Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Night Notes

They don't want a tram, they want a subway. via (GGW)
Paz takes a look at TOD at Castle Shannon. I agree with him that transit agency parking lots often get in the way of good place making.
Siemens has built high speed trains for Russian winters, they hope they can build them for America as well.
The GAO has a report out on affordable housing and TOD.
Is there just a little bit of cognitive dissonance on the issue of growth boundaries in Portland? People understand that they save farmland by doing infill development and over 80% in a recent survey support that. But when asked if they want higher densities near them, it's 42% no. Perhaps if they were told how much it would save them in taxes?
Yup, no one is in charge. Politics, not intelligence governs Bay Area transport policy.
Circle line BRT is dead. That's kinda good, maybe they'll do it right next time.


ABC said...

The reason for the disconnect on the UGB in Portland is that there is still a strong support for a no growth option. Not by me, mind you, but by many in the 40-60 set who came here in the 70's and 80's and now want to shut the barn door behind them.

Adam said...

The Blue Line extension is dead, too. That's bad. REALLY bad.

J.D. Hammond said...

I'm with Adam; somehow I get the impression there won't be a next time.

Matt Fisher said...

It sucks that the Blue Line extension is dead (for now). At least it will be resurrected someday soon, combined with an Urban Ring as a subway line instead of a crappy busway (and ideally, the Urban Ring should connect to Harvard). The plans for a busway are an abomination, in conjunction with the Silver Line Phase III.

Adam said...

The Urban Ring would be better to connect to the Red Line at Central Square, not Harvard Square. Then it could cross the rail bridge next to the BU bridge.

Matt Fisher said...


I wasn't saying it should ONLY connect to Harvard. Perhaps there can be both the proposal that was there earlier and an alternate route to Harvard. Why not do both, then? :)

arcady said...

I think it's ultimately good that the MBTA is giving up on the bad and horrendously expensive projects, maybe a bit unfortunate about the Blue Line, but really, I think what MBTA needs is to focus on what they already do well: rapid transit in the urban core. Keep in mind that the rapid transit and light rail systems put together have more than half of the MBTA's ridership, and the rapid transit system might even have an operational surplus as a standalone entity.

What would such a policy mean in practical terms? First, it means more investment in the core system. The track and signal systems are really not up to modern standards, and need to be upgraded to improve reliability and capacity. The Red Line struggles with 15 tph, whereas any self-respecting rapid transit system should be able to accommodate twice that. There are far too many slowdowns, and the ATO system is... suboptimal. Fix those first, with the priority going to the core sections of the line. Make it possible to short-turn Red Line trains at Harvard and South Station since that's the section with by far the most demand.

One other problem with the core rapid transit system is crowding at the central transfer stations, but rather than expensive upgrades, the best solution is to improve circumferential lines. Ultimately, this can be relieved greatly by the Blue-Red connection, Copley-Back Bay passageway, and an extension of the eastbound Green Line from Boylston to South Station (taking over the Silver Line tunnel). The other big project would of course be some form of Urban Loop: I recommend just rebuilding the existing 66 bus into a surface streetcar, with as much reserved ROW as feasible.

Finally, the light rail system really needs to expand to relieve busy bus routes: this probably means at least a southward extension from Boylston replacing the Silver Line, and some lines radiating from Dudley and Forest Hills, and of course restoring the E to Arborway. Bring the transit system closer to what it originally was: rapid transit on the busiest corridors, fed by a network of streetcars (some of which become defacto rapid transit in the form of the Green Line), and leave the buses for the truly sparse routes.

Bob Davis said...

Regarding that article on Florence, Italy: If the folks think a tramway is disruptive, I can just imagine what digging a subway in any Italian city would mean--stopping every few meters to examine some new archaeological find. Even in North America, where written history is measured in centuries, not millennia, subway projects are sometimes delays by historic discoveries.

Andrew said...

Turning the MBTA's Silver Lie into a tram line would be a good thing to do.

Matt Fisher said...


How about short turning Red Line trains further south from South Station at Andrew? That's the original terminus of the Red Line, and it would be good to send them on there. (By the way, my brother's name is Andrew.)

The Silver Lie is well enough to be the Queen Mother of all BRT frauds. They could alternatively have put the Orange Line in a subway under Washington St. to replace the El. Which other corridors in Boston would be good for streetcars... er, LRT... again?

High time for the MBTA to stop clinging to its silly pro BRT, anti urban rail bias. This was so f***ing insane.

Miek Harrington said...

"The technological breakthrough of the Sapsan is that the train has no locomotive."

France already has this. They're called AGV, the next generation of TGV's. AGV stands for auto-motrice à grande vitesse."

Bob Davis said...

"--train has no locomotive." This is a technological breakthrough? Electric railways have been running multiple-unit trains for over a century. At our railway museum, we have run a three car interurban train, with two of the cars built in 1913, and no locomotive required. Granted, they have a top speed of about 45 mph, but the difference is a matter of degree and refinement, not a whole different concept.

arcady said...

The AGV, I would like to point out, does not actually exist yet except in prototype form. The real comparison is to the Shinkansen, which has always had MU trains, and to the ICE 3, off which the Velaro/Sapsan is based.