Saturday, June 8, 2013

Boston's Urban Ring Project

For anyone who routinely rides the T in Boston, you probably understand many of it's problems. The green line routinely breaks down, trains never seem to stick to a schedule and there always seem to be interruptions in service. These things are all annoying, but by far worse is the fact that when riding the T, in order to change routes, you must ride all the way downtown. For those of you who are not familiar, I will share a map.

This picture shows a map to scale of the T. The white circles in downtown Boston are the only interchanges between lines. This makes the T practical only for those who need to get from their homes to downtown and back. For example, to get from Riverside at the end of the green line to Alewife at the end of the red line, you would need to travel 40 minutes inbound on the green and then another 20 outbound on the red. This seems illogical. 

The current setup of the T restricts commerce. If it were easier to move between the cities surrounding Boston, these areas would experience higher economic growth rates and the entire metropolitan area could prosper. Funneling traffic into just one place only creates congestion and frustration.

One idea that has been suggested is known as the Urban Ring Project. This is a proposition to expand T service to connect the current lines in a ring, allowing for easier access to areas that are not just downtown. This is a map of the proposed expansion.

The ring project itself is the new yellow line. This would make travel so much easier for people in and around Boston. You will notice that this full expansion would also expand existing lines and create a new purple line. These new routes can be hoped for, but the ring I believe is most crucial to economic success. The cost of building a new subway line would be very high, but Boston has a history of expensive public works projects. In fact, Boston is home to the first subway line in the country. With a subway that started in the late 1800's, it seems that it is time for a modern upgrade so that Boston can continue to be a pioneer of urban success.

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