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Fun Red Line fact

Christopher Schmidt reports that when the Red Line opened in 1912, some MIT students took measurements of how long a train took to get from Harvard to Park Street (then four total stops, since Charles/MGH hadn't been built): 7.3 minutes.

Yesterday, the average rush hour travel time (with one additional stop) was 12.3 minutes.

The Red line is 70% slower today than it was when it opened.

Subway Train Test, Cambridge Tribune, 9/4/1912.

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Except that it's 8mins from Charles/MGH to Park St.


On a good day.

How many smoots?


Wrong bridge

I always wondered what one of my favorite magazine shops looked like before it became a store. Thanks @Scratchie!

Is no longer rapid.


Besides the additional stop at Charles, as part of the extension to Alewife, Harvard station was relocated to its present location in 1983. Since then, trains have to negotiate that sharp curve which wasn't there in 1912.


Used to be 45 mph until about Savin Hill inbound.

I watched a train go over the bridge yesterday morning that took well over a minute to cross the Neponset River bridge alone.

It is not like it is new technology we are dealing with.

The irony that the railroad in this country was started in Quincy, yet it has the slowest trains almost 200 years later tells me that something might be amiss.


If only taxes were higher. That would be the answer.

It used to be just the Savin Hill area. Then the bridge to North Quincy. Now Wollaston to QC.
Completely ridiculous.


…equipment oriented more than problems with the roadbed. I have caught the rare new cars a few times this past month and they do not slow down as much or at all and definitely not on the bridge. I’ve also noticed the T has stopped running «”timeline” trains by which I mean a mix and match set of cars from every decade since the 70’s. Now all of the cars are of the same vintage. Trains made up of the oldest cars crawl over the bridge. Before they would buck and rattle so insistently, it felt like they’d jump the tracks

Nope, its all ties and rail issues. The 1969 #1 and 1988 #2 cars still run together in trains and the 1994 #3 cars have always just run with each other.

...is awaiting your proposal to improve train speeds.

Put up or clam up right?


How's That?

That is what the T did to the Ashmont line in 1981. Closed the whole thing down for 9+ months. Ran buses from Ashmont to Andrew. It worked well.

Your snark is wonderful, because my comment from a few days ago that you are bringing up was for a private development.

The T, last time I checked was a public entity.

See the difference?

Go over the handlebars one too many times on Helmetless Tuesdays?


They obviously have a better plan for the route than you do.

You sound miserable.

Perhaps leave your job and build a private route. Or join the T.

If not, put up or clam up.

Also isn't the "over the handlebars" schtick getting a little played out? I recall a recent fit centered around a similar complaint.


Ask the riders to get out and push?

I recently learned that a horsedrawn wagon went about 7-11mph.

Considering some of the speed reports of some lines on the T... Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled across the prairie faster than the MBTA.



I regularly travel from Fields Corner to Central. There are up to 7 slow zones, between almost every station on both legs of the trip. But the maddening thing is that they seem to change every day.
How can a section of track be unsafe to travel at normal speed one day, then safe, then unsafe?
And FFS, what's up with the brakes on the old Red LIne trains? Every time the operator brakes the train, the entire train shakes likes it's going to de-rail.


I won't in line this tweet but if you need a visual representation, you can click here to see one I put together.

I admit the wagon is probably going a bit slower than 7mph.. I'd call it six tho because the dog makes a good clip. Still.. 5mph is slooooooow

That puppy is faster than the T.

I sometimes get off at Science Park and walk to Kenmore Sq along the esplanade. I walk fast but it's normally still faster than staying on the train to the same destination.

A buggy might do 7-11 mph or more.

A Conestoga, however... The rule of thumb was about 20 miles/day, so more like 2-3 mph

The problem is frequency.

Due to Charles/MGH and the Harvard curve, it’s usually 9 to 10 minutes to Park Street. The rest is temporary slow zones, which we can hope will be a distant memory a year from now.

But the bigger problem is frequency. A hundred years ago they ran trains every 2 minutes. These days due to the “improved” 1980s signal system, they struggle to run every 5 minutes without causing major traffic jams downtown and getting into Alewife. And off peak it’s much worse, exacerbated by bunching. This is also putting aside the staffing shortage and the really bad slow zones which delay the arrivals downstream, which again should be temporary.


Trying to give Healey the benefit of the doubt here, but she doesn't seem super-concerned with fixing the MBTA so far.


Her proposed budget includes a big increase for the T but given the money is coming from the ballot initiative, this isn't exactly her doing.

Healey was on friendly terms with Baker and had plenty of insight into the T's problems as AG. She has been preparing to take office for well over a year when her opponents in the primary dropped out and the GOP nominated DOA candidate. So it's not as if she's coming in cold.

I won't fault her with any MBTA problems yet but so far she's showing about as much concern as Baker did.


Give her time.

Then again, I am on record as saying that her successor will inherit a T in crisis. It's one of those things governors pass on. Still, hope for the best and whatnot.

saying that you thought Baker was doing a good job fixing the T until 2019, so I won't be paying much attention to what you say about the T.

Things can be fixed. Subways all over the world run without catching fire, it just requires the political will and the funding. This nonsense of saying "oh well, nothing will ever change" just contributes to the problem and lets do-nothing politicians with enormous power like Mariano, Spilka, and esteemed ex-governor Baker off the hook.


And I feel strongly that what I said was true. When they started shutting down segments of the system for work on week-ends, things started to improve. When they stopped shutting down segments of the system for work on week-ends, things got worse. The T stopped caring, and it showed.

At the end of the day, few care about infrastructure upkeep, which is a huge problem. The opening on the Green Line extension excited people, but routine line maintenance is what makes the whole system go.

That said, you have now shifted from your previous claim that it was Baker and Baker alone who was singularly responsible for the current state of the system. It's great that you have lumped in Mariano and Spilka, but just like Baker's predecessors back to Dukakis, the previous Speakers and Presidents share their blame as well (ah, for the day's of Mr. Bulger's Transportation Agency.)


And I feel strongly that what I said was true

Facts don’t care about your feelings. I’m begging you, for once look at the massive list of management failures in the FTA report instead of hand waving for your favorite guy.


No way bringing Governor Michael Dukakis into the conversation bolsters your argument @Waquiot. Mike was a regular T rider and I met or saw him riding on the Red Line many a day. Michael Dukakis would not be putting up with this bullsh*t from T management.

When Governor Dukakis was made aware of problems on the T they got fixed tout suite! Damn, he was a great Governor transportation wise.

...you'd be 70% slower too.

It is not likely ever to be eight minutes again, because the Red Line extension in the early 1980s added a 90-degree turn just south/east of the current Harvard station platforms.

The pre-1980s Harvard Red Line platform was in a different location, near Mass. Ave. and Dunster Street, not requiring the trains to make this sharp turn going into or out of the station. (Beyond this point, the trains ran on non-revenue tracks under Brattle and Eliot streets to a storage yard where the Charles Hotel and Harvard Kennedy School are today.)


I'll give them an extra 60 seconds to make the turn and accept a 9 minute ride between Harvard Sq and Park St.


Adding the MGH/Charles stop also added time for train to slow down, stop and let passengers on and off, and then start up again.

It's been more than 3 months and the path next to GLX is still closed. They aren't using it for construction. It's finished and ready to go yet remains blocked. This has been the best Boston winter for biking on record, weather wise. No excuses.


It's insane it's still closed. For a bit street the green line opened people pushed aside the fences and myself and many others on foot and bike enjoyed the new path. Then the Baker admin closed it more securly. I emailed my city councilor in Somerville and they said they didn't have any power (unlikely). I had hoped or new governor would open it but alas it is still unnecessarily closed. They never do this with roads.

That's because of bureaucratic turf issues between the Siddya Somavul and the MBTA (who's responsible for plowing, lighting etc). They've come to a preliminary agreement and supposedly it'll be open in April, other than the stretch behind the high school which is still blocked for construction of the athletic field.

Some intrepid citizens should show up with bolt cutters and open it up.

This seems to happen most weekends, with the wire ties holding those gates closed on the side opposite the padlocks cut and re-tied so that it often unwrap with a modest tug.

The elevated section of the path is really very nice.

Somerville and (i think) the MBTA just finalized the lease agreement for the path handing control over to the city. They're targeting the spring to open, but I agree it's been frustrating seeing the path sitting their idle looking 99% complete.

Infuriating, insulting, and unacceptable is more like it.

GLX is now 20+ plus years late -- more if you include the extra few years on account of the pandemic. Are you telling me they couldn't figure out these agreements until just now? And then they've got to wait another few months for the ink to dry?

NOTHING about the path is going to change between now and sometime in the future. There is absolutely no reason to keep the path closed. If Somerville and Healey fancy themselves as progressives who are devoted to alternate transportation, they will open the path this weekend.

I've been wondering if there's a way to do a similar historical comparison for the Green Line -- maybe look at old West End Railway / Boston Elevated Railway schedules?

Recently took an E-Line train that crawled through each intersection along Huntington. And over on the Somerville end, being able to take the Green Line downtown has been great, but they similarly slow down to 10 mph through every switch and across the yet-unrepaired bridge, and then come to two full stops (why??) on the ramp down from Science Park to North Station. It is painfully slow at times.

It seems like the approach to 'safety' has been to just slow everything down as much as possible, instead of actually fixing the underlying issue. This goes beyond the recently publicized list of specific slow zones.

In short, I wouldn't be surprised if 1912 trolleys were faster than the 2023 Green Line, too.

Not to toot my horn.. but go see my "visual representation" above. A horse and buggy is faster than the T.

I'd assume a streetcar would be even faster.