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On part of the Red Line, it's buses all the way down

Long line of yellow shuttle buses

SteveBikes yells: Happy Red Line shutdown day from Davis, because, of course, today is the first of ten days of all-day non-stop non-subway action between Alewife and Harvard, with the non-service extended to Park after 8:45 p.m., so the T can do one of those speed-run repair marathons.

Of course, the streets of Cambridge and Somerville weren't designed for bus after bus after bus, as Even Bauer reports:

The bus traffic through Cambridge was really bad. I spent about half an hour riding one stop to Porter, so I'll just be walking the rest of this week.

And what's still left of the Red Line isn't doing so well:

The operational segments of the MBTA Red Line (shutdown between Alewife and Harvard) are in shambles today. It is taking roughly twice the time to get from Andrew to MIT, with at least five "standing by" delays". I have heard one exasperated passenger curse out the operator.

Details on alternative travel methods for the duration.



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And those buses would be red

Could the MBTA utilize its fleet of motorcycle police officers to escort the buses and enforce the parking ban in bus stop.

As far as MBTA shuttles go, this experience has been pretty smooth so far (Alwife to Porter @ rush hour this morning, other way around 1pm).

Why are the frequencies of trains on the Red Line so bad today?

Why are trains from Braintree and Ashmont leaving every 23-30 minutes?

How can we expect people to ride public transit when the service is so slow?

Is there anything the T can do to speed up service, even in the midst of the busing from Alewife to Harvard?

I think the T needs to explain why things are so slow and tell us exactly what they can do to fix this issue.

The big constraint for using Harvard as a terminal is that the crossover that allows trains to move between the northbound and southbound tracks is approximately at Quincy Street, around the infamous Harvard curve from the platforms, which has a permanent 10 mph speed restriction. In general, you want the crossover to be as close to the platforms as possible, but that just isn't possible at Harvard.

Another contributing factor is the split-level station layout. I haven't been to Harvard today, so I can't confirm, but when they've used it as a terminal for weekend diversions, they only use one of the two platforms to avoid confusion about where the next train will depart. (The track layout theoretically allows for using both platforms to terminate trains.)

Because of those two factors, only one train can be between the crossover and the platform at a time, and thus your minimum headway is the time it takes to go from the crossover to the platform (at 10 mph), offload, load, turn around, and get back to the crossover again. I think the T should figure out a way (using the digital screens or just with humans) to direct people to the right platform, because using both platforms would significantly increase throughput.

(The current incarnation of Harvard station did serve as the terminal of the Red Line between September 1983 and December 1984, but then the trains ran empty through the still-incomplete Porter and Davis to turn around at a crossover north of Davis. That's obviously not an option for this diversion.)

When, right now, at Kendall, there's a Braintree train 5 minutes behind an Ashmont train. That means that after the Ashmont train passed the crossover, that Braintree train was able to reach the station, turn around/unload/load, and reach the crossover inbound in about 5 minutes. Even allowing for a bit more wiggle room, they should still be able to serve both branches with roughly 15 minute headways -- if the T were more competent at dispatching and scheduling the trains. That would allow for 7 to 8 minute turnarounds at Harvard which are obviously feasible.

They should have known from weekend diversions that using a single track at Harvard wouldn't work … and yet they tried to do so anyway!

At 2 p.m. the T tweeted out "oh look we figured this out and are using both sides of Harvard" which was right when travel times from South Station to Harvard went from hellish to normal.

You shouldn't need a degree from MIT in transportation engineering to figure this out, but apparently no one told the T that. I'd like to see the internal comms which figured out that this wasn't working. But more so, I'd love to know who thought this would work in the first place.

The MBTA seemed to go through a similar learning curve during the numerous Green line shutdowns for the Haymarket garage demolition. The GLX terminating at North Station had horrible headways and delays in the beginning, until they stopped using the same platform for north- and south-bound trains at North Station.

Absolutely terrible today both directions. Platform packed, trains packed, only coming every thirty minutes.

I really wish we had more warming about how this was going to affect the line outside of Alewife-Harvard. Despite all the feel good news about the work to eliminate slow zones by the end of the year (!) the T continues to be a nightmare for daily commuters.

Tax cuts are working!

I rode the Red Line from Harvard into Boston shortly after 11:00 this morning; at that time they were using just one platform, the lower, inbound one.

Returning from Boston around 4:30 pm, both platforms were in use. My train from Braintree arrived on the upper, outbound level, and some people got on it there; but there were other people waiting on the lower level who probably weren't aware of the train upstairs. At the main lobby, inside the fare gates, where the ramps split to go up or down, a T employee was saying, loudly, "Braintree train on the upper level", and pointing people in that direction.

I'm not sure if the decision to use both levels was an original part of the rush hour plan, or if it was something that was quickly added after a few hours of trying it with just one level.

As a longtime Harvard T rider*, I concur that the layout isn't designed for trains to turn at Harvard, and that there are always long delays when maintenance issues do require them to turn trains there. Headway today on the Braintree branch was every 19 minutes at 3:40 pm.

* - I can honestly say that I've been riding out of the current Harvard station longer than any other commuter. I was on the first inbound train departing that station shortly after 5:00 am on September 6, 1983.