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Boston's bold new transportation plan could include a city-funded trolley network separate from the Green Line

City officials today unwrapped a wishbook of projects to turn Boston into a 21st-century city with reliable transit service that connects people in remote neighborhoods with jobs in growing districts nowhere near downtown and with bike lanes and sidewalks that become safe and reliable ways to get around.

The Go Boston 2030 plan is based in part on existing projects and proposals - such as the T's purchase of new Red and Orange Line trains and the creation of a new West Station transit hub at the old Allston train yard that Harvard wants to turn into a new neighborhood.

But the plan also calls for a city commitment to spend money over the next 15 years on everything from "rapid bus" service between Mattapan to the Longwood Medical Area and on Washington Street between Forest Hills and Roslindale Square, to working with the state to get the Fairmount Line working more like a subway and to bringing rail service to the South Boston Waterfront via the long unused Track 61.

But even more ambitiously - and without putting a specific price tag on it - the plan calls on Boston to create a new transit district with neighboring towns that would have the authority to build new street-car lines and mini-bus routes, to get people around a region where jobs are increasingly in areas well away from downtown Boston, such as the Longwood area, Harvard's planned Allston expansion and even Widett Circle on the Dorchester/South Boston line.

Boston will spearhead a new core transit district in collaboration with nearby communities to provide additional transit services that expand the MBTA's capacity within the broader region. Building off of local shuttle successes, the district would focus on non-competing modes that may include shared transportation and technology providers that could extend the range of MBTA transit or alternative modes of travel such as mini-buses, streetcars, or urban rail on routes such as the Fairmount Indigo Line. Boston would complement this with a new transit streets initiative that focuses on speeding up buses and improving the passenger experience on city streets. Broader and creative revenue sources would help fund new services and improvements, and integrated fare payment and information technologies would make the services feel seamlessly integrated with the MBTA.

And, the report posits a sort of mega-CharlieCard that would let users pay for everything from a ride on the Orange Line to renting a ZipCar or paying for a ride in a driverless ride-share car.

Complete list of possible projects (73M PDF).

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Comments

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Is there a chance the track could bend?

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… my Hindu friend.

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What about us brain-dead slobs?

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you'll be given cushy jobs

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The ring came off my pudding can

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Use my pen knife, my good man

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That's so 1950s.

(Not a Simpsons joke. )

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But how about an Urban Gondola? It can go 4 mph and carry hundreds of people a day unless there are greater than 5 mph winds. All for $500 Billion taxed from the rich (meaning anyone who earns any amount of income). There will be thousands of union jobs sitting watching the gondolas go by and heading to Dunks when they break down.

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While I think many of these ideas are great ideas.. I can't help but ask one question

"How do you plan on paying for all of this?"

Ideas are just ideas if you can't afford to pay for them.

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Considering the farce of getting the GLX done your cynicism is probably on target. I do hope the T learned its lesson and knows how to contract with overrun limitations, responsibility on the contractors to meet targets. I know what happens in my business when you try to cover higher costs by billing them to a client. They say no, you cave in right away, they get original price. Otherwise you never get work from them again.

But I do think that some level of those proposals might be possible if the state legislature and MBTA were daring enough to procur some portion of the funds from the businesses that are benefiting most. Similar to New Balance's commuter rail station.

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Thats some of it. But I think more my point is that there's only so much funding to go around for these projects.

I think many of the main streets initiatives and anything where its just a rebuild of a roadway/sidewalk/media/etc can be done pretty easily with avaliable funds. Its not that much more to re-do a sidewalk, or add a bike lane (separated) or something like that when a streetscape is re-done. Plus that's something more the city can take on funding wise (rather than a state issue)

But some of the bigger projects such as the E line extension to Hyde Square or O-Line Extension to Roslindale Square. There's just no money for it, not when we have far bigger issues to take on that need our attention.

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It's easy to assume the MBTA budget is an unfixable blackhole thanks to the gov and the Deleo cabal but that's also why some of these are tagged as 5-15 years out. If we start discussing it now, maybe there is funding in 10 years to build the Orange line out to Boston or WR or where-ever. But if we don't discuss the plans now, there definitely won't be any new stuff in 5-15 years of any real scale.

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We're back to BlackKat's argument above... Look how long the GLX has taken to get off the ground. 10 years ago we were just *talking* about it. In the 1990s it was *talked about*. And its been in some iteration of the GLX going back to the 1940s.

Same with extending the O-line past Forest Hills. Same with bring the E line back to Forest Hills via JP. Same with the A Line.

A lot of these project are nothing new at all. (at least the transit related ones). Many of these go back to CTPS reports going back 15-20 years now. (as long as I've lived here and have been following this stuff). And considering CTPS was founded in the 1970s, I'm willing to bet many of these projects were thought of way back then too, but were just under funded.

I hate to be "that guy" it just seems like they've been regurgitating the same projects over and over again for decades now, but there's never any money to build any of them when it comes down to it.

I understand what you're saying that if we don't keep up the discussion that it wont happen, but that's not correct. The state very well knows what it needs to do to fix public transit in this state, but they just refuse to fund it properly so it can happen. And until the funding changes, they will be nothing more than ideas that fail because of lack of funding.

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Forget tracing these projects back to the early days of CTPS in the 70s - many of them can be traced back to BERy in the 40s!

Ahem https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/1945_BERy_extensions...

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We need a congestion charge on vehicles like London has. That would improve both traffic and public transportation.

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Yeah, traffic would "improve" because there would be less cars driving around. The remain drivers are the ones with the most means to keep driving. Meanwhile the only other difference for at least the next five years is just more of us packing into the T that seems to catching on fire or disabled more than ever.

I don't get the people who thinks this is a good idea. Arguing that a congestion charge would our overall life better. Think about your daily life and think what you facing a toll would modify your life. Yes, the times you do drive in would be nicer, but you'll drive in less times overall and paying more. Meanwhile the rest of the time you'll use the T (or bike or walk, but this thought experiment is trying to map the largest portion people). This is the point where people argue that the congestion charge would help fund the T to actually not be crappy. But the thing is, our problems with the T is old trains, archaic systems, and bottlenecks like Park Street. All of it requires projects with years of time to fix (with things like the old trains happening regardless).

And the five years quip assumes the T actually takes the money to improve. They admitted they don't know what to spend despite they know everything is broken.

Until the T actually a functional alternative, it's a solution that fixes a problem (congestion), by making the problem suckier rather than getting us to use something that is good but underutilized and thus making everyone happier overall.

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Cutting congestion would immediately fix bus schedule and bunching issues. I know busses are still considered "for the poors" and thus not REALLY transit in these discussions, but making the bus quicker and more reliable as it travels through the city, less caught up in pointless traffic caused by selfish people, would make it much more attractive of a choice. That's a day 1 improvement.

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> our problems with the T is old trains, archaic systems, and bottlenecks like Park Street.

For those lucky enough to live on the rapid transit network, yes. But for those of us who have to take buses, the biggest problem is the ever-growing traffic jams that can add a 10 minute delay just to go through a single intersection (Mt. Auburn at Fresh Pond, or Watertown Square, or Cambridge St at Soldiers Field Road). And having a congestion charge reducing traffic would definitely improve things there, making buses much more efficient and thus cost-effective. The T would be able to increase service without adding any more buses or drivers. As things stand now, the T keeps decreasing service just because travel times keep getting longer as traffic gets worse.

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That intersection of Mt. Auburn at Fresh Pond is horrible for buses. Short term, the traffic signal and lanes could be tweaked. The long term solution is grade separation (i.e. a bridge or tunnel).

I bet every rider of the 71/73 buses has spent a lot of time thinking about it, watching a few dozen cars go by on Fresh Pond while hundreds of people are jammed in a convoy of buses on Mt Auburn stuck behind the light.

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I agree that public transit would have to be improved before the congestion charge went into effect. But if a congestion charge was agreed upon, the T could do major improvements and then pay for said improvements in part with the congestion charge revenue once it kicks in. Other cities have figured this out. There is no reason we can't learn from them and do it here.

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Yeah, traffic would "improve" because there would be less cars driving around. The remain drivers are the ones with the most means to keep driving

I don't get the people who thinks this is a good idea.

Well, I don't get you. Because it's an excellent Idea as long as the revenue is funded back into public transportation and infrastructure.

Even in the peoples Republic of Massachusetts we've decided that we can't do big things anymore and we want low taxes. So, it's time to tax usage. Use the tax to fund alternatives.

Don't want to pay the fee or can't? Use the now better transit. Need to get into the city quickly and painlessly one off for an appointment? Hey, the tax made it easier! Super Rich? Do what you already do, but now you pay for the privilege.

Let's put it another way; Boston is expecting 150,000-200,000 new residents by 2030. Commuters/jobs will probably be double that. How will Boston be able to the traffic? (Hint: It can't)

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Don't want to pay the fee or can't? Use the now better transit.

And there his entire point goes, right over your head!

The argument is that the T is NOT a viable alternative until and unless it receives major upgrades. Try riding the T at rush hour sometimes - most mornings you're lucky to even be able to force your way onto an already extremely crowded train, and many people have to wait for 2 or 3 trains before getting on, unless you're at the far end of the line.

The T CANNOT handle the huge influx of new riders a congestion charge would force onto it. And it would take many years of investment into the system before it had the surplus capacity to accommodate those new riders.

A congestion charge works if you have an alternative that is being underutilized. The T is far from underutilized.

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Try driving into the city at rush hour sometimes - most mornings you're lucky to even be able to force your way onto the highway, and many people have to wait for 2 or 3 light cycles before entering the on-ramp, unless you're at the far end of the highway.

The roads CANNOT handle the huge influx of new drivers the lack of a congestion charge would not force onto public transportation. And it would take many years of investment into the road system before it had the surplus capacity to accommodate those new drivers.

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This counterpoint doesn't counter that subway lines are not handling well with current usage. No congestion charge - you're saying the roads will break down. With a congestion charge, then the subways breaks down (and the funding argument with some key assumptions and a lot of time). The only winners I am reading so far with a congestion charge is people who primarily use the bus.

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including more options to work from home, car sharing, bike riding, improved public transportation, improved road infrastructure and even moving to more variable shift times -- get away from traditional rush hour and stagger shift work throughout the 24-hour cycle, just to name a few.

A congestion charge obviously won't be a panacea for commuting woes, but it is a piece of the puzzle. A major infusion of capital funding to improve public transportation is needed before a congestion charge can be fully implemented.

I don't have the answer as to the best way to do this -- A special Greater Boston transit-only tax? Increased gas tax? Highway Tolls on Rt. 3 and I-93? -- but I would hope we are at the point where a majority would support such a capital plan, and some politician has the balls to propose it.

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What.

I actually drove into the city this morning, on my way to Hartford for a meeting. Got on the pike around 7:40 at Allston/Brighton. So I am well aware of the traffic problems in Boston.

I really don't understand what you're trying to argue here though... you're talking in hypotheticals but describing the current situation.

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I co-sign what DTP said. Think about if we hear news tomorrow that we're implementing congestion tolls to all entrances to Boston starting tomorrow. Do you think the MBTA now suddenly and magically runs like the Toei Subway tomorrow too? Or even 6 months from tomorrow? No, it just going to be even more crowded with even more people experiencing the misery of it. It would be years of enduring until new funding actually start making a difference. And some of differences (like the new trains) are coming anyways so you can't credit those improvements to the congestion charge.

On valid counterpoint side, I admit I didn't consider that bus riders would see travel time improved because less traffic. It is a major change-of-life difference for many people.

But personally, I would just see that my life got harder. That if I want to drive, I would see a marked reduction in traffic but now a new expense that wasn't there before - a trade-off that I didn't want. Meanwhile my experience in taking the train would be worse for years until theoretically it start taking effect (with some improvements would have come regardless of the congestion charge). And while there's a lot of bus riders. I believe that there's a lot of people who are also like me who are mostly subway riders and thus see no improvement for years (and my bus portion isn't affected that much).

With the bus counterpoint, it makes the arguments of collective happiness less clear-cut. But my point that for the portion of the population who mostly drives or mostly subway users, it is taking a problem and implementing a solution that make things suckier.

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Somehow it triple posted

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I think though improvement of the bus system would pay off in ways you might not expect. A streamlined system where people aren't getting caught in traffic but instead meeting schedules lets the MBTA have fewer busses per line, because you aren't losing capacity to traffic. Or you can keep the same number of busses and have them go out further into the suburbs.

Or keep the route the same but run more often. This has the possibility of pulling people off the subways and improving the lives of those who are riding it in return - real life example: I could take the 39 to work, but it's constantly and ceaselessly caught in traffic, so instead I take the orange line from forest hills to Jackson square. If the 39 ran at a functional pace, there'd be one less body on the orange line.

Improvement for bussing also helps when there's bustitution, replacement shuttles, etc! It would help construction projects if they could rely on a functional set of shuttles replacing any closed tracks when they need to do work on them.

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Somehow it triple posted

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At the risk of a total change of topic...

The congestion toll revenue is spent, hopefully on things that improve transportation for those who aren't driving private autos. Some of that is pure MBTA, but some can be Boston-without-the-T's-money.
* Boston could pay to implement bus/bike/taxi lanes to allow those riding key bus routes much faster trips, including trips that parallel congested routes. For example, loads of folks ride the 57 instead of the B Line because it's faster/easier. If it could get up and down Comm Ave faster, it would take even more pressure off of the B. Etc.
* Boston could use the money to fund increased enforcement of no parking at bus stops, helping buses and autos move more quickly.
* Boston could implement traffic signal prioritization for street cars and buses, helping those transit vehicles have faster speeds and lower variability in schedule.
* Bike lanes, better sidewalks, shade trees, etc.

But the point is that over time, it makes it easier to live in Boston without a car at all. That means that (a) some people in Boston give up their cars, reducing congestion for everyone, (b) that some people who live outside the city but drive in every day move inside the city, perhaps giving up their cars, but reducing congestion either way because the distance traveled is less, (c) some people who currently drive in switch to the commuter rail or carpool or work from home sometimes or any number of other things that reduce some of the commuter congestion, and (d) that people who get jobs in Boston and are moving to the area will take the congestion charge into consideration and be less likely to become another suburban who drives alone into the city every day. The congestion charge has a gentle, steady push toward decisions that result in less congestion. It doesn't induce everyone to change their behavior, and many who change their behavior will only do it a little bit -- sometimes work from home, or occasionally carpool, etc.

Realistically, I think the proposal is DOA for the foreseeable future, but it's still an interesting thought experiment.

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Skeptic,
In vision planning you identify what the residents of the city want and need. You gather all that data and work with planners on possible solutions to accomplish the most a high level without details such as cost. It's not a discussion on funding and politics.If you stopped and shut everyone down and said, "how would you pay for that? how would you get that approved? it's never going to happen" then nothing would get done and you'd be stiffing brainstorming and big picture thinking..you'd be left with the broken MBTA that has made little progress and politicians fighting over UMB vs. Robert Kraft and a southie stadium.

I appreciate the healthy skepticism and also wonder how things will ever move forward, but the group who were tasked to complete the vision were not intending to solve for those constraints at this time.

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Build 3,000 linear feet of track down the middle of a wide street that had tracks on it until less than 25 years ago.

This should not be considered something that you are making a big deal out of doing. It should be just done, you know, tomorrow.

The Environmental Review for this should just be a postit note stating that they are correcting for a mistake that was made in 1985 by pulling service south of Heath Street.

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Same with service beyond Packards Corner.. I think the plan has it as BRT..

Says "under-served neighborhood"

Uh yeah.. when the A line was ripped out in 1969, it was under-served since then.

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Just to be clear, cause I didn't see the word used in the doc, but did you mean "underserved" instead of "undeserved?" Cause I'll bet there are a ton of Allstonians who would take issue with the latter. ;)

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And that was spell check wanting to correct it to undeserved. Some reason spell check wants to correct underserved to under-served.

Which it's been corrected to be under-served.

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To be fair, while I would life to see the A-line still alive. It would have been as fast as the B-line today. I don't think we still would be very happy with that service.

But I do think a new A-line should exist. But revived using some kind of completely seperate right of way. I don't know why no one ever seem to notice, but doesn't the area from BU Bridge with the Turnpike tracks followed by the railyard and former junction mean a way we can use part of it for an A-line? Admittedly it gets tricky after Cambridge St.

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They ripped out the tracks on Brighton Avenue and Galen St. years ago, and the 57 bus, which I usually take when attending a hockey game on Comm. Ave., works well enough. Oh, but I'm nostalgic for driving on those streets and fishtailing on the slippery rails.

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If you're commuting to work, however, it sucks. The buses cluster due to traffic issues so instead of arriving 5 minutes apart during rush hour, you get 3 driving together every 20 minutes if you're lucky. They won't stop to pick you up though - they're full, with people standing in all available spaces, including past the yellow line (if the driver is nice - if they're really nice, they won't ride the brakes while driving, knocking the standing people down continuously). Or they'll take the expected bus out of service to express to Kenmore to serve the outbound crowd (or vice versa at the end of the day). That's if you're REALLY lucky and there aren't issues for any of the commuter rail lines - then they pull the 57 buses to serve them (so much more important than us), making the situation worse. The 57 and 57A buses were added to replace the A line - maybe that worked back in the day but it seems optional to the T now. I've been on the T (on a non game day btw) more than once where it's full to capacity (not even standing room available) at Kenmore, meaning NO ONE ELSE can get on until past Packard's corner typically. It's a mess. So glad you don't have a problem when you occasionally ride it approximately 10 times a year.

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No. There's not enough room there, plus it'd be too far out of the way for most people who would be using it. The original route went Brighton - Cambridge - Washington - Galen Streets, which is the corridor the densest development follows, and is more than half a mile to the south of the Turnpike/B&A. Whatever transit demand there is along that part of the Turnpike/B&A corridor can easily be satisfied by the new commuter rail stations (and the eventual hopefully more frequent short-turn service) and bus transfers.

Plus this assumes you'd tie into the B-line at the BU bridge, which would NOT be easy, and then you'd tie back in where, Newton Corner? Seems pretty pointless to skip almost the entire route.

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The argument always posted against such a sensible idea of returning Arborway service is oh but the parking. And if you ban such parking people will just do it anyhow, a la the travel lanes on say Broadway. But there is a simple solution, that can be accomplished thanks to the Federal Government mistakenly militarizing local police forces with surplus equipment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fWN0FmcIU

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Along with rapid bus routes between Rosi Square and Forrest Hills, I want dedicated bus lanes but I suspect it wouldn't be feasible to remove all that parking. Too bad it's such a narrow street.

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I don't recall whether it's in the 0-5 years part, though (extending the Orange Line to Needham is also in there, but listed under 5-15+ years).

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Green Line back to Arborway!!!!

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There is no way that will ever happen. You don't have to a transportation expert to realize that the streets in JP are too narrow for the current and even future fleet of green line cars. There's also no way to make the stops accessible in the street running portions. The 39 is sufficient enough from Heath to Arborway especially now that the buses are low floor and can accomodate much more passengers.

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There is no way that will ever happen. You don't have to a transportation expert to realize that the streets in JP are too narrow for the current and even future fleet of green line cars.

That's not true at all. The lanes on Centre and South Sts are actually wider than the lanes on the street-running portion of Huntington Ave.

The only reason the T doesn't want to run trolleys to Forest Hills anymore (and why they frequently try to terminate E service at Brigham Circle, like they did with the major 2012 service cuts) is because they don't like the hassles that come with street-running: increased likelihood of vehicle collisions, reduced schedule adherence reliability, etc.

ADA isn't even a concern though, because that could very easily be solved, and has been in many other cities.

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The lanes are wider but there are fewer of them. You'd have to scrap street parking, which would be bad for pedestrians (as well as drivers, of course).

Those are really good reasons to dislike street-running trolleys. A bus can steer around something blocking its way (most of the time). A trolley cannot.

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Why would you have to scrap street parking? Trolleys can run in lanes adjacent to parked cars. It happens in plenty of other places every day.

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Less than an hour turnaround - you are the crackest news team in Boston.

I get the skepticism but it's also impossible to achieve any major public undertaking without a roadmap. So I'm fine with throwing up 58 ideas to see what sticks if there is the political will and focus to keep at least some of these moving forward. So if some of these ideas seem to be much more feasible than others, either in funding and/or other factors (like the availability of space, etc...) then great. This can be a starting point.

Absent this kind of framework for discussion, I think we're more likely to end up with stuff like the addition of more parking spaces in the Seaport, which is a dumb idea, driven by people who don't live here and only work here and/or the Convention Center weasels.

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The mayor's office sent out a link to the plan in a press release way earlier today, long before the meeting (which, I have to admit, I didn't go to).

I shouldn't admit this, should I? :-).

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Not one, but two taxpayer subsidized parking garages in the seaport are being constructed. What a waste of money and space that will only make traffic worse.
On the other hand public transportation has gotten nothing. No more talk about maybe doing something in 10 years. The time for action is now.

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I'd rather have people in town for business and tourists parking in a garage as opposed to adding to traffic congestion as they drive around and around searching for street parking. There's nothing worse than confused suburbanites who don't know how to navigate through the city of Boston and still can't grasp the concept that you have to share the road with cyclists.

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i like being called a faggot while people give me the middle finger and and lay on their horn because i had the audacity to be in the street instead of the sidewalk, where, you know, pedestrians like to walk their children & dogs

its ok because as soon as i hop in my car i also commit hate crimes due to the perceived slight of somebody on two wheels thinking they're equal to my four

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The parking lots in the area jacked their prices and overflowed the day after the MBTA jacked commuter rail pass prices.

You are tilting at the wrong windmill. Until and unless there is better transportation into the city, people will drive in and park and even walk a mile to have the control over their schedule that they need.

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Well, actually the main parking garage under construction in Seaport is driven by Massport, which still owns most of the remaining barren wasteland in the Seaport, sitting on it as property values soar with no regard for cleaning up the lots, maintaining proper sidewalks, etc. And they basically started on the garage without any public input. Why? Because they're Massport and are above the law. Until the city is responsible for Seaport (and not the state and Massport), nothing in the best interest of the people will get done.

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Orange Line extension to Roslindale Square- $500 million, estimated.

I am glad we have a ballpark figure now.

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for about a 1.5 mile route. Crazy.

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And these being the preliminary numbers, expect them to at least double by the time ground is broken,... and then double again once it's a few months in and the contractors realize they have the city/state by the short hairs.

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They make up numbers.

The Orange Line tracks extend out past Forest Hills. Beyond that, there's plenty of right-of-way. You might have to modify the South Street bridge (although it's 44' wide, which should be enough for 26' for the Orange Line and 18' for the Commuter Rail, exactly the width of the Orange Line + Commuter Rail in Malden, so it's probably fine), and you'd have to cut back the Needham Line double track a bit closer to Forest Hills.

Other than that it's a mile of track, signals and switches out to Rozzie. This should be doable for $100m. Actually, it should be doable for half of that, but I'll put on the MBTA incompetence multiplier.

Really, the T shouldn't get to handle its construction anymore.

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I probably shouldn't, but I will concede that the cost would be between $100 million and $500 million. I think my guess has been double yours, but you do know better.

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You should doubt him.

Because you know, an amateur transit blogger who doesn't has a civil engineering degree, nor work in construction, nor a finance degree, nor works for MassDOT or the MBTA has far more knowledge how this should be done and how much it will cost than people who actually get paid to do this professionally by the agencies providing their numbers.

Next up, I'll turn to Infowars for quality, unbiased news too

IMAGE( https://68.media.tumblr.com/a3232ce78881d35e8e889d5fbcd949f1/tumblr_nkepckpeJb1silxrio1_500.gif )

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I'm willing to give passion and research some points. He may not have a civil engineering degree or any of the other you listed, but he seems to read up enough to hold equally to people with such qualifications.

The real issue is the optimism. GLX shows that the logical numbers like "this should only cost $100m" is assuming a competent MBTA. The GLX original price tag was already suppose to be on the high side - and it had a built in buffer. Somehow GLX still blew that number.

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I don't agree. But reading and passion is not enough sometimes, especially when you're so critical like he is.

It's like what I do for a living.. Information Technology. I'm a jack of all trades, one man IT shop. So there's very little I can't take on. I'm very well read and knowledgeable about alot of IT-related topics, and can wrap my head around most anything IT-related.

But even I'm like "sometimes its best to let some stuff be done by the professional people who do this day in and day out". Sure I could muddle thru, but I know the pro's know far more about certain subjects because they deal with this on a day to day basis. And I don't and my ego isn't inflated enough to the point where can't recognize that I cannot do it all and need outside help because I don't know it all.

But I'm sorry, I have a very hard time taking comments from someone so critical of the MBTA who has very little background in the field itself other than "passion" or "well read".

And your GLX comment solidifies that point, because he's an outside looking in, with little to no 'insider' information other than observation. Maybe there's more to this than what he, you, or I knows. That's the issue that I have, his are just observations and nothing more.

Edit: Clarity

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The thing is that the well-read amateur and the credential expert should be able communicate to each other and find the puzzles to fit. While the general understanding is we should defer to the expert, things the experts says should be able to be corroborate with what the amateur can gather.

In the example of OLX. Ari O's understanding calculates $100m. They MBTA calculates $500m. That's a big difference. And I think it deserves a better explanation than "we don't have insider knowledge". Explain the insider knowledge. Explain from their education what we're ignorant. Or maybe a different strategy of how $100m make no sense. Show us similar projects around the world and their costs? Counter with projects and their costs.

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I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong. You're 100% correct.

However, that's my point. He doesn't know, but comes off like he knows better than the T itself. And that's my point of all of this, he doesn't know, because he doesn't know because he doesn't work there or have the background to backup his claims. He just comes off as "I just know better because I write a blog and am well read". Sorry that just doesn't cut it for me and that pompous attitude kinda blows.

And frankly, I've had this spat with him before on here and elsewhere in BostonTransitLand because he's flat out called MassDOT and the MBTA engineers and project managers a bunch of idiots. And it's insulting to them as professionals that an "amateur transit blogger" called them that. And why should they even try to corroborate with someone who called them an idiot? I wouldn't. It's insulting to them as professionals and its uncalled for, regardless how much you think they are a bunch of idiots.

That's my point.

Sometimes how you play the game is far more important than winning the game (or "being right" in this case)

--

And a note to Ari, since I know you're reading this:

I don't hate you. I really don't. I read your blog and find many of your posts interesting to a point. And I honor the great deal of time you spend researching your posts for content. But I don't agree with your tone and delivery of your message a good portion of the time. And I probably could help you make your posts better with some information you seem to be lacking. I've tried in the past, and you just saw it as criticism (and flamed me), something I don't think you take very well. But whatever.. I've extended the olive branch in the past, and I'll do it again now. Happy to meet up and discuss. Same handle on twitter. (and I think you know who I am in person anyways...) But you probably wont..... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Dropping off this thread now. I've said enough.

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*applause*

One thumbs up is not enough for you right now, cybah.

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Okay, I think we are arguing different things. I agree with you that we need to work with the authorities - not "flat out called MassDOT and the MBTA engineers and project managers a bunch of idiots".

When I said I'm willing to give a point or two to an amateur is because they know something - but a dozen points to the expert as long that they explain what's going on. Things should make sense enough and if it doesn't, it should be push for clarifications. That if it costs $500m to build, it should be understood in the sense "well, it cost a lot of move tracks and build retaining was even though it's only 1.5 miles" rather than "per advised by the MBTA on their cost estimates".

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Thanks for sharing.

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It looks to me like they measured the distance, divided it by the GLX distance, then multiplied by the GLX cost (with some rounding). I suspect an OLX to Roslindale is a much less complicated project than the GLX, which requires widening the ROW and overcoming some significant engineering difficulties, along with purchase of new rolling stock, construction of a yard, etc., costs that a one mile OLX would not incur. $100 million is a number I've seen from a few sources, I'm not sure why your skepticism is trustworthy.

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He may not have a civil engineering degree or any of the other you listed, but he seems to read up enough to hold equally to people with such qualifications.

Wait wait wait wait wait... so I didn't need to spend $200k on getting this civil engineering degree? I could have just read articles on the internet instead and had equal qualifications!?

Seriously though, reading articles on the internet does not equate to an engineering degree.

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His estimates come from some where, as opposed to my neighbors who claim that this can be done for next to nothing in no time flat. At least he puts some thought into it.

My feeling on public works project proposals like this is that those who ardently want a project to go forward will lowball any proposal (see, well, any transportation project in Boston in the past 25 years) while those in authority, as he notes, would overinflate to dissuade any action.

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The Boston MPO Program for Mass Transportation did a ballpark estimate of an Orange extension from Forest Hills to Route 128 in 1994, then adjusted it for inflation in the 2003 PMT. $316M for 5.1 miles and 5 stations that outright displaced the inner half of Needham commuter rail (Needham Jct. to Needham Heights then swallowed by a Green Line branch off Newton Highlands).

PMT estimates for many projects that were undertaken are wiiiiiiildly, hilariously lowballed across the board...lowballed below credulity even when you strip out the "MBTA mismanagement tax". GLX, for example, clocked in at $375M in the '03 PMT. That was never going to be sub-$1B even under the best estimates because of the physical characteristics of the build and the later bootstrap of the Somerville Community Path.

You can, however, do some very rough math on the undercount. Let's say the PMT estimates are 3x lower than real-world conditions if using "sensible" project management, such that an idealized GLX should have a floor of $1.2B and the vehicle facility + path extras fleshed-out since '03 and cushion push that to $1.5B. Today's current estimate is $2.3B after the contractor debacle and re-bid [cue "Yakkity Sax" music] as a hopefully final sunk cost premium for project mismanagement. Really really bad, but only a +35% eff-up from "sensible" instead of +50%.

OK...so let's say the '03 PMT's Orange extension x3 = $1B. This is how a Rozzie extension differs:

  • Forest Hills to Rozzie is 1.5 mi. instead of 5.1 mi., 1 new station instead of 5. Probably only 1 new or upgraded electrical substation instead of multiple, 1 bridge rebuild instead of 4+. [~25% as costly as the '03 proposal???]
  • Probably need both an Orange and Purple platform at Rozzie station. Definitely will need a busway and short-term bus layover parking because half or more of routes 14, 30, 35, 36, 37, 51 will start terminating here instead of duplicating each other to FH. [Bigger/costlier build than the '03 estimate because of CR platform, busier bus terminal than if bus-subway transfers were diffused out to Bellevue/Highland/W. Roxbury and Orange-duplicating bus routes consolidated.]
  • Needham commuter rail is staying, so 3 tracks are needed. All bridges along the Arboretum already 3-track width, so need to bust commuter rail down to 1 track from FH and compensate by laying a new passing siding between Rozzie and Bellevue + adding or lengthening another siding further out. [Not needed at all in '03 estimate.]
  • Oak Grove-style tail tracks are needed past Robert St., so the 2-track width rail embankment alongside S. Fairview St. & Fallon Field will have to be widened to 3 tracks with retaining walls for 300+ ft. past Robert St. [Not needed at all in '03 estimate.]
  • Forest Hills yard (4 storage tracks, with the 2 middle tracks being the "mainline" to Rozzie) has to be lengthened +700 ft. so all of the displaced train storage on the middle "mainline" tracks can slot on the two flanking side tracks instead. Additional surgery as needed if they need to cram couple more trainsets for the extension, as FH storage is tight as-is. ['03 proposal would've done bigger yard on cheaper land in Needham. Somewhat lower-cost???]

$300-350M sounds reasonable. If framed as a down-payment on future commuter rail -displacing Orange service as far as W. Roxbury (if not 128), more reasonable still because Rozzie is the halfway point between FH and W. Rox. Potential cost blowout putting $500M in-play is the station itself. Mainly if they insist on equal or greater parking at Rozzie Orange/CR/bus superstation than today. Rozzie currently has 160 station spaces, not including the 100-space municipal lot behind Citizen's Bank. Bonkers overcapacity for a dense square crawling with buses and too much unnecessary car traffic, but we all know the starting point for City and T will be 1:1 space parity because "always done it this way blah blah...". So there you go: either new land acquisition, or a small/midsize parking garage so they can fit the station and beefier busway capacity on the same parcel. New station = excuse for palatial headhouse even when a utilitarian Malden/Oak Grove job will do. Garage structure = station headhouse must stand out even bigger! Now you're talking $500M or more.

Trade DOWN in parking and make it more bus-centric...lower station cost. Utilitarian headhouse instead of glass jewelry...lower station cost. Offsetting the commuter rail platform to the side by the bank & muni lot via short 100+ ft. walkway and compacting the width that needs to be housed in the station building to just Orange instead of a fatter parallel setup like Malden Ctr. where the longer CR platform would have to overhang Robert St....lower station cost. (Note: CR access still necessary enough @ Rozzie for interzone trips, but overall patronage will be sharply lower so outdoor + offset plenty good enough). Project management competence and how much insistence there is on arbitrary surplus-to-requirement station cruft ends up the probable cost difference between a fairly-rated $300M and a $500M+ wipeout.

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If plans ever did extend to Roslindale, I'd be fascinated to see what the West Roxbury popular sentiment would be. I could equally see there being a demand to extend it out to WR or a fight to be sure WR wasn't connected to the gritty urban core of the city by all day Orange line trains.

I'll add I'm still disappointed that DMU service from FH to Needham and back isn't even 15 years out. Seems better than the Orange line extension in many ways.

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Would likely depend much more on whether proposed Westie stations become bus hubs or are simply train stations. OLX that is simply a literal replacement of the Needham service, just more often and on the weekends too: Probably fine and welcomed. An OLX that includes reworking the bus lines to increase trapment areas and extend transit into Dedham and other less-served parts of Southern Boston? OMFG NO, WHAT SEEDY NEW ELEMENTS ARE THESE.

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Where is Widett Circle? The one I found in the maps is an isolated location where I only see tractor trailers going.

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It's just south of the Red Line and Amtrak yards in South Boston along 93.

It's where Boston 2024 was going to put a big deck for the Olympic stadium and then a whole new neighborhood for rich people they called "Midtown."

Even after the Olympic dream died a fiery death, Marty Walsh kept talking about the area being a prime location for redevelopment, so I suppose that might be why that got into the plan.

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AFAIK is to eventually cap the rail yard ala something you'd see in Chicago and build a neighborhood atop connecting the South End and SB. B2024 was basically a scheme to get it below market value and by eminent domain and do it all at once.

That's off the table, but it's still going to happen. Just much more gradually.

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Take Southampton street from Andrew Square heading to X-Way.Take a right on Frontage road just at the intersectton of X-Way. Follow that along to the fork, bear right at it and you will run into Widett.Dont take any entrances to Amtrak infrastructure on your quest, be careful !

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"transit district with neighboring towns that would have the authority to build new street-car lines"

Wait, isn't that called the MBTA?

Oh, wait, the MBTA takes community ideas and literally makes them unbuildable.

How about an action item "tell the MBTA we ain't paying our share until you fire all the incompetent project managers [all of them] and put people who can tell their behind from a hole in the ground in charge"?

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A new MBTA, but with blackjack and hookers.

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...creation of a new West Station transit hub at the old Allston train yard that Harvard wants to turn into a new neighborhood.

Beacon Park?

Harvard wants to turn it into a new neighborhood?

Harvard does campuses, not neighborhoods.

The Turnpike is going to be realigned from the Allston-Brighton curve to stay much closer/parallel to the railroad tracks. Harvard is going to get the land between the new highway and Storrow Drive that will be freed up by the demolition of the existing highway. The new highway will be something of a buffer (if not a complete barrier) between the Harvard development and the transit hub. I will believe that as a "neighborhood" when I see it.

...and this is the same West Station that BU was doing its damnedest to keep isolated from the neighborhood on their side of the tracks.

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But Harvard sure does neighborhoods, at least in Allston, where they bought way more land than they need for just a new science center.

Look what they're doing at Western Ave. and N. Harvard St. - they're aiming for a whole new Harvard Square West. At least in 2014, when the state pulled a train into the old yard to announce West Station, they were talking about much of it becoming a new neighborhood, right down to its own street grid.

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The addition of a Trader Joe's will be great, but a supermarket, pizza restaurant, and bakery hardly deserve to be called "a whole new Harvard Square". Maybe in the 22nd Century, but not any time soon.

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That sounds an awful-lot like a Shelbyville idea...

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The Globe said this report shows "The future of transportation in Boston includes fewer cars on the road, heavy reliance on public transit."
I wish Boston wanted to be more walk/transit friendly and less car-centric. But this "bold new transportation plan" comes at the same time:
1. Boston is adding 2,100 taxpayer funded parking spaces to the already traffic-clogged South Boston Waterfront.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/03/05/publicly-subsidized-gara...

2. Boston is reneging on the community approved Rutherford Avenue surface option and moving towards keeping it a tunnel.
http://charlestownbridge.com/2016/03/04/tunnel-removal-plan-to-be-reasse...

So really, its still Marty "Im a car guy" keeping things the same as they ever were (emphasis on parking and driving) but putting out long term visions they will never keep.

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Boston Jewish Community Center could be made more accessible for Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Central Boston, Charlestown
http://www.discoverjcc.com/jccs/ma/leventhal-sidman-jcc/

Shuttle transport or something needs to be developed at the Boston Jewish Community Center that it could be more accessible for seniors, for special events. Across the street Mount Ida College operates a shuttle
http://www.mountida.edu/shuttle-schedule/

Shuttles for special events at Charles River Country Club next door
http://www.charlesrivercc.org/Default.aspx?p=dynamicmodule&pageid=375596

Medical Centers and corporations operate shuttles around the area of Mount Ida College and Boston Jewish Community Center.

Shuttles for nearby William James College and nearby Russian School of Mathematics

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"rapid bus" service between Mattapan to the Longwood Medical Area and on Washington Street between Forest Hills and Roslindale Square,

Forest Hills and Roslindale Square

*vibrates excitedly*

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