Dukakis, Weld: Connect North and South Stations

The former governors say it's last time to connect the two terminals with a rail link.

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Weld is past his expiration date

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Today's party's response would be, "a Democrat likes an idea? It's bad!" No space for a guy like him in the Party of No.

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LOL

You kind of just did what you were attempting to bash the GOP for doing.

Nice work, jackass.

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Thanks!

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Thanks! Loved the ad hominem!

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The former governorS

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You may want to forget one or the other, but they were both governors of MA.

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I was hoping Adam would post about the N/S Link articles

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Some quick hits:

I agree with the overall tone - if Dukakis and Weld are saying something together, it is worth listening to.

Also, Shirley regains just a little bit of credibility for opining in a sensible manner on this.

I think that if any Governor is going to be able to do this, it's Baker. Sky high approvals, a reputation for being a numbers guy and a careful spender (deserved or not), and familiarity with the financing mechanisms and maybe even some of the physical infrastructure - even if he did obfuscate the first time around. The earlier go-around could work to our advantage - it is a chance for absolution for a sin that I think that deep down he knows he committed. No politician can resist that, and Baker in particular has shown that he will turn around when presented with a good case for doing so.

Secretary Pollack should be quiet - at least for now.

The short and long of my reaction is what I have said before: we are beginning to choke on our own success around here, and unless we give ourselves the Heimlich and make bold moves to fix our infrastructure problems soon, we're going to die. This would be but one bold move.

Lastly, anyone can come up with reasons not to do this. If you want to do that, you should also propose some other solutions to the fact that it is taking people well over an hour to travel less than 20 miles from their homes to the growing job meccas on the Waterfront and in Kendall. And let's face it: even though I am a cyclist and could easily cover that distance in less than an hour, there are any number of reasons why cycling is just not going to work for me and the vast, vast majority of others out there.

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No

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Also, Shirley regains just a little bit of credibility for opining in a sensible manner on this.

A con artist cozies up to your grandmother, tries to trick her out of her house and savings, and is almost not stopped in time.

The next time the con artist treats your grandmother to Olive Garden (how nice!) without mentioning anything about how grandmother should sign over her assets to him, did the con artist regain credibility in your mind?

Shirley Leung should be over at the Globe. Boston needs to actually smack down the Olympics scammers, not let them move on to the next scam, which apparently is already happening with city master planning.

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West Station Allston <-> North Station

Cross the Charles on the bridge under the BU Bridge, through Cambridge, to North Station. Sure, there are some things to resolve but it would cost A LOT less than a tunnel from North Station to South Station. Not that these are mutually exclusive, but it would be nice to see the State get serious about this much lower-hanging fruit.

Removing the Worcester Line's single-track constraint in Allston would also make possible improvements in travel to South Station

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Agreed, Harry, but...

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I agree with all of this, but there is an occasional commenter here (whose handle I cannot recall, and who I hope chimes in on this thread soon) who has made the case for me as to why Grand Junction is not happening anytime soon, either. In any event, I also agree with you that these projects are not either/or - e.g., I still think that there should be something resembling DMU (or as I prefer to say, "RER-type") service from West Station to the Kendall Sq. vicinity even if there is a N/S link.

My support for a real intermodal West Station is well documented on UHub and as between the two of these projects, I would take West Station. As I said, however, I think there is a good case to be made for both, and at a minimum, we need to be thinking big enough to conceive of a way both projects move forward.

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I thought there used to be a link

Then a bridge over the Muddy River or a ship channel burned down, and never got rebuilt. I suppose all the right-of-way now has a convention center and Important Insurance Company buildings on it, so it can't be used.

Very short-sighted, at any rate.

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And

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there's my Grand Junction bat signal!

Can DMUs run on the GJ - yes. Will they be able to offer a level of service that'd justify the costs of implementation - probably not. Any West-North run will have to traverse the active freight + mainline terminal district, so time separation non-compliance waivers are out of the question right now. FRA-compliant DMUs would fall under FRA mainline regulations, which include stipulations for the lag-time for the gates at grade-crossings. West-Kendall-North is a service primarily for peak-hour commuters and, unfortunately, peak hours are also the times when auto + bus traffic casualties will rack-up significantly at the grade crossings. The MBTA studied sending Worcesters to NS a few years ago with the conclusion that the adverse traffic impacts and the lack of massive pent-up demand don't justify opening the GJ for revenue service, I'm warming on the DMU service plan - but DMUs are best suited to the "middle-distance', inside-128 service rather than circumferential service (which would require higher-than-possible frequencies to be effective). So Fairmount, Riverside-SS, Fitchburg from a new Weston 128 station, Lowell to Winchester/Woburn/or Anderson, and maybe Reading-NS and Salem-NS (though the last two are probably better served by Orange-Reading, and Blue-Lynn/Salem in the long-term). Save the GJ for something better, which comes with....

THE NSRL! With the link, the MBTA/Amtrak can deadhead trains via the link rather than GJ. All that's left at that point would be to negotiate with CSX or Pan Am about removing the Chelsea terminal run. Then you can cleave GJ from the terminal district and flip it to a Green Line/future Urban Ring color branch. What you do at the Allston end depends on what kind of funding can be had post-NSRL (or better yet tied into the whole project): it's either stub-out at West Station or bury the B to Packard's and punch out over the BU bridge. The latter option helps the B with it's ridiculous on-time issues and the MBTA can experiment with various routes to meet demand, B-via-GJ slingshot in and out of downtown for example.

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Cambridge needs to lead the charge here

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[Insert laughter here]

But seriously: Kendall has a capacity problem. We know this. Even the Globe's editorial page knows this! And with MIT's plans and the Volpe rebuild coming up in the next few years, plus Novartis, Pfizer, Boston Properties, Alexandria, etc, etc, etc (and there's still a lot of land left, believe it or not, and Cambridge is not about to allow it to be built as above-ground parking which takes up a lot of land, even in downtown Boston), the Red Line is going to get more and more crowded.

Will new trains help? Yes. Would signal upgrades help? Certainly. But in the long run, you can move a lot of people by a single-track subway, but not an infinite number. And since the Red Line serves as the last mile connection for the South Station Lines and the Fitchburg Line, and also serves major employment centers downtown, at MGH and at Harvard, it carries a very heavy load. It does a good job, carrying close to as many people across the Charles as the Zakim Bridge. And Cambridge has done a good job with their PTDM ordinance to encourage last-mile shuttles and bicycling programs and 60% of commuters to Cambridge don't drive alone.

Kendall is traversed by a transit corridor which makes close-to-right-angle crossing of the Red Line, and connects the Worcester Line and most of the North Side (at either North Station or, better, I'd say, Sullivan). It could provide a ton of capacity, especially from areas which are currently hard to get to (by car or transit). You can get from Littleton to Kendall, with a change at Porter, in 45 minutes. From Lawrence (about the same distance) you're looking at 1:10 and from Southborough (also the same distance) it's more than 1:20, because for both you have to go in to the city and then back out. A good connection between Sullivan and Allston would shave 40-60 minutes off those commutes, making Kendall as accessible as Downtown. (The Seaport, on the other hand, has no such panacea.)

The problem is that the current Grand Junction, and its fragmented ownership and history, would not make for such an easy connection. First, the corridor. Two track operation through the whole corridor, which you really need for any dependability and frequency, would be very hard. MIT owns the corridor from Pacific Street to Broadway, and CSX/MassDOT has just a narrow 20' easement on parts of it. MIT uses the surface for deliveries to its buildings, and buries utilities along the line, so more surface trackage would be difficult. There's also a desire for better pedestrian and bicycle connections, and the corridor is constrained.

Then there's the grade crossings, especially Mass Ave, Broadway and Cambridge Street. A train every 20 minutes is no real issue, but if you have 10 minute frequency in two directions, it creates the potential for a traffic nightmare, especially since along most of the corridor there are intersections nearby so it would have to be built to allow them to clear, which adds time to the cycles and backs up already back-ed up traffic further.

Finally, you have perceptibly loud diesel trains coming through, and even DMUs have source-area pollution (although they are quieter than 3000HP commuter rail engines). Its over Tim Toomey's dead body that you'll get frequent long trains going through East Cambridge at grade, even though you'd probably have a net reduction in pollution from fewer cars and less congestion. So that's a concern, too.

Anyway, how doe Cambridge have to lead? The city needs to talk seriously about grade separation. The corridor has MIT utilities buried underneath, which would need to be moved, utilities at cross streets, which would need to be mitigated, and would have to cross under the Red Line. These are all constraints. However, unlike the Big Dig, it would not be built under an existing highway, several existing subway lines and in a congested downtown area. The Grand Junction could be built as a trench. Several recent developments (Novartis and Pfizer just north of the GJ) have dug down 40 feet for parking structures, which is about how far you'd need to descend to get under the Red Line. It's all clay down there, so you need slurry or retaining walls, but not a tunnel boring machine. Put in concrete, and you have your connection, grade-free.

What do you get? You get stations in Cambridgeport and East Cambridge, both relatively far from transit today (East Cambridge will do better with the new Lechmere Station). In Cambridgeport, a lot of low-density, low-value land that is perfect for high density buildings (far from existing residents to NIMBY things) are currently underutilized because it's so damn far from Kendall. You get a new station between Mass Ave and Main Street, which puts transit much closer to the new development there (5 years ago: parking lots and candy factories) and the ability to build a connection to a new Red Line station at Tech Square (which should happen regardless: the distance between Kendall and Central is the same as the distance between Charles and South Station; there was less going on when the Red Line opened 105 years ago). You connect Kendall to the Green and Orange Lines, and to the Worcester Line, Haverhill Line and Eastern Route (Rockport/Newburyport) giving it much better access to regional housing markets. By improving access, you assure that it remains the huge tax base generator for decades to come.

On the surface, you buy plenty of room for pedestrian and cycling improvements, and give MIT the ability to ease deliveries. You also allow MIT to build a utility tunnel above the grade, which is much easier than constantly digging up the ground to run utilities under their delivery roadways and an active rail line. This becomes a utility artery for the MIT campus, and one they could drive a truck into to service or repair.

In a bit more detail, west to east:

* Charles River on existing bridge
* Memorial Drive under existing bridge (although that decrepit structure might not be too long for this world)
* At-grade station in Cambridgeport (say, at the end of Putnam)
* Boat section east of there, descending at a 1% grade and going below ground at Pacific Street.
* Continue 1% down from Pacific Street, with MIT utility tunnel above and a vehicular access ramp between Putnam and Mass Ave for the utility tunnel.
* Underground station in the vicinity of the Cyclotron Building, between Albany and Vassar, just south of Portland. Connect through currently abandoned parcel to MIT-Tech Square Red Line station between Albany and Portland on Mass Ave. This parcel, especially if the north garage were razed (as is planned at some point in 10-20 years) would then be very valuable, above a major transit node, for a large building. It also brings transit to the doorstop of the CHA public housing on that corner.
* Descend out of the station under the Red Line.
* Ascend to just below grade between Broadway and Thorndike.
* East Cambridge Station at Cambridge Street
* Either ascend to grade to meet the Fitchburg Line and run in to North Station or use ROW around Boston Engine Terminal to route trains to Sullivan Square (currently 7 tracks and two platforms, could be rebuilt to 6-7 tracks and three platforms as a major transfer) and perhaps further to Assembly Square.

I guarantee you that gets a lot of ridership. It also helps access developable land in Boston (Allston, Sullivan) and Somerville (Assembly) so it's not just Cambridge. But Cambridge would have to take the lead, work with MIT to spend a lot of money (but damn Cambridge has the money, and will have more given the development going on) and realize that to stay as the top biotech location in the world, they need to make an investment. Cambridge has been riding 1900-era infrastructure to develop Kendall for the past 30 years, but needs to look forward.

Now, what does this have to do with the North South Rail Link? Well, it would help the Rail Link's imbalance. There are about twice as many trains that come in to South Station as North Station, so not everything can be interlined. However, Worcester trains could use the Grand Junction to make a loop, instead of running straight through. So in addition to regular shuttle service between Allston and Sullivan, Worcester Trains would go through downtown, then curve back to Kendall. Another line, potentially Fairmount, could do the same, but terminate in Kendall (or perhaps run out to 128 providing local service). The rest of the lines run through, now much more balanced, and you don't have to worry about some trains terminating at South Station. You also get an RER-style system: Fairmount trains provide service from Allston-Kendall-South Station, Allston-Sullivan/Assembly trains run that service (with the potential to extend east towards Chelsea and Lynn) and the Worcester trains run the loop (Back Bay to Kendall).

The cost? Probably a couple billion dollars. But that's peanuts compared to the development in Kendall (and Allston, and Sullivan, and Assembly) ongoing and what this would allow.

Of course, you basically have to electrify the system for this, but that would have to happen anyway.

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We should take this over to

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We should take this over to your blog as we're pushing the limits of the comment section here.

So in short, where we agree:

Kendall is a integral part of the metro CBD and the Red Line alone is not the long-term solution. Even with CBTC, there needs to be an alternative, and one that doesn't force riders though the transfer stations downtown.

The Grand Junction will be, someday, an input in solving the aforementioned problem.

Where I take a different line:

GJ shouldn't be trenched. So long as the MBTA needs the GJ to deadhead diesels north-south, trenching is off the table. I think the better solution is to remove GJ wholesale from the mainline network and flip it to light-rail that can be incorporated without much pain into the existing grade-crossing traffic signals. Extra point for signal priority. A trench is a billion dollar project with benefits that can be had for far less, either as an appendage to NSRL or independent of the Link if the MBTA and MassDOT can clear the non-revenue moves from the GJ with better southside facilities and an agreement with CSX(?) that runs the daily freight run. GJ is urban ring or bust.

Cambridge needs to start coalescing around Green-Porter before GJ improvements. Green-Porter buys Cambridge a flank to disperse Red Line loads headed downtown and it's the first piece of a rudimentary circumferential transit build-out. Arlington bus riders + Fitchburg Line-originating riders gain less crowded access to downtown and the fringes of Kendall and the Red Line receives some absolutely necessary load dispersal at the head of the busiest stretch in the whole system. FWIW, i'd like to hear your take Gl-Porter, I enjoy your blog and I think it's certainly a project that deserves more attention that it gets - anything that alleviates congestion on Harvard-SS should be discussed ad infinitum, imo, and you're one the best to do so.

Fairmount probably won't get a portal in NSRL. It could, and should, be electrified, but a billion dollar OC+Fairmount portal just isn't necessary when through-running Worcesters, Lowells, and Provis remove enough people from the transfer stations to make room for increased SS-terminating Fairmount ridership.

I guess our differences come down to this: I like the GJ as a part of the urban ring and I'm betting the future of circumferential transit and that project. I think NSRL is equally necessary, but it services a different goal: namely pumping Lowell, Worcester, and Provi for all the service density they can handle, not so much moving people around the fringes. Freeing up the GJ for Green Line branch operation also preserves the possibility of wiring in Chelsea at a later date that gets the same Eastern division + Western division access to Cambridge that you described above. That I think buys Cambridge 50 years worth the growth capacity we agree it needs.

I agree 100% that the need is there for something - we're veering into the narcissism of small differences a bit. If your plan could starting the alternatives study + conceptual design phase tomorrow, I build my own damn mountain just to yell about how much an improvement it would be.

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KBHer and Ari O for President/Governor/Legislature/Czar NOW!

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Sing it, Brothers/Sisters/Brother and Sister!

Really, bravo! I cannot tell you how happy I am that I solicited your input on this one, and thanks again to Jeff F. for reminding me of KBHer's handle.

It is discussions like this one that:
(1) make me happy to have discovered UHub almost 7 years ago;
(2) make me proud to live in our little outpost on the North Atlantic; and
(3) make it worth getting up in the morning to get to a job in a career that is not for me, but is a comfortable place to read UHub.

It sounds like Ari O has a blog - any chance of getting a link to that over here?

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Grammarz

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"former governors"

Also, I'm not sure if you mean to say "it's at last time" or "it's past time".

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It's too bad

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We haven't had any recent giant public works projects that literally took place in the land between North and South Stations. Well, there was the one, but we needed several lanes for surface car traffic to add to the several lanes of highway traffic we put underground. There's no way any train tracks could have been built there.

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Actually,

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During the big dig, the support structure for a rail tunnel was built underneath the highway, in anticipation of this exact thing. This means that instead of having to relocate utilities, perform archaeological digs, etc, etc, building the rail tunnel would simply be a matter of removing dirt from the already-existing structure, for most of its length. My understanding is that the bigger problem comes in when you go to build the portals connecting the tunnel to the rail branches on the north and south sides.

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That's cool

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I hadn't heard that (obviously). Is it intended to get the actual commuter/amtrak trains to be able to hit both N and S station? Because what I always pictured for a N/S link was a light rail or some kind of monorail (hopefully better than the one in Ogdenville and North Haverbrook)...

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That's the idea

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It would be an extension of the existing commuter/Amtrak tracks on the north and south sides. Although in theory there's nothing stopping the planners from changing the plan to building a subway or a trolley or a monorail or another highway, in their infinite wisdom.

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Yes, it would be a direct

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Yes, it would be a direct Amtrak/Commuter rail link between the two stations. The other issue is you never quite know what you are going to find after excavating all of the soil out, give the great workmanship demonstrated elsewhere on the big dig.

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Like the extra tunnel tube to

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Like the extra tunnel tube to be dedicated to the Silver Line next to the Ted Williams Tunnel for purposes of allowing legal light rail conversion of the Silver Line to the airport the N/S rail link tubes weren't built to save costs.

If it was known what a disaster the Big Dig was in cost overruns these tubes should have been built in the first place to get it over with.

If Marky, Warren, and the rest of congressional delegation were worth their salt they'd be acquiring federal funds for this project. Amtrak/the NEC would benefit as well.

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Well, there was the one, but

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Well, there was the one, but we needed to replace the several lanes for surface car traffic that were underneath the several lanes of highway traffic we put underground.

FIFY

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I'm happy you chimed in, roadman

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I was wondering what your prescription for fixing our transportation woes are (on a grand scale). [This is not a snarky question - I think that you know something of these things, and I am interested to hear from you and KBHer, in particular].

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I'll ask the dumb question

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I'm all for good transit investment, and I've seen this mentioned before as an important project. But I've yet to see a description of what a N-S connector would be.

Is it an Orange or Red line spur? Is it an extension of commuter rail lines? Is it moving sidewalks between N-S stations?

Please. The article and everyone else seems to know what it means, but I don't. Probably other taxpayers are also in the dark. I'd like to support anything Dukakis suggests!

Thank you.

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A tunnel connecting the

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A tunnel connecting the tracks at North Station to those at South Station, so not all trains must end at the current termini.

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Yeah, I was a bit disappointed in that

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The two former governors are given prime space and their argument seems to boil down to: Philadelphia built a tunnel, so we should, too!

One interesting argument I've seen for connecting the Northeast Corridor to North Station:

All those plans the state had for expanding service on the Fairmount Line and building a rail line to Fall River? They depend on figuring out how to fit a lot more trains into South Station. Only problem is that, in turn depended on convincing the Postal Service to let the state build it a new postal annex somewhere else (hmm, I hear there's some land available in Widett Circle), and now the Postal Service doesn't want to move.

If you connected South Station to North Station, you could shunt some of the traffic that now goes to South Station to North Station (like all those cute little DMUs Charlie Baker still hasn't 100% definitely ruled out) - relieving some of the pressure on South Station and letting the state say see-ya-later to the Postal Service.

You may recall how Deval Patrick, Tim Murray and Richard Davey bought the train line across the Charles and said they were going to use it to divert some Worcester Line trains to North Station - and then, a few months later said, oops, never mind.

Sad historic point: South Station once had the world's largest "train shed" (scroll down this page for a photo) - and tracks went directly along Fort Point Channel. The good old days.

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Grand Junction.

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It's the number of grade crossings.

Mass Ave.

Main Street.

Broadway.

Binney Street.

Cambridge Street.

And they are all fat high traffic things so you'd end up making new congestion from attempts to address old congestion.

Getting control of the right of way is a value in itself. Now they can move locomotives and cars from South to North without needing permission from a CSX dispatcher in Selkirk NY. CSX has to clear it with commuter rail.

That's worth a lot given the complexities of railroad rules.

And the Postal Annex is the main mail facility in the area because Amtrak hauls mail for it. You can usually time basic mail delivery from anywhere in the eastern US to here by train routes.

I don't know what the drop off point to air mail is but South Station is a pipeline to Chicago, the Southeast and NY for mail. My guess is probably the US east of the Mississippi at least.

Paris has 6 terminal stations to our 2 and connections between them are covered by Metro, like here.

I wonder about the utility of transfer. Would someone in North Billerica use it to commute to a job in Hanson? It will all ripen eventually.

Right now, I mainly want to get more material on the Hockomock Swamp WMA before construction begins on this South Coast route. It's the largest wilderness area in eastern MA and one of the only places you can fly over at night and see no lights.

I'd love a system that had easy transfer capability as I'm a lifelong pedestrian and would use it pretty extensively but I'm also a crackpot and would never expect anyone to make biz decisions based on what I care about.

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Reasonable comments like this deserve a handle.

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Other than that, I wanted only to distinguish the Paris situation by noting:

1) Paris has the RER for commuters, which does precisely what this N/S link would do, i.e., give a one seat ride through the urban core; and
2) it is not always necessary to go through Paris and change trains (and/or move between stations) to get from the south to the north of the city (particularly if you are east of the capital).

Unfortunately for us, that is not the case here. To get north and east of Boston from the south by passenger train requires you to get from South to North Station.

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Amtrak hauls mail?

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I thought Amtrak got out of the mail hauling business several years ago.

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Better than S. Station expansion

The Duke got me me onboard with this at Northeastern, so I'm glad he's making the case more publicly now. Everyone else wants to go full speed ahead on expanding South Station, but the rail link could relieve a lot of its existing pressure while allowing the kind of no-transfer commuter and regional rail service that you get in New York and the Midwest.

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Not one bit of snark

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I'm 100% in favor of this link, but can someone explain how it will help North and South stations to be less crowded or expand their ability to handle trains and people? It must be true, but I just don't see why.

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Imagine

If the Needham line continued on to Rockport.

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capacity

Right now trains have to turn around or deadhead. It can take 15 minutes for a train to pull in, unload, reload, and switch crews. Then they have to traverse again the congested and slow interlockings leading to the stations. With the NS rail link a train unloads then reloads same as any other non-terminal stop on the line, then continues forward with another train coming in right behind. (Or ten minutes later). This allows trains to come more often, meaning the stations handle more people, but those people have to wait less so the station is less crowded. (Personally I don't think the stations would be less crowded, but that's the reasoning as I see it.) There's also the fact that they would be building new platforms underground - tracks would dip below before they got to either station, and presumably the platforms would be somewhere beneath the current ones, so passengers would be more spread out.

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Gondolas

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Hanging above the Greenway. It will allow people to enjoy the sights from a new perspective and will be much cheaper than some subterranean train.

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Yes yes!

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And maybe build an elevated steel structure above the greenway to hold the gondolas....and while we're at it, just add a few lanes of traffic. This is the future!

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Gondolas

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Again, another quick hit (unrefined).

I get what you're saying there, but these things are not a terrible idea in general. By way of Example, I think that a Gondola between a West Station (and the expanded Harvard Campus/InnovationDistrict of 2025) and Kendall would be much cheaper than Grand Junction and might be a really efficient and quick way to move people across the River (so cheap in fact, that it could easily be paid for by Harvard - we should have put that in the deal for the Turnpike land).

In any case, I think that they are a particularly viable option for dealing with our terrible trans-Charles transit situation. Hell, they would be viable from downtown to right in the middle of Logan (as opposed to getting to a boat dock, etc.) (clearing ship traffic shouldn't be a problem and at the same time, staying under the relevant departure and landing surfaces at Logan would be okay, too).

Hell, even so called "developing countries" have these. (Yes, I understand that the topography played a role in La Paz deciding to build its gondola).

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Probably the better example

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Probably the better example to go with is the Tram in NYC connecting Manhattan to Roosevelt Island.

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Tramway vs. Gondola

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Perhaps, but trams don't work very well for high demand times (which would be a lot of the time). Just ask anyone who has ever waited for the tram at Jay Peak on a Saturday with 2 feet of new snow, but there is a biting wind and it's -10F. I imagine the situation at a West Station would be far, far worse from a congestion standpoint. A gondola has much higher throughput.

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heh

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You just love showing that video off, Elmer :)

Have you ever rode it?

I have.. it's.. interesting. Reminds me of Disney.

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I Watched It Being Constructed And Have Ridden It Many Times

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In the 1970's, the voters of Dade County realized that attempting to add additional lanes to I-95 would never solve Miami's traffic problems. So they voted to fund the construction of a completely new rapid-transit system that was ultimately called MetroRail.

Unfortunately, before construction began, short-sighted NIMBY-ism by neighborhoods in the direct, logical corridor paralleling I-95, forced the route into an impractical, contorted, meandering path through the worst areas of town.

I watched the whole thing being built with great anticipation, and of course, tried it out on the very first day it opened. Beautiful, air-conditioned trains and nice stations, but it just didn't go from where anyone lived to where anyone wanted to go.

The MetroMover system in my video was completed a year or two later. It's much smaller in scale than MetroRail; the automated cars run in two or three different loops around downtown Miami, with connections to MetroRail at a couple of stations. When it opened, MetroMover cost a quarter to ride, but now it's free. MetroMover is very practical as a feeder system, to whisk passengers inside the urban core to and from the MetroRail rapid-transit system.

MetroRail was eventually extended to the airport, but never north to serve the huge volume of commuters coming from Ft. Lauderdale. Since MetroRail originally opened, several projects have added additional lanes to I-95 over the years, but the traffic is worse than ever!

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Maybe so

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But it still won't solve the lack of connectivity between sides. Downeaster trains could go right through to New York and DC, and even more importantly, northside Commuter Rail trains would be able to connect with southside destinations and vice-versa, opening up hundreds of destination pairs (IE, one could take a train from Lowell to Ruggles, Salem to Brockton, Providence to Malden or Canton to Concord), eliminating connection-related stress on the subway system and even on the roadway systems in the whole metro area. This is a win-win and will certainly pay for itself.

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No doubt

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I was being flip with the gondola suggesting although as pointed out above, there are probably some good places for them as an alternative, like maybe from Charlestown to Chelsea or something? Up under the Tobin?

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A zip line from South Station

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A zip line from South Station to the water front along the Greenway would be amusing...

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How would this work?

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Which trains would be using the tunnel(s)? Subway? Which line(s)? North or South Station would be off the current path of all the current lines so would a spur (Red Line to North Station or Green Line to South Station for example) be necessary? Commuter Rail? It'd be nice for South Shore people to have a single seat ride to North Station and same for North Shore and South Station but realistically how many people would be affected?

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A N-S link would turn all of

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A N-S link would turn all of the commuter rails lines into full length tracks, Ie Plymouth to Lowell, etc. It wouldn't affect subway tracking.

Everyone who commutes in from the south and has to then get on either the green or orange lines. Everyone who commutes in from the north and then has to get on the red line to kendall. Everyone who lives north of boston but works in another suburb south of boston, who currently either has to take two commuter rails (absolutely nobody does this) or drive through the city, clogging up the highways.

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Why not a public/private parntnership?

Its been used in a lot of Europe.

Basically, the project is privately funded by big business and bonds. The winning consortium gets to run the system for X numbers of years to recoup the cost of financing the project.

The public gets a valuable asset.

Instead of paying thru taxes, the system is paid by fare.

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Public/Private Partnerships

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You don't suppose that it is a coincidence that Joe Aiello was named as the Chairman of the T's Control Board, do you? (Explore beyond that link to the rest of the site - in particular the Port of Miami Tunnel Project.)

Unless and until we can get legislative "leaders" to recognize the importance of building and maintaining infrastructure again, my feeling is that PPP's are the best we are going to do. I think that the Governor knows that (even if he hasn't said it). It is also nice that PPP's kind of bolsters he street cred with more traditional Republicans (not the crazies that we hear from so often these days).

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We are never going to get public infrastructure on a large

scale again. People are already taxed to the hilt. Nobody can win office running on a platform of spend. Every 4 years we elect the guy who says he is going to cut the most.

I don't pay much attention to the running of the T (since I don't use it) so i am not familiar with its management structure. But I think a PPP would be a pill more easily swallowed by the public if it becomes a pay-to-use scenario.

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FredQ I wish/hope that you are right,

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but I fear you are not. If that were the case, there would be many more people in favor of the expansion of tolling or pay-per-mile charges for driving. I think that it's safe to say that there is little support for that (excepting, perhaps, from those who live west (and northeast) of town, who have always had a tenable argument regarding tolling equity).

The other issue is that many/most people don't distinguish between taxes and user fees (witness the constant requests for candidates to pledge to not raise taxes or fees). In the view of many/most, it's all going to the "government", so there is no difference. Obviously, I couldn't disagree more.

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There is a big difference here IMO

People will not willingly pay for a service that has until now been free. So the idea of tolling I93 or I95 is a non starter.

I have the option of traversing the tunnels of Boston to the airport (Pay a fee) or driving around Everett and Chelsea for free. I will gladly pay the toll to avoid the other route.

The issue with taxes vs fees is a different argument. The whole fee thing was a ruse by republicans to hide the fact they were not really cutting taxes. They simply renamed them. You were still paying for the same service.

I think if it was proposed to the general public, that we need a north/south rail link and we can't afford to pay for it, but a private consortium was willing to fund the project in return for 35 years worth of fares, people would say yes to that. They could always have the option of disembarking at either north station or south station and finding alternative transportation. Just like the harbor tunnels and thus avoiding the fee.

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"Free" vs. fee

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With respect to your feeling on the public saying yes in your last paragraph, I hope you are right (but I doubt very much that as a practical matter a fee would be levied only on tickets covering passage through the link tunnel).

With respect to the first paragraph, this is part of the issue. Driving on I-93 or I-95 is not now, nor has it ever been "free". Certainly, there has not been a readily appreciable out-of-pocket cost to doing so, but all of us (via the General Fund) are paying for the maintenance of those roadway.

Further, as any regular driver of the tolled roadways will tell you, they are subsidizing the drivers driving the non-tolled routes because the toll monies that they pay to maintain the turnpike and harbor crossings frees up the monies from the General Fund to be spent on I-93 and I-95, etc. It's not like the toll road drivers are getting a tax offset (the deduction for tolls paid by EZ-pass is a pittance that does not even come close), either.

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So the public has to pay to

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So the public has to pay to expand 128, totally redo the central artery, replace many bridges along 93, etc but if a tunnel for trains is needed it should be the private sector? Why not hand over schools to the private sector, cut taxes and people would pay for the children they want to be educated but those of us who dont have kids dont have to subsidize others? Lots of things used to be free that we pay for now (ie sewer treatment) things change, its time that drivers start paying for all their costs, instead of all the rest of us subsidizing them and then being asked to pay again if we use a subway.

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Or the Blue line

Could get a connection to the Lynn rail line, and a link to the Red Line.

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1. There is a North-South

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1. There is a North-South link, and it's called the subway. 2. Heck, just run a shuttle along the Greenway between the two stations. 3. How many southbound Downeaster riders are headed anywhere beyond Boston? 4. How many northbound Amtrak riders arrving in Boston are headed to Portland, Maine?

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There was

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Some discussion many years ago on Arch Boston about just that.

Taking all the express buses that run to the burbs and have them loop the greenway between N and S stations. That would provide a link that removes one transfer. (Montreal has something similar already)

Yes its a bus but would cost a fraction of what it would cost to build a tunnel. And yes I'm aware this wouldn't fix a direct link (rail) from each station, but would help passengers out greatly. (and then GC could be used to just move trains as it is today)

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That is true but

How many people need to actually do that? The vast majority of the beneficiaries of this link are people who live north or south of Boston and work in the opposing station area.

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Where would a trolley go?

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Are we going to take vehicle travel lanes or are we going to put rails down the middle of the park? As I see it, those are the only options.

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Ah, European transit.

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Yep, I agree that these seem to work in Europe (my favorite is in Zurich), but in Europe, you have to know more about driving to pass a driving test than what shape the steering wheel is.

Our own local example of shared road trolley track (Huntington Ave.) is not encouraging. Hell, we're coming up to that time of year when a car with piss yellow license plates (replete with driver saying, "what a quaint old city Boston is - look at these old trolley tracks!") drives in front of an oncoming B-line trolley in the semi-separated right of way on Comm. Ave.

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Simple solution

Intersection cameras on the route. Instant $100 ticket for blocking the box. Cameras on board that record the view ahead. Again instant tickets for blocking a train. It happens in Europe too. But after a few tickets people get the message.

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because

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because it doesn't exist (yet)

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A trolley could not carry the

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A trolley could not carry the present number of people that need to get between north and south station, the silver bus, as inadequate and slow as it is, has been overcrowded for years and there is much more still being built (more capacity would be needed if it was adequate now). Commuter rail trains carry so many people (plus the orange and green at north and Red line at south) a full red line style train at least is needed, from north station to south station through the south boston waterfront. We cant keep doing the cheapest minimal thing that isnt even able to carry current capacity much less when it would open. The current solution, every office tower having thousands of parking spaces, is making the city unworkable. So what is Boston/the state doing? Opening up the bypass road to encourage more drivers, raising T fares, and keeping 93 and the 90 extension to the waterfront toll free.

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Huh?

A trolley could not carry the present number of people that need to get between north and south station

But the current system does?

Interesting.

They sell more than one trolley. They even hook up like regular trains.

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Is a North Station-South Station link practical?

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Connecting the two stations really means connecting two new stations underneath the present ones, unless we want to run tracks down the Rose Kennedy Greenway. That means digging a couple miles of tunnels under the present rights-of-way, then tunneling under the Greenway, but on top of the highway tunnel. It might be doable, but is it worth the money? A one seat ride from Fitchburg to Middleborough shouldn't go through Boston at all, it seems to me. As for passengers bound from Portland to points south, is it really so inconvenient to catch the Orange Line to Back Bay?

I do think we need to add somewhat to the state's rail infrastructure, but question whether a North Station-South Station link is more important than, for instance, adding service between Boston and Springfield.

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