Commuter Rail Electrification

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Arborwayfan
Posts: 980
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by Arborwayfan »

Radial or in-out commuting thinking is frustrating and somewhat obsolete in a megalopolis that's more of a mesh. That doesn't mean transit's obsolete, or rail. And just because the rail routes are all radial doesn't mean rail can't be part of an updated transit system.

Insofar as transit can be a solution to a transportation problem involving a lot of low-density suburban bedroom communities AND suburban office parks and industries and the like, I think it would make sense to consider turning the hub-and-spoke transit system into a mesh of carefully integrated modes. Keep the rail lines, maybe even improve them. Link them by circumferential bus routes ever few miles with useful frequencies; not once an hour or once every 45 mins like the 51 bus and a lot of other lateral bus routes now, but every 15 mins or so, or maybe less frequent but timed for guaranteed connections to the trains. Create a totally integrated fare structure and make transfers trivially easy. Build some new infrastructure to speed up the buses: could be signal priority on local roads, could be a few miles of exclusive bus lane at choke points, could be bus stops on 128 and other superhighways, such as I have seen in use in Chile: buses take a special off ramp, stop at a platform that's parallel to the highway and maybe 20 feet away from the breakdown lane, and then pull right back on the highway without having to deal with exits and local roads, while on the other side of the platform (just a sidewalk you can't drive over, so the bus stop doesn't work as an exit) cabs, ubers, spouses, bicycles, local buses, etc., could be waiting without having to deal with the highway.

I defend talking about buses here because using a lot of buses on lateral routes would be good for ridership on the in-and-out rail routes.

There will still be places (Hancock, Ashburnham, etc.) where there are not enough people for transit to work and where better cars may be the answer. There will still be some commutes and daily schedules transit just isn't right for. And some people will choose to fight traffic for whatever reason even if they have a perfect transit commute. But Mass could pretty easily expand the number of people, places, and routes/trips it's transit systems are really suitable for, and thus bring a lot more people into the transit system.

If Mass could get a lot of potential two-car households to have just one car, that would generate a lot of transit ridership and, if done right, energy and pollution savings. It's OK if some people still drive; get transit to work for people who can use it.

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