Harvard willing to spend millions more on train stations for its Allston megaplex - the permanent stop and a temporary one

The Crimson reports Harvard has upped its proposed contribution for the West Station commuter-rail and bus station inside its proposed 14-acre innovation district where the Allston train yard used to be from $30 million to $50 million.

And, the Crimson adds, Harvard is willing to pay $8 million for a temporary station on the Worcester Line tracks until the permanent, $90-million station is built.

That's potentially good news for transit advocates, since the state recently said it planned to put off the proposed West Station until roughly never, or 2040. Those advocates are planning a rally and a march tomorrow morning that would go from the DoubleTree hotel on the edge of the old rail yard to Gov. Baker's re-election headquarters on Lincoln Street.



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Their endowment is near $40B, they can afford to pay more than $50M.

True. And if the city can

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True. And if the city can blow $1 billion to straighten a tiny section of highway for drivers then they can afford to spend a tiny percentage of that on a new station in a soon to be booming neighborhood. But Charlie Baker does not care about public transportation. He has made that clear.


As I've said before

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the Pike bridges at Allston-Brighton are in dire need of replacement. Because the rail yard and the toll plaza are no longer there, there is no need to rebuild the highway on the current curved alignment - which BTW likely would not cost significantly less than the current proposal.

Unless you believe the state should take the "No more money for car infrastructure - those bridges are still OK and don't require any major work for the next twenty years" approach. We all saw how well that thinking worked out for Minneapolis.

Bridges and Trains

Everyone who knows anything about the project knows that the highway needs to be replaced. The problem is they are only focusing on that and not public transit too.

Neither one should be ignored. This is the last time any serious revamping of that area can be done for many, many decades.

Harvard is calling MassDOT out on its BS

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Don't expect a station in the near future. Pollack isn't shifting $40 to $50 million from her near & dear Green Line Extension. Not to mention the fudged West Station ridership numbers. Good move from Harvard. Let's see what happens


The state can afford to fund all of it

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And it should.

If we can come up with $50m on the spot to repair bridges that serve 15 people or a small fraction of the state's population, there is no reason not to fund projects that have matching funds. Just a posturing old cretin who farms out corruption to his souse of a spouse.


While no one would argue that Harvard is poor, a substantial portion of their endowment is limited by the donor to particular schools or projects. It's not a slush fund.

You don't spend an endowment,

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You don't spend an endowment, you spend the interest/gains/earnings on it. The $40B is the principal. $50M is probably a significant chunk of the gains they make in a year.

If they put it in a bank CD,

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If they put it in a bank CD, they could easily earn more than a billion dollars a year interest. I hope the highly paid investment managers get a better return than that.

Move the station further north?

"Lapp also suggested relocating West Station—currently scheduled to be built in Beacon Park Yard—further north to benefit residents"

how would this work? The tracks run east-west; is Harvard proposing to move them?

My guess

Right now the tracks are straight and the yard is to the north of them. The suggestion might be to have the yard to the south and the tracks curve them

It would be pretty bad for

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It would be pretty bad for all passengers further west if they took a straight track and curved it to serve the yard in addition to having an extra stop :-). They probably would add a switch so that only few trains would stop at the yard station and the rest would express along the current track. But that would take away significantly from the benefits of having the station on a pretty reasonably serviced track. Not sure what the best thought process here is.

If most trains service the

If most trains service the station it wouldn't be much penalty at all, but yeah it would be bad for anyone on a train not scheduled to stop.

Negligible difference?

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This is already an exaggerated diagram since the straightening of the Pike will shrink the magnitude of this curve, but would there really be that much of a difference in travel time between the blue arc and the red line, given that the train has to slow to a stop for the station and pick up speed away from it?


If automobiles dont like the

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If automobiles dont like the curve the way it is now, trains will like it even less.

All sorts of speed restrictions and banking are required for curved sections. Derailments are far too frequent in curved sections (ala spain, connecticut, washington) for a good reason.

If north hvd st passengers have to walk an extra 0.25 mile to the station that isnt all that bad. However to go with the curved track because Harvard is paying for it would be quite disingenuous.

None of these are applicable

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  1. "Automobiles" don't care at all about the curve. The curve is incidental. The curve isn't an issue for drivers. The curve existed because of the rail yards (& non-automated tolling), and is being moved now that the yard is defunct in order to enable easier development of the rail yard property as real estate than if it worked around a crescent highway. The project is being done due to the viaduct further East being in a state of disrepair.
  2. The speed restrictions are indeed a factor - luckily the presence of a station in the middle of the apex of the curve make those baked-in anyway. And since West Station is supposed to be a major multi-modal terminal akin to North/South and not a little satellite station, it shouldn't be that much of a problem.
  3. As I mentioned, this is using the current steeply-arced curve. Reminder that the project design at present looks more like this:
  4. IMAGE(https://commonwealthmagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Allston-interchange.jpg?_t=1516843122)

If moving the station a little North, a little further from Comm Ave and closer to the property yet to be developed, enables greater potential use of the station... that sounds like smart transit planning and worth a look.

I don't think whether or not

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I don't think whether or not Harvard has the money to pay for it is the question.

If this keeps up, will more private companies fund transit stations? and will this lead to privatization of the system? Is this how transit upgrades are going to be funded in the future?

Would that be the worst thing

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Would that be the worst thing? I mean, the MBTA is basically broken. The state can't or won't find the money to make necessary improvements. Obviously, there are implications here where certain areas will potentially be left behind and not improved due to less investment in the area, but something is better than nothing, right? If private companies can lessen the load of the overwhelming number of things that need to be fixed, then let them.

How about BU?

Or are they still throwing a temper tantrum because the roads connecting to the new neighborhood aren't going to be exclusive to the university?

I can't find the the link

But last time this came up someone posted a link to a BU public announcement about how they were no longer asking for limited access to the neighborhood.

Back when we had functional

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Back when we had functional passenger railroads in this country, they knew how to choose station locations, and decide how much to spend on a station to handle passenger volume. Nobody would ever build a $90 million station in a railyard a mile and a half away from two universities, even if a supposed new "neighborhood" is coming.

Today, we spend huge amounts of money on glitzy overbuilt stations in the wrong places. And then we don't have enough money left to run adequately frequent service.

Yup, the IRT Flushing

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Yup, the IRT Flushing Elevated was a great investment. Flushing was a town center for hundreds of years before the train line was built, even though there was some farmland along the way.

And the stations are much simpler than West Station would be, while serving thousands more passengers. The Flushing Line serves 817,793 people per day. Worcester Commuter Rail: about 16,000.

And the trains run every 2 to 3 minutes at rush hour, every 5 minutes mid-day. Worcester: every 40 minutes peak, every 2 hours mid-day.

This sounds like what I'm advocating: build rail lines where the ridership is, keep the stations simple, and use the money you save to actually run some trains.