• The inner Framingham line

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

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

  by wicked
I live on the South Shore and just started a job in the Longwood Medical Area. I never realized how inconvenient it was for folks from this end of town. I’ve tried a bunch of options to and from work, but taking the Red Line to South Station and then taking commuter rail to Lansdowne works best. Lucky me, the schedule is compatible with my commute. The ridership between the stations (as well as BOS-BBY) is more than I’d imagined.

Unfortunately (for me) the schedule does not work in the PM. There is a two-hour gap on inbound trains in the late afternoon and after that it’s hit and miss.

No, the Track 61 shuttle will never happen, but would the T have the capability of running some form of Boston Landing/Lansdowne-South Station shuttle in the short term? It could take some pressure off the Green Line and provide a relatively speedy commute to the western side of the city.
  by BandA
My first reaction, welcome to what Framingham Line users have been putting up with for years. Second, is traveling BOS <==> BBY still officially fare-free? Third reaction, Kenmore & Fenway are easy walking distance from Landsdown, or if you are at the other end of the Longwood medical area, nearish to Longwood or even the Huntington Avenue "E" line, so suck it up :wink:

Fourth, the T can easily set up layover at Beacon Park, or slightly harder, a CR platform at Riverside, and run frequent service while reducing the number of trains laying over at BOS platforms & Southhampton yard. At the same time all Framingham/Worcester Line trains can be confined to the lowest number tracks, never interfering with NEC operations except when they need to visit the yard for maintenance or refueling (and not for refueling if they did that at Beacon Park or Riverside). Trains can ping-pong between Landsdown & BOS or Riverside-BOS. It doesn't make sense for trains to run Boston Landing--BOS unless you built a layover or pocket track west of Boston Landing and there really isn't a lot of room there. Save that pocket track for Grand Junction branch service, but that's for another thread...
  by wicked
Thanks for the reply. Yes, mine is a first-world problem and I get that the T has a lot of other issues. As one poster here often says, though, this would seem to be low-hanging fruit. And it would provide a much-needed alternative to the Green Line.
  by ssresident
BandA wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:30 am Second, is traveling BOS <==> BBY still officially fare-free?
I do BOS-BBY every day, and I usually aim for a PVD line train since tracks 1-3 have escalators. When fares increased last year, they checked them for a couple of days, then stopped. No conductor on a PVD line train has checked them since in my experience.
When taking a Worcester line train, I've encountered two conductors that check fares, and both have said that no one has told them not to, so they check.
  by charlesriverbranch
Unless I am mistaken, BBY -> BOS via MBTA is officially free, but BOS -> BBY is not. The policy on Amtrak may be different.
  by chrisf
charlesriverbranch wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:33 pm Unless I am mistaken, BBY -> BOS via MBTA is officially free, but BOS -> BBY is not. The policy on Amtrak may be different.
I suspect you will have a hard time convincing the so-called "Fare is fair" ticket checkers that they should let you on the platform without a ticket these days, even if MBTA's official policy is that it's free from Back Bay to South Station. The current version of MBTA's tariff, however, does not make any mention of this free service. https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/file ... ssible.pdf
  by Trinnau
Your other option for LMA is to go to Ruggles and with whatever shuttles are running. MASCO runs several shuttles that connect there and there is a large contingent of morning commuters coming off the Providence/Stoughton and Franklin lines that go to Ruggles. Of course it will be much better once they open the new platform at Ruggles which allow them to provide some PM inbound service. Unfortunately the commuter rail side doesn't have the equipment to support limited-ridership short-distance shuttles at this point. There is too much demand outside the area served by other MBTA services - those folks don't have the Green Line as an option.

As for the BBY<->BOS fare questions, once the fare gates go up it won't matter since you'll need a valid fare to access the platform like on the subway. It was historically free BBY->BOS, I think as a legacy of the SW corridor reconstruction.
  by wicked
Those shuttles get stuck in traffic all the time. Useless is too strong of a word, but they’re not ideal.
  by rethcir
It’s terrible. You can’t take a train to a 7pm Red Sox game from Newton, due to that PM gap.

There are meetings soon about reconstructing the super basic Newton stations, but the state is still planning to cheap out and rebuild the single platforms, rather than center or side platforms.
  by wicked
Interesting. I thought there was reconsideration after a public outcry.

Perhaps Newton would kick in some $$? Maybe this is already happening, I haven’t followed the proposals closely. The residents agreed to pay a few hundred million for a pair of high schools. A lot more people would use the CR.
  by ssresident
I should have added that they don't have people checking BBY track 2 in the afternoon, which most (all?) inbound Prov/Fran/Need trains use. They will stand at the top of the stairs and watch the elevators for all other tracks.
  by BandA
You can't have the Iron Curtain descend on BBY & BOS and still allow free shuttle service. I wish I had known in the past, there were times when I could have taken a train from BBY to BOS to catch an express bus that was way more frequent than the ones in Copley.

It's not Newton's job to pay for train stations, it is the MBTA, and actually in this case the full cost should come out of the Turnpike coffers aka the "Metropolitan Highway" since it is their fault that there is only one platform. If you look at old pictures from before the Mass Pike, the stations and platforms were basically ADA accessible with ramps as they had to support baggage service to FOUR tracks. Newton is part of the MBTA district and has been paying assessments since like forever. You would think the Garden City would be interested in volunteering for landscaping instead of just accepting hardscape, except they have forgotten about volunteering.

Center platforms for the Newton stations don't seem possible without replacing bridges, realigning the Mass Pike, moving granite retaining walls & major utility work. Better to build side platforms with LED signs directing people to the correct track. Should be able to build ADA compliant platforms on track 1 without elevators. Newtonville, I *think* you can shoehorn in elevators for track 2. West Newton there is enough room for elevators, Auburndale there is tons of room to build elevators or even handicapped ramps. Question is whether the bridges over the Mass Pike have ADA compliant sidewalks!

Another problem with the Newton stations is the fare is three times the fare on the Green Line for the same distance! The Highland Branch serves higher income areas with more frequent service and 1/3 the fare of the Commuter Rail. (Waltham and Brandeis/Roberts are also paying 3X). It's hard to justify spending millions when you have fewer riders, and you have fewer riders because the service is less frequent and 3X the cost...
  by rethcir
To be fair, the D branch to Fenway or Kenmore is a slog, whereas the commuter rail will get you there in 20 minutes.

The bridges/head houses are so are apart, at Newtonville at least. I still think that they could build long gently graded ramps down to the platforms from the entrances at the bridges. I don’t see why elevators are needed to provide ADA access.
  by Komarovsky
wicked wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:21 pm Interesting. I thought there was reconsideration after a public outcry.

Perhaps Newton would kick in some $$? Maybe this is already happening, I haven’t followed the proposals closely. The residents agreed to pay a few hundred million for a pair of high schools. A lot more people would use the CR.
You can just look at the way Newton treats development to see how unwilling they'd be to part with 1 cent to improve the T. The way they're suing the Northland development and the Riverside development to stop redevelopment of an effectively abandoned strip mall and a parking lot would make you think these things are priceless monuments. Two anecdotes to give a bit of color to this situation.

I have several coworkers who live in Newton. One co-worker lives in Auburndale, north of the pike and take the Worcester line every day. She's been to meetings for the commuter rail visioning, and both station designs to support them. She says that a great deal of the people who live in her neighborhood are vehemently anti-development and see improved commuter rail service as just another way that they're having their neighborhood "stolen" from them. These are the same people who are claiming buildings along Washington St that parallels the pike are historically valuable and thus the neighborhood needs a protective designation so it will be extra difficult to redevelop.

Another couple of coworkers who live in Upper Falls have protested every and any transit improvement/residential development in Newton, including the two station redesigns for the Worcester line because they don't see how it would benefit anyone in Newton(they all drive to Back Bay every day).

Needless to say, even if Newton govt was interested, their constituents would want none of it.
  by Disney Guy
Is Riverside the only rapid transit parking lot that is not full nearly every business day?

I remember a time back in the 1970's (after the back half of the original 1959 configuration was taken for expanded car maintenance facilities) when it, too, was consistently full.

There are still differing opinions, not necessarily related to development as a whole, about whether a parking lot is too large if it consistently has lots of open spaces or is too small if it is often full.

Yes, the Riverside lot does fill up every so often, for example for a major (like when they are championship contenders) Red Sox game.