change to that requirement after the bids went out, that is indeed a passenger door at the front, despite th artists rendering.

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    Rendering

    This rendering likely bears little or no resemblance to what we'll actually get.

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    Sure they could

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    If the T ever got around to implementing Proof of Payment, like the rest of the modern world (and America), then you could use any door to board. Many newer light rail systems don't even have a "front door" on the trains. The driver never interacts with passengers except in an emergency. You always board at the (accessible) middle doors. Better for the driver (less trouble), better for the passengers (faster), better for the agency (more reliable revenue).

    Although I suspect that the T would go MUNI's route and continue to carry a farebox on every train, even with PoP, so that people can pay cash-on-board still, but let everyone with a pass go through the rear doors.

    I presume you meant to say

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    beyond Kenmore westbound. Eastbound trains beyond Kenmore are in the Central Subway, where on-board fare collection is not an issue.

    Sidebar point - Wonder when the MBTA is going to finally wise up and drop the "inbound" and "outbound" notations in the stations in favor of the actual direction the trains travel in, as they've increasingly been doing for the T alerts.

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    Don't forget highways!

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    Don't forget highways! Highways get $3 for every $1 public transit does, and no one seems to mind the fact that highway spending goes up more than 15% every year.

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    "Elmira, NY for final

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    "Elmira, NY for final assembly"

    That's a relief. They were threatening to require final assembly in Massachusetts, even though no such plant exists. Fortunately the cars will be built and assembled in existing factories with a long history of building railcars.

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    Relief

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    That's a relief.

    You haven't been to Elmira, have you?

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    A Dime? This is going to be fun

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    I actually thought the $1.50/2.00 fares they have now are set really well, nice even numbers that allow you to calculate quickly how much you'll need to pay. And though, yes, the previous 23 percent hike with reductions in service sucked, $1.70 was a pain in the ass amount to pay. I hate to see what is going to happen to those annoying folks who insist on adding money to their cards on the bus, or others who are simply paying a cash fare. Now everyone has to carry a dime with them. And now, at every stop on the buses we'll be treated to some idiot trying to use the overly complicated fare box to add 2.10 to their card, dropping the dime on the floor, trying to find it, and delaying the bus/green line. Alternately what will happen when people paying a cash fare don't have a dime and put in say, $2.25? Will they get a worthless printed ticket for 0.15 (that will also take 30 seconds to print!)? Or just have to lose .15? My guess is that a lot of drivers will just start waving people by so that they don't have to deal with the hassle, likely cancelling out a lot of the revenue the T plans on getting from this. I think that this is a silly fare hike, and almost would have just accepted a larger one for a less complicated payment.

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    I believe you only get a

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    I believe you only get a ChangeTicket from a bus/trolley farebox if you overpay by at least 50 cents. I also believe this minimum doesn't apply for senior/TAP fares.

    They added this restriction soon after the new fareboxes arrived. The bus fare was 90 cents (remember that?), everyone kept paying a dollar, and the really slow process of printing the ChangeTicket was delaying buses.

    The "solution": stop giving ChangeTickets of less than 50 cents. Another example of poorly-designed brand new technology dictating a customer-unfriendly policy.

    The Outer Express Bus cash

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    The Outer Express Bus cash/CharlieTicket surcharge is going up to $1.55. Youch.

    Why isn't the surcharge a fixed amount for all modes?