futureMBTA proposals from archBoston.org

From BostonUrbex:

I give you… the Red Line Wye:


View Red Line Wye in a larger map

Continue the Blue Line connection at MGH under the Charles to a junction somewhere near Kendall. Put a junction north of Broadway, South of Maverick, and connect them. And there you have it, my Red Line Wye, also featuring a new stop for the Financial District and Downtown Waterfront located below the RKG between International Place and Rowes Wharf. Will also feature a free ferry transfer.

Oh, and the Maverick-Broadway portion will run to Ashmont only, not Braintree. And that would cover all Ashmont service. This is an attempt to keep Braintree riders from getting pissy like they do about everything.

And the Green Line Wye:


View Green Line Wye in a larger map

Except I rename her… The Blue Line Wye. The Green Line would be upgraded to handle current Blue Line rolling stock. The curve from North Station to the viaduct portal would have to be straightened out, Haymarket would be eliminated due to new alignment to account for the curve coming in from State, and that would be covered by a new Government Center station on the north side of the wye. Also, Boylston would have to be relocated, if not eliminated, due to curve.

To which I responded:

This is very similar to an early proposal for the original Tremont St subway and the East Boston tunnel. The wacky original layout of Scollay and Adams Sq stations was to act as a kind of interchange for trains coming from the north, east (via the East Boston tunnel), south, and west (via Cambridge St). I think once the subway became popular there was a push towards full heavy rail which killed the idea.

Here is a map I found once, year unknown.


Mayor Menino’s Crohn’s proposal for a Lowell Commuter Rail Extension into Nashua, NH.


View Lowell Commuter Rail Extension in a larger map


Finally, omaja’s new system:

I like the ideas of connecting more lines together but I think it might be better accomplished via completely separated, dedicated lines.

Here’s my crazy idea that kind of rethinks the entire way the T is organized now, based on Madrid’s Metro.

A rough sketch, but you get the idea.

View Boston MBTA T in a larger map

Green Line Improvements

I got this great email from Eliot Gardner on how to improve the Green Line:

I submit that the single most urgent improvement to the MBTA rail mass transit system would be to convert the Green Line from light rail to ordinary heavy metro rolling stock. The reasons are obvious.

First, the current Green Line is the most overcrowded rail mass transit line in the country (rivaled – to my personal knowledge – only by the NYC Lexington Avenue subway line, the overcrowding of which is being mitigated by the construction of the Second Avenue subway line).

Second, conversion to a regular metro line would allow 4-car, 6-car, and even 8-car trains to service the vast crowds that everyday battle for mere inches of space aboard the present Green Line light rail rolling stock.

Third, personnel costs would decrease – since a 6-car regular metro train can be manned by only 1 or 2 persons (depending on whether the train driver also opens and closes the doors or a second person is employed as a dedicated doorman), instead of the ludicrous present system of having an operator in every car.

Fourth, service speed along the Green Line would be dramatically improved by decreasing in-station dwell time on the above-ground portions of the line by:
(a) having raised passenger platforms and level on-loading and off-loading of passengers onto and off of trains,
(b) having all doors open at every station, instead of the current stupidity of having only one door per car open at above-ground stations, and
(c) having all above-ground stations be pre-pay stations, eliminating the antiquated and slow on-car payment system currently in use.

It should be noted that there is ample precedent – even within the MBTA system – for converting a light rail line to a regular heavy metro line. The MBTA Blue Line was formerly a trolley line, until it was converted to heavy metro rolling stock in 1925. Finally, the conversion costs would be reasonably minimal. The principal costs would be:
(a) raising station platform heights to allow platform-level on-loading and off-loading of passengers,
(b) purchase of regular metro rolling stock (properly sized to fit the tunnels within the Kenmore-North Station portion of the line), and
(c) lengthening of station platforms to accommodate longer trains.

Again, there is ample precedent within the MBTA system for such a move – station platforms at some Red Line stations were lengthened when Red Line train size was increased from 4 cars to 6 cars less than 20 years ago. Converting the Green Line to a regular metro line would also dramatically improve safety, as it would allow for installation and use of an Automatic Train Control (ATC) system, instead of the current and bizarrely antiquated “see and be seen” safety system that has contributed to so many crashes (and fatalities) on the Green Line. There is no reason whatever that heavy metro rolling stock could not be used on the current in-median tracks on Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, and Huntington Avenue – precedents for that type of usage can be found all over the world.

But if the “trolley mentality” of the MBTA management cannot be altered to accommodate 21st century needs, light rail trains could continue to run on Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, and Huntington Avenue. Inbound light rail trains on Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street could terminate at Kenmore Square Station, use the Kenmore Station loop track to turn around and head outbound, and passengers could transfer from light rail to regular metro trains at Kenmore. Similarly, inbound light rail trains on Huntington Avenue could simply run through Copley, Arlington, and Boylston Stations without stopping (the track gauge is the same for both light rail and heavy metro on the MBTA system), use the south inner track at Park Street Station for off-loading passengers, loop around to an outbound direction by using the Park Street inner loop, and use the north inner track at Park Street Station for on-loading passengers.

Alternatively, for Huntington Avenue service, the station platforms at Copley Station could be lengthened to accommodate both light rail and regular heavy metro trains – one length of platform retaining its current height to service light rail trains coming in from Huntington Avenue, and the next length of platform being raised to service regular metro trains coming in from Riverside with level passenger loading and unloading. With a few stairs to allow people to move from one platform to another.

This is such an obvious and straightforward solution to the disaster that the Green Line currently constitutes that I am forced to ask why it has not already been adopted.

Eliot Gardner

Thanks Eloit!

The futureMBTA Featured in “The History of Somerville, 2010-2100″

Artist and community activist Tim Devin has put together a collection of ideas about the future of Somerville.

From Tim:

“The history of Somerville, 2010-2100″ is a community art project that is exploring what the future might be like. Both the book and the website present what we’ve found by talking to Somerville community members about the future. In the book and website, you’ll also find official government plans, think tank vision statements, and various ideas and concerns about the future from various other sources.

The Timeline section presents this material as a single timeline. In the Predictions Archive section, you’ll find the actual predictions that community members made.

We’ll be collecting predictions until the end of the year. If you’d like to make a prediction, please email Tim at future.of.somerville@gmail.com . All participants will receive full credit for their images, concepts, stories, and data. All material received by Dec. 31, 2010 will appear on the project’s website and in the final version of the book.

This project is organized by Tim Devin, and is sponsored in part by the Somerville Arts Council. The project is also on Facebook.

To download a free PDF of the book, click here: http://timdevin.com/historyofsomerville.pdf
To view the project’s website, click here: http://timdevin.com/historyofsomerville.html

More Reader Submissions: Your futureMBTA

A map from Samuel Wyner

Samuel Wyner's FutureMBTA Map

Samuel Wyner's FutureMBTA Map

More ideas from Erik


View MBTA Urban Ring Concept #2 in a larger map

MBTA Urban Ring Concept #2

A different Urban Ring concept. 17 stops (8 new locations) serving Cambridge, Somerville, West End, Back Bay, South End, Roxbury, Brookline, and Allston. Connects with the Red Line at Charles/MGH and Harvard, the Orange Line at Ruggles, the Green Line at Arlington and Lechmere, the B branch at Harvard Street, the C branch at Coolidge Corner, the D branch at Longwood, and the E branch at Longwood Medical Area.


View Blue Line Musings in a larger map

Blue Line Musings

On eastern part of the line, extend a new branch from Maverick Square to Chelsea and Everett. Connect to the Red Line at Charles/MGH, and then extend the line westbound to the Esplanade (at Berkeley St), Mass Ave, Boston University, Allston, Market St Brighton, Arsenal Mall, and Watertown Square.


View Red Line Musings in a larger map

Red Line Musings

Southeastern extension from Broadway Station through South Boston, ending at City Point. Western extension from Central Square to North Allston, Union Square, Brighton Center and Oak Square. Another northwestern extension from Harvard to Fresh Pond Parkway, Mt Auburn/Belmont St, Arsenal St, and Watertown Square. Extend existing terminus from Alewife to Arlington Center, tunneling under the Bikeway.

This Amazing Map from Alex Forrest

Alex Forrest's futureMBTA Map

Alex Forrest's futureMBTA Map

This network is an ambitious 50-year plan which would bring electrified heavy rail transit service to the entire Boston metro area. The future network would not depend solely on the lines in the map, but also on separate networks of streetcars and regional railways (which I’m still finalizing). Furthermore, this network is not so complete as to be free of any future expansions–there are several possibilities for expansion which I did not include in the final draft of my project, since I’m still working them out in my head. However, these subway lines represent the core of the network, and would be the closest relative to today’s MBTA subways. In total, there are 10 “lines,” or rather, 10 color groups into which lines are categorized: the Green Line, the Red Line, the Orange Line, the Blue Line, the Indigo Line, the Urban Ring (Yellow), the Saugus Line (Black), the Aqua Line, the Southern Lines (Pink), and the Northern Lines (Brown). All featured lines are intended as heavy rail lines, including the Green Line, which would be completely rebuilt–the streetcar portions (not shown on this map) would be integrated into a vast new streetcar network serving the city area.

You can download the Google Earth file here to check out the full glory of this map.

Ideas from Nick Downing

Green Line:

  • Include central subway improvements B, C, & D; include current Green Line extension plan
  • Phase 1 – Lechmere to Kenmore via MIT (#2)
  • Phase 2 – Lechmere to Logan Airport via Chelsea (#1)

Red Line:

  • Northwest – Alewife to Hanscom Airport via Arlington and Lexington Center (#2)
  • Northwest – Harvard to Waltham via Watertown (#5)
  • Southeast – Crosstown, Central Sq. to Andrew Sq. via Mass. Ave. (#1)
  • Southeast – Andrew Sq. to Route 128 via Fairmont (#2a)

Blue Line:

  • Northeast – Wonderland to Lynn (#1)
  • Northeast – Govt. Center to Logan Airport Terminals (#4)
  • Northeast – Govt. Center to Malden via Chelsea (#5)
  • Southwest – Govt. Center to Charles/MGH (#1)
  • Southwest – Govt. Center to Allston via Harvard (#2)

Orange Line:

  • Southwest – Forest Hills to Needham via West Roxbury (#2)
  • Southwest – Forest Hills to Dedham via West Roxbury (#3)
  • North – Oak Grove to Reading (#3)
  • North – Sullivan Sq. to Revere via Everett (#5)

Reader Submissions: Your futureMBTA

Since I started making these maps years ago I’ve talked to many people who have had great ideas about expanding the MBTA in various ways. Up until now these have just existed on internet forums or in emails, but why waste such a great resource like this website on just my ideas? If you have an expansion plan I want you to send it in. I don’t care if you just want to pull the Blue Line somewhere or if you want to reinvent the entire system, I want to see it (in fact, the crazier the better). I realize that most people might not be so artistic so I recommend using Google Maps and sending me the link which I can then post here. Please send a description of your idea as well.

Lets get a conversation started!! Send your ideas to vanshnookenraggen [at] gmail [dot] com.

The first comes from Erik:

One is my conception of an Urban Ring. Rings, actually – there’s an inner and outer ring that meet all other T lines, and meet each other at one point (South Bay/Newmarket). The inner ring would run through South Bay/Newmarket, E Berkeley St (at Washington), South Station, Aquarium, Battery Wharf, City Square, Community College, Brickbottom, Inman Sq, Harvard Sq, Harvard Stadium, Allston Village, Coolidge Corner, Brookline Village, Roxbury Crossing, Dudley, and then back to Newmarket. The outer ring would run through South Bay/Newmarket, South Boston (Broadway/Dorchester St), Pavillion/Seaport (Seaport Blvd/Congress St), Airport, Chelsea, Everett, Wellington, Medford Square, West Medford, Arlington Ctr, Alewife, Mt. Auburn, Arsenal, Brighton Ctr, Cleveland Cir/Reservoir, Fisher Hill/Newbury College, Jamaicaway, Stony Brook, Grove Hall, Uphams Corner, and then back to Newmarket.


View MBTA Urban Ring in a larger map

My other idea is not a ring, but of a new color line that could be implemented instead of the proposed Green Line extension. It would start in Readville/Hyde Park, run up through Mattapan and Dorchester, up Mass Ave through Boston and over/under the Charles, eventually cutting northeast across Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and Malden. Proposed stops at Readville, Fairmount, Mattapan, Morton Street, Grove Hall, Uphams Corner, South Bay/Newmarket, BU Medical Center (at Harrison Ave), Tremont St, Symphony, Hynes Convention Ctr, MIT, Central Sq, Inman Sq, Union Sq, School St, Lowell St, Ball Sq, College Ave/Tufts, Medford Sq, Fellsway, and Malden Ctr.


View New MBTA Line in a larger map

Next is one from Garrett LaBonte:

[One] thing I have been thinking of, but, haven’t gotten it down precisely yet, is why not connect the blue-line to the red-line Braintree extension?
Blue-line North would stay as is, expect get rid of Bowdoin, have it continue to MGH as “planned”, have it turn south along the Charles, then have it either stay close to down-town along say Arlington street, with a portal by the current fly-overs to JFK.
Or have it for a bit further west and connect through Back Back state, BU Med Center and South Cove Shopping Center, then to JFK.
Either way I figure you get a small inner loop for the city, that should take some pressure off the Green-line, and allows more movement for people coming South/West.

This from Samuel Wyner:

I have been reading your Future MBTA site and I like it a lot. I currently live in Belmont so I like seeing ideas of extensions there. So far, the Red Line is one possibility, but it will probably be extended into Arlington and Lexington because it has a storage yard in Arlington. The Green Line is being extended into Somerville and Medford. I have an idea for a Blue Line extension. It would be from Government Center to Route 128 in Weston. Bowdoin Station will be closed. The line will extend to Charles/MGH like planned. Although the subway map doesn’t show it, Lechmere is not too far from Charles/MGH. It will extend to Lechmere and then Union Square. Form there, it will come over ground and follow the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line. It will stop at Conway after Union Square. Next, it will re-enter Cambridge and stop at Porter. After that, it would stop at Sherman Street and then Cambridge Park. It will not stop at Alewife since it’s a bit too far away from the Fitchburg Line, but Cambridge Park will be within walking distance to Alewife. Next, it will enter Belmont and stop at Blanchard Road. Next it will stop at Belmont Center and Waverley. Next, it will enter Waltham and stop at several stops. First, it will stop at Beaver Street and then Lyman. Next it will stop at Waltham, then Prospect Street, and then Brandies/Roberts. Finally, it will enter Weston and stop at Route 128. Although the station is in Weston, it’s right on the border with Waltham. Thats the end of my idea.

Finally from Christopher Brielman:

I have one, in particular, for the Mattapan High Speed Line, the redheaded stepchild of the MBTA (no pun intended):

The MHSL is very isolated and is the only branch that can only be accessed by one other branch (the Red Line, though on the maps, it looks just as though its part of the Red Line). I suggest extending it to another MBTA terminal station. The most obvious being Forest Hills. I’ve included two proposed routes to connect Forest Hills and Mattapan Stations. The old Green Line Terminus could likely be used for either proposal, with some modifications. I’ve included two google maps directions to outline the route, hopefully they should load correctly.

The first route takes the MHSL from Mattapan up along Blue Hill Ave until it turns left onto Morton St, which eventually goes directly to Forest Hills.

The second route goes along the Cummins Hwy until it turns right onto Hyde Park Ave.

Both routes could, theoretically, extend further, up along the old E line tracks to Heath St. (which have, of course, been removed), thus integrating the MHSL further, by joining it to every line but the blue line.

Thanks for your ideas guys! For other would be planners send in your ideas and I’ll post’em here!

FutureMBTA Map now available at Boston Coasters.com!

FutureMBTA Map now available at Boston Coasters.com!

Thanks to Brain over at Boston Coasters I am now selling my FutureMBTA map on a variety of products. I got this journal (which will be available soon) and haven’t been able to stop holding it since. Click on the map below to go to the store.

Final Future MBTA Map

This map is available in different desktop sizes: 1024×768 1152×864 1280×1024 1680×1050