Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line
The MBTA Green Line is the oldest American subway, opening in 1897. In 2010, the Green Line had a total ridership of 236,096, which includes both light rail and trolley. The Green Line spans 23 miles of operation, and the MBTA is currently in the process of planning a 4.5-mile extension. The extension has been in active planning since 2005.
The extension will take the Green Line service from East Cambridge terminal into the communities of Summerville and Medford, which are northwest of downtown Boston, according to Kate Fichter, manager of long-range planning for the Office of Transportation Planning-Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
“The green line right now, the northwest terminus of the green line, is in East Cambridge. It crosses the river from Boston to Cambridge. There’s one station in Cambridge, which is an old station; there’s been transit service there for a long time. There have been ideas and visions and plans for many decades to try and keep it going. There was once much more trolley service in the area; today there’s nothing,” says Fichter.
Fichter says the project has a huge amount of public knowledge and support, and as a result MBTA hasn’t done much to sell the public on the project. “Everyone wants it yesterday.
“To date we’ve talked more about it in terms of other diversions because there are quite a few bridges that we’d need to reconstruct so the trains could pass under them. In terms of new transit routes, not a lot. We’ve done some preliminary planning on whether there’d be any changes to the bus routes,” Fichter explains. “I think everybody just wishes they could ride it right now. People are ready to go.”
The state level environmental review was finished more than a year ago, and currently MBTA is almost finished with the federal level review. “Public commentary for that will be starting in a couple weeks. We are working our way through advanced conceptual design,” Fichter says.
While no ground has been broken yet on the project, Fichter estimates construction will begin sometime in the next two years. “We’re looking at a couple different options right now. It’s hard to say [when construction will start] because it will depend on what construction methodology we use. It’s a little premature to estimate, certainly.”
Fichter adds: “The real question is whether we decide to do a phased implementation. This is an idea we’re playing with right now. That would allow us to open certain stations for revenue service while other stations are still in construction. When we started the project we imagined that the whole project could open all at once, but it looks like there might be some advantages to doing it piecemeal. If we did that, we would probably be starting construction in the next year, which we don’t know yet if we’ll do that.”
Fichter roughly estimates that the full expansion will be operating sometime between 2017 and 2020. However, she stressed it is still too early to know for sure.
While there are no definite plans for additional expansions in the future, there is potential for some. Fichter says that the environmental review included one additional station on the far end of the line. At this time that portion of the project isn’t progressing though.
“We’re not currently progressing that part of it into design and construction, but we could in the future. Most of the environmental work is done, so it would just be to design and construct it. But the potential would bring it up to a station called the Mystic Valley Parkway,” she says.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit — Green Line, Orange Line and Blue Line
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been busy. The recent Green Line extension opened in December 2010, and there are two more extensions currently in the works. The light rail system, which currently covers 72 miles and includes 55 stations, first opened for operation in June 1996. Morgan Lyons, director of media relations at DART, says that by 2014 the system will cover 90 miles and by 2018 or 2019 it will be at 93 miles, when the South Oak Cliff extension is completed.