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No longer just a Shelbyville idea: Councilor proposes solar-powered monorail between North and South stations

Murphy

City Councilor Steve Murphy (at large) says a private company is willing to build a pilot, solar-powered "personal rapid transit" system that would run as a monorail between the city's two commuter-rail terminals.

At a City Council meeting today, however, Murphy says he'll forestall any action on the proposal until after the state legislature acts on a bill that would encourage the development of these systems statewide.

Murphy said these monorails would ease burdens on the current T system and that an initial test-bed setup along the Greenway would be privately funded.

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Comments

Like we didn't just tear down one eyesore.

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let's destroy the greenway and build another eyesore..

I really wish I had some of what these pol's smoke these days...

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Its eco-friendly so has to be good!

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Monorails are much more compact than highways. It's a lot easier to support a single rail (well two but who's counting) than it is to support multiple lanes of pavement, so you can get away with just a few regularly spaced pillars. So it wouldn't divide the city how the Central Artery did. And I think monorails are pretty cool looking.

The real problem is that it's inefficient to switch to a different mode of transportation (people not going to the South Shore can use the Orange Line to get from North Station to Back Bay anyway) compared to doing a North-South connector properly.

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Have you seen the structures required to support the elevated AirTrain to connect JFK Airport to the Long Island Rail Road? They're not exactly unobtrusive. The cement they used was a gleaming bright white and it looked Six-Flags-y for awhile, but the elevated overpasses are otherwise the same as a regular train to the naked eye.

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Well, I like trains. It's undeniable that even the most compact monorail design isn't going to blend into the background. (And AirTrain JFK isn't really the most compact: the Seattle Monorail is smaller, although there's pros and cons to that sort of design.) But it's not going to be a wall dividing the city like the Central Artery was. You can have the monorail and still keep the Greenway.

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The North-South Rail Link has been extensively studied and planned for decades. The channel for the tunnel in the Artery has been preserved. The Big Dig project was designed to sink the blight of elevated infrastructure, and this would build another elevated system in the same channel. Creating a new form of system, instead of linking it to something like the Red Line or even a Silver Line route, would require an additional transfer for anyone using it. But mainly, the NS Link allows movement of the trains themselves between the two CR systems, not just the people on them.

What are the benefits of this option? A terrible, novel form of transit with a ton of downsides to more conventional options... but free*?

* With tax breaks for the company, MassDOT grants, and a 30-year maintenance contract

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just run it up the middle of summer street, over the common, tear down that useless building with the gold dome, then down temple st and right to the garden.

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What are the benefits of this option?

Two words - Private Company. Because, of course, private industry ALWAYS does things efficently and timely, and NEVER makes bad decisions.

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This is cronyism not capitalism. It's not really private enterprise when it depends on government grants of some sort.

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However, would the CIty Council be nearly as receptive to the idea if a private company wasn't planning to build the thing? To quote the old furniture commercials


I doubt it!

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The North-South Rail Link, which would be underground, serves a regional purpose. It would enable Amtrak and commuter rail lines to pass through Boston. But some kind of surface line is also needed to serve the Waterfront and North End. And being basically one road it is the perfect spot for some kind of transit line. It doesn't have to ruin the Greenway if it is designed correctly.

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The Orange Line realignment from the waterfront really has left a huge gap area in rapid transit service. I wonder if you could run several back-and-forth EMUs in the North/South tunnel between the CR train headways? Stops at North Station, Aquarium, and South Station (with pull-aside areas at all 3 to let CRs pass)? This would recapitulate some degree of the lost service in this channel without requiring too much specialized infrastructure. With those 3 stations, direct connections to the Green, Orange, Blue, Red, and Silver lines (+ the ferries).

And you could probably squeeze in a North End station, either in Haymarket or on one of the suboptimally-utilized parcels adjacent to Cross St. (contingent to where the NSRL tunnel actually would be...)

IMAGE(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Main_Line_Elevated.jpg)

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Is just this: being able to run subway-style and subway-levels of service. It need not be a three-stop train, either, but could have longer routes: Allston-Yawkey-Back Bay-South Station-NSRL-Sullivan-Everett-Chelsea, for instance.

Build the Grand Junction fully (a complementary process) and you'd get the potential to have something like Readville-Fairmount Line-South Station-NSRL-Kendall-Allston, and Allston-Kendall-Sullivan-Assembly.

Expand it a bit further and you could run the interior portion of many current Commuter Rail lines on these sorts of routings (Weston-Newtons-Allston-Kendall-Chelsea-Lynn, Needham-Forest Hills-Ruggles-NSRL-Porter-Waltham, 128-Hyde Park-Forest Hills-Ruggles-NSRL-West Medford-Winchester-Anderson/Woburn) which would allow longer distance commuter trains to run express. This would fill the gap between the subway (high frequency, frequent stops) and Commuter Rail (low frequency, few stops) and provide better service for pretty much everyone. It would basically be what the RER is in Paris, the S-Bahn in Berlin, or for a recent city with a similar example, Leipzig.

I wrote more about this here.

In any case, in the short term, a bus lane along the Greenway would do a heck of a lot more than some harebrained, unproven podcar scheme.

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N.B. - hearing Mike Dukakis talk about this (briefly) at the Levanthal Awards the other night was fun (Weld was in the audience, too). I think the best (from a selling standpoint) line was "so, can we stop talking about spending 2 billion dollars for 9 tracks, which won't solve the problem because North Station is stuffed too, folks, and get on with a project that will?" [paraphrased]

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In any case, in the short term, a bus lane along the Greenway would do a heck of a lot more than some harebrained, unproven podcar scheme.

I've been saying this for years. The T needs to take all the downtown express bus routes and move them all to use a bus lane on the green way between North and South stations. They would just loop the greenway.

The Northside buses would enter near N station, loop down the green way across dewey, and back up the greenway to leave near N station. The Southside buses would do the same thing, except enter near SS, loop up and come back to SS before leaving.

I think Montreal does something similar.

It gives the connection point between the two, removes express buses from street corners around downtown, and puts them on a busway. Then it can be used for local riders, and people who want to leave for the burbs.

(I know somewhere on ArchBoston there's a post with a map that explains just this, but at some point.. since I keep bringing this up.. I will probably create my own)

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The busway should be elevated so cross traffic can go underneath without traffic signals for the buses, or the busway should be underground so cross traffic can go above it without traffic signals for the buses.

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It glides as softly as a cloud!

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There's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail! What'd I say?

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in Brockway, Ogden, and North Haverbrook. And look, it put them on the map.

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What about us brain-dead slobs?

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You'll be given cushy jobs!

(art imitates life)

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The ring came off my pudding can!

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I swear, it's Beantown's only choice!
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

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mono...doh!

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But Boylston Street's still cracked and broken...

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Never mind Marge, the mob has spoken!

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monorail....MONORAIL....MONORAIL

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Just, no.

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I would still prefer a Blue/Red connector before this. There is no easy way for people to do this switch and it won't require a ton of money or destroying of any buildings.

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You know, I'm aware of the construction difficulties and the history of the B/R project, but it's kind of absurd that digging a tunnel 300' down Cambridge St. to connect an existing rail tunnel with the reserved space for the BL station at MGH is this Herculean, impossible task for the city... but building space-age monorail hoverpods over the Greenway "just 'cause" is floated as a sensible proposal.

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is innovative and if approved the moronrail will abolish homelessness, hunger, pollution War, terrorism and Doug Bennetts signs.. hurrumph..hurrumph

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unregistered guns and space savers.

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Ample source of hot air for turbines

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And it runs on hot air, a nearly limitless energy source.

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I support 100 percent.

This is a great idea and a way to improve transportation for thousands of Boston residents and visitors.

I'll only support it, though, if they take out a lane of car traffic to make it work.

(And, they have to extend it from South Station to the BCEC, too.)

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That's what I was thinking too-- hurray if we lose a lane of cars and if it becomes a way of moving tourists from South Station to the Aquarium-North End- Garden.

The scream you'll hear momentarily is the sound of a thousand commuters and recent D Street transplants who read you line, "take out a lane of car traffic."

However, roadman probably has the right idea in re moving trains from South to North Station. That makes more sense than introducing a whole new method of transportation.

*sigh* I still want a monorail somewhere though.

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Monorails are a futuristic idea whose time has already past. That's why they only exist in Disneyland and the like (i.e., Seattle, and Las Vegas).

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Monorail systems are popular all over the world, many built quite recently, such as in Chongqing, China, where monorails were built because they climb steep hills more easily. Check out the list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_monorail_systems

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is probably the monorail location that gets rid of most traffic jam per unit good feelings and grandstanding expended

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A better idea would be build another branch of the Red Line underground along the same course from Central but going all the way down Mass Ave and Columbia Road to reconnect with the Red Line at JFK. And also extend it out to 128 somewhere with a huge garage so way more commuters can easily park and ride.

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also much more expensive and disruptive than a compact elevated line would be in the city.

As for 128, you don't even need to go that far. Just a few miles up Rt2 so that the mess getting into the Alewife terminal garage doesn't coincide with the mess going onto Alewife Brook Pkwy in the mornings and evenings.

But hey, that's thinking carefully about traffic congestion, and I've lived up here long enough to know that that stuff wasn't invented here.

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Making a few (ridiculous?) assumptions:

- 10,000 line load per peak hour (entirely a guestimate)
- 6 people per pod
- zero loading/unloading time, like if people jump on/off like its a ski chair lift
- people arrive in a balanced fashion (load remains constant down to the second)

Under these assumptions, with nothing going wrong, you would need roughly 1666~ pods, or 1 pod every 2.2 seconds, to meet the line load during any given peak hour.

Conclusion: This is toy transit. While it sounds nice, its not especially helpful here.

The biggest benefit of the north/south rail link would come from "through routing" trains. This would reduce transfers, potentially extend routes, and allow for more efficient use of manpower/train sets between the north/south sides.

Does the benefits outweigh the costs? I suppose only time will tell, should it get built! :)

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I'm not so convinced you're on the level.

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Please tell me the one of the 1-1/2 papers in this town is looking into Murphy's campaign contributions.

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But ... is it really a "monorail"? It runs in a designated lane, from what I can see. There's some sort of laser (?!) that keeps it on track.

A street-level PRT would (obv.) be cheaper than an elevated one, because there's no need for construction plus no elevators needed for the elderly and the mobility-limited. Also, easier to tear up if/when another mode of transportation becomes relevant.

This wouldn't replace a N/S rail link - that would go underground. This would go along the street.

Personal safety seems a bit of an issue (the Heathrow PRT benefits from being inside a secure environment). What if someone pushed his/her way into the car with you. (That's pretty unlikely but something to think about.)

Adapting to the use of this transportation is the issue - wouldn't you feel kind of weird inside one while people peered at you? (We got used to Segways, though, right? lol)

Oh, and here's a great idea - we can replace all the bike lanes with a mode of transportation that everyone can use and that can be used 24-7-365.

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Maybe because people don't know what else to call it? Or maybe the pods Steve has in mind actually do run on a rail.

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Well mono means one, and "rail" means "rail." And that concludes our intensive three-week course.

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This should be the first question on any Bostonian's mind?

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...if so, it could provide a constructive forum for bringing up all sorts of other possibilities and deficiencies with our current conditions...

I was wondering what those holes in the net sculpture were for...I get it. (actually, they represent the removal of the three hills for infilling the harbor and bay)

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My plan is simple - dig a tunnel and run a few of those horizontal people movers in there.

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MONORAIL, MONORAIL, MONORAIL!

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MONORAIL..MONORAIL......MONRAIL!

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..has a big head.

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MONO = ONE
RAIL = RAIL

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