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What do we want the MBTA to be in 2030?

This topic contains 65 replies, has 48 voices, and was last updated by  Geoff Dutton 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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    What do we need our public transportation to look like twenty years from now?

    There is consensus that we need to address the backlog in our transportation infrastructure maintenance, but no consensus on what we need to develop for the future. My advocacy priority now is to build consensus that we need to improve our system and increase its capacity. For more of this thought, see this news post.

    The Governor’s Transportation plan came out on Monday — it is a big step in the right direction. Read more about the plan here.

    Please share your thoughts about the system’s future and the stories that motivate your thinking.


    I just finished reading your column about public transportation funding in the Belmont Citizen-Herald and it hit close to home.

    We live near Cushing Square and my wife works in LMA (Brigham and Women’s Hospital). It’s about eight miles by the most practical bicycling route, and she does it at a leisurely pace so it takes about 45 minutes. The problem is convincing her to do it; she’s very timid about bicycling after dark or in any kind of foul weather. So basically it’s a spring and summertime thing for her.

    The rest of the time, she is at the mercy of the MBTA. From Longwood, she has a plethora of options:

    1. Take the Harvard M2 shuttle to Harvard Square and the 73 from there.

    2. Take the 66 bus to Harvard Square and the 73 from there.

    3. Take the 47 bus to Central Square, the Red Line to Harvard and the 73 from there.

    4. Take the Huntington Avenue Green Line (E train) to Park Street, the Red Line to Harvard Square and the 73 bus from there.

    5. Take the Riverside Green Line (D train) to Park Street, the Red Line to Harvard Square and the 73 bus from there.

    There may be other options, but those are the ones she has explored. Interestingly, despite the fact that the buses get stuck in traffic and the Green Line does not, neither Green Line option is as fast as any of the others. Usually the M2 or the 66 are fastest, but the M2 gets so clogged up in Longwood traffic (largely consisting of other MASCO buses, apparently) that sometimes the first two blocks of the trip can take over 15 minutes. Under no circumstances is the bus ever faster than bicycling; under ideal circumstances it takes about an hour; typically an hour and a quarter, and often an hour and a half if she can’t get onto the first 73 bus that passes through Harvard Square.

    90 minutes to go 8 miles. That’s an average speed of five and a third miles per hour. Unserious runners do ten minute miles, which six miles per hour. The record time for the Boston Marathon is more than twice as fast as her commute.

    This is a dreadful situation. The Green Line should be much faster than it is. Whatever is preventing it from being much faster was not a factor 80 years ago; Bradley Clark (president of the Boston Street Railway Society, a trolley-fan club) has researched it and service used to be much faster and more frequent *on the same tracks*.


    Thank you. Agree totally. This is very much what our event, next week, on the green line is about — click here for details on the event.


    We should increase capacity possibly by adding more parking lots where people can board trains and possibly by adding monorail lines where doing so would relieve traffic congestion and where no train lines currently exist. With high gas prices, commuters should be more willing to pay for dependable and comfortable public transit. Perhaps Mass could issue bonds to cover the expenses.


    Looking ahead 15 years, there will likely be huge technological changes, such as driverless vehicles and centralized traffic routing. That will impact the balance between roads and rails. Another factor will be global warming and the relative pollution levels of roads versus rails based on future vehicle technologies. Predicting the future is difficult, so I think some top-notch academic advice is essential.

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