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Making the Green Line more accessible: MBTA looks at complete reconfiguration of the E Line and a new type of station for the B Line

New look of Huntington Avenue with new transit and bike ways in one MBTA rendering

Possible next-gen Huntington Avenue, with transit/bike lanes on either side.

MBTA planners tomorrow will discuss potential new designs for the Green Line along between Brigham Circle and Heath Street and along Commonwealth Avenue with the goal to make the two branches more easily accessible to people with mobility issues.

Planners will discuss B and E Line ideas for the long term - more than five years out - at a joint meeting of the T's Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT board that starts at noon.

Planners are considering a complete re-do of Huntington and South Huntington avenues that would move the E Line trolley tracks from their current position at the center of the streets to the sides of the avenues, creating new transit/bus lanes. The rendering above also seems to indicate that parking along one side of the avenues would be removed entirely.

Along the B Line, planners are looking at eliminating the current narrow platforms on either side of stations between Blandford Street and BC and replacing them with wider single platforms that would serve trains moving in both directions, as seen in this potential rendering of a re-done Harvard Avenue station - which also shows the elimination of one of the two motor-vehicle lanes on each side of the tracks:

The new look of the Harvard Avenue Green Line stop

In addition to the station and track changes, the MBTA is also looking at improvements in its next-gen Green Line cars, known as Type 10 Supercars, which will be 50% longer than current cars and able to carry twice as many passengers have more low floor to make them accessible to people in wheelchairs.

The T expects to get bids from vendors by July 14 for the new 102 cars - down from the 165 originally planned. The T expects to sign a contract that will see the first of the new cars delivered here by 2026 for testing, with actual passenger service starting in 2027.

H/t Edward Orde.

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Comments

Bikes + street tracks = disaster. Cyclists have been killed by those tracks. I'm not so sure about the combo bike and transit lane for the E line, though I guess if they can't build a dedicated right-of-way there aren't many other options.

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Voting closed 84

Trollies on the right, Boston drivers and T buses on the left, and cyclists in the middle in an unprotected bike lane? Forget that noise.

Protected cycle track needs to be the only option for future biking infrastructure, especially in a city with Boston’s pathological driving culture.

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Voting closed 98

I would have figured that if you were going to reference Gerry Rafferty in a thread about the T, you'd use Right Down the Line.

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Voting closed 49

I mean, Adam referred to Baker Street at least twice last week...

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Voting closed 46

In the picture is either waving at someone or signaling for a right turn.

He will have to slow down to cross those tracks at a less oblique angle, but not so much that the train catches up.

This design will cause many serious accidents.

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Voting closed 72

Additionally, you’d have drivers who would now have to make those sudden, impulsive right-hand turns not only across the active bike lane, but also an active Green Line track.

I mean, I like where the designers’ heads are at by allowing trolley passengers off onto sidewalks instead of the center lane of a busy thoroughfare, but it’s difficult to imagine the 3 modes of transportation successfully co-existing as depicted in that surface-level configuration.

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Voting closed 54

There might be a safe way to design protected cycle tracks, but what they've done on Comm Ave by BU is not it. I had to stop using the cycle tracks there -- too many close calls with right-turning drivers. With the parking lane sitting in between the regular traffic lane and the cycle lane, drivers and cyclists can't see each other until it's too late.

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Voting closed 45

Sorry, but they are a good idea on paper and nearly useless in practice. People walk in them (and into them) without any regard for anyone who's riding. Cars block the entrances/exits. They aren't fully plowed in the winter -- it's not uncommon to find a giant snow pile right in the middle which lasts for weeks until it all melts.

Since they are narrow, it's impossible to pass someone (or something) blocking the lane.

The bike lanes on the left side of the road when the street is divided are the best. There are no parked cars and no pedestrians absentmindedly walking into them. The ones down Comm Ave in the back bay are the best and they should have done the same thing along Comm Ave from Kenmore to Allston.

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Voting closed 55

Summer st cycle track is great.... For the very short run it has. Seaport blvd is theoretically longer, but has the car blocking it issue.

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Voting closed 46

but since it involves traffic cops actually deciding to enforce traffic laws, I won't hold my breath.

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Voting closed 56

You mean the ones that cars can "left hook" cyclists in and casually meander into because there is no physical protection?

Comm. Ave at BU is a far better safety experience then it once was, I honestly can't recall a time I've see a car blocking the entrances beyond the area near Packards Corner.

The pedestrians, yes do in fact walk into their from time to time but nothing that some awareness and bike bells can resolve.

And I feel BTD was doing a pretty good job of clearing the snow here. Was it perfect? No, but it was far better than before where the snow piled up into parking, pushed parking into the bike lane and there was effectively no bike infra until that snow melted.

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Voting closed 49

I cannot dismiss your own personal experiences but this stretch of road at BU has become far safer in my experience commuting their daily for years, both pre and post construction.

Are there some close calls with turning traffic? Yes and its a direct result of careless drivers ignoring signage and right of way.

But there are far less if any instances of blocked bike lanes, almost getting doored, almost getting run over by Ubers/taxis/parents pull over suddenly. Hell, I see less double parking because motorists aren't as willing to block car travel lanes.

Parking protected bike infrastructure is the way to go on major corridors like this.

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Voting closed 54

There's definitely some issues, but almost all of them are due to a lack of driver education and enforcement. Overall, the experience is still better than non-protected bike lanes, which had the same issues but with additional danger from sideswipes or dooring.

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Voting closed 51

Dooring is easy to for cyclists to avoid on any road -- just ride outside the door zone. But I can't defend myself against a right hook if I don't see the car coming (and the driver doesn't see me) until the last second. On a regular road, or a conventional bike lane, I can avoid right hooks more easily by taking the lane and not passing cars on the right. Can't do that on these cycle tracks, which seem to actively encourage right hooks.

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Voting closed 43

When the bike lane is between parked cars and travel lanes and was an issue on Comm. Ave when there wasn't parking protected bike infra. Now? There is no dooring risk at all.

Again, I do not want to dismiss your experiences but parts of this specific stretch of bike lanes on Comm Ave has done a pretty good job of buffering parking at these intersections. Not in all cases of course:
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3518246,-71.1206452,95m/data=!3m1!1e3

When right hooks have occurred here for me, there has been time to look back and see. And again the real issue is motorists not paying attention.

Taking the lane in terms of safety is great for some riders, not for all though and it is a poor method of bike safety with how people drive around here.

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Voting closed 42

For many parking-protected bike lanes, the supposed anti-dooring buffer is useless since everyone parks in it.

At least this one has curbs for the buffer. Though that would make it impossible to plow the bike lane as part of the main road, or reconfigure the road if they ever decide this was a mistake.

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Voting closed 48

Were talking about these specific ones on Comm Ave. at BU. There is no door zone and cars cannot park in the bike lane.

And BTD/PWD has already purchased and deployed snow plows capable of clearing snow separate from the main road: https://twitter.com/bostonpwd/status/1097510723461230593

or reconfigure the road if they ever decide this was a mistake.

This project did reconfigure a road that was a mistake and had contributed in the death of a cyclist.

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Voting closed 42

Dooring is easy to avoid in a traditional bike lane. Just stay out of the door zone.

The road can be designed to encourage this. Paint a buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane. https://goo.gl/maps/ksrcxJM7c31ALNqt8

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Voting closed 43

Before

After

I had plenty of close calls regarding dooring on this stretch of road for years. Now? None at all.

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Voting closed 50

Thank you for not dismissing my experiences, which include over 25 years of bike commuting in Boston, some of it on that very corridor (though I tend to prefer using Beacon St. in Brookline where convenient). I committed myself to giving those new BU-area cycle tracks a fair chance. The first time I had a close call with a right hook I could dismiss it as a careless driver. But when it happened again and again (against a backdrop of having ridden elsewhere with almost no collisions or near-misses), it began to feel more like the design was working against me.

I can understand people's hesitancy to take the lane. It is a bit scary at first, and I'm not a risk-taker. But on reflecting on my own experience of close calls and the occasional minor collision, and on gaining the benefit of others' experiences, I came to realize that taking the lane in most cases is actually safer. Boston drivers may be crazy and obnoxious, but they're not homicidal, and I have found that getting rid of the "I didn't see you" excuse by riding where they're expecting to see traffic has only helped. And by riding that way, I have had ZERO close calls with dooring, because I am out of the door zone.

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Voting closed 45

I've also seen cyclists run STOP signs and red lights, weave in and out of traffic, and also show disregard for pedestrians. There are a lot of yahooish auto drivers out and around, but, having said all of the above, there's a lot of smartening up that needs to be done on both sides of this issue.

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Voting closed 12

I'm glad I'm not the only cyclist who feels this way.

Everyone else seems to support Boston and Cambridge going full speed ahead on putting the bike lanes on the wrong side of the parking. And anyone who opposes it is seen as a cranky anti-bike carhead.

I go out of my way to avoid the cycle tracks in Cambridge and use the parallel streets that don't have them. But that won't be an option once they catch up with their plan to put them on all the through streets.

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Voting closed 41

I do think that some in the cycling community who push "vehicular cycling" and oppose robust protected bike infrastructure aren't thinking about others.

Its about the 8 to 80 range of cycling ages, you want infra that accommodates all, not just those riders who are experienced and confident enough to ride in car lanes.

I mean, we could just ban parking and cars like Paris to improve safety but good luck with that.

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Voting closed 47

That rendering should have a ghost bike on the corner. Who the hell has a railroad track double as the right borderline of a bicycle lane? The only escape from a right hook or squeeze is blocked unless you can manage a panic stop or a pro-level, sideways, bunny-hop.

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Voting closed 49

There would be tracks on both sides of the street? Wouldn't it make more sense to have both sets of tracks one side?

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Voting closed 42

So people (and with the stretch along south huntington, it's a lot of ELDERLY people) get dumped out into the car traffic lane?? You know, what happens now and is a huge safety nightmare

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Voting closed 46

Been a minute since I was in Amsterdam but they have bike lanes and trams all over the place. How do they avoid having cyclists wiped out by tracks?

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Voting closed 48

In Amsterdam they get it done b/c cars aren't king. Bikes and pedestrians are. Not only do the police enforce (not that they have to enforce much in this regard) but the people that live there also enforce it.

They have safe infrastructure...gasp! Cars cannot drive in shopping areas...and guess what? Businesses flourish! Cars actually stop where and when they are supposed to. Imagine that...

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Voting closed 44

I broke both my arms turning left South Huntington to Huntington. Learned a valuable lesson.

Here's a good configuration:
Sidewalk - Protected bike lane - parking/loading lane - car lane - transit lane (bus and trolley).

When there's a transit stop:
Sidewalk - Protected bike lane - car lane - Transit Platform - transit lane (bus and trolley).

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Voting closed 47

Cyclists in America love to make this argument,
but Amsterdam’s the worlds largest cycling hub, also has an extensive & widely used street running tram network. I guess in America we refuse to acknowledge what the Dutch have done, or perhaps even cyclists & transit users in Boston have resigned themselves to the fact that city streets are primarily designed for automobiles & all other users are second class citizens.

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Voting closed 44

It was a lot of work to extend underground Blue, Orange, and Red Line platforms so that the T could run trains 6 cars long (instead of 4). Will this require similar work on Green Line subway platforms?

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Voting closed 56

If they double them maybe, at some platforms, but by themselves, they're still shorter than two of the current cars connected together. (and the T has, in the not too distant past, even run occasional three-car trains). The new cars will require more space in yards and changes to the power system, which the T has begun planning for.

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Voting closed 55

The longer platform is already being taken into account in current projects (see the new stations by BU)

The bigger issue is that the super car’s doors are 4? 8? inches higher than the existing low floor type 8 and type 9s, so all of the platform heights will need to be changed! (also you can run either the new super cars or the old cars, but not both)

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Voting closed 47

Mostly no. Most green lines platforms are very long, compared to the length of the double-trains they run now. There are some above-ground platforms what would need to be extended to berth 2 type-10s, but nothing prohibitive or even that difficult.

The difficulty comes in the turning radius. The green line has some extremely tight curves, and those would need to be reconfigured for the type-10s. Again, most of those are above ground, in the yards. I think the only underground one is the loop at park street, which is not vital to operation.

Why not make cars that can take the tight curves? Because they have to be specially engineered and that's extremely expensive. If they fix the curves the T can buy off-the-shelf light rail cars from just about any rail car manufacturer, which is much less expensive, much more reliable, and will have much more access to parts and experienced mechanics.

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Voting closed 49

What about the one just south (or west) of Boylston station?

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Voting closed 41

It's tight, but it's not +special engineering needed+ tight.
has a lot of the nitty-gritty! It's very interesting.

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Voting closed 41

no word on signal priority on the B line?
how about elimination of some more of the redundant stops along comm ave? that is a $0 solution.

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Voting closed 48

They're consolidating several stops on the B Line right now. Not a $0 solution since they're building new (and much better-designed) stations in between the old ones.

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Voting closed 56

And that's why it will not be implemented

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Voting closed 40

because the car reins supreme and disrupting the light patterns would cause utter chaos for all the poor drivers.

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Voting closed 47

Wow.. time is going by fast.

It feels like only yesterday they were **redoing** huntington ave from Mass Ave to Brigham circle to rebuild the E line.

I know this eventually will be for the new Supercars but still, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago. (but then again, I am old..)

And of course to put the trains on the street, which is why service from Brigham Circle to Heath Street always has issues due to a blockage. So yeah it makes total sense to make the entire section like that. Got it /snark

tbh, looks like they want dump the median tracks and put the trolley's on the sides instead so its easier to busitute. Cuz you know the T hates the E line and will busitute the line whenever possible. But they could still do this with a center island track. (hello, paved tracks for buses)

And as far as the B line. The section from Packards Corner to Chestnut Hill Ave has always amazed me. Especially near Harvard Ave...

So.Many.Roads. The T Tracks. The access road on either side. Wide sidewalks, Wide Roads. Multiple lanes in either direction.

So much wasted space. So many possibilities. Its nice to see in the picture above that some of this will be quelled a bit. But this whole corridor needs to go on a road diet. The whole area could be so much better.

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Voting closed 53

Seems like something a child made in sim city.

Just because there is a lot of space doesn’t mean that reorganizing it almost randomly improves things.

Is the second stretch of sidewalk supposed to be a bike lane? If so, why does it have curbs instead of ramps? No demarcation in the road crossing. Bikes are supposed to swerve in and out of the one car lane to use the pedestrian ramp?

Random strips of nature bandaids plastered all over don’t make it look better. That grass is going to be covered with salty snow banks. It’s not going to look like that past its first winter.

These designs both seem driven by a shallow aesthetic sensibility rather than any understanding of function.

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Voting closed 49

The linked document says this design is just for the part from Brigham Circle to Heath that operates in the street, not the portion from Brigham Circle to Northeastern

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Voting closed 45

I've edited the first sentence in the story to make that clearer, thanks.

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Voting closed 42

On page 7 of the document Adam linked to

Designs to add accessible platforms between Brigham Circle and Heath St in place of streetcar operation and improve pedestrian accommodations

I take that to read that they are looking to redo the existing street service from Brigham Circle outward. Be interesting to see how they run that transition from separated center of road tracks to outside lanes of traffic...

The graphic shown for that is certainly showing in front of the Mission Park apartments/stop, which is already on street tracks.

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Voting closed 44

Moving the lines from the center of the lane to the sides seems to be asking for the line to get stuck behind a double parked car.

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Voting closed 66

I was in SF years ago and marveled how quickly the buses were able to move through traffic. I was told they cracked down and towed everybody that block bus stops and double parkers to the point that people were afraid to do it (the whole point of having that as a threat). You have to follow through or people (i.e. Bostonians) push it and the whole system breaks down. And you have to keep enforcing it instead of folding like a flan because people complain. You're supposed to not like being towed - that's what keeps you from doing it.

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Voting closed 69

Not going to happen here

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Voting closed 41

As someone who once biked everywhere with kids, and had to accompany them everywhere much longer than should have been needed given the constant blocking of bike lanes and the tendency of people to drive 40mph in 20mph zones rather than any lack of skill on the kids' part, I would often ask nearby cops what they were doing about the UPS/USPS/cab/rideshare/private vehicles sitting in bike lanes. I never once had one do anything about it. They always told me the person had a job to do or was probably picking up someone in the building or picking up food or whateer and would be back soon. I would ask them if my kids didn't have me with them, if they would have done anything at all, like helping stop 40mph traffic so they could pass the blockage. I always got snide remarks and never anything whatsoever that suggested the view of BPD is that bike lanes should not be parked in or that people should be able to ride safely.

Northeastern cops are the worst with this on Columbus near Ruggles. They are often stationed every few hundred feet for construction details or coming/going from the parking garage details, while people pull motor vehicles into the bike lanes there (which are between the parking lane and sidewalk!). I've had cops standing 10 feet away from me while I rang my bell so someone sitting in a car would pull out of the bike lane and my family could enter it, and the cop do absolutely nothing. One told me it isn't safe for children to ride bikes in the city. Well no, not when you do shit like this.

Remind me why we fund them again?

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Voting closed 54

The E Line proposal is terrible for bikes, but the T could resolve the double parking car problem if and only if the T has one or more continuously roving MBTA big tow trucks, staffed with one big tow truck operator and another tough MBTA police officer.

"But I was just stopped to run into the ATM!" Fuck you, towed.
"But I needed to hit the Dunkies." Fuck you, towed.
"But I'm just picking up my wife." Fuck you, towed.
"But I'm picking up my Uber passenger." Fuck you, towed.
"But I'm dropping off my 88 year old mother; she's quite frail." OK, but let's help move this along.
"But I'm UPS." Fuck you, towed.
"But I'm Coca-Cola delivery." Fuck you, towed.
"But I'm a fire truck and we're putting out a fire in that building right there." Oh, shit. I guess the Green Line will wait for an hour.
"But I'm Amazon." Fuck you, towed.

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Voting closed 75

Now now. You know the police are "educating" drivers & not enforcing traffic laws. It's up to pedestrians and bikers to make it easier for the cars and don't you forget it!

This sarcasm comes after a bike ride in a "protected" lane where cars were parked and a car pulls in between the polls to park in the bike lane. Then there was the bus...and the glass, bags, pot holes...but yes, let's not raise the gas tax after 25 years...

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Voting closed 61

And puts cameras on its vehicles and issues tickets for bus lane (and other) violations.

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Voting closed 62

SERIOUSLY. why can't they do this?? The equipment and monthly salaries would be paid DAY ONE and the other 27-30 days that month would fix the entire budgetary hole and pay for the GLX 20 times over. Which, yeah, the city shouldn't be enforcing only to make money, but I don't underhand the hesitance to enforce things that DIRECTLY IMPACT HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE just trying to take transit to work when it's a cost-positive flow to do the enforcement. Hell, rewrite the law and slap cameras on the busses so a driver can smash a button to take a picture and issue the ticket right then and there, and it's sent to some central enforcement building who then immediately dispatches a truck. INNOVATE.

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Voting closed 58

They don't leave their car to do that. How do you propose an occupied vehicle be towed?

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Voting closed 40

you drag the driver out of the car, then it's unoccupied. /s

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Voting closed 53

I don't want cops doing that as a first resort.

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Voting closed 40

Just start attaching the tow cables, and watch how quickly the car becomes unoccupied.

Or, just start writing tickets and handing them over until the Uber driver realizes where their gas pedal is located.

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Voting closed 46

You’ve submitted a perfect script for the media campaign to introduce this policy (no need for the T to spend $ on a writer) with an instantly memorable slogan that drives the point home.

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Voting closed 48

Undoubtedly, getting the T to purchase tow trucks, hire tow truck drivers, create a towing division, etc. etc. will take longer than the green line project itself. However, a couple of ideas come to mind that already exist:

1) Owners of commercial parking lots, like supermarkets and shopping malls, already hire private tow companies to pass by their lots and tow away illegally parked cars. The T could do the same: have a private company(ies) patrol key corridors and take away cars that are blocking bus stops and lanes. The owners of parking lots typically pay zero for this service. The T would need to establish a standard towing penalty so that it's not left up to each towing company.

2) Make sure they get the tow trucks that can tow quickly -- lots of examples on YouTube for reference. The goal is to keep transit moving.

3) Give transit riders the ability to take action: use the 311 app or something like it so that you can report a parked car, and the tow truck can swing by.

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Voting closed 50

This is awesome! Can’t wait to see the final rendering.

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Voting closed 42

The current configuration allows for streetcars to be turned back at Northeastern and again at Brigham in the even there is a need. The parallel tracks makes the switching easier. If they go to an outside lane configuration that option goes away. So when it snows or there is some other obstacle outbound of Brigham, there will be no place to turn trains back. Similar situations exist on the B line.

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Voting closed 42

The redesign is just for Brigham to Heath. The center-running right-of-way from Symphony to Brigham isn't going away and short turns will still be possible.

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Voting closed 44

There is a much better solution: Build a center reservation, but pave it so that buses can share it. You can build raised platforms just like they are doing on Columbus Ave in Roxbury right now.

You can do this today without moving any tracks just by painting the center lanes red and building raised platforms. Students from Northeastern have demonstrated how it can be done:

http://www.northeastern.edu/peter.furth/transit-lanes-on-huntington-av-m...

The above proposal from the T is awful. One illegally parked car would block the entire E line. It's also terrible for bikes.

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Voting closed 52

I cam't tell u how many times I walked to Copley from Back Bay and took the E to Heath Street when the Orange Line died. Then walked down Centre Street to Canary Square to release my anger at the bar until the 39 Bus showed up to take me to Forest Hills to get home.

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Voting closed 46

Brookline already has an example of bikes having their own dedicated lanes on both sides of the road by raising them off the road next to side walks. We have got to do better with bike lanes and separate them from the main roads. Germany does a really good job with this by not only having bike lanes on either side of the road that are raised and away from the road like side walks but they also have training courses on how to use bikes in cities, following the laws and even kid parks that are for teaching kids the rules of the road for bikes. It works really well. We have got to do better so people can feel safe to bike in the city... putting bikes next to and with cars is and will always be a horrible idea for both bike and car.

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Voting closed 43

Maybe they can make this happen. But back in the early 2000s, they proposed a similar major redesign of South Huntington/Centre Street in JP, which resulted in killing the entire restoration of Arborway service.

If wheelchair accessibility is the issue, they should buy trains that can lower a ramp to the street, rather than rebuilding every station to have curbed platforms.

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Voting closed 43