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nowyano

Silver Line Question

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I have been riding the Silver Line for a little under two years now to my job in South Boston. To say that I am mildly dissapointed with the service, and the fact that it is a bus and not a train is a mild understatement. So I am curious as to what logistical problems (other than money) in (a) Changing the Silver Line to light rail, (b) Changing the route making one or two stops in the industrial park, connecting to City Point, and possibly one other southie location (maybe at the end of L Street near the beach) and then possibly going under the water to a location at Logan.

Yeah I know it would probabably be cost prohibitive, but I think it might be worth the cost if only to get stops in Southie (other than Andrews) and to have a better route to Logan than to take the bloody bus from South Station into the highway which is what most people are trying to avoid by taking public transportation.

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This is a bit of a rambling post as I'm getting over a massive sinus infection and my brain just isn't 100% functional just yet, but I hope I provide some answers:

First of all, you have to understand that while the riding public overwhelmingly prefer trains to buses, the MBTA management (who famously do not use public transportation) prefer buses to a rather amazing degree. This is at the core of why the line uses buses and will be using buses for the foreseeable future.

Take for example the Arborway line. Very popular, but passive-agressively eliminated in opposition to prevailing public opinion.

Or the A-Line. Shut down for 11 weeks for a "temporary suspension" in 1969, never to reopen. Businesses and residents begged the MBTA to reopen it at least to Oak Square, which they almost did in the 1980s, but the T decided the 57 bus was good enough and riders flocked to the B-Line, overburdening it to the point of near-collapse.

The MBTA hates, hates, hates light rail. Thus, we are stuck with the "Bus Rapid Transit" Silver Lie which is supposed to be just as good as rail transit, despite the fact all evidence suggests the opposite. The MBTA was mandated to replace the old Orange Line Elevated with "equal or better service". Dudley to Downtown used to be an 8 minute ride. It now takes 20 minutes with BRT.

Right now, the MBTA is trying to get money to dig up a huge swath of Boston Common and destroy the old subway tunnels running along Tremont St to allow for a 1.2 mile underground busway connecting the two segments. Even the Feds told the MBTA to forget about getting money for it, but the T persists.

Defenders of the buses claim that Federal highway rules prohibit running trains through the tunnels to the airport - eliminating the possibility of using light rail. This is true...unless you put a divider between the auto lanes and the rails. The FHA just doesn't want cars driving alongside rail lines in enclosed spaces at high speeds with no separation between the two.

The Sierra Club put together a report summing up the MBTA's lies and mistakes with regard to the line, and despite what you may think of the Sierra Club itself, the report stands up to a cursory fact-checking on my part and explains why their claims that a light rail option is unfeasible simply do not hold up.

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Don't even get me started on the first phase of the Silver Line. The Sierra link was great, thanks...

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When the Big Dig was first presented to the public, it actually included dual tunnel sections, making essentially four tunnels to the airport - two which would have been used by transit. That portion was eliminated and the tunnel reduced to one double tube section. While the Silver Line as it exists is very disappointing, there is some hope now that it's pure lack of performance might be enough to create some initiative for regular rapid transit.

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