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Fenway

Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2022
Messages
189
Location
Boston, MA
Having lived and used transit in both cities, I think the report glossed over some issues with SEPTA and made it seem better than it really is. Of course it is true SEPTA has not had some of the glaring problems that MBTA has had recently such as Orange Line trains catching fire, etc.

However I think the systems are different in a number of ways which makes it a bit more of an apples to oranges comparison.

For one thing Philadelphia is a much bigger city than Boston yet the rapid transit portion of the system (Broad St Subway, Market Frankford El, subway surface trolley tunnel, and PATCO line) is if anything smaller than Boston's equivalent. One might even question whether the subway surface trolleys can be called rapid transit since the surface portions are conventional streetcars running in the street with traffic whereas the majority of Boston's Green Line is separated from traffic (except the extreme end of the E line). Another factor somewhat glossed over in the report was the perception of crime on the SEPTA transit system. I know when I lived there a lot of people would not even go on the Broad St. line even in the daytime. I never saw this kind of attitude in Boston.

On the other hand SEPTA has an extensive electrified Regional Rail system much more extensive and with better service frequency than Boston's commuter rail, which seems more oriented towards bringing commuters into the city. SEPTA also has the tunnel so that trips can be made suburb to suburb from the western to the Northern suburbs which is more difficult in Boston due to the lack of the North South Rail Link.

I would summarize by saying for a suburban commuter SEPTA is superior but for someone living in the city Boston probably has the better system even with its well publicized problems.

@AmtrakMaineiac

That is a fair assessment as the Center City Tunnel which while being constructed was considered a boondoggle 40 years ago transformed downtown, especially Lower Market St.

The BSL is what it is..... and nobody has an answer for the Broad–Ridge Spur.
 

Fenway

Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2022
Messages
189
Location
Boston, MA
A Chicago friend is visiting Boston this weekend and marveled how efficiently the T was going from Logan to her hotel near Haymarket. Her minor complaint was State Street station could use a rehab.

The only thing she doesn't like is the Green Line cars with the stairs

The Achilles heel of the T is the commuter rail

50+ years later the culture of the old B&M, Boston & Albany division, and the New Haven still exists. The T commuter rail needs a 21st Century answer to the Budd Rail Diesel Car.
 

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Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
880
Location
Boston
A Chicago friend is visiting Boston this weekend and marveled how efficiently the T was going from Logan to her hotel near Haymarket. Her minor complaint was State Street station could use a rehab.

The only thing she doesn't like is the Green Line cars with the stairs

The Achilles heel of the T is the commuter rail

50+ years later the culture of the old B&M, Boston & Albany division, and the New Haven still exists. The T commuter rail needs a 21st Century answer to the Budd Rail Diesel Car.
Completely agree.
Many of my European musician friends find themselves in Boston from time to time. And my wife is from Hong Kong.
While my wife is privy (through me) to many of the woes of American public transit, they all agree that in general, the purple line is by far the most lacking part of the MBTA. When the Orange, Red, and Blue lines work (which in pre-pandemic times, they did most of the time), they are excellent. They provide very fast, frequent and crucial services to Boston. The Green Line a little less so, but also very convenient and crucial when working well.

The purple line, IMO, needs to resemble the Red line a little more. It needs electrification, and preferably EMU's (though DMU's could suffice in the mean time). The station stops for many of the lines are not very far apart, and if service were every 15 minutes, it would be a game changer, and traffic would be significantly reduced in and around the Boston area. The lines with station stops further apart (Providence, Haverhill, Lowell, etc.) could retain their coaches, and have normal single power unit trains. Again, preferably electric.

One of my gripes with the Fitchburg Line (and I'm sure this applies to other lines) is that the ROW is horrendously under-utilized. There could easily be more frequent service for the stations inside R-128, utilizing DMU's now, and then have the normal hourly service covering the further flung suburbs beyond with normal current fleet trains.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
1,001
Location
Lubec, ME
One of my gripes with the Fitchburg Line (and I'm sure this applies to other lines) is that the ROW is horrendously under-utilized. There could easily be more frequent service for the stations inside R-128, utilizing DMU's now, and then have the normal hourly service covering the further flung suburbs beyond with normal current fleet trains.
Completely agree. Frequent service inside of rte 128 would be a game changer. Fitchburg line as far as Waltham, the entire Fairmount line ( one could make a case for making this a branch of the Red Line if the central subway could handle the frequency), Worcester line as far as the Newton's,and so on, using DMUs ot electrifying those portions.
 

Bostontoallpoints

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Messages
58
Location
Boston, MA

Ridership continues to lag far behind pre-pandemic levels, a trend that left the MBTA with a $28 million loss in projected fare revenue for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2023 budget.

The lower-than-budgeted fare revenue of $89.3 million represents a 24% decrease from the $117.4 million that the T expected to take in for the first three months of this fiscal year, Chief Financial Officer Mary Ann O’Hara said Thursday.
 

Fenway

Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2022
Messages
189
Location
Boston, MA
They are supposed to be opening the Green Line extension to Medford in a few weeks which should help with ridership numbers.
Yes and No

Most of the Medford Branch GLX riders will be former bus riders to Lechmere. The bigger issue is workers returning to downtown and Boston is far alone in that.

All the major commuter rails in the US and in other countries will have to reinvent themselves which will not come easy given the culture.
 
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