Green Line "E" Branch

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GREEN LINE "E" BRANCH
Huntington Avenue Line
Outbound tram at MFA station.JPG
An outbound train at Museum of Fine Arts station
Overview
Type Streetcar
System Green Line
Locale Greater Boston
Termini Lechmere
Heath Street
Stations 20
Operation
Opening February 16, 1941[1]
Owner MBTA
Operator(s) MBTA
Character Underground (Symphony and eastward)
Median ROW (Northeastern to Brigham Circle)
Street-running (Brigham Circle to Heath Street)
Rolling stock Kinki Sharyo Type 7
Ansaldobreda Type 8
Technical
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Planned extension
College Avenue
Ball Square
Lowell Street
Gilman Square
Washington Street
Union Square
Lechmere(new site)
Lechmere
Lechmere Viaduct
Charles River
Science Park
Orange Line
North Station
Haymarket
Orange Line
Government Center Blue Lne
Park Street Red Line
Boylston
Pleasant Street Portal (closed 1961)
Arlington
Copley
Green Line "B", "C", and "D" branches
Prudential
Symphony
Huntington Avenue Incline
Northeastern University
Museum of Fine Arts
Longwood Medical Area
Brigham Circle
Fenwood Road
Mission Park
Riverway
Back of the Hill
Heath Street
(Closed 1985)
VA Medical Center
Evergreen Street
Bynner Street
Perkins Street
Moraine Street
Robinwood Avenue
Lakeville Road
Pond Street
Seaverns Avenue
Monument
Carolina Avenue
Child Street
Saint Rose Street
Arborway

The "E" Branch (also referred to as the Huntington Avenue Branch, or formerly as the Arborway Branch) is a streetcar line in the Boston, Massachusetts area, operating as a branch of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line. From 1985 to 2011 service beyond Heath Street was "temporarily" suspended, with the 39 bus providing service beyond; service restoration was officially canceled in 2011 after the defeat of a lawsuit. The segment of the line between Brigham Circle and Heath Street is the only remaining section of street-running tracks in regular use by the MBTA; all other trackage is in tunnels and bridges, on private right-of-way, or in reserved medians.

Northeast of the street-running section, the tracks run in the median of Huntington Avenue before descending via the Northeastern Incline into the Huntington Avenue Subway. Just west of Copley station, an underground flat junction connects the line into the other Green Line branches in the Boylston Street Subway, where they all run together to downtown. As of 2013, the "E" Branch is the only Green Line branch that regularly runs through to Lechmere Station.

History[edit]

Surface streetcar lines[edit]

The first street railway line to serve the area of the "E" Branch was built by the West Roxbury Railroad and immediately leased by the Metropolitan Railroad in 1857. The horse car line ran along Tremont Street from downtown, then continued south on Columbus Avenue, Centre Street and South Street to end at the Jamaica Plain Carhouse in Jamaica Plain. Paralleling this to the east was a Metropolitan Railroad line along Washington Street from Dudley out to Forest Hills.

Those tracks were electrified in 1891 and in 1902 they were extended the last bit to the Arborway Carhouse, connecting the line to the tracks along Washington Street and establishing Arborway as a transfer point. In 1903 Arborway trains began running into the subway.

Tracks that later became part of the "E" Branch were built in 1859 along Huntington Avenue from Brigham Circle west into Brookline, as part of a branch from the original Jamaica Plain route, later used by the 66 route. A new cutoff was built from this route via Huntington Avenue ca. 1883, allowing cars to run to Park Square via existing tracks on Boylston Street. In 1906 the connection along South Huntington Avenue was built to connect this newer route on Huntington to the older route on Centre. Additionally, between 1888 and 1897, the "Dudley Street Crossover" was built along Centre Street (moved to Roxbury Street by 1925) to connect the line to an existing loop west from Dudley to Eliot Square. This allowed Jamaica Plain cars to run to Dudley and towards downtown from there.

Streetcars on Huntington Avenue at Mechanics Hall (the modern location of Prudential station) in 1920

The Huntington Avenue line was electrified in 1894. The Boylston Street Incline to the Tremont Street Subway opened on September 1, 1897 as part of the first section of subway, and Huntington Avenue cars were rerouted into it (though those cars didn't use the Jamaica Plain line until 1903 – see above). Tremont Street cars were likely moved to the subway on October 1, 1897, when the next section of subway to the Pleasant Street Incline opened, though from June 10, 1901 to November 29, 1908 that portal was closed to all but Washington Street Elevated trains.

The Washington Street Elevated opened June 10, 1901 to Dudley and many streetcar routes that had operated via Dudley were truncated there with a transfer to the El. This included the Jamaica Plain route via Dudley. The extension of the Elevated to Forest Hills (adjacent to Arborway) on November 22, 1909 provided a faster route downtown from Arborway (above the Washington Street streetcar lines), but the Jamaica Plain cars used a completely different route to get there.

The tracks on Huntington Avenue from Brookline to South Huntington Avenue were last used on September 9, 1938 by cars from Brookline Village into the subway, as well as what became the 66 Allston – Dudley bus (this was also the last use of the tracks on Tremont Street west of Columbus Avenue). The cars from Brookline Village had been truncated from earlier lines running further into Brookline (later the 58 and 60 buses) and on September 10 they started running as short-turn trips on Huntington Avenue to Brigham Circle.

Huntington Avenue Subway[edit]

The Huntington Avenue Subway opened on February 16, 1941, taking Huntington Avenue cars (the last to use the Boylston Street Portal) underground for a larger part of their route.

The final pattern of streetcars serving the line was:

Service straight through to downtown on Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street was only provided by 43 cars, which began at Egleston Square and continued into the subway at the Pleasant Street Incline, using the same tracks as the 41 for a section.

The 41 last ran streetcars on June 7, 1949, and the 43 cars last ran to Egleston June 14, 1956, leaving only the 39 and 57. In 1967 these lines were redesignated as the "E" Branch of the Green Line, with short-turn Heath Street service on rollsigns with a slash through the E.

Over the years, due to shortages in cars[2] (especially caused by the opening and popularity of the Green Line "D" Branch), sections of the line were replaced by bus service; the bus was always referred to as the 39 and ran to Copley with free transfers. The final day of streetcars to Arborway was December 27, 1985. In December 1989 the 39 route was extended to Back Bay (with free transfers to the Orange Line), the southern end was renamed Forest Hills and the fare structure was changed from Green Line fares to normal bus fares. (As of January 1, 2007, all Green Line fares are the same as for the other subway lines, as part of a system-wide streamlining and simplification of fare structure. System wide, bus-to-subway and subway-to-bus transfers are free with paid subway fare, for users of the plastic CharlieCard only.)

Service changes[edit]

Number 39 bus on Huntington Avenue following the tracks of the Green Line.
Interior of an E Line trolley car outbound to Heath Street (January 2013)

The following service changes have been made since 1961:

  • Before September 11, 1961: Arborway cars and short-turn Northeastern University cars ran to Park Street, short-turn Heath Street cars ran to North Station
  • September 11, 1961: Heath Street short-turn cars discontinued, with all cars looping at Park Street
  • December 26, 1964: Heath Street short-turn cars readded weekdays and Saturdays from 06:30 to 09:00 and 13:30 to 17:30, turning at Government Center
  • January 1965: Heath Street short-turn cars cut back to Park Street
  • March 25, 1967: Heath Street short-turn cars extended to Government Center
  • June 24, 1967: Heath Street short-turn Saturday cars discontinued
  • March 19, 1977: Heath Street short-turn cars extended to North Station
  • June 18, 1977: Heath Street short-turn cars cut back to Government Center
  • June 26, 1982: after closures for rebuilding, full service reopens, with Arborway and Heath Street (rush hours only) cars running to Park Street, and no more Northeastern University short-turn cars
  • January 2, 1983: Heath Street short-turn service extended to middays and extended to Lechmere
  • February 11, 1983: Heath Street short-turn cars cut back to Park Street
  • December 28, 1985: Service from Heath Street to Arborway "temporarily" replaced by 39 bus, and short-turn cars also replaced for track reconstruction.
  • July 26, 1986: Service restored to Brigham Circle, running to Lechmere weekdays and Government Center nights and weekends
  • June 20, 1987: Extended to Lechmere all times
  • November 4, 1989: Service restored to Heath Street with completion of reconstruction
  • June 28, 2004: Cut back to new North Station station during construction of new tunnel towards Lechmere; went only to Haymarket on June 26 and June 27
  • November 12, 2005: Extended to Lechmere all times
  • September 2, 2006: Cut back from Heath Street to Brigham Circle due to a track improvement project
  • December 30, 2006: Service restored to Heath Street with completion of reconstruction
  • 2008: Tracks from Heath Street to Arborway now fully paved over
  • July 1, 2012: Weekend service cut back from Heath Street to Brigham Circle
  • October 2012: Weekend service restored to Heath Street[3]

Arborway restoration controversy[edit]

A map at Hynes station showing the suspension of service beyond Heath Street.
Unused E Line tracks at the intersection of South Huntington Avenue and Moraine Street.
Reconstruction of the E branch along Huntington Avenue in November 2006.

To settle a lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Construction (EOTC) agreed to environmental mitigation for increased automobile emissions due to the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T). In 2000, an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) affirmed specific project commitments, including restoration of streetcar service beyond Heath Street to Arborway. Restoration was also included in the State Implementation Plan for the Clean Air Act (SIP) which is required by the Environmental Protection Agency due to non-attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards.[4][5]

After some MBTA and community opposition, a revised settlement resulted in the substitution of other projects with similar regional air quality benefits, though no longer localized along the "E" branch corridor. EOTC promised to consider other transit enhancements in the Arborway corridor.[6] Community activists continued lobbying for streetcar restoration; however, trackage south of Heath Street was paved over in 2008. The Arborway Committee filed suit in 2007, but an appeals court ruled in January 2011 that the lawsuit was a decade too late to be considered – effectively ending the attempting restoration of service for the foreseeable future.[7]

The 39 Forest Hills Station – Back Bay Station via Huntington Avenue bus provides all service beyond Heath Street. The route overlaps with the remaining streetcar service and is used as a backup during service disruptions.

Station listing[edit]

Station Location Time to Park Street Opened Transfers and notes
Handicapped/disabled access Prudential Huntington Avenue, Back Bay, Boston 6 minutes February 16, 1941 formerly called "Mechanics" until December 2, 1964
underground station
serves the Prudential Center
Symphony Massachusetts Avenue at Huntington Avenue, Boston 8 minutes February 16, 1941 underground station
serves Boston Symphony Hall
Handicapped/disabled access Northeastern University Huntington Avenue at Opera Place, Boston 10 minutes originally called "Opera Place"
serves Northeastern University
Handicapped/disabled access Museum of Fine Arts Huntington Avenue and Ruggles Street, Boston 12 minutes serves the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Handicapped/disabled access Longwood Medical Area Huntington Avenue at Longwood Avenue, Boston 14 minutes serves the Longwood Medical Area
Handicapped/disabled access Brigham Circle Huntington Avenue at Francis Street, Boston 16 minutes reserved median ends, and street running begins south of here
Fenwood Road Huntington Avenue at Fenwood Road, Boston 17 minutes 39 Bus to Forest Hills
66 Bus to Harvard Square
Mission Park Huntington Avenue at Mission Park, Boston 18 minutes 39 Bus to Forest Hills
66 Bus to Harvard Square
Riverway South Huntington Avenue at Huntington Avenue, Boston 20 minutes 39 Bus to Forest Hills
66 Bus to Harvard Square
Back of the Hill South Huntington Avenue, Boston 21 minutes 39 Bus to Forest Hills
66 Bus to Harvard Square
Handicapped/disabled access Heath Street Heath Street, Jamaica Plain 22 minutes announced on board as "Heath Street/VA Medical Center"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Belcher, Jonathan (23 March 2013). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Scott Moore (2007-02-22). "Boston's Green Line Crisis". members.aol.com/netransit. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  3. ^ Rocheleau, Matt (28 December 2012). "MBTA reinstates weekend trolley service for entire E branch of the Green Line". Boston Globe. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.ctps.org/bostonmpo/pmt/PMT-ES.pdf[dead link][dead link]
  5. ^ http://www.mass.gov/dep/bwp/daqc/files/regs/7c.htm#36[dead link][dead link]
  6. ^ http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/node/1685[dead link][dead link]
  7. ^ Ruch, John (26 August 2011). "Trolley comeback killed by court". Jamaica Plain Gazette. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 

External links[edit]