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Study: Orange Line needs $1 billion worth of new trains to keep pace with new ridership

A study by a regional planning group says development along the Orange Line will means thousands of new jobs and housing units over the coming years, which could put thousands of more riders on a line that is already crammed to the gills and dependent on an increasingly cranky collection of past-their-expiration-date cars.

In its Orange Line Opportunity Corridor Study, released this week, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council writes:

MAPC estimates that new development could add 2,900 new Orange Line commuters by 2020, and as man as 8,000 new commuters in the following 15 years. This new ridership is almost guaranteed to push ridership past the "service standard capacity," especially if increasing numbers of out-of-service vehicles reduce the capacity of the line. Investments of at least $1 billion are needed to replace the rolling stock and increase capacity.

Current Orange Line trains date to the mid-1980s and are kept in service by creative MBTA workers, who often have to fashion their own replacement parts for trains that are no longer being made.

The report provides current demographics of the Orange Line corridor - 25% of greater Boston lives within a half mile of a station; so do 20% of the region's poor - and looks at planned and possible development from Forest Hills to Oak Grove.

Via InsideMedford.com.

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Comments

the same study for the Red Line. Lots of development from Harvard to Quincy around almost every station as transit oriented development.

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That's nothing, the Orange Line is about to get 20,000 more riders a day in September when Government Center closes for two years and all the passengers that now transfer from Blue Line to Green Line must shift to the Orange Line.

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Hopefully they can get fixed-configuration articulated train sets that allow passenger movement through the whole train (which increases capacity and makes passenger distribution much easier), like they do in Berlin, Munich and Toronto.

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I'd settle for getting the ten year overdue scheduled maintenance to the cars.

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This morning an Orange Line driver shut the doors on riders at the Green Street platform. The riders had just arrived at the station and were within a few feet or boarding the train. This train was not even a 1/4 full. There were plenty of empty seats. This driver just could not be bothered to wait a few more seconds. The look of contempt on her face explained why she couldn't be bothered.

The next train did not arrive until 12 minutes later - during rush hour. Thanks to the 12 minute delay the train was already SRO before the 100+ people waiting at Green Street had to try to board the trains. Riders boarding after Green Street were out of luck.

This train was followed by another that was 5 minutes behind at Ruggles but decreased that gap to 2 minutes by the time the train I was riding reached DTX.

This erratic scheduling is becoming the norm at both rush and non-rush hour. But then the bus system has always followed a schedule of feast or famine. NO buses on a line for 20 minutes and then suddenly three buses bunching together.

Is it unreasonable to expect a reasonable schedule? Feast or famine makes for a lousy transit system.

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Yes it is. Yes it does.

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The erratic morning arrivals are entirely due to the construction of the new station between Sullivan Square and Wellington. There has been a 3-5 minute stop for each train entering the construction zone.

Here's a tip, MBTA. Get your people off the tracks during rush hours. How hard is that to figure out?

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Orange line trains are so crowded at rush hour that I got a Hubway frob for my commute. THat way I could leave the train as soon as it got within the Hubway service area and continue from there.

There needs to be more investment. More rolling stock. Signaling improvements to let the trains be scheduled closer together.

And one day I will find out who decided not to make the rolling stock for the red& blue&orange lines cross compatible and not to build tunnels to switch them all together, and desecrate the bastard's grave.

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And one day I will find out who decided not to make the rolling stock for the red& blue&orange lines cross compatible and not to build tunnels to switch them all together, and desecrate the bastard's grave.

The Washington Street tunnel was built to a smaller, older loading gauge; the Boston Harbor tunnel was originally built for streetcars and converted to rapid transit a couple decades later; the Cambridge tunnel was one of the first, modern, wide-body designs. Not really a single person to blame, it was just changing technology and needs.

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This is surprising, like, not at all. I wonder if in a decade or two unaddressed transit issues will inspire a new wave of urban flight along the lines of "white flight" in the 1970s. Those that can, will go places where they can move around.

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I think the capacity constraint on the Orange Line is congestion downtown, due to a badly designed signal system, closely-spaced stations, and narrow cars and platforms. Putting more trains on the line at rush hour wouldn't help.

But maybe that's not what "Investments of at least $1 billion are needed to replace the rolling stock and increase capacity" meant -- the capacity improvements could be something other than more cars.

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They want to replace the present 120 car Orange Line fleet with a 152 car fleet. The 32 extra cars will allow them to run every 4 minutes in the peak instead of the present (scheduled) every 5 minutes (going from 12 trains per hour to 15 trains per hour).

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How will that help, when the current 5-minute headway causes traffic jams approaching the downtown stations? Unless they also fix the terribly designed signal system.

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A billion here (orange line cars), a billion there (GLX) - pretty soon you're talking real money.

Apologies to the late Sen Dirksen

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i dont know why people are upset about having to spend 2 billion on public transportation but no one is screaming about 2 billion MORE for the convention center expansion, that will also come from tax money, or the billions being spent on bridge and road repairs.

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...people are NOT complaining about the billions spent on bridge and road repair. I kinda like when the bridges don't collapse. Money spent on maintenance of our transportation infrastructure is a shot to the economy in terms of the construction work, but it then facilitates all sorts of other economic activity that generates tax dollars. Now how many of those tax dollars end up being invested back into the system is a bit of the problem.

Incompetency and corruption of any organization with more than one person involved are some of the other bits of the problem. However I don't think that there is currently enough incompetency and corruption in the transportation agencies to make up the money needed for maintenance. Which indicates just how friggin much maintenance we have, cuz god knows those two other qualities haven't been eradicated from State govt.

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Orange Line service will definitely be impacted if/when the Casey Overpass collapses onto the Forest Hills station. New subway cars are definitely needed, but so are bridge and road repairs.

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