Our crumbling infrastructure: Copley T stop

Crumbling Green Line station at Copley Square in the Back Bay

Adam Pieniazek snapped the crumbling going on at the Copley Green Line station yesterday.



Free tagging: 



The Copley T station is awful

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The Copley T station is awful. Aside from the crumbling ceiling, there was a trickle of a mysterious brown liquid going into the outbound side for weeks which has left a slippery stain on the floor (which was already slippery enough on it's own, you take your life in your hands walking down there when it's raining out.) And there's no ventilation in there at all. The fans they have in there do nothing. I've had many days this summer where I had serious trouble breathing down there because of the extreme heat and stuffiness, and I don't even have any major respiratory issues.



The heat in these stations, e.g. Downtown Crossing and State is ungodly, I have problems breathing there too, and am desperate to get on a train just to get out of the heat. There does not seem to be any solution for this; like you say, the fans do nothing.


Hot subways

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It's because the HVAC on modern trains radiate ungodly amounts of heat into the tunnels which then gets pushed by piston effect of the trains moving through the tunnels into the widest-open spaces of the system...the stations...where it stagnates.

This wasn't a problem for most of the subway's history because all trolleys from PCC's and earlier and all heavy-rail cars from the mid-1960's and earlier (Red Line 01400's, Orange Line 01100's, Blue Line 0500's, etc.) just had basic roof fans for cooling...no air conditioning units. The subways were markedly cooler than the surface during the warm months because the trains themselves didn't run nearly hot enough to exert much influence on the ambient underground temperature.

That all changed dramatically about 40 years ago. Red Line got the first AC units on the system in 1969 with the 01500/01600 cars still running today, but they only made up half of Red's fleet until the late-1980's so the heat effect wasn't major. But in a 5-year span from '76-81 you had the Green Line Boeing LRV's, Orange 01200's (current fleet), and Blue 0600's (most recent prior fleet) displacing nearly all fan-cooled cars on the system with big power-hungry AC units. That kicked off the heat pump effect in earnest. Then, in the ensuing decades, chuck on top of that:

  • 1985 - purging of the last fan-cooled Green Line cars with end of PCC service in the subway
  • 1986-87 - introduction of Green Type 7's, with more powerful HVAC than even the Boeings
  • 1987 - introduction of 6-car Orange Line trains for first time, increasing per-train heat output by a third
  • 1988 - introduction of 6-car Red Line trains for first time, increasing per-train heat output by a third
  • 1988-89 - supplemental order of 58 Red Line 01700 cars, pushing fleet to majority HVAC-cooled
  • 1994 - retirement of Red Line 01400's...last fan-cooled cars in the subway...in favor of the 01800 series cars with souped-up (if oft-malfunctioning) modern AC
  • 1995-96 - midlife rebuild of Green Line Boeing LRV's with brand-new more powerful roof-mount AC
  • 1997 - supplemental order of Green Type 7's with more powerful AC than the '86 batch
  • 1998 - Green Line Type 8's with most massive AC system to-date on a Boston trolley
  • early-2000's - Standardization of nearly all Red/Orange train lengths to consistent 6 cars all-day instead of chopping down to 4 cars (or, in older times, 2 cars) on off-peak and weekends. Less resulting heat dissipation on the off-peak as a result. Similar standardization of *most* all-hours Green Line trains at 2 cars, with singlets deployed more cautiously than before to avoid accessibility issues from running too many all- high-floor trains in branch service.
  • 2004-07 - introduction of 6-car Blue Line trains for first time, increasing per-train heat output by a third + order of 0700 cars with more powerful AC than their predecessors. Immediate standardization of all-hours Blue trains at 6 cars instead of paring down to 4- or 2-car off-peak.
  • 2004 - Silver Line Transitway opens pumping more heat from air conditioned electric buses into subway via shared South Station concourse

Only now in the 2010's are you seeing new technologies like regenerative braking in cars starting to pare back some of the brawn and heft of the HVAC units on these trains through energy recapture so they can suck less juice and radiate less waste heat for doing the same job. But you get the picture. With exception of the Alewife extension of the Red Line, the Silver Line, and a very insignificant length of 21st century Green Line tunnel under North Station absolutely none of Boston's subway tunnels or stations were designed for the air conditioned train era, with ventilation built in at the structural level to dissipate all the waste heat that pools and stagnates in the station caverns. Or, in the case of transfer stations like DTX and Park...heat pooling and stagnating on multiple levels of a station cavern. As recent-ish ago as 1976 the scope of today's subway heat problem would've been unfathomable to commuters riding some of the very same subway cars still in-service today because the trains were still predominantly fan-cooled and subway stations were still consistently the coolest places in the city on any given hot day.

It's entirely a modern problem, and unfortunately one very hard to retrofit out of century-old structures. Advancing technology has started to rein in the heat output...such that the much-increased service levels offered by the new Orange and Red Line cars are unlikely to make the heat problem any worse than it currently is. But to actually tame it and make it substantially better??? Short of making sure those largely ineffectual platform-level fans are actually working instead of majority burnt-out or unplugged, there isn't a lot they can attempt that wouldn't cost a billion or more systemwide in very invasive station ventilation retrofits. It's unfortunately what we have to put up with for having tunnels and station caverns poured a full 70 years before air conditioned trains became a mass-market enough thing to have to design around. New construction builds around the ventilation needs; old construction obviously didn't have a crystal ball to foretell future airflow demands (nor could it in NYC, London, Paris, or other similar-vintage systems that suffer varying degrees of the same HVAC-induced heat pump problem).

And, yeah...I suppose if they can't be arsed to slap a coat of paint on Copley more than once every 40 years all that increased heat contributes to the base coat literally baking itself off the ceiling through time like crumbs of burnt toast.


Great story (seriously!)

When the T had the old fan-cooled subway cars (and PCCs), people would complain that they were too hot and/or ineffective. Once they introduced AC, people were more comfortable, but at the expense of the large amounts of heat that come out of the train.

The subways this summer have been roasting hot, especially Copley, Park St (both levels) and DTX (both levels), but I always thought that was because of the heat outside. I never even considered the outgoing AC contributing to that high heat factor.


I never thought about that

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I never thought about that either but it makes a lot of sense. Kenmore isn’t too bad, I suppose that’s because it’s big enough for the hot air to rise high enough away from the platform and because the platform is closer to the end of the tunnels where some fresh air can get in.

Train AC Heat Ejection Is Not The Whole Story

It is also due to two factors in how our climate has already changed - and these are the same factors that led to trains having AC in the first place:

1. the typical number of days in the summer over 90F has risen to nearly 20 per year compared to the 1971 to 2000 baseline of 6 to 7 per year. That also means that the days over 80F and 85F now span much of the summer. So, even without an official "heat wave", the city keeps heating up due to a longer term chronic hotness.

2. Summer nights are considerably hotter than they used to be. Even when it doesn't get over 85 or 90F, it often doesn't get below 70, sometimes for two weeks at a time, and then only briefly. That means that the heat builds up in the tunnels.

I looked back at what I remember as a horribly hot summer in 1988. It doesn't come close to our cooler summers in the last decade when it comes to high temps and high low temps. I rode the subway quite a bit that summer and I would selectively wait for the Kinki trains because they had AC, but I don't recall the platforms being so horribly stifling as they are now - in fact,they were better than the unairconditioned train.

My dad lived for two years in DC about 30 years ago. We are now having their summers.

So, yes, heat ejection is part of it - but there being absolutely more heat overall with a lack of cooling off at night is an enormous part of the problem, too. Our cities are heat islands - we have to expect our tunnels to become heat sinks when heat now sits on us for days at a time. Dumping heat from train cars into tunnels exacerbates the problem, but it didn't ultimately cause the problem.

Ambient underground temp

Transient above-ground temperature has surprisingly little effect on ambient underground temp, which is typically the year-round average surface temp for the area. You'd need to show a significant rise in the temperature of some underground space not subject to manmade heating -- like a cave -- to support a large underground effect from climate change. I couldn't easily find that. There are no real caves closer than the Berkshires, and none that might be frequently monitored closer than Howe Caverns in NY.


Tunnels have open ends

And stations and emergency exits ... and trains pushing air into and through them.

Theory isn't reality. The fact is, when it does not cool down, the tunnels heat up because the entire city heats up. Heat moves through spaces and into the portals of the transportation tunnels over time, as they are not sealed in any way, shape, or form.

This is why I find engineering way more interesting than theoretical anything science. Or, in the words of one of my college roommates "there are no massless frictionless anythings".

My husband and I drive into the city when the air quality and heat make it unsafe for our geezer lungs and bodies. Our car tells us the outside temp - or, in this case, the tunnel temp. Ditto for extreme cold days. The temperature in the big dig tunnel will usually be more moderate than the outside temp, but it is usually within 5 or 10F of the outdoor temp because there are so many places for ambient air to infiltrate.

Here's a challenge

Measure the temperatures at different stations.

Porter will always be the most moderated - well into the system and very deep, with few exits. That will conform to your theory.

Alewife will be one of the less moderated ones - a walkout basement.

Now, stand on the stairs at the Church St. entrance to Harvard. Wait for a train to come in and leave - notice how the leaving train sucks air behind it? How the arriving trains push air in front and up the stairs?

A station deep underground with few entrances will have moderate temperatures year round. A station closer to the surface with very wide open entrances and multiple entrances will exchange air with the surface as the result of the trains moving.

Long before the operating announcements about arriving trains, I used this as a way to know whether I should rush down or not.


Boston - DC summers of 30 years ago?

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I agree that summers in Boston are on average hotter. But they are not like DC 30 years ago. Thirty years ago DC was the worst city to live in during the summer. 90 and 90: 90 degree days and 90 % humidity. Constant. On the one hand it meant DC was much more comfortable than Boston most of the year. But summers were grossly intemperate.

Boston is not built on swamp land creating a non-stop condition of humidity. An anecdote is that D.C. was gross enough that English ambassadorial staff were paid misery pay for staying in Washington (we all should be paid misery pay with the current government).

While Boston's weather is hardly to be called mild, at least its inconsistency makes up for the unbreathable air of D.C. that is year round.

Let's look at some data

I spent quite a bit of time with my dad in DC in 1989. That particular summer was very much on the order of what we had this year. The only difference is that it started in earlier in the year (but 2012 started DC early around here).

Let's compare some historical weather data:

Washington DC, August 1989:
Temperature (° F) Max Avg Min
Max Temperature 93 86 80
Avg Temperature 84 77 70
Min Temperature 69 66 57
Dew Point 76 67 48

Boston, MA, August 2018
Temperature (° F) Max Avg Min
Max Temperature 97 86 74
Avg Temperature 84 77 68
Min Temperature 71 68 63
Dew Point (° F) 75 67 46

That looks pretty darn similar to me - averages are very close! Maybe one day is cooler in Boston, but one cooler night in DC. (Source: Wunderground.com)

A huge amount of Boston is also built on shallow tide land and swamp land - the non swampy land starts around Roslindale and parts of JP. Parts of Cambridge are built on tidal swamps along the Charles, others on The Great Swamp to the North. Check out a colonial era map and you can see that - or check out this gif:


If you want horrid summers, may I suggest the piedmont area of South Carolina? Or the Deep South? Both are far nastier than DC - they just don't have European diplomats to complain about it.

But what does the data prove?

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A single summer can indicate particular weather phenomena for that year. This year has been an outlier.

Now, string together a few years (say August 1988, 1989, and 1990 in DC compared with August 2016, 2017, and 2018) and we can see if Boston has truly assumed the climate of the DC area from 30 years ago.

And I will note that I have not crunched any numbers. Just noting the difference between weather and climate.

If you want ...

You can go on wunderground.com and look up the data yourself. I scanned the rest - the matchup is clear except for May.

I personally was quite shocked at how close it was, considering it was an off the cuff recollection and a single "let's see" sample. Not just "neighborhood" but "inside ballpark" close. But I work with climate, and this has been a motif for sometime: summer has moved north.

This summer is not an outlier - July, perhaps, but not August. Not 2018 as a whole so far. This summer is part of an ongoing trend and is not as severe as 2012. That trend: all the warmest summer months and warmest summers have been pretty much in this last decade.

So I did

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Here's what I got (from the NOAA, with August 2018 being the data you supplied), and I'm just going to go with average high/low/average/dew point.


1988: 89.7/71/6/80.7/67.9
1989: 84.7/69.4/77.1/66.7
1990: 84.2/68.8/76.5/66.3

High- 86.2
Low- 69.9
Average- 78.1
Dew Point- 67


2016: 84.7/68.1/76.4/62.8
2017: 79.5/64.5/72/59.6
2018: 84/68/74/67

High- 82.7 (-5.5 from DCA 88-90)
Low- 66.9 (-3 from DCA 88-90)
Average- 74.1 (-4 from DCA 88-90)
Dew Point- 63.1 (-3.9 from DCA 88-90)

Honestly, my main takeway is that you should be happy you weren't in DC in 1988. Also, my gut is that you learned what humid heat was in 1990. Bottom line, I gotta say the conditions were not that close. 4 degrees is noticeable, as is 4 degrees on the dew point scale.


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Wow! Thank you FLTD for that epic, informative post. It explains so much of what I see as a monthly pass purchasing, daily-user of the MBTA. And of course it's not just Copley, it's also the concourses at Downtown Crossing; crumbling, stained tiles at Andrew; stairway treads and risers that seem to be rotting away as you use them; water-stained ceilings that look to be on the verge of caving in. It's a boost of optimism to walk through Government Center, which now looks so bright and ship-shape after the renovations. If only the budget existed to give all the stations on all four lines the same treatment.

lol...I was just about to say

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lol...I was just about to say the same thing. It's been like that since i was a kid and that is a long time ago:)


Copley Square T Stop

I agree. I came to Boston as an 18 year old to go to school at BU. The subway has always been a dirty smelly festering pit. But I remember in the 1990s when I didn't have a car and was working at the Swissotel Boston it wasn't that bad. But now it is REALLY bad.

That only makes it even worse

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That only makes it even worse. If neither Democratic nor Republican governorship can implement routine maintenance on our infrastructure we should all stop voting for D and R governors. Maybe I'm an idiot but seems to me maintaining public infrastructure is a basic minimal task government should do. How have we allowed things to get done so bad that a main station like Copley is allowed to just slowly fall apart?

Maintenance isn't sexy and

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Maintenance isn't sexy and buys few votes. A century ago most public spending went to infrastructure. Now it mostly goes to pay, perks, transfer payments, and debt service from all the borrowing to pay for pay, perks, transfer payments and a tiny bit of infrastructure.


This is literally at the center of the governor's race

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Charlie Baker: no increase in taxes, no more spending on infrastructure. (See that here.)

Jay Gonzalez: raise taxes, spend more on infrastructure. (See that here: "We need new revenue to fix our broken MBTA system. We can’t keep asking residents to pay more and get less.")

Everyone's entitled to their own view, of course (full disclosure: I am a Jay donor). But no one can say that there isn't a real choice on this issue.


Raising taxes is good,

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Raising taxes is good, especially on things that are bad like congestion/pollution but we also need to not give tax breaks to corporations and make better use of the funds we already have. Will Gonzalez cancel the South Station Expansion? Will he speed up the legal cannabis industry so we can real the tax benefits from it? If not, then I don't trust him with our money. This state spends a stupid amount of money on stupid things while also claiming we don't have money for basic routine maintenance.

I would not be opposed to throwing out the whole budget, starting from scratch and making sure public transit and public schools are fully funded and then figure out what else we can afford. Just blindly raising taxes without a plan for spending the revenue efficiently and economically is only slightly better than not spending the money at all.

What's the problem?

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That is Baker's plan and you can follow the link to confirm that. As public policies go, "let's try to do more with the money we have rather than raising taxes" parses sensibly: it's not "let's build a giant wall and make the Mexicans pay for it" or other foolishness. The judgment call is whether it works under these facts -- sometimes you can put dinner together from what's in the fridge and sometimes you really have to go to the store, and voters have to decide which situation we are in.

Here’s my problem

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When Gonzalez was on Beacon Hill, there was less than barebones maintenance of the T. But in your world, the guy behind that will help situations like this, while the guy who thinks it is important to do things like making sure trains can run in the snow isn’t helping.

I know politics is about twisting the truth, but some of us live in the real world. In the real world, state government has finally admitted that maintenance is something to be done. Saying that the opposite is true is just wrong.


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Governor Deval Patrick proposes $1.9b tax increase to fund education, transportation plans

By Stephanie Ebbert, Michael Levenson and Martin Finucane January 16, 2013

Shrugging off the fiscal caution of recent years, Governor Deval Patrick proposed a $1.9 billion tax increase tonight in his State of the Commonwealth address, saying it was necessary for the state to invest more in education and the state’s transportation network to “accelerate growth and expand opportunity.’’

Patrick called for a 1 percentage point increase, from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent, in the state income tax. At the same time, he called for a decrease in the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent.

The net effect of his proposals, which included a number of other changes to the tax code, would be $1.9 billion in new revenue to fund an ambitious and expensive new agenda for 2013, according to a summary released by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.


Legislative leaders set votes on transportation finance measure for Wednesday

By Joshua Miller July 22, 2013

On Friday, Governor Deval Patrick vetoed an $800 million transportation finance bill.

This week, legislative leaders say their members will vote to override that veto. That vote, set for Wednesday, will cap a contentious back-and-forth between two branches of government over how much to raise taxes to fund upgrades to the state’s transportation system.



For Immediate Release: 10/22/2014

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the MBTA will present to the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) the recommended company to manufacture and deliver 284 new subway cars for the Red and Orange Lines, replacing decades-old vehicles. Joined by MassDOT Secretary & CEO Richard A. Davey and MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, as well as state and local officials, Governor Patrick announced that the recommended company, CNR MA, will build a 150,000 square foot facility in Springfield to assemble the vehicles, creating over 250 new manufacturing and construction jobs in the region. The contract is pending approval by the MassDOT Board of Directors, which is schedule to meet on Wednesday to vote on the recommendation.


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But again, why are bits of infrastructure like this ceiling having issues then?

Look, Patrick did a little bit better than the 3 governors that came before him when it came to the T, but being an Orange Line rider who has dealt with bustitution for 3 years, I can say that even though it is annoying, it proves investment by the current administration in getting the T closer to a good state of repair. The subway car purchase notwithstanding (though much appreciated), the Patrick administration left after 8 years with the T in worse shape than how they inherited it.

We tried that

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Over the past 20 years the MBTA has gotten literally hundreds of millions in extra funding.

Instead of funding capital improvements, they spent it on salaries and benefits. This was a bipartisan problem. Deval started the fix on a system that was collapsing. Baker has continued that with an important change by demanding increased accountability.

The MBTA doesn't need more money. Anyone who says that is ignorant of T funding and at least on that point not deserving of the taxpayers' vote.

"You can't cut a ribbon on a repaired pothole"

My dad had a long career in highway maintenance. He used to say this all the time.

It also has to do with funding: since maintaining infrastructure is supposed to be the responsibility of state and local governments, the Federal government will not fund it. What they do fund: major overhauls and expansions and other "new" stuff.

Same lack of investment in what we have brought us 93Fast14. And we were lucky to get that given the fast and loose treatment of funds that went on before the Feds clamped down (not just in MA but in other states that lacked sufficient oversight of contractors and treated Fed money like a discretionary piggy bank).

Since we seem to be following

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Since we seem to be following the Soviet apartment block aesthetic with all our new housing, it would be great if the T could in turn follow the Soviet/Russian Metro model. Gorgeous, clean stations, and trains that are so reliable (even though some look like they haven't been upgraded since the coldest years of the Cold War) that the station clocks count UP from the last train departure, because it's a given that another one will show up within the next two minutes.


That renovation didn't come

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That renovation didn't come with a paint-n'-patch job of any kind. New headhouse, ADA, new lighting fixtures, other new miscellany...but not one drop of new paint for the crumbling ceiling arches or the walls above the signage tiles. Arlington renovation similarly came and went without any cleanup whatsoever of all the peeling grime overhead at platform level. What exactly would that have cost? Pressure washer rental for scraping the old paint, pressure painter rental for applying the new, and about two dozen buckets of Home Depot-grade white primer...plus a few night shifts of labor: it literally was not programmed into the budget for either station reno!

Boylston...frickin' prehistoric Boylston...has a fresher paint job than whatever circa-1971 lead chips are raining down from the Copley ceiling.

That's lead paint and spray

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That's lead paint and spray asbestos fireproofing. You can't just scrape or pressure wash it off!

Make one standard station and garage prototype

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I realize size and square footage of each station varies, but some years ago after the $200 million Newton North High School Taj Mahal debacle, the state School Building Authority came out with a template of how new schools getting state funds, are built. I believe there are a few choices but they generally look the same with the same building materials and all able to be maintained by the same people.

That's why I opposed the ridiculous glass headhouse at Government Center. Is that leaking or smashed yet? Does the T have a glazier for when that happens? Does the T have a mason for Copley or any of the crumbling garages? The T should stick to one design when rebuilding, renovating or building new. Obviously, despite hundreds of six figure salaries, they are unable to maintain the stations, never mind the trains.



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I think this is the first thing I've ever agreed with you on. That head house is a giant white elephant. The glass cleaning alone is more effort than the T actually puts into maintenance.


Hey Toto

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This isn't Kansas.


Careful where you point that

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kind of logic. You might inadvertently come to the conclusion that the kind of aesthetics-above-all philosophy to public works that we've got going here is what led to insane cost overruns and delays on the Longfellow Bridge rebuild.

Misguided Aesthetics-Above-All Philosophy

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I have been saying this for years. When T stations are designed for looks or prestige rather than practicality it only leads to trouble. For years misguided people complained about the old "bunker style" of stations such as Government Center and Wood Island, two stations I use regularly. Although they would never win any beauty contests, those stations were designed that way for a reason. People were protected from the elements and there was efficiency of getting in and out. They were FUNCTIONAL. The redesigned Wood Island is completely exposed to the elements save a tiny postage stamp sized patch on the middle of the platform. You should see it when it rains or snows and large amounts of people are huddled into that one cramped spot. And, of course, all the benches are exposed to the elements also, so they remain wet for hours after it rains, or remain covered in snow when it snows. On bright days there is no shade from glaring sunlight. What genius designed this misfit of a station and how much were they paid? And I'll take the unobtrusive, if somewhat plain, old bunker entrance to Government Center over that overbuilt glass monstrosity any day. Subway stations are not museums or art galleries. Neither are they lounges. They should be functional, efficient and should not encourage "lingering" for any longer than it takes to get in and out of the station.


Well, O-FISH-L...

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This is what happens when you have architecture firms {seemingly} staffed by people who don't use train stations... being hired to design train stations. But, hey, the use of AUTOCAD is billable by the minute, no?

Satirical snark aside...

Consider Ashmont Station:

The original 1872 steam railroad station was quite beautiful; but it had to first and foremost be practical. Ticket office, waiting room, platform: that is what makes a station. Aesthetics was an afterthought insofar as it was thought about after figuring out how to make the station as convenient for the riding public to use and as simple to operate/maintain for the railroad.

The 1928 rapid transit station had to be truly multimodal. The Boston Transit Commission was tasked with improving transportation in Dorchester; not winning beauty contests. The station was accordingly designed to handle oodles of people coming from and destined for all over to have as few impediments to their journeys as possible; AND facilitate the most efficient operation of trains, trolleys and buses as possible. Folks trying to grab their car for Talbot Avenue or bus to Fall River ain't got all day to make a transfer. If the station failed to be that then how justify its existence? Or the public dollars spent?

**BONUS POINTS** Your well-designed station makes bodily transfers quick and simple so you save some money by not needing complex fare control!

The mid-1970's renovation adapted the station for its time reasonably well.

And then there's what we have at present:

- A streetcar loop located adjacent to the residential neighbors near Radford Lane and Van Winkle instead of the more commercial Peabody Square. Now the T must have its imported noise-dampening blankets draped around the loop.

- Faregates located such that passengers cannot freely transfer betwixt the Red Line and trolley. Well, just reprogram the AFC software {extra vendor cost} to allow for double-tapping... but only after complaints from the riding public!

- A busway that causes traffic jams because, who knew, a dozen buses at once sometimes need to discharge passengers at the same time.

- The retained Radford Lane access that requires you to reenter the station and exit via the northbound platform when you hop off a southbound train. Oh? And you wanna just catch the bus and live, say, on Shenandoah Street? Well, just pay $2.75 to get upstairs; or else walk literally around the footprint of the station.




Everything you speak about the modern Ashmont Station is the truth. When I lived in Hyde Park, I expressly used Ashmont as a straight-shot way to Harvard (using the Route 24/33 bus then the Mattapan Ashmont trolley), and the connections between transit modes required maybe a total of twenty or so steps, and you were protected from the elements.

I've been to the new Ashmont station three times and it seems that designers of these stations do it for the architectural and gentrification points than for passenger consideration.

govt center

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government center was open for about 2 weeks before the water stains started appearing on the ceiling.

you'd think that with all the money they pumped into these stations recently that they would have done some waterproofing.


• An intermittent water

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• An intermittent water feature
• Adds character
• Natural wear


How's the permanent leak at Porter Square doing these days?

Leaks taken in the elevator aren't the same thing as the leak at the bottom of the stairs and escalators.

That and...

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The other sad part is where do we get the money to fix all this stuff. We are already one of the most indebted states in the country. I think last I checked about 75% of our state budget goes to education and health/human services. So where do we come up with the money to fix this stuff. Could raise taxes - but that's more of a third rail than the third rail actually on the tracks.

And given the shenanigans going on in Washington, not holding my breath for a whole lot of money out of that swamp.

We could grow up

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And raise taxes.

Our taxes are too low. We pay fleabag rent, and the fleabag will collapse.

Time to start placing a solid disincentive on automobile travel and make it cost what it really costs. Then we will have the money for transit.


Growing up means lots of things

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Like not wasting money on historically accurate rivets that no one will ever see or glass castles or any of the other vanity projects that most public works turn into.

It means replacing the sewers before, not after, you resurface the street in Belmont Center. It means not voting for your town to pay some law firm half a million a year to fight infrastructure projects like gas and power lines.

It means all that and the hard-nosed elimination of dozens of other acts of fiscal imprudence that make living and doing business here so damned expensive.

Massachusetts is middle of the pack for tax burden as percentage of income. It is subpar in terms of using that money wisely and in terms of having an environment where the rest of your income, the part that doesn't go directly to the state every month, goes to the state indirectly through costs passed on to consumers by businesses having to go the extra mile to comply with Massachusetts laws.

So before you throw a tantrum about being an adult and paying more taxes, recognize that the stewardship of public funds is serious stuff, and it requires trust that manu Massachusetts government agencies have failed to earn. It is a safe assumption that increased revenues will be misused. More money into that pit is one way to exercise political leadership. The same amount of money and merciless identification and termination of poor performers at all levels of state and municipal government agencies is a better way. Do that, keep doing it, and keep the standards high for a few administrations...long enough for everybody's cousins to understand that the gravy train don't come no more, and then you will have built up the level of trust necessary to ask for higher taxes with a straight face.


A word on the GLX

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I am not publishing GLX comments as fast as one of you is trying to post them.

Not everything is about the GLX, not even on the Green Line. I've had enough and so, well, see the first paragraph.



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Thank you.

I've grown tired of the "but maybe if we didn't have the GLX we could divert money to fix this" argument.

It doesn't work like that.. its never worked like that. Once again its easier to say crap like that than it is to understand how something really works.


I hate to write this

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And mind you, looking at my comments on this website, you'd think that I'd be the last person to wrote this, but this might be one of the rare times the GLX troll might be raising a valid point. Expansion requires capital money up front, which would most likely be financed through bonds that are charged to the MBTA's budget, which is finite, meaning that unless the expansion funds itself through new revenue, something would have to give. Then, of course, there are operational costs. Since the advent of forward financing, it would appear that maintenance has been the sacrificial lamb (hence, my Gonzalez comments above.) Therefore, compared to other comments he's made on things like air quality alerts or the Congressional primary, his comments might be germane. I don't think the point would be valid, but there are a lot of times when people make points I disagree with and vice versa.

That said, I do see the GLX as an investment, and one that was mandated under the Big Dig mitigation pledges. I also think that capital projects like this should come from other state financing, but that's me.

Of course, if the GLX troll became a registered user, Adam might take a different view on letting him comment. So register, GLX troll, register.

Water leaks on the T

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Many of the water leaks are not from the T at all, nor really the T's problem except for mitigation inside the stations.

We live in an old city with old water pipes running everywhere. I'd be surprised if we didn't have leaks. It takes the T working with the city to fix the problem. And since it would require digging up the street above, it's unlikely it will happen due to political will (someone above said "infastructure isn't sexy") and/or funds and/or NIMBY ism.

You can thank our bureaucracy for the leaks.


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Public transit should be a priority. People getting where they need to go so they can earn money and pay taxes on that money. The subway should not have to make money to make it economically viable. It can lose money and make that back in taxes from the people it serves. It benefits us all, weather we take the T or not.


A few comments

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Here are some comments engendered by the Pix @ Copley and then some of other UHub Reader / Participant's Comments

  1. First on the pix -- it looks better @ 100 plus then Alewife does @ 40
  2. 2nd as someone pointed out -- its all about prioritizing renio / maintenance and growth on an old system like the T -- you have everything from the new Green Line stations of the GLX to Early 21st for the Blue Line back to Mid Century Modern for the Red and Orange Line and all the way back to Late Victorian for the Central Subway
    1. the recent renovations were all about ADA Compliance mostly on the Green Line as most of the other Lines are now fully compliant or the work is underway
    2. anything which could be stretched to fit the definition of reno for ADA was plugged in
    3. a lot of money has been invested recently in raising the platform levels on the Green Line such as the Glasshouse renovations at Gov't Center and lesser expansion of the connectivity of Prudential
    4. Symphony and Boylston being the only remaining non-compliant underground stations
    5. However -- in this context fixing some old Ceilings on the old Central Subway -- hard to fit that kind of work into the scope of the ADA projects
  3. -- Heat in the Stations and Tunnels -- has the T figured out how to reno the Laws of Thermodynamics -- I think not

    Only now in the 2010's are you seeing new technologies like regenerative braking in cars starting to pare back some of the brawn and heft of the HVAC units on these trains through energy recapture so they can suck less juice and radiate less waste heat for doing the same job.

    1. Sorry that makes no difference as far as heat in the tunnels are concerned -- remember the expression --
      there is no such thing as a Free Lunch

      -- well it applies to energy as well as economics

    2. you just move energy around from place to place and change how it manifests itself -- but ultimately it ends up as heat -- rejected to the environment
    3. there is no true regenerative braking as you have a Prius or a Leaf -- actually T Transit Vehicles since the days of the PCC use resistive braking
    4. the energy put into moving the vehicle is converted to heat -- if you use traditional friction brakes it goes directly into heat -- if you use electromagnetic braking the mechanical energy is converted into electricity by running the motors as generators -- and then it is dissipated as heat using large resistors
    5. air conditioning the trains does generate more heat in the tunnels than just using fans to move the hot and fetid air around and the air in the stations also warms either directly when the vehicle is in the station and the air conditioning is running or also from air blown into the stations from the tunnels
    6. Any heat inside the car [mostly due to people] gets rejected to the surrounding air plus the losses inherent in the air conditioning systems equipment
  4. This summer has been particularly brutal as not only has it been hot its been humid - making the evaporative cooling used on the platforms in the stations virtually useless
  5. Ultimately if the trains and stations are busier with more people and more vehicles -- it will be hotter down there
  6. The only true solution from the perspective of the comfort of the rider waiting for the train -- air condition the underground stations and reject the heat to the atmosphere above or drill deep holes and use a ground water heat pump -- I suspect the Greens would SCREAM at either of those ideas

There is some good news in the pipeline as the T replaces old vehicles:

  1. the new equipment is more efficient as the motor controls are now based on semiconductor switches which work like a light dimmer rather than the old dissipative types of controls using resisters to reduce the voltage to the motors when you are not at full speed
  2. The new air conditioning equipment is also more efficient using variable speed fans and more efficient motors
  3. The lighting will be all LED with a substantial reduction in heat output for the same or better lighting
  4. The bad news -- the cars hold more people -- and we are tending to be fatter and hence -- well I hope there are air fresheners as well as air conditioners

Anyway -- we are all supposed to LOVE the T since if we don't use it at least it takes our neighbor off the highways :-}>

Posts about the T always get

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Posts about the T always get a thousand comments here, as if people think complaining will somehow make billions of dollars appear and fix a 100+ year old system.

So let's just lay it out so we can stop having the same threads over and over again.

The T will never get better because no one wants to pay for it.

and of course, you will have those people who say baker and co. should just pass a law and/or fix it, but are they really willing to pay more in taxes state-wide? especially since western mass doesnt feel like it should pay? and raising the fare will never be enough.

There are some great ideas and plans to improve the T, but they aren't going to happen, so just live with it and move on.

It's not good to bottle all that rage in

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No, people who comment here are not expecting Charlie Baker, Stephanie Pollack and Bobby DeLeo to see their comments, go "Damn, they are RIGHT!" and do something. Have you never felt like complaining about something because a) it bothers you and b) need some commiseration? And maybe sometimes c) Convince other people in the same situation they need to get together and do something?