Silver Line (MBTA)

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MBTA Silver Line
SilverLineLogo.png
Silver Line Phase I Phase II.jpg
MBTA Neoplan AN460LF CNG (left) and AN460LF dual mode trackless trolley (right) on Silver Line duty.
Parent Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Founded 2002 (Washington Street)
2004 (Airport/Waterfront)
Headquarters 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
Locale Boston, Massachusetts
Service type Bus rapid transit
Routes 4
Stations 13 (Washington St.)
9 (Airport/Waterfront)
5 (proposed)
Fleet 20 (Washington Street)
32 (Airport/Waterfront)
Daily ridership 37,467 (2012)[1]
Operator MBTA
Chief executive Beverly A. Scott
Website MBTA Silver Line
MBTA Silver Line
SL2 88 Black Falcon Avenue
SL2 25 Dry Dock Avenue
SL2 Design Center
SL2 21 Dry Dock Avenue
SL2 Northern Avenue & Tide Street
SL2 Northern Avenue & Harbor Street
SL2 306 Northern Avenue
SL1 Logan Airport Term. B East
SL1 Logan Airport Term. C
SL1 Logan Airport Term. B West
SL1 Logan Airport Term. E
SL1 Logan Airport Term. A
SL1/2 Silver Line Way
SL1/2 World Trade Center
SL1/2 Courthouse
SL5 Downtown Crossing  Red Line  and  Orange Line 
SL5 Boylston  Green Line 
SL1/2/4 South Station  Red Line 
SL4/5 Chinatown  Orange Line 
SL4/5 Tufts Medical Center  Orange Line 
SL4/5 Herald Street
SL4/5 East Berkeley Street
SL4/5 Union Park Street
SL4/5 Newton Street
SL4/5 Worcester Square
SL4/5 Massachusetts Avenue
SL4/5 Lenox Street
SL4/5 Melnea Cass Boulevard
SL4/5 Dudley Square
Schematic of Silver Line service

The Silver Line is the only bus rapid transit (BRT) line operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). It currently operates four routes in two sections that were built in separate phases.

The first section has two routes from Dudley Square in Roxbury, mostly via Washington Street, to Boston's Downtown Crossing (SL5) and South Station (SL4), using articulated buses operating in reserved lanes. The second section runs from South Station Under to South Boston (SL2) and to Logan Airport in East Boston (SL1). It runs dual-mode buses, partly in a dedicated bus tunnel and partly on shared roadway, including surface streets, the Ted Williams Tunnel and airport roads. Riders can transfer between the sections and to other lines at South Station; transfers there between SL1 and SL2 and the Red Line—but not SL4—are within fare control. At South Station, however, a transfer from SL1, SL2, and the Red Line to SL4 (and vice versa) can be made by walking alongside streets.

Speed and schedule performance have disappointed some transit advocates, and the Silver Line routes fall far short of the minimum BRT Standard promulgated by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). Some sections have an exclusive right-of-way, but other sections are bogged down by street running in congested mixed traffic. As of 2014, construction has begun on an extension to Chelsea, Massachusetts, largely in reserved right-of-way; other extensions of the Silver Line are being studied as well..

Service routes[edit]

Waterfront: SL1 and SL2[edit]

Dual-mode bus departing South Station to serve the SL2 Waterfront Line.

Two Silver Line services operate in a dedicated tunnel from South Station to Boston World Trade Center, then in a reserved surface right-of-way for another two blocks farther east to Silver Line Way station, and beyond there in mixed traffic:

  • SL1 Logan Airport – South Station
  • SL2 Design Center – South Station

During rush hours, a few additional buses turn around at Silver Line Way and head back into the tunnel to augment the service between South Station and Silver Line Way.

SL1 buses operate in a loop at Logan Airport and only serve the terminal buildings (A, B1, B2, C, E), stopping at the arrivals level. Other free shuttle bus services connect the terminals with other airport destinations, including the Airport station on the Blue Line, hotels, rental car center, and the water taxi. A system of moving walkways connects Terminals A and E, the Hilton Hotel and the central parking area. See the Logan Airport article for lists of which airlines serve each terminal.

SL1 and SL2 fares[edit]

Passengers traveling on SL1 and SL2 pay the standard MBTA subway fare: $2.00 when using a CharlieCard, $2.50 when using CharlieTickets or cash. Ticket vending machines that accept cash and credit cards are installed in the Logan Airport terminals and World Trade Center, Courthouse, and South Stations. A faregate-free and cost-free transfer to and from the Red Line is available at South Station for all SL1 and SL2 riders, but only CharlieCard users get free transfers to other bus lines and reduced fare on Express Bus. CharlieCard and CharlieTicket users, but not cash users also get a free transfer to SL4 service, at its terminus outside South Station at street level.

Starting June 6, 2012, passengers boarding at Logan Airport do not have to pay any fare as part of a program to speed up service by allowing passengers to board using all three sets of doors.[2][3][4] During the 2012 trial, Silver Line ridership both to and from the airport increased while Blue Line ridership held steady; pending Federal Aviation Administration approval, Massport will reimburse the MBTA for the lost fare revenue.[5]

SL1 and SL2 equipment[edit]

The Neoplan USA AN460LF dual-mode 60 foot articulated buses on these services are powered by overhead electrical wires from South Station to Silver Line Way, to avoid generating internal combustion fumes in the tunnel, and continue on thereafter on diesel power, which is converted to electrical power to run the same electric motors used when running on overhead power. These buses provide higher capacity than standard 40 foot buses; both the rear and center wheels are powered by electric motors, which permits these buses to continue operation even through snow.

These buses are wheelchair ramp–equipped, using kneeling bus technology and a flip-out ramp. (See MBTA accessibility for more information.)

SL1 and SL2 station listing[edit]

Courthouse Station
Dual-mode bus on the Boston Silver Line.
Station [6] Routes Opened Transfers and notes
South Station SL1 and SL2 December 17, 2004 Red Line, Silver Line SL4, MBTA Commuter Rail, Amtrak, local and intercity buses
Courthouse SL1 and SL2 December 17, 2004 John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse
World Trade Center SL1 and SL2 December 17, 2004 Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, seasonal ferry to Provincetown, Institute of Contemporary Art, Lenticular art on the lobby level of the station
Silver Line Way SL1 and SL2 December 17, 2004 Changeover between diesel and overhead electric power takes place here
Logan Airport Terminal A SL1 June 1, 2005 Massport and rental car shuttle buses; walkway to central parking and Hilton Hotel
Logan Airport Terminal B south SL1 June 1, 2005 See: Logan Airport for airlines and destinations at each terminal.
Logan Airport Terminal B north SL1 June 1, 2005
Logan Airport Terminal C SL1 June 1, 2005
Logan Airport Terminal E SL1 June 1, 2005 International arrivals, Hilton Hotel
Seaport Hotel SL1 ? World Trade Center, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, transfer to SL2, next stop Silver Line Way
306 Northern Avenue SL2
Northern Avenue & Harbor Street SL2 December 31, 2004
Northern Avenue & Tide Street SL2 December 31, 2004
21 Dry Dock Avenue SL2
25 Dry Dock Avenue SL2 December 31, 2004
88 Black Falcon Avenue SL2 December 31, 2004 Cruise ship terminal
Design Center SL2 December 31, 2004

Washington Street: SL4 and SL5[edit]

Silver line bus shelter on Washington Street.

Two Silver Line services run between Dudley Square in Roxbury and downtown Boston along Washington Street in reserved bus lanes:

  • SL4 Dudley Square – South Station
  • SL5 Dudley Square – Downtown Crossing

These two services share most of their route from Dudley Square to Chinatown; SL5 continues northward to Downtown Crossing and Boylston stations, whereas SL4 heads east on Essex Street to South Station.[7] Passengers can transfer to SL1 and SL2 buses at South Station; however, SL4 buses stop at a surface bus stop across the street from the station complex, whereas SL1 and SL2 buses stop at an underground stop within the station, so there is no direct transfer or capability for through service.

SL4 and SL5 fares[edit]

Passengers traveling on SL4 and SL5 pay the standard MBTA bus fare: $1.50 when using a CharlieCard, $2.00 when using a CharlieTicket or cash. At select stations, passengers can transfer from the Silver Line to the subway (Red, Green, and Orange Lines) for an additional 45 cents when using a CharlieCard. At these same stations, passengers may transfer from the subway to the Silver Line for free.[8]

SL4 and SL5 equipment[edit]

During the day, compressed natural gas (CNG) powered 60-foot Neoplan USA and diesel-electric hybrid New Flyer articulated buses are used on the SL4 and SL5 services for greater capacity than that provided by standard buses. At night, when the passenger load is less and the greater engine noise of the articulated buses is deemed more objectionable, standard (40-foot, non-articulated) CNG powered buses are used. During snowstorms, standard buses and sometimes a few articulated dual-mode buses from lines SL1 and SL2 (see above) are also used, because the articulated buses normally used on lines SL4 and SL5 have drivetrains only from the engine to the rear wheels, and therefore do not work well on slippery roads (this is especially true for the Neoplan USA articulated buses, which are pulled from service even in case of light snow). The reverse substition is not allowed: for safety reasons, CNG vehicles are not allowed into the SL1/SL2 tunnel.

As with SL1 and SL2, these buses are wheelchair ramp-equipped, using kneeling bus technology and a flip-out ramp. (See MBTA accessibility for more information.)

SL4 and SL5 station listing[edit]

Station Routes Transit Time[9] Opened Transfers and notes
Dudley Square SL4 and SL5 0 minutes July 20, 2002 1, 8, 14, 15, 19, 23, 25, 28, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 66, 170, and 171 bus lines
Melnea Cass Boulevard SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002
Lenox Street SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002
Massachusetts Avenue SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002 1 and CT1 (Not the same as Massachusetts Avenue station on Orange Line, 1/2 mile northwest)
Worcester Square SL4 and SL5 Late 2002
Newton Street SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002
Union Park Street SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002
East Berkeley Street SL4 and SL5 10 to 12 minutes July 20, 2002
Herald Street SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002
Tufts Medical Center SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002 11, 43 and Orange Line
Chinatown SL4 and SL5 July 20, 2002 11 and Orange Line (inbound buses only)
Boylston SL5 July 20, 2002 43, 55 and Green Line (outbound buses only)
Downtown Crossing SL5 16 to 21 minutes July 20, 2002 Orange Line and Red Line at Downtown Crossing; Green Line at Park Street
South Station SL4 13 to 22 minutes Oct. 13, 2009 Silver Line SL1 (Logan Airport), SL2, Red Line, MBTA commuter rail, Amtrak, local and intercity buses

History[edit]

Subway and streetcar proposals[edit]

In 1948 a state study, Surging Cities, made proposals for transportation in Boston. It had four proposals and the second part proposed that the Washington Street Elevated (operational, 1901–1987) elevated train line be replaced by a subway line for the length of Washington Street through Dudley Square to the line's terminus at Forest Hills. While $19,000,000 was initially budgeted, the subway part of the four proposals was shelved.[10][11] Prior to the Elevated's removal, area residents petitioned to retain the line until a promised light-rail vehicle line could be established.[11] Light-rail proposals generally envisioned extending the Green Line by reopening the southern part of the Tremont Street Tunnel (operational from 1897 to 1961) and extending surface light-rail trackage along Washington Street to Dudley Square.[12] After the elevated line was scrapped in 1987, the MBTA withdrew its streetcar promise.[11]

Silver Line development[edit]

The collection of services under the Silver Line umbrella have varying origins. The first section opened, known as Silver Line Phase I, was the line along Washington Street now referred to as SL5; it is the product of community demands for restoration of local service after the Washington Street Elevated portion of the Orange Line was demolished in 1987.[13] Proposals to build a new subway line under Washington Street or a new trolley line along Washington Street were deemed impractical, so the Orange Line was re-routed about 1/2 mile west onto the Southwest Corridor right-of-way, leaving many local residents without a rapid-transit option. BRT was chosen to provide this service, and the MBTA feels it meets the needs of the communities affected by the Orange Line relocation.[citation needed] The line started running July 20, 2002, replacing service provided by the 49 bus (which had existed as a feeder route before 1987).

A Silver Line trolley bus at Courthouse station. This 40' model was used in the early days of the service, but has since been transferred to Cambridge operations.

The tunneled section extending east of South Station, known as Silver Line Phase II, was constructed in conjunction with Boston's Big Dig and was originally referred to as the South Boston Piers Transitway. Tunnel sections were fabricated in a nearby, World War II–era dry dock and floated into place. Phase II opened on Friday, December 17, 2004, with the first route (Silver Line Waterfront) running only to Silver Line Way, temporarily using new electric trolley buses borrowed from the trackless trolley routes that have their hub in Cambridge, as not enough dual-mode buses were available initially.

When dual-mode buses were placed in service on December 31, 2004, two routes, dubbed SL2 and SL3, began service. As still not enough dual-mode buses were available, some rush-hour service was provided by CNG buses, with transfers at Silver Line Way. Through service was suspended after January 5, 2005, and was not brought back until March 5, with all buses dual-mode starting on March 14. Beginning on March 26, late night and weekend trips ran combined, running both around the BMIP loop and to City Point. The SL3 service ran to City Point via the Boston Marine Industrial Park;[14] however, its ridership was low due to competition from the parallel 7 bus. The 7 is frequent (with 6-minute headways during rush hour), cost less, and runs to Downtown Crossing rather than just to South Station. SL3 service was canceled in March 2009.[15]

SL1 service to Logan Airport began on an interim basis on January 2, 2005. CNG buses ran on a Sunday-only (4 pm–10 pm only) shuttle route between Silver Line Way and the airport terminals. The agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection had called for airport service by January, but the MBTA did not yet have enough dual-mode buses for full service.[16] Full-time SL1 service began on June 1, 2005.

Stop at South Station for the SL4 bus service that connects the two halves of the Silver Line. Service began October 13, 2009. South Station is in the background, across Atlantic Avenue. Note the red "bus only" lane on Essex Street, in front of the bus shelter.

For nearly five years after the opening of Silver Line Phase II, the two segments of the Silver Line were disconnected from one another. The MBTA wanted to connect the two via an underground tunnel, however the construction of this section, dubbed Silver Line Phase III, is no longer included in the region's long term plan due to funding concerns (see below for more details).

A partial solution that did not require a new tunnel opened on October 13, 2009, after fast-track construction using federal stimulus money. The new route, SL4, covers much of the same ground as the proposed Phase III in a dedicated bus lane on the surface that terminates across Atlantic Avenue from South Station, allowing a somewhat circuitous pedestrian transfer between Phase I and Phase II. When SL4 began operation, the existing Silver Line Washington Street service was rebranded SL5.

Route numbering[edit]

The Silver Line's four branches are known by their call numbers: SL1, SL2, SL4, and SL5. In addition to the public numbering system, the MBTA's rapid transit lines, including the Silver Line, have numbered designators for different services. The use of these designators dates back to the numbered streetcar lines of the early 20th century. Unlike the regular bus routes, however, the numbers for rapid transit services are only used internally for operations purposes. The SL5 is known as the 749 after the 49 bus it replaced, while the other routes have similar numbers:[17]

Route # Notes
SL1 741
SL2 742
SL3 743 Discontinued in 2009
Shuttle 746 South Station—Silver Line Way
SL4 751
SL5 749

Ridership and service cost[edit]

The Silver Line services are among the most high utilized and least costly bus routes in the MBTA system. Three of the services—SL1, SL5 and the South Station to Silver Line Way shuttle—are the only bus routes that show a net profit. The median net cost among the 173 MBTA bus routes in 2012 was $2.13 per passenger.

Silver Line ridership and costs,
mid-2012[1]
SL1 SL2 SL4 SL5 Shuttle
Daily ridership 8,388 5,214 5,799 15,472 2,594
Ridership rank 10 21 19 1 52
Net profit/ passenger $0.07 $-0.30 $-0.58 $0.03 $0.17
Profitability rank 2 4 6 3 1

Total daily ridership for all Silver Line routes was 37,467 in mid-2012.

Future development[edit]

Phase III (suspended)[edit]

Even before the first sections were opened, the MBTA planned to connect the Washington Street and Waterfront sections with a downtown tunnel. This proposed Phase III would consist of an underground busway running from Washington Street to South Station via Boylston station on the Green Line. The tunnel would allow run-through service and remove buses from downtown traffic, as well as connecting the Green Line to South Station apart from crowded Park Street station.[18] The core tunnel from Boylston to South Station via Chinatown was to run under Essex Street, while four possible routings under downtown streets were considered for the section connecting Boylston to Washington Street.[19] Capital cost was originally estimated at around $780 million, depending on the route chosen for the southern section, with completion in 2013.

Silver Line Phase III alternatives as of 2008, showing the original 4 alignments from 2005 plus the 2006 Charles Street modified alignment. The preferred alternative at the time of the project's cancellation was the Charles Street modified alignment (pink) feeding into the core tunnel (lime green).

Response to the plan was mixed. Some residents were in favor of the tunnel since it would allow a faster one-seat ride from the South End and Roxbury to downtown and the Waterfront, with a direct fare-controlled connection to three of the subway lines. Others objected to the placement of a portal on busy streets, while others were opposed to the plan as it would cement use of the bus-based Silver Line to replace the Washington Street Elevated instead of the subway line that was originally promised.

The Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization rated the project as "high priority" in its May 2003 Program for Mass Transportation, citing its high estimated ridership, low operating cost, and service to environmental justice neighborhoods.[20] However, in November 2003, the Phase III project received a "not recommended" rating from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which expressed skepticism that the MBTA's operating cost estimates were reliable.[21] In August 2005, the MBTA put the Phase III project "on hold" in order to avoid a second such determination, and to build community consensus on a locally preferred routing.[22]

In February 2006, State Transportation Secretary John Cogliano proposed a $94 million plan that would eliminate most of the tunneling and cost of the original proposal while still connecting the two phases of the service.[23] Under Cogliano's plan, the Silver Line would run on the surface via Kneeland Street and Surface Road to a new tunnel portal on Essex Street near South Station. A fare-controlled shelter would be added at Downtown Crossing. The plan also included expansion of surface Silver Line service, with a new branch running from Copley Square into the Essex Street portal to provide a one-seat ride from the Back Bay area. The southern branch would be extended from Dudley to the Red Line stations at Mattapan via Blue Hill Avenue (replacing the #28 bus) and Ashmont via Washington Street (replacing the #23 bus), with additional connections to the Fairmount commuter rail line at the then-planned Blue Hill Avenue and Four Corners/Geneva Ave stations.[23] The plan was popular with Bay Village residents who had been worried about the full-length tunnel, but attracted criticism because it would not substantially speed travel times to downtown.[23]

A third plan was put forward in March 2006, with support from most transportation leaders including Cogliano. The plan involved a variation of the Charles Street tunnel alignment, with the portal moved south and west onto Tremont Street between Charles Street and Marginal Road.[24][25] This "Charles Street Modified" (CSM) alignment remained the preferred alternative for the remainder of the project. Contra-flow dedicated bus lanes, already in place on Washington Street, were to be extended onto Marginal Road and Herald Street to allow buses to reach the portal from the surface section.[26] By mid-2008, environmental review and preliminary engineering were expected to be completed by the end of the year, with federal funding sought in 2010 and construction lasting from 2011 to a 2016 opening.[18][27]

By May 2009, the estimated price of the tunnel plan, dubbed the "Little Dig," had risen to $2.1 billion.[28] The (FTA) assigned it a Medium Low overall rating, making it ineligible to move into the final design phase for federal New Starts funding. The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization removed Phase III from the list of recommended projects in its long range plan because of funding limitations - a rapid turnaround from its "high priority" rating in 2003. In April 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), concluding that it could not successfully compete for more than one New Starts grant, informed the FTA that MassDOT was no longer seeking New Starts money for Phase III. All New Starts funds available would instead be directed to the legally mandated Green Line Extension project. In a July 2010 report to the Department of Environmental Protection, the MBTA declared that Phase III was on indefinite hold and no further funds would be spent on the project.[29]

Extension to Chelsea[edit]

Map of the planned Silver Line Gateway route to Mystic Mall in Chelsea

In 2013, MassDOT conducted a Silver Line Gateway study of a new Silver Line route to Chelsea via East Boston.[30] Public meetings began in March 2013 and continued for the remainder of the year. The route was previously studied as a preliminary section of the Urban Ring, a more-comprehensive project which has been suspended for lack of funding.

The new route, likely to receive the designation of SL6, would begin at South Station and run through the Waterfront Tunnel, along with the SL1 and SL2 routes, to Silver Line Way, continuing with the SL1 through the Ted Williams Tunnel. The new route would then diverge to meet the Blue Line at Airport Station, and follow the Coughlin Bypass Road (a half-mile commercial-use-only road which opened in 2012)[31] to the Chelsea Street Bridge. After the bridge, the three possible alignments diverge. One would run up the abandoned section of the Grand Junction Railroad right-of-way, with stops at Eastern Avenue, Highland/Box District, Chelsea station, and Mystic Mall. The second alignment would follow the Grand Junction to just short of the station, then diverge onto surface roads to Bellingham Square. The third alignment would run entirely on surface streets, serving two stops on Central Avenue and four stops along a loop serving Chelsea station and the MGH Chelsea healthcare center.[32]

There would be no direct service to the Logan Airport terminals, which already are served by the SL1 route. Passengers from Chelsea could still access the airport via shuttle buses from Airport Station. One potential issue with Chelsea service is the need to expand the MBTA's fleet of dual mode buses to accommodate the new route.[33]

In September 2013, the MBTA indicated that it would pursue the first alternative despite potential issues with bridge clearances and rebuilding Chelsea station.[34]

On October 30, 2013, MassDOT announced $82.5 million in state funding for a modified version of the first alternative to be constructed. The Silver Line will stop at the four stations - Eastern Avenue, Box District, Downtown Chelsea, and Mystic Mall - that were previously planned. A new $20 million Chelsea commuter rail station and 'transit hub' will be constructed at the Mystic Mall terminus of the new Silver Line route, so that trains will no longer block Sixth Street.[35][36] The new Silver Line and commuter rail stations will be fully handicapped accessible.[37] A $3 million, 0.75-mile (1.21 km) greenway will be constructed along the Grand Junction next to the busway from Eastern Avenue to the Downtown Chelsea stop.[38] The Silver Line extension and new commuter rail stop are expected to open in late 2015.[37]

Station Transfers and notes
Mystic Mall 112, 114 bus lines, Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line
Downtown Chelsea Bellingham Square
111, 112, 114, 116, 117 bus lines
Box District
Eastern Avenue 112 bus line
Airport Station Blue Line subway, shuttle to Logan International Airport

Other future corridors[edit]

Southern branch of the Tremont Street Subway near the former Pleasant Street Portal. This tunnel was briefly considered for use in the Phase III tunnel, and is the likely connecting route for the proposed conversion of the Washington Street section of the Silver Line to a branch of the Green Line.

Several other Bus Rapid Transit and express bus projects have been proposed in Boston, many under the Silver Line banner. The first two phases of the Urban Ring Project were to be BRT, with light or heavy rail for the final phase. The Urban Ring was considered a separate project, although it would have shared the SL1 route between Silver Line Way and Logan Airport.[20] Like the Phase III tunnel, the Urban Ring is on long-term hold for financial reasons.

A number of Silver Line expansion corridors were considered in the 2003 Program for Mass Transportation (PMT); most were given brief consideration but not acted upon. One, a BRT express overlay for the #28 bus route (which runs from Ruggles Station to Mattapan via Dudley), was revived in 2006 as part of Phase III plans. In 2009, the state proposed to replace the 28 bus entirely with a BRT route called 28X, including the installation of dedicated bus lanes, bus signal priority, and on-platform fare collection.[39] However, the application for federal stimulus funding was withdrawn due to local opposition, as the plan would have taken parking along Blue Hill Avenue and reduced the number of bus stops along the route in order to speed up service. This rejection, plus the 2009 failure of the SL3 City Point route (which had been rated a medium-priority and "very cost-effective" project in 2003), tempered remaining enthusiasm for BRT in Boston.[40] (However, in 2012, the Roxbury-Dorcester-Mattapan Transit Needs Study recommended the 28X bus to be implemented with no new infrastructure as an express bus adding additional trips to the corridor.)[41]

Several other corridors were considered in the 2003 PMT. These included a Dudley-Ashmont route replacing the #23 bus (also revived in 2006 in Phase III planning, but not during the 28X proposal), as well as a new BRT tunnel to Kenmore with surface branches to the Longwood Medical Area via Brookline Avenue and Allston via Commonwealth Avenue, the Mass Pike, and Cambridge Street.[20][40] The City of Boston proposed an alternate western Silver Line branch using buses along the Mass Pike without a new tunnel, similar to existing express buses.[40]

The 2003 PMT included the possibility of converting the Washington Street section of the Silver Line to light rail (as had originally been promised) using the abandoned southern section of the Tremont Street Subway. The project was estimated to cost $374 million; ridership was estimated to be 34,000 daily riders almost entirely diverted from the Silver Line service. The project was given low priority, with the Phase III tunnel recommended instead.[40] In 2012, the Roxbury-Dorcester-Mattapan Transit Needs Study recommended the conversion to light rail as a long-term project, with the additional possibility of extending the line down Blue Hill Avenue to Mattapan along the #28 bus route.[41]

Criticism[edit]

A comparative rating from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) determined that the Boston "Silver Line" was best classified as "Not BRT" after local decision makers gradually decided to do away with most BRT-specific features.[42][43] The gradual erosion of features called for by the ITDP's international BRT Standard has been called "BRT creep".[43]

Community groups in the Roxbury and South End neighborhoods, along with the Sierra Club, have presented findings that support this argument. In addition, some groups[who?] maintain that a light-rail line would be both cheaper and more effective than BRT, and that part of the tunnel required for this already exists.[44][45]

The Silver Line's SL1 route from the World Trade Center stop to the Ted Williams Tunnel is considered by critics to be unnecessarily convoluted. Despite the fact that the Silver Line's portal is less than 100 yards (91 m) from the eventual entry ramp to the Williams Tunnel, the line must cross D Street at grade and proceed to the Silver Line Way stop to change over from overhead electric to diesel. This requires a loop back towards downtown on several surface streets before it can enter the tunnel, adding several minutes to the ride. The inbound route makes a stop above ground at the entrance to the World Trade Center stop, then proceeds eastwards to Silver Line Way, and then goes underground for a second stop at the World Trade Center.[46]

For some time after the Big Dig ceiling collapse in 2006, the SL1 temporarily used a closer entrance ramp normally reserved for the Massachusetts State Police.[47] However, use of this shortcut was stopped after the affected sections of roadway were reopened for Silver Line use.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Office of Transportation Planning staff (2012). "MBTA Route Performance Indicators". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Matthew Brelis, Lisa Langone, and Richard Walsh (19 July 2012). "Free Silver Line from Logan Airport to Continue". Massport. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Matthew Brelis and Richard Walsh (20 September 2012). "Free Silver Line Service Continues through New Year". MassPort. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Confirmed the fare from Logan is still free as of 03 Mar 2013, by calling MBTA at 617-222-3200.
  5. ^ http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/Voices/Back-Story/2013/Winter/005-A-Silver-Lining.aspx
  6. ^ Schedules & Maps: Subway: Silver Line. MBTA. Accessed 26 January 2010
  7. ^ PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION, MAYOR MENINO LAUNCH SILVER LINE DIRECT CONNECT SERVICE TO SOUTH STATION. MBTA. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  8. ^ Charlie Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). MBTA. Accessed 22 April 2011.
  9. ^ Association for Public Transportation, Car-Free in Boston, A Guide for Locals and Visitors, 10th ed. (2003), p.117.
  10. ^ The City Record and Boston News-Letter, May 20, 2009, http://bostonhistory.typepad.com/notes_on_the_urban_condit/boston_maps/
  11. ^ a b c Frank Cheney and Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, When Boston Rode the El, p. 9.
  12. ^ world.nycsubway.org: MBTA Orange Line http://world.nycsubway.org/us/boston/orange.html
  13. ^ "History of the Elevated Orange Line". Heart of the City Project, Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Ovenden, Mark (2003). Transit Maps of the World. New York: Penguin Books. p. 049 (Map #6). ISBN 978-0-14-311265-5. 
  15. ^ Belcher, Jonathan (12 November 2012). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  16. ^ RTSPCC (2 January 2005). "Silver Line Sunday Airport service". ne.transportation. Web link. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  17. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "MBTA Transit Projects: Silver Line Phase 3". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  19. ^ URS / DMJM Harris. "Alternatives Studied". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c "Chapter 5C: System Expansion". Program of Mass Transportation. Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. May 2003 [revised January 2004]. p. 5C-6,8,10,12,16. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Silver Line Phase III: Boston, Massachusetts" (DOC) (Press release). Federal Transit Administration. November 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-14. "The overall project rating of Not Recommended is based on MBTA’s unreasonable operating cost assumptions. In addition, although FTA is reporting MBTA’s ridership forecasts above, FTA has concerns about their validity and is thus not evaluating the project’s justification criteria." 
  22. ^ Daniel, Mac (18 August 2005). "MBTA puts hold on 3d, final phase of its Silver Line". The Boston Globe. 
  23. ^ a b c Daniel, Mac (10 February 2006). "New Silver Line plan offered, stirring critics". Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Daniel, Mac (10 March 2010). "Officials endorse Silver Line tunnel". Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  25. ^ URS / DMJM Harris. "Charles Street Modified (CSM) alignment". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  26. ^ URS / DMJM Harris. "Tremont Two-way Portal Contra Flow Alternative". Silver Line Phase III: Tunnel and System Wide Elements. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  27. ^ Kearnan, Scott (7 August 2008). "Silver Line Phase III moving forward". My South End. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  28. ^ "Little Dig in Danger". Boston Globe. 10 May 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  29. ^ Mohler, David J. (9 July 2010). "Annual Status Report". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  30. ^ "Silver Line Gateway". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  31. ^ Fox, Jeremy C. (28 November 2012). "Martin A. Coughlin Bypass Road opens to route commercial traffic off East Boston streets". Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "Silver Line Gateway Alternatives Analysis". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  33. ^ "Silver Line Gateway Alternatives Analysis Meeting Presentation". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  34. ^ Hamwey, Scott (18 September 2013). "Silver Line Gateway Alternatives Analysis: Public Meeting - September 18, 2013". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  35. ^ State House News Surface (30 October 2013). "More details announced on Silver Line expansion to Chelsea". Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  36. ^ Guzman, Dan (30 October 2013). "MBTA To Extend Silver Line To East Boston, Chelsea". 90.9 WBUR. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  37. ^ a b "Governor Patrick Announces MBTA Silver Line Expansion". Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  38. ^ Hanson, Melissa (30 October 2013). "State to spend $3 million to create Chelsea Greenway park". Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  39. ^ "Mattapan Bus Rapid Transit and South Station Direct Connect Project". Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  40. ^ a b c d "Chapter 5C: System Expansion". Program of Mass Transportation. Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. May 2003 [revised January 2004]. p. 5C-40,42,76. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  41. ^ a b "Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan Transit Needs Study". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. September 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  42. ^ Weinstock, Annie, et al. "Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit". Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved 6 March 2013. "Some American systems reviewed had so few essential characteristics that calling them a BRT system at all does a disservice to efforts to gain broader adoption of BRT in the United States." 
  43. ^ a b Malouff, Dan (2013-01-17). "The US has only 5 true BRT systems, and none are "gold"". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  44. ^ Transit archeology: Tour of abandoned subway network offers a glimpse of how the T was built Boston Globe, December 26, 2009.
  45. ^ Boston Globe graphic: Abandoned tunnels Boston Globe, December 26, 2009.
  46. ^ Google Map of route
  47. ^ MBTA to the Rescue, Boston Globe Editorial, July 19, 2006

External links[edit]