Another semester of sleep deprivation, missed deadlines and existential dread about the future later, I am yet again writing my last column. So for this column, I’ll talk about my favorite station on the T. Today, we’re talking about … Ruggles?
Two weeks ago, the MBTA released a revised draft of its Bus Network Redesign, an ambitious plan to design a better bus network for Boston with improved coverage, frequency, equity and connectivity. The T’s end goal is to run more buses, more frequently, serving more people (particularly low-income populations most reliant on transit) and serving more destinations that riders want.
There’s a fair chance you’ve never ridden the Blue Line. Linking the West End to Winthrop and Wonderland, it’s the shortest and least busy of the MBTA’s four subway lines. But even for its size, it’s got an interesting backstory that could teach us some lessons on the future of our transportation network.
Today, we’ll be looking at some of the more interesting station names on the T. While most stations are named for streets, local landmarks or influential figures (i.e. dead white men), many stations have rather unique names that reveal some history of the city around us.
Welcome back to Tales from the T! Every other week, I’ll be diving into a story about the history and future of the T and other transportation around Boston. I get to indulge in my pathological obsession with trains and you … I don’t know, might learn something interesting along the way, I guess.
For my last column, we’ll talk about the station nearest and (questionably) dearest to all of us: Davis Square. Today, it’s the most convenient place to catch a train to downtown (at least before the GLX opens in 2050). But before there was the Red Line, you could catch other trains at Davis: luxury sleeper trains, mile-long freight trains and even Green Line trains. Let’s talk about these long gone trains of Davis Square.
In my last column, I talked about the Silver Line, the black sheep of the T. To recap: The Silver Line was designed as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — buses providing subway-like service using several key design features, including high-capacity stations and dedicated lanes. What we got instead was a haphazard cocktail of overpriced construction, slow speeds and broken promises, an embarrassment of a BRT system. But that would change in 2018, when the SL3 line opened.
Today’s topic is a laughable excuse of a project, a dumping ground of wasted potential and crushed dreams, a mere shadow of what it should have been. No, not you, the Silver Line. The Silver Line was envisioned as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a transit mode that uses design features like off-board fare payment and dedicated bus lanes to provide subway-like service using buses. BRT has been successfully built worldwide in cities like Guangzhou, Bogota and Albuquerque. It has not been successfully built here in Boston.
You might know that Boston has the oldest subway system in North America, with the Green Line’s central section dating back to 1897. But did you also know that part of the Red Line runs over the oldest commercial railway in the United States, dating back to 1826? Today, let’s discuss the Red Line’s Braintree branch and its evolution from horse-drawn wagonway to commuter superhighway.