New T bus is a real gas

Miles on the MBTA goes on a ride on a hydrogen-powered bus the T is trying out on route 109 out of Sullivan Square.



Free tagging: 



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why oh why does the T insist on putting fabric seats in buses? At least with plastic, anything on them comes out quickly with the soap and water. Why did they change.. the New Flyer buses all have plastic seats.

And considering this city has such a bed bug problem, I think Fabric would LAST thing you'd want on a public transit vehicle. Or we will end up like this bus from SEPTA (in Philly) last year.

The fabric seats will be

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The fabric seats will be exclusive to this bus only. All the other new buses the T will be receiving this year will have plastic seats.

Thank you

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Comforting, I know.

But why fabric at all? I know they 'beta test' a model of these buses to 'test drive' it.. why just build it to spec like the other buses so it blends in with the rest. Instead of having a 'one off' bus that isn't quite what they wanted.


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Can't tag the type of fabric they chose as easily as you can plastic.

Trying to solve one problem, found another.


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It's possible that they spec'd the fabric seats and someone changed their mind or found out about the plastic/hard seat preference and made the change after the test version was built/in production.

It all depends upon the speed with which decisions get made and info passed along.

Not the worst thing in the world.

They had one running on the 52 route, too

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(That's the Watertown Square-Dedham run)
Hard not to be impressed by the shiny newness of it all, I suppose. Of course, I'll be considerably less than impressed if/when the bus is running 10, 15, 20 minutes late -- or never arrives at all -- on one of those arctic mid-winter mornings.


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then someone would be posting on here complaining that it's unfair the rich people get nice new things and the poor people who rely on the T do not.

The bus is whisper quiet.

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The bus is whisper quiet. When it's moving, you hear the soft whine of the electric motor and the shaking of the seats as it drives over bumps and potholes. When it's stopped at a red light, the bus gets eerily quiet, and all you hear is the bzzzt of the lights. It's a really strange experience if you're used to the loud roar of the diesel and CNG buses.

not so

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See how nice Ⓣ station floors could look, if they were properly maintained!

No, its because Bowdoin is the least used station in the entire system. Only 1500 boardings a WEEK (circa 2013). Yeah if I had 1500 people walking thru a station over a weeks time, the finish would last a hellva lot longer. Plus I'm sure with so few riders, its easier to buff and keep it up.

Maybe Once Every Twenty Years Is A Station Floor Cleaned So Well

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I must have been there the day after they cleaned and polished the floor at Bowdoin Station — it didn't look like that before, and it's certainly never looked like that since! That was... well it was exactly five years ago! It was before the Scollay Under station was closed for Government Center reconstruction.

You're absolutely correct about it being a low-traffic station then. It used to close early in the evening, and wasn't open on the weekends at all. When GC was closed for construction, the began keeping Bowdoin Station open during all running hours. It continues that way and I've heard no mention of going back to reduced hours.

A lot more passengers began using Bowdoin during the GC closure, and many of us continue to do so. We've discovered that it's a much better option to walk from Bowdoin to Charles to connect with the Red Line than to get involved with the Orange or Green Lines and Downtown Crossing or Park Street Stations. It's also nice to board an empty train where you can stand or sit where you want, before the throngs of rush hour passengers board at the Scollay Under and Devonshire platforms.

The terrazzo floor is what makes Bowdoin Station station so cleanable. There are other stations with terrazzo floors, including the new Government Center Station. Terrazzo lasts forever — it can always be made to look new again with a simple stripping, waxing, and polishing routine.

You'll see terrazzo in lots of high-traffic places in very nice buildings — think of the Park Plaza building, people walk through in the winter between Arlington and Berkeley Streets. There's another, newer building across the street that serves as a pedestrian walk-through between blocks with a very beautiful terrazzo artwork floor. Those floors always look nice because they're well maintained — and terrazzo is the easiest of all floor surfaces to maintain!

My house in Florida had all terrazzo floors. It didn't take much work to keep them shining like a mirror. They made the whole house easier to clean thoroughly. Anything that spilled was so easy to clean up — the lady who owned the house before me described it like washing a dish! If it's an option within your budget, terrazzo is a great investment — it never wears out!

The is having their contractors sweep and mop the floors, but they're not having them do the periodic surface maintenance that keeps the floors looking good. It's not that hard to do, really.

It's been five years since it was last done at Bowdoin Station — I'm so glad I caught those pictures/video when I did!

( the later clip of the train in my video is recent — the floor at the platform edge has no shine )

Bowdoin Station isn't very fancy, it's as plain and unpretentious as can be. Above ground, you'd never know it was there! In these pictures, it looks absolutely fabulous— if but for a fleeting moment— simply because it was well maintained! This is just showing what's possible.


It's about a half mile walk

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It's about a half mile walk from Bowdoin to Charles/MGH. State to DTX or GC to Park is about half the distance.

That's True, It's A Longer Walk — But The Connection Is Easier

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Believe me, I've tried walking from State to Downtown Crossing and I've also tried walking from Government Center to Park Street Station. The walk from Bowdoin to Charles is longer. Unless the weather is really bad, I like it much better.

The trick is to cross diagonally across Bowdoin Square to the other side of Cambridge Street. Every other "Walk" cycle, there's actually a four-way pedestrian phase, but regardless, it's a relatively pedestrian-friendly crossing.

Walking down the Beacon Hill side of Cambridge street is very easy because there are no major cross streets — you almost never have to yield to cars. It's safer, more pleasant, and not as many people smoking tobacco as on the hospital side of the street.

Unfortunately, there's no crosswalk when you get to the station, so everyone has to wait for a break in traffic coming 'round Charles Circle and run across the street. Alternatively, you can walk another block or so down Cambridge street and cross at a marked, but not well signalized pedestrian crossing.

Once you're there, Charles Station is a much more pleasant place to wait until your train arrives.* You're out in the fresh air with a lovely view of the Boston Skyline, Charles River and other interesting things to look at.

* If your train never arrives (and assuming you're headed towards Cambridge) you're already closer to your destination. Walking across the Longfellow Bridge isn't unpleasant either, so invoking "Plan B" is easier too!

What busy streets do you have

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What busy streets do you have to cross between State and DTX, or GC and Park (besides Court, which has an easy crosswalk)?

Water, Milk, Franklin — Tremont, Beacon/School, Park

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No, they're not terrible streets to cross, but you still need to stop, look, wait, and yield to cars unless you have a "Walk" signal.

It's a longer walk, but Cambridge Street has fewer points of conflict where pedestrians must yield to motor vehicles, so there's less stopping and waiting for cars — YMMV.

In 2010, before Government

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In 2010, before Government Center closed, the ridership at Bowdoin was 1,454 per average weekday, not total per week. As noted, it has probably gone up from that since because it is now opened full time and some people that started using it when Government Center closed have remained.

The ridership is still low relative to other stations, but not as low as 1500 per week.

This bus is powered by

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This bus is powered by electric motors using a hydrogen fuel cell to produce the electricity. The motors also get some power from batteries that supplement the output of the fuel cell during acceleration. The batteries also recapture energy during braking. The fuel cell also recharges the batteries when needed.
Fuel cells produce electricity thru an electrochemical process using hydrogen and oxygen (air); there is no combustion involved, and heat and water are the only byproducts.
As a rule of thumb, this bus produces about 1/3 as much greenhouse gas as a conventional bus on a well-to-wheel basis. That is the bus itself produces no greenhouse emissions (and no nitrous oxide or particulates or noise pollution) but the process of making the hydrogen for the bus produces carbon dioxide. That is why most environmentalists oppose fuel cells.

Hydrogen for fuel cells is derived from a fossil fuel (natural gas also called methane) in a reformation process that produces hydrogen and other things including carbon dioxide. The process doesn't involve burning the methane but nonetheless produces some carbon dioxide. Methane is also a greenhouse gas.

Currently, most methane comes from wells drilled by the oil/gas industry. So the search is on for a greener source of methane. Landfills produce copious amounts of methane as the waste they store decomposes. A few large landfills in the US and more in Europe capture the methane from the landfill and resell it. This is considered to be green methane as it is in effect recycling gases previously extracted. And the hydrogen made from this type of methane is considered to be "green hydrogen" The EPA recommends that landfills either capture or flare their methane emissions. Flaring produces green house gas, but the carbon dioxide produced is not as dangerous to the environment as is methane.

Green hydrogen can also be produced by biomass digested by microbes engineered to produce
hydrogen. Or by electrolysis using excess wind power to produce green hydrogen, However, right now the technology used in these methods isn't commercially viable.
Japan and China are committing huge resources to hydrogen fuel cells, China has begun to deploy the first hundred or so of what will be thousands of fuel cell buses.

In the US, the hydrogen fuel cell market leader for mobility applications is..... WalMart. They have deployed 2000-3000 fuel cell powered lift trucks in their distribution centers.

A couple of points

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That is the bus itself produces no greenhouse emissions (and no nitrous oxide or particulates or noise pollution)

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, so unless the water produced by the fuel cell is in liquid form, this statement is not true.

Flaring produces green house gas, but the carbon dioxide produced is not as dangerous to the environment as is methane.

It's not quite that simple: While methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere a lot longer (hundreds of years for CO2 compared to ~10 years for CH4). So emitting carbon dioxide does less immediate damage, but the effects take much longer to be undone.

The Toyota Mirai collects the

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The Toyota Mirai collects the water byproduct in a tank which is drained daily. I would guess in a sometimes cold climate like Boston this bus has a water collection tank.

While water vapor is a

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While water vapor is a greenhouse gas, increased water vapor emissions don't increase greenhouse warming. T atmosphere can only hold a certain amount of water vapor at a given temperature. After that, we get clouds and rain.