Saturday, March 10, 2012

Urban Ring Supplement, Passenger Service, choice of crossings, Yawkey Station

In yesterday’s post, at, I partially responded to Archie Mazmanian’s comments concerning the Urban Ring Citizens Advisory Committee.

On greater thought, my comment needs supplementation.

I informed the group of the MassDOT decision rejecting passenger service. The MassDOT representative spoke later about wishes of the group for the Grand Junction which are still on MassDOT’s active list.

This group does not give the impression of being strongly a citizen’s group. In the Charles River area, it looks very much like the institutions. The group was continued after the state officially gave up on the Urban Ring.

The Urban Ring concept dates back to the mid 80's when it was created as a means of allowing connections between the spokes of the subway system to allow people to get from place to place without going through the heavily used downtown stations where they still have to transfer.

Most recently, the bureaucrats have attempted to add a stage in the proposal for buses before putting in new subway lines.

Buses make excellent sense in the part of the Boston transportation system outside the Cambridge - Boston core area. In the Cambridge-Boston core area, buses are quite simply silly.

The Urban Ring bus proposal before it was put on hold was subjected to an interim environmental order prohibiting the Bus actions to do anything to predetermine which of two subway possibilities would be used.

The two subway proposals most important difference is in the crossing of the Charles River. The heavy subway Kenmore Crossing would cross near Kenmore Square. The streetcar BU Bridge Crossing would cross near the BU Bridge. The streetcar proposal is a spin off of a heavy subway proposal for the same basic route. The streetcars are being proposed because of a turn at Mountfort and Park Drive which heavy subway cannot achieve.

An additional difference between the two is that the streetcar proposal needed to move the Yawkey Commuter Rail Station to Mountfort and St.Mary’s within view of Marsh Chapel, the core of the BU Campus, to get Commuter Rail connections.

The legislature, as reported in the Urban Ring CAC meeting, has spent millions upgrading the existing Yawkey Station. Yawkey is an integral part of an excellent combination of the Urban Ring / Street Cars (existing Kenmore) and Commuter Rail. It provides excellent connections.

The CAC types have proposed a complicated bunch of busses going over and under the BU Bridge. The proposal clearly was intended to decide the choice of crossings in favor of the BU Bridge crossing.

But the legislature has made it a fait accompli that the Kenmore Crossing will be used by upgrading Yawkey in place. The games with the commuter rail on the Grand Junction looks like a response. Supposedly this was for some Worcester / Framingham to Boston trains, but the obvious tactic is to get some and then the rest. Moving all the Worcester service to the Grand Junction would make Yawkey Station superfluous and give their streetcar alternative a chance.

But the bad guys have lost yet another key vote.

And somehow the apparent killing of passenger service on the Grand Junction was not reported to the Urban Ring CAC until I informed them of it.