Monday, May 4, 2009

Silver Lie Continues

People still aren't happy with the Silver Line BRT in Boston. They want the replacement for the rapid transit line they were promised.
“Why not invest in the light rail system as the community has been asking for 20 years,” said Robert Terrell, a member of the Washington Street Corridor Coalition, a group of organizations that have been fighting to replace a segment of the Orange Line that was removed in the 1980s.
Sound familiar San Francisco??? Oh yes. The Geary Subway that was promised after the B Geary line was ripped out is going to be a BRT line now as well. Will we ever learn?

11 comments:

Kyle - Boston said...

I've already posted my complete disdain for BRT and this project that came out of nowhere. It really is astounding how stupid the EOT and MBTA are.

BeyondDC said...

Why tear those old lines out in the first place if everyone agreed on the need to replace them?

njh said...

BeyondDC: Because the long term intent is to sell off or turn the easement into a road. That is always the purpose of BRT. It's been like that since the whole streetcar debacle in the 50s: install buses, they're the best. Oh, they're not doing well, let's make it a road.

BeyondDC said...

Yes but what was the stated reason? How did they sell tearing out those lines, if the communities demanded they replaced?

arcady said...

The lines were generally about 50 years old and the infrastructure, and often the rolling stock as well, were old and worn out. They were sold by promising the public modern buses instead of the rickety old streetcars, running on congestion-free roads. The Key System, for example, used trains built in the 1930s that were built using the guts of old 1910's vintage cars, which were already obsolete by the 1930s, and even more ridiculously so by the 50s. The trains managed a top speed of 35. I'm pretty sure the tracks were in pretty bad shape by then too. Replacing the streetcars with buses may well have been an improvement, but then again, just about anything would have been at that point.

arcady said...

Also, to a significant extent, streetcars were eliminated to make room for more cars: that was the benefit that they sold the public on. Not that it worked very well or for very long.

Matt Fisher said...

The ultimate intent of BRT, when it's promoted as an "alternative" to rail, is to sabotage or water down efforts to build rail transit.

As to how they wanted to justify this closure, you have a point: To them, rail was a "19th century technology". I'm shocked they continue to get away with this today. The prevailing view was that it was supposedly more economically sound to use "modern" buses in place of trains, ignoring all the hidden external costs. Rail was considered obsolete at the time, and cars were ultimately seen as "the wave of the future".

It's bad enough that they keep arguing that using buses in situations where I think rail should have been built a long time ago is better than using trains. Despite this, BRT constitutes an improvement over traditional buses, but fails to constitute substantial similarities to light rail.

Just bad, as I said. Quoting Inspector Gadget, "Wowsers!"

arcady said...

By the way, the abomination known as Silver Line Phase III is now officially dead. The new MBTA proposal is to transform the 28 bus route into a "Silver Line" and extend the Washington St bus to South Station via dedicated lanes on Essex Street. While still somewhat short of what's actually needed (a Green Line extension), this is still a huge step in the right direction. Rapid bus is an improvement over regular bus, and they're not wasting a huge amount of money that they don't have on building a bus tunnel that nobody needs.

Jonlin said...

At least the Silver Line and the Geary BRT are better than the BRT we'll have up here in Seattle, with their fewer stops and dedicated lanes... The only differences between Seattle's RapidRide, opening next year, are that the bus looks different and stops about 75% of the time the old buses stopped. It hardly even comes more frequently. The stops will also look nicer and will have displays showing when the next bus is come. None of this is in any way rapid. But if you're going to go to all the work to put in dedicated lanes and big, well-spaced stations, it would hardly cost anymore and would offer much more capacity to put a rail line in there.

Matt Fisher said...

I am sure that BRT or so called "rapid buses" with dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority, well defined stations, and other improvements is a step in the right direction. I don't think that it is necessarily better than rail, and a grade separated busway like our Transitway is not a good idea. That's what I keep trying to tell you! The "stations" are, by the way, just glorified bus stops. They're only called that because of the assumption that BRT stations resemble train stations.

Furthermore, there should be LRT or similar on Geary, not BRT. The Silver Lie is the worst example of BRT. I don't think it is a good idea to give BRT lines nomenclature using colours. My argument is that it will just lead people to think it's a rail line, which is exactly what the Silver Lie is.

And furthermore, is it truly a good idea to pave over rail lines and turn the ROW into busways?

Matt Fisher said...

Other questions I left out:

Why do people think paving over rail lines and turning them into busways is a good idea?
Why do people think a bus tunnel like this is a good idea, whether it's the Silver Lie or here in Ottawa or anywhere?

Oh, yeah, all comments I write are my opinion. I'm just a f**king liberal "car hater". BRT with dedicated lanes and so forth is an improvement over normal buses, but it's still just another bus, rather than supposedly being, as the proponents will tell us, "just like rail, but cheaper".