Report lists ways to put the Fairmount Line on the map

Possible MBTA map that would include the Indigo Line

Like literally put on the map.

The good news in a Boston Foundation report on the Fairmount Line is that a $200-million state investment in adding and improving stations and service meant a three-fold increase in ridership since 2012.

The bad news is that only means 2,257 riders on a typical weekday, because ridership in 2012 was so low - just 789.

Despite the improvements - the Fairmount Line remains a confusing thing - some students can use their T passes on it, others can't, people who live in one Mattapan apartment building have to walk a half mile to get to a train platform even though it runs right next to the building, and T maps refer to the "Fairmount Line" while announcements at South Station call out the next "Readville" train.

The report cites a number of things - some fairly inexpensive, that the T could do to increase ridership on the line.

One would be to literally put the line on the map, or at least with a thicker line than it has now - since the T intends the line to become a sort of rapid-transit system, the least it can do is give it the same prominence on system maps as the Silver Line.

The report notes the corridor along the tracks currently has twice as many bus riders as along the route of the proposed Green Line extension.

Service could be increased without extra trains - one of the first things Charlie Baker did after becoming governor was to cancel plans for self-propelled cars for the line - by running off-peak Franklin Line trains on the Fairmount Line instead of down the current Northeast Corridor route.

Longer term, the T should look at more formally extending Fairmount Line service to Legacy Place and the Dedham Corporate Center in Dedham - either through additional trains or through scheduling changes that would let Fairmount riders quickly changes to the Franklin Line at Readville - to give people in the Fairmount corridor access to the jobs and shopping in that area. A potential extension to the Back Bay - also rejected by the Baker administration - would also help.

And the T should figure out how how to speed up the trains between Newmarket and South Station - which currently take 10 minutes to go just 3.2 miles.

Also needed: Some sort of fare rationalization that would let riders use CharlieCards, such as giving conductors mobile card readers, and better coordination with the bus routes that pass by Fairmount Line stations.

Complete Boston Foundation report (8.5M PDF).

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Comments

So wait

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Currently they only generate $1.1M annually from weekday service and all of the capital investments proposed would only increase the annual revenue to approx. $1.2M - $1.5M annually.

The costs FAR exceed any benefit, probably why the only dedicated less than a single page to the topic.

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Not trying to break even

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While there is plenty of merit to your comment, the idea of this project (and transit in general) is not to break even, but to allow people to get to work. If you allow people to make money, they have money to spend on housing, goods and services and can prosper in life. THAT'S what you are paying to facilitate.

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Also a weird factor of development and gentrification

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At some point, middle class / yuppies / professionals (insert your term here) who can't buy in JP, Rosi or WR are going to look at the Fairmont line serviced areas and decide to start buying over there. So you could have in say, 10 years, a push to gentrify a neighborhood based on transit policy.

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Exactly

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People have existing jobs, leases, and homes, so changes to mass transit tend to have costs that are front-heavy, as people adjust to the new availability of a train line.

If you put in the train line, it will take time for people who live in the neighborhood to adapt their routines to utilize the line, and it will take time for people who do not live in the neighborhood to determine the area now fits their needs due to the new line. This could take YEARS, especially since people tend to not trust new mass transit as impatient politicians sometimes cancel things when they're not immediately profitable.

It's an if you build it, they will come sort of thing.

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The issue is a dedicated bus

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The issue is a dedicated bus corridor (think Silver Line to Chelsea) along the same route would have a greater ROI for the same, if not better service at a lower cost to everyone.

The state should also consider modern concrete viaducts for elevated light rail. Blue Hill Ave and Commonwealth Ave would greatly benefit from such such service.

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There's not breaking even,

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There's not breaking even, and then there's blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on a project that very few people use, for obvious reasons. The Fairmount Line is the latter.

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this is the sort

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of short term thinking that got the T to where it is today. Leaders in MA need to face the sobering reality that the T is a financial loser, at least for the short term. It needs massive investment to get to the point where it can start THINKING about turning a profit. It's biggest hurdle is reliability. I am lucky enough to have a T stop within a 5-10 minute walk from my house and my job, and still I drive everyday. Why? Because my job REQUIRES that I be on time in the morning. I NEED to be sitting here at 8am when the phones start ringing. I would need to ride the Red and Orange line, so consistent arrival times are a no-go. Driving from Mattapan to Charlestown takes me approximately 45 minutes. I took the T once on a Sunday to pick up my car and hit it just right and got there in about 40 minutes. If I could be reasonably sure the trains wouldn't break down, catch fire, or otherwise be delayed more than once a week I would gladly take the train and keep my blood pressure down. However that is not the case.
Also, these studies have been going on during the Obama administration, where gas prices have been historically low. Cuz it is also WAY cheaper for me to drive, even considering insurance, repairs and gas. Its really a no-brainer. Since Trump took office gas prices have been steadily creeping up (Thanks Rex!) and once we start the next war they'll be right back around $4/gallon (war coincidentally uses A LOT of fuel). Once that happens you will see ridership spike again. If the MBTA were smart they would have been investing and preparing for this increased ridership, but alas, here we are. Ridership on the T is, for the most part, dominated by people who cannot afford a car, and they will remain that way as long as they keep paying out the nose for the T. It's the old "it's expensive to be poor" adage.

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Voting is closed. 23

Profit?

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Profit is completely the wrong motive when considering a piece of public infrastructure. Did we demand that the Williams Tunnel project pay for itself or did we just accept that having improved access to the airport would benefit the entire region, economically and in terms of quality of life? Now you can argue if benefit justifies costs all day long and that's valid but not from a profit perspective but budget opportunity cost perspective.

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THATS MY POINT EXACTLY.

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People have been trying to explain to Trump for over a year that gov't is not business, and results are not profit-driven. It's something we need to keep beating over the heads of T funding detractors over and over again. Politicians too seem hell-bent on the T making money, supporting itself, and/or privatizing it. Hard to privatize a public service because there is NO MONEY IN IT. Look at how Keolis is doing.Lets privatize the Fire Dept. while we're at it.
There is a long road ahead just to get our transit system to a respectable level, never mind cutting edge, or god-forbid, turning a profit. They need to stop trying to EXPAND the T and get whats already there working and repaired. Ridership will increase from there. People like me will start riding. (Inevitable gas price surge will help).

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Not I-93, but consider this

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The implementation of all-electronic tolling on the Mass Pike/Harbor Tunnels and the demolition of the old toll plazas. This work is costing approximately $268 million (MassDOT figures), but is expected to result in annual cost savings of only $5 million (again, MassDOT figures).

$268 million/$5 million per year = 53.6 years to recoup your cost in savings. And we still have backups from Weston to the "supermarket our program director won't allow us to name on the air" overpass every morning.

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You forget

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all the pensions they won't have to pay. All the maintenance on the readers and cameras that WILL fail will be carried out by a private company (again, no gov't bennies) and all the plus- rate tickets and tolls they will collect from people who don't have an EZ pass. It was a quick way to raise fares on occasional users and out-of-state travelers. Plus it is hard to steal money when none is changing hands.
All these factors will likely cut that 53 years down some.
FYI I'm still again' it (shakes fist)

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Um, the $5 million figure

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is from MassDOT. Also, unlike with AET/HOT conversions in other states, the cameras and administration for the MassDOT AET is NOT being handed off to a private company.

But just continue with your "government employees are all leeches and hacks and pensions are evil" mantra.

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Public transportation is a public service

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It is not meant to (nor will it ever) turn a profit.

As alluded to above by another commenter, public transportation is to transport people more efficiently than single-occupancy vehicles, which benefits all of us in a variety of ways.

The Fairmount commuter rail corridor (often referred to in planning as the Indigo Line), is a perfect candidate for DMUs or electrification for rapid-transit-like frequencies -- as is a potential Riverside - South Station corridor using the Framingham/Worcester line, which includes the Newton stations, Brighton Landing, the proposed West Station, Yawkey and Back Bay.

Gov. Baker was extremely short-sighted in scrapping the plans for DMUs. I have heard that the plans are gaining traction again, and in conjunction with the South Station expansion plans, we can finally start improving train frequencies within the 128 belt, which is desperately needed.

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There is another very good reason to electrify

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the Fairmount line. Presently, if something happens on the Corridor between Readville and the approach to South Station that prevents service from operating, Amtrak is SOL.

Electrifying the Fairmount line would provide a detour route for those trains should something go seriously wrong, say at Back Bay. I'm actually a bit surprised that was not done as part of the Southwest Corridor improvements New Haven to Boston electrification.

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That wasn't done as part of

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That wasn't done as part of the Southwest Corridor improvements because the NEC wasn't electrified north of New Haven at the time. In fact it wouldn't be for another 10 years!

During SWC construction Amtrak did detour over the Fairmount line, but probably wasn't willing to pay to electrify it when they electrified the NEC due to the absurdity of electrifying a detour route that will rarely, if ever get used. The chances of something blocking the entire SWC for an extended period of time at BBY are next to nil, especially since when the catenary gets knocked out they can just tack on diesels between BOS and NHV, like is already done frequently.

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Correct. I was thinking New Haven to Boston electrification

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but wrote Southwest Corridor instead. It's probably because I used to ride Amtrak frequently between Boston and NYC/DC in the years they were using the Fairmount Line as a detour.

And your points about "why wasn't the line electrified" are taken.

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The study does not mention security

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One of the major reasons people will not ride the Fairmont line are that the stations are isolated except for homeless drug addicts who shoot up and leave their needles on the platforms and use the platforms as open toilets. All the shelters have been destroyed by vandals and residents feel safer riding buses.

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I ride the Fairmount line

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I ride the Fairmount line from Morton Street every day. That station is fine as is Talbot and New Market (and South Station).

I can't comment on Four Corners, Fairmount, Readville, or Upham's Corner since I haven't used those stations.

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Nelson Forgot Something, Its Called Racism

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Franklin Line trains that serve the Fairmount Line. Duh, It's literally the same rail line. So what's been the holdup all these years. Racism. Walpole-Norfolk-Norwood (aka the Massachusetts Confederate Belt) will not tolerate integration with the Fairmount Line. Extension to Dedham, Nope, Racism, Even the proposed Foxboro extension, which doesn't integrate with the Franklin Line but runs alongside it and within the Franklin service area, nope, Racism

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This TBF report makes some

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This TBF report makes some very good points. It could be re-labeled "How the Conservation Law Foundation c/o Stephanie Pollack botched the Fairmount". The new and updated stations are atrocious, poorly conceived inaccessible platforms within a mile of each other with terrible bus connectivity. But of course, you can't talk about Pollack dumbness; much like Metro Boston racism and it's influence on transit development. Pollack speaks fluent moron, and puts the Green Line Extension above everything else. The report's burn about the GLX is priceless, the closest thing you can get to saying "in conclusion, Pollack screwed up" within a report

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The solution is simple - turn

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The solution is simple - turn the Fairmount and Needham lines over to true rapid transit. It HAS to happen eventually. It would be better for riders (frequency and fare equity), better for the T (freeing up slots for additional Providence/Franklin/etc service), and is the inevitable future. Only problem is nobody's willing to pony up the funds, and that's not gonna change any time soon, because the new stations were all built to commuter rail specs with obnoxiously unnecessarily long platforms and cheap egresses, and it would be political suicide to suggest rebuilding them this soon. The state needs to bite the bullet and invest properly in the Fairmount line - throwing a little bit of money at it here and there is only going to drag the inevitable out longer.

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Since the platforms are high

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Since the platforms are high-level, they don't have to be rebuilt for rapid transit.

The MTA figured this out in the 50s with the Riverside line. If you take a railroad line through a densely populated area, and do minimal construction to convert it to rapid transit (frequent, short, zippy trains), it will be wildly popular at a low price.

Why can't we do that sort of thing today?

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Why can't we do that sort of

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Why can't we do that sort of thing today?

ADA.

There's a lot more to it than just whether or not a platform is high-level. Sure, you could theoretically platform a rapid transit train at the existing platforms, but the loading gauge is different between commuter rail and all of our rapid transit lines*, so if you attempted to platform a Red Line train at a CR platform, for example, you would end up with a large gap between the train and the platform - which is unacceptable for ADA compliance. And sure, the T could introduce yet another unicorn type of rolling stock, but I certainly hope they wouldn't. Fairmount would make sense to (eventually) be integrated with the Red Line. Even if all service terminated downtown (though a few rush hour run-throughs to Cambridge would be nice), it would still be ideal for Fairmount rapid transit to share a common fleet with the Red Line for economies of scale, and to allow it to share Cabot shops, rather than requiring its own new maintenance facility.

The platforms would also need various improvements to bring them into line with other rapid transit stations. Even if these are fairly minor, at this point it would be political suicide to propose them, given the expense that was just put into the Fairmount line.

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Interesting!

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Interesting!

If you note the asterisk in my previous comment, it was intended to point to a note at the bottom (that I forgot to write!) saying that I know the rapid transit lines vary between each other, but I wasn't sure how they compare to commuter rail.

Running 120" wide cars by a platform designed for 126" wide cars would create a 3" gap - not sure if that's allowable by ADA or not.

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No, but then it becomes more

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No, but then it becomes more attractive to provide more than one egress. Or to replace the mile-long ramps with elevators to handle the increase in passengers that would come with rapid transit service.

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