skyqrose wrote:I wrote a thing about replacing the MHSL with a Red Line extension. It borrows a lot of ideas from this discussion, but fleshes everything out a bit more and gets all the ideas in one place.
I'd love to get responses from all of you, especially regarding cost estimates.
https://medium.com/@skyqrose/red-line-e ... 7351aa782e
Most of what you've got in there completely nailed it. Awesome work! You really should see if you could get the attention of TransitMatters with that to see if it can get published in wider circulation. That's exactly the sort of thinkpiece Commonwealth Magazine
likes to publish when they deep-dive into transit issues or partner up with TransitMatters for an op-ed about transpo best practices.
As for "where's there a place for nostalgia?"...don't forget the Lowell National Historic Park has been running streetcars on Massachusetts terra firma under the tutelage of the PCC experts at Seashore since 1978 and could easily use those cars to spur expansion of the streetcar. City of Lowell has been mulling over plans to makeover the trolley into a general-purpose downtown circulator for all the employment and education centers sprouting up around the Canal District, as that's one of the fastest-growing areas of the city and projects to be their major 25-year downtown economic driver as redevelopment of the district accelerates. Any streetcar extension around the canals would start off by tacking on a short extension to loop at the commuter rail/LRTA bus station busway for direct transfers to the Purple Line and all LRTA routes at a proper multimodal terminal.
Demographically, Lowell compares very favorably to Kenosha, WI
with its very successful 2000-launched heritage streetcar, which links Metra's UP-North line at its outer terminus with a loop around Kenosha's TOD-driven lakefront business park. Actually, after doing some deep-diving on the Kenosha-Lowell demographic comparison on another board...it's a little shocking just how similar the two cities are, and how similar in layout and function the ex-industrial/future-multiuse Kenosha lakefront and Lowell canal districts are as circulator corridors. Kenosha economically started its rebound about 10 years earlier than Lowell did so is a little more potent and deep-pocketed today, but they began in the same place as a bottomed-out ex-mill satellite city with same general ingredients and same general long-term recovery track built around commercial & educational redevelopment of their downtown district. Kenosha is one of the best-fitting comparisons out there for what a Canal District revival with robust transit could look like in 2030 if Lowell make a full-throated commitment to it.
Unfortunately the Lowell City Council demurred on proceeding with a study of the trolley scale-up when it came up to vote in 2015, so for time being it's status-quo with the museum as they haven't quite mustered up the courage to make a big bet. But Kenosha managed to commit to going big with a heritage trolley circulator that had to be built completely from scratch; Lowell already has a longstanding heritage network to start with that it can add to in cost-controlled chunks before netting the same end result. If Kenosha had a somewhat more robust economy for project starts to mitigate the risk on the Go For It decision on the streetcar, Lowell has a much lower barrier of entry and a lot more flexibility to defray costs with phasing their "GFI" decision. Should the city work up the courage to commit to gradual build-out of the trolley as their crown-jewel downtown circulator, wouldn't an ex-Mattapan PCC fleet of 8 be the absolutely perfect kick-off to the transition from museum niche to real everyday transit mainline? The maint expertise is already there with Seashore and only needs a new public-nonprofit agreement funded by the state and LRTA to scale-up Seashore's responsibilities to the scope of the completed service (almost like a miniature of the MUNI/Market St. Rwy. public-nonprofit relationship). The other historic cars from Seashore can still do their residencies on the circulator for the tourists. And it would only be a 45-minute trip from North Station to the waiting creme & traction orange PCC sitting at the Lowell Station trolley loop for Bostonians to get their transit-useful exposure to history.
There is an intra-MA solution that'll allow the T to move on and give the High Speed Line superior service, while allowing the PCC's to stay in service in easy reach well beyond the +10 years of this final HSL overhaul. Not only stay, but directly graduate another local city's downtown to the transit big leagues in one fell swoop. The only outside-the-box consideration is that they'd be going outside the borders of City of Boston and outside the jurisdiction of the MBTA rapid transit district by coordinating efforts with Lowell. But if Lowell's willing to revisit that study vote and push for full workup of their circulator with gumption to proceed-to-build, and MassDOT is willing to invest in that less-known (but not exactly high-risk or necessary pricey) Lowell scheme...the timing ends up a juicy match for when the perma-fix decision has to be made for the HSL's future rolling stock when this final +10-year PCC overhaul runs out its clock.