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Author Topic: [Cancelled] Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?  (Read 2330 times)

BridgesToIdealism

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[Cancelled] Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« on: December 29, 2020, 09:18:18 PM »

Something I've been thinking about for a while is the possibility of having a meet in and around Boston, Massachusetts at some point post-pandemic. As I'm attending school in Newton, just outside of Boston, I have easy access to the city and there is an interesting blend of old and new architecture/infrastructure in the city and its suburbs.

However, the reason I would call this a "city meet/transit meet" instead of a "road meet" is that as anyone who lives in the region probably knows, Boston traffic is horrendous and drivers are notorious for being aggressive and in many cases illegal. I for one do not feel safe driving in or close to Boston. As such, this meet would be conducted mostly on foot, and for longer distance travels around the city, would utilize MBTA public transportation. It's worth noting that the MBTA system includes some significant infrastructure in and of itself, including America's oldest active subway tunnel underneath Tremont Street near Boston Common (hence "transit meet").

Off the top of my head, I could think of several sites of interest in and around the city:
  • Bridges on the Charles River
  • Bridges on Fort Point Channel
  • Old & New Charles River Locks (the old lock being on the dam at the Museum of Science, and the new lock being located between the Zakim and Charlestown/N Washington Street Bridges)
  • Freedom Trail (a hiking trail that shares most of its alignment with city streets, and passes by some of the most historic sites in the city)
  • Esplanade Trail, running alongside the Charles River in downtown Boston, offering views of the bridges and the city that are hard to compete with
  • Storrow Drive & Soldiers Field Road - Boston's version of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive or NYC's FDR Drive, and paralleled by part of the Esplanade Trail for much of its length
  • The abandoned highway stubs for the cancelled Northeast Expressway across Rumney Marsh Reservation, which are accessible via MBTA bus and then on foot along the Sea Plain Basin Trail
  • South Bay Interchange, the large "mixing bowl" interchange between the Mass Pike and I-93, accessible from South Station
These I do not believe are easily accessible, but worth consideration:
  • Abandoned highway stubs for the cancelled Southwest Expressway in Canton. The area is accessible via MBTA bus, but is located in an heavily industrialized area and I'm not certain if one can technically access the abandoned carriageways without trespassing.
  • Abandoned ghost ramp/stub off of the I-93 double-decker structure in Somerville, intended for the cancelled I-695 Inner Belt. This is also located in a heavy industrial area and is probably not easily accessible.
Any potential meet obviously does not need to include all of the above - these are just ideas that are all walkable or accessible via MBTA.

I would suggest South Station as a starting meet-up place, since that is the primary regional transportation terminal for those coming in from out of the immediate area (South Station and Back Bay Station are the primary Amtrak and Commuter Rail terminals for the city, and South Station is also the regional coach bus terminal). The main concourse of South Station is also a significant piece of architecture itself.

I'm not going to suggest a date yet because the course of the pandemic is still uncertain, and I'd propose to hold off on any plans such as this until the vaccine is more widely available.

Would there be any interest in such a meet along the lines of what I've described above, or a variant thereof? This would likely be on a Saturday or Sunday.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 01:15:25 PM by BridgesToIdealism »
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2020, 10:21:47 AM »

I'd potentially be interested, though in my case I'd be coming in from the north.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2020, 10:36:57 AM »

I'd potentially be interested, though in my case I'd be coming in from the north.

Same here.
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BridgesToIdealism

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2020, 03:46:05 PM »

If most people would be coming from the north, we can always meet up at North Station, and anyone who is coming from the south or southwest can connect directly to North Station via Back Bay Station, which serves most of the same train routes that terminate at South Station (though Back Bay does not serve any regional buses). As annoying as it is, there is no direct connection between North & South Stations.

If people want to drive in and try to find parking in the city somewhere (good luck with that), that's fine too. Though parking fees are generally outrageous...

I'd be coming from the west, so any of the above is workable for me, as I can get to either North or South stations easily, and you can get just about everywhere else from those terminal hubs.

Of course, this is still all hypothetical as I'm not going to try and officially put anything together until more people, including myself, are vaccinated.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2020, 10:51:30 PM »

Quote
If people want to drive in and try to find parking in the city somewhere (good luck with that), that's fine too. Though parking fees are generally outrageous...

Agree that parking in Boston is expensive, but on past excursions, pre-COVID, I've always had success finding parking, whether at Sullivan Square (Orange Line), Boston Common (Green Line), or even downtown (off State St).
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2020, 11:34:17 PM »

If I have the time. I knocked out 73 T stations in 2019. I could probably knock out the rest.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2021, 09:08:32 AM »

Definitely interested, but please consider waiting until after a coronavirus vaccine is widely available, as I don't plan on staying in any hotels until I'm vaccinated.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2021, 03:57:39 PM »

I might be interested. Having lived and/or worked in Boston for a decade I've seen everything on that list countless times, but depending on who else is in attendance it would be fun to hear some other perspectives... and it has been ages since we've had a proper Boston meet.

I'm almost guaranteed to pass (at least on the tour part) though if we're just relying on transit to get around. Assuming the meet would be on a weekend, traffic would be fairly light, T service would be very limited, and it would be silly not to just drive. If specific people are not comfortable driving in Boston, they can ride with others. If we can have meets in NYC involving driving, we can do it in Boston too.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2021, 06:29:48 PM »

I'm almost guaranteed to pass (at least on the tour part) though if we're just relying on transit to get around. Assuming the meet would be on a weekend, traffic would be fairly light, T service would be very limited, and it would be silly not to just drive. If specific people are not comfortable driving in Boston, they can ride with others. If we can have meets in NYC involving driving, we can do it in Boston too.

That. We've made meets work in large cities before with minimal issues. Boston will be just fine. Transit falls apart when you have more than a couple people.

If I were doing this myself, I'd probably use transit because a) I have lines to clinch still and b) the economics would work out. But with this many people, we can just split any parking/toll costs we incur. That is what we do whenever toll roads are on a tour.
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BridgesToIdealism

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2021, 01:46:38 PM »

If people want to drive in, I honestly don't care. I'd be taking transit in, but as long as we meet up in the same place, that's really all that matters. I would recommend though that anyone who wants to drive in to ideally find a place where you only have to park once, considering how difficult it can be to find parking in the city, let alone affordable parking in the city (to be honest, depending on where one is coming from, there are times when the cost of a commuter rail ticket is actually cheaper than the cost of parking in the city).

The reason I'm calling this a "city meet" is that there wouldn't really be a driving tour, per se. Most of everything on the list is walkable and would be conducted on foot. For instance, the Esplanade Trail along the Charles River and Storrow Drive would be traveled on foot, originating likely from North Station or one of the riverfront parks nearby. There is a direct one-seat ride connection between the Esplanade and Fort Point Channel via the Red Line (Charles/MGH --> South Station or Broadway), with Charles/MGH station being located directly underneath the south approach of the Longfellow Bridge. The Harborwalk along Fort Point Channel would then be traveled on foot.

Also keep in mind that a few things during this meet would be specifically related to transit, most notably the oldest active subway tunnel in America (Green Line at Bolyston Street & Park Street along Boston Common) and the famous historic South Station concourse building. If folks don't want to travel by transit, that's fine, though it may result in a few instances of the guests arriving somewhere before the host. But as long as we know where exactly to meet up, there shouldn't be an issue.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2021, 01:50:55 PM »

I'm super interested in this. I was last in Boston when I was nine years old and would love to visit it again with husband and kiddo and other roadgeeks!

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2021, 05:16:56 PM »

Having grown up in the North Shore (Marblehead); Boston was my home turf city until I moved out 30-1/2 years ago. 

That said, I would be interested in attending; the only sticking point would be when exactly would such be occurring?  Despite the pandemic, my weekend calendar last year still got pretty busy; especially during the summer & fall months. 

FYI, Massachusetts COVID-related travel restrictions that are still in place.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2021, 05:20:29 PM by PHLBOS »
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PHLBOS

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2021, 01:59:57 PM »

Allow me to offer some input & critique.  If the intent of this meet is to be done via transit/walking; I would strongly recommend that you review the MBTA System Map & plan/map accordingly.  Some of your listed points of interest, mainly those along the Charles River, have no parallel nor direct transit access along the way... including bus routes.  Busses don't use Storrow Drive and Soldiers Field Road due to low overpass/bridge clearances.

Given that many in attendance may be not from nor familiar with the area: transit-wise, I would suggest utilizing only the subway/trolley lines because those tend to run more frequent on weekends than busses & commuter rail.  Additionally, adding the various MBTA bus routes in the mix would likely cause more confusion; not to mention the logistical nightmare of transfers from route-to-route. 

Fares on the MBTA are typically handled by either Charlie Cards and/or Charlie Passes that can be purchased at the subway stations.

  • The abandoned highway stubs for the cancelled Northeast Expressway across Rumney Marsh Reservation, which are accessible via MBTA bus and then on foot along the Sea Plain Basin Trail
Such is located at the Revere/Saugus line.  The most practical way to access such from Downtown Boston via transit is to take the Blue Line all the way up to the Wonderland Station and take either the Rte. 411 or 426W bus to near/the Northgate Shopping Center, which is adjacent to the US 1/MA 60 interchange.  The interchange, as well as the Northgate Shopping Center is roughly 2 miles from the MBTA's Blue Line Wonderland Station.

  • Abandoned highway stubs for the cancelled Southwest Expressway in Canton. The area is accessible via MBTA bus, but is located in an heavily industrialized area and I'm not certain if one can technically access the abandoned carriageways without trespassing.
The most direct way to that interchange via transit would be to utilize the MBTA Red Line Ashmont-Mattapan branch to the Mattapan Station and take the Rte. 716 bus to Royall St./Softrax Revenue Recognition Software parking lot.  Such is adjacent to the interchange; however one would need to walk through some woods to get to the actual unused ramp/mainline stubs.  If this business isn't open on weekends, the frequency of the bus service may be very limited.  Additionally & unless something's changed over the last 30 years; Mattapan is not one of Boston's best areas.

I would suggest you reach out via PM to Dougtone.  He took some photos at the interchange several years ago and posted such here, scroll down for photos on this I-95 page.  He could probably give you more info.  I'm not sure if he was on his own or was part of another meet when he took those photos.

  • Abandoned ghost ramp/stub off of the I-93 double-decker structure in Somerville, intended for the cancelled I-695 Inner Belt. This is also located in a heavy industrial area and is probably not easily accessible.
The nearest subway station is the Sullivan Square Station along the MBTA's Orange Line.  Such is located north of where the old Inner Belt stub ramps are.  One would have to walk on some side streets in order to get to the site.

One item that I'm surprised you didn't mention is that the Orange Line from the Ruggles Station southward (to the Forest Hills station) runs along what would've been the Southwest Expressway portion of I-95.  Such could easily meet your criteria for a transit-accessible/related meet item.
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BridgesToIdealism

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2021, 09:35:48 PM »

Responding to the various points above.

One, the Charles River does have direct transit connections. The subway portion of North Station is only a few blocks from the eastern terminus of the Esplanade, and also is directly adjacent to Causeway Street where one can look out over the portal of the Thomas O'Neil Tunnel and across the Zakim Bridge. Alternatively, if Science Park station has reopened by the time this goes forward, that provides a more direct connection to the Esplanade.
Additionally, Charles/MGH station on the Red Line is directly underneath/connected to the southern approach of the Longfellow Bridge, which provides access to both the northern and southern Esplanade Trails.
Finally, the Boston University (historically Cottage Farm) Bridge is accessible via the B Branch of the Green Line, via either BU Central or BU West.

My intent for Storrow Drive/Soldiers Field Road was to walk the at least a portion of the section of the Esplanade Trail that parallels it, not ride on it via a bus (which I know can't use the road).

Mattapan has definitely been cleaned up somewhat, and is fine as long as you go in the middle of the day and stay on the main roads (don't wander into any of the back alleyways along some of the historic rowhouses). The situation of the stubs only being accessible via an industrial parking lot and a walk through the woods is why I considered them to be potentially inaccessible - if anything is going to be sketchy, it's going to be an industrial plant that is out of service on a weekend.

In terms of service frequency, I had no intention to use commuter rail, partly because of the long gaps between trains on weekends, but also because of the ridiculously high fares compared to the subway. I will say however that assuming service levels are returned to normal post-pandemic, most bus routes, especially the ones that provide the only access to a given region, tend to run frequently enough on weekends to be useful.

Finally, there's no need to write an essay about the MBTA services here - I'm an MBTA geek myself and I know all of that already (heck, I wouldn't suggest a transit-based event if I wasn't savvy with the transit system).
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BridgesToIdealism

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2021, 09:38:50 PM »

Having grown up in the North Shore (Marblehead); Boston was my home turf city until I moved out 30-1/2 years ago. 

That said, I would be interested in attending; the only sticking point would be when exactly would such be occurring?  Despite the pandemic, my weekend calendar last year still got pretty busy; especially during the summer & fall months. 

FYI, Massachusetts COVID-related travel restrictions that are still in place.

I'm not going to publicize a date just yet, because we don't know what's going to happen with the vaccine rollout especially after the change of administration in Washington. My university has indicated that they have received a shipment of vaccines, so we should be able to be vaccinated at some point this coming spring semester. If everything goes smoothly, I'd perhaps look into early or mid September 2021, but that is not definitive (or frankly even tentative) at this point.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2021, 04:54:56 PM »

Finally, there's no need to write an essay about the MBTA services here - I'm an MBTA geek myself and I know all of that already (heck, I wouldn't suggest a transit-based event if I wasn't savvy with the transit system).

Relax, Wong. You're trying to endear folks here to your concept. A concept that requires a lot of outside-the-box planning for what we're used to in here. Don't get caught acting like an a$$. That's my job.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2021, 05:13:18 PM »

Finally, there's no need to write an essay about the MBTA services here - I'm an MBTA geek myself and I know all of that already (heck, I wouldn't suggest a transit-based event if I wasn't savvy with the transit system).

Relax, Wong. You're trying to endear folks here to your concept. A concept that requires a lot of outside-the-box planning for what we're used to in here. Don't get caught acting like an a$$. That's my job.
Roadwaywiz Productions is definitely raking in a $ or $$.

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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2021, 05:15:19 PM »

Finally, there's no need to write an essay about the MBTA services here - I'm an MBTA geek myself and I know all of that already (heck, I wouldn't suggest a transit-based event if I wasn't savvy with the transit system).

Relax, Wong. You're trying to endear folks here to your concept. A concept that requires a lot of outside-the-box planning for what we're used to in here. Don't get caught acting like an a$$. That's my job.
Roadwaywiz Productions is definitely raking in a $ or $$.
Those virtual meets, whenever held, are a treat for any who wish to be there.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2021, 09:22:57 PM »

One, the Charles River does have direct transit connections.
Transit stations, yes; however such (Science Park & Charles/MGH stations) are on separate lines.  I should've emphasized on the word parallel in reference to Storrow Drive in my prior post.

Finally, the Boston University (historically Cottage Farm) Bridge is accessible via the B Branch of the Green Line, via either BU Central or BU West.
FWIW, I reread your original post & you didn't list that one in it.  My earlier comments/critiques were only in reference to sites where transit access maybe be somewhat limited, spaced apart and/or not fully practical to use for those unfamiliar with the area.

My intent for Storrow Drive/Soldiers Field Road was to walk the at least a portion of the section of the Esplanade Trail that parallels it, not ride on it via a bus (which I know can't use the road).
The underlying question would be how long of a portion will the walk be?  In past situations, not necessarily at meets, one would walk a long distance one-way and get a ride via an available bus/vehicle for the return trip.

Side bar: During the October 2019 Newburyport Meet; only two of the attendees actually walked the full-length (1.9 miles) of the parallel pedestrian path/bridge (Garrison Trail) to the new Whittier Bridge (I-95) & back.  Most just only walked part of the distance & turned back.

Something to think about/ponder in your meet planning.

Mattapan has definitely been cleaned up somewhat, and is fine as long as you go in the middle of the day and stay on the main roads (don't wander into any of the back alleyways along some of the historic rowhouses).
Back in a day, Blue Hill Ave. was such that if an out-of-towner ran a red light or committed another minor traffic violation; a Boston cop would not pull them over because doing such would be endanger that motorist's life... even in the daytime. 

I'm don't know about now; but back in the 70s & 80s, the MBTA would only run the older cars along the Ashmont-Mattapan branch of the Red Line.  The then-new, shiny silver ones would be used for the Quincy Center (later extended to Braintree) branch.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 09:25:03 PM by PHLBOS »
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2021, 01:37:28 PM »

If you haven't already checked it out (pardon any redundancy if you did); you may want to review this thread for meet-planning/hosting tips. 

Given that your planned meet is mostly car-free/transit-based & there's no known date yet; doing a few dry-runs on your own at the various sites may give you a better idea of how such will fit in the meet's timeline.  Most meets, including the initial lunch gathering, run between 5 to 7 hours.  Some past meets included an optional post-meet dinner gathering as well.  One meet in Brick, NJ several years ago wrapped up with attending a minor-league baseball game that evening.

Some things to ponder while planning.
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Re: Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2021, 09:21:30 PM »

If we meet up at North Station, we can ride one stop north on the Green Line to Science Park (assuming its open again), or, alternatively, if we meet at South Station, we can take the Red Line to Charles/MGH. If we meet at North Station and Science Park is still closed, you can also access the Esplanade from North Station, though there are a couple of difficult crossing-the-street movements.

Blue Hill Avenue is definitely an okay place now, as long as you are going in broad daylight and actually stay on Blue Hill Avenue (been down there twice). It can be tempting to explore behind some of the historic rowhouses that are along that stretch, but I'd advise against that. If you stay on the main road, you'll be fine. The Mattapan Branch is currently using the historic vintage PCC streetcars from the 1940s and 1950s for its fleet, thus requiring a transfer of vehicles at Ashmont. The transfer is free going outbound towards Mattapan; coming inbound it's free with a CharlieCard but a surcharge if using old fashioned tickets or cash since you do have to pass through fare control again. This being said, I don't plan on incorporating the Canton stubs into the itinerary at this point, since I would think that if anything in a historically so-so neighborhood is going to be sketchy, it would be an industrial plant that's closed on a weekend.

I've been trying to go into Boston at least once a week on the weekend, as unfortunately due to the pandemic there is absolutely nothing going on in terms of weekend activities on campus. As such, I've already done most (but admittedly not all) of the potential items that I've floated. I complied my list of possibilities partly from excursions that I had already undertaken successfully this past fall semester.

I'm open to suggestions about food. That's one thing that I haven't put a lot of thought into - usually just grabbing something affordable that was close by. I do know that South Station has several restaurants directly inside the concourse (or at least usually does - many of them have been closed due to the pandemic). Assuming they've reopened by the time this goes forward, that would be a possibility, though I don't know how expensive they are.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2021, 09:25:07 PM by BridgesToIdealism »
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Re: [Cancelled] Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2021, 01:23:28 PM »

Unfortunately I'm going to have to pull the plug on this idea. The reopening of Science Park and Lechmere stations has been pushed back to Winter 2021 (was originally set for Spring 2021), which hinders one of the main components of this event that I was planning (Esplanade). Additionally, there seem to be frequent weekend shutdowns/suspensions of various portions of the MBTA system, which have a much greater impact in Boston then they do say in New York City, where in most cases the MTA will simply reroute trains around a construction project but still run them. MBTA doesn't do that, so in most cases we'd be relying on unreliable shuttle buses that often get stuck in traffic and don't always stop exactly next to the train service they are replacing. The trains and buses also get really busy at certain times even on weekends, so there's no guarantee that we wouldn't get split up somewhere along the route. There are also several personal reasons involved in this decision, starting with the fact that there is uncertainty as to whether I will be remaining in the Metro Boston area long term.

If someone else wants to pick up this idea and run with it as their own, I have no issue with that, and in fact I'd probably be in attendance. But at least for the foreseeable future, I won't be able to host this as I had planned/hoped.
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Re: [Cancelled] Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2021, 02:42:32 PM »

Unfortunately I'm going to have to pull the plug on this idea. The reopening of Science Park and Lechmere stations has been pushed back to Winter 2021 (was originally set for Spring 2021), which hinders one of the main components of this event that I was planning (Esplanade). Additionally, there seem to be frequent weekend shutdowns/suspensions of various portions of the MBTA system, which have a much greater impact in Boston then they do say in New York City, where in most cases the MTA will simply reroute trains around a construction project but still run them. MBTA doesn't do that, so in most cases we'd be relying on unreliable shuttle buses that often get stuck in traffic and don't always stop exactly next to the train service they are replacing. The trains and buses also get really busy at certain times even on weekends, so there's no guarantee that we wouldn't get split up somewhere along the route. There are also several personal reasons involved in this decision, starting with the fact that there is uncertainty as to whether I will be remaining in the Metro Boston area long term.

If someone else wants to pick up this idea and run with it as their own, I have no issue with that, and in fact I'd probably be in attendance. But at least for the foreseeable future, I won't be able to host this as I had planned/hoped.

Man, I'm sorry it had to be like that, especially with the vaccines and the fact that it's 2021. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is probably going to be the last state in the US to reopen, as most mandates aren't letting down until August, and the governor has stated his reopening dates won't be influenced by those of other states.

Perhaps you could plan something in one of the neighboring states? :hmmm: It's New England we're talking about, and most of the states there are relatively minuscule in land area.
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Re: [Cancelled] Boston, Massachusetts "City Meet"/"Transit Meet"?
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2021, 02:44:35 PM »

Massachusetts is probably going to be the last state in the US to reopen, as most mandates aren't letting down until August, and the governor has stated his reopening dates won't be influenced by those of other states.

The northeast is also leading in vaccinations. Once there's no longer a need for the restrictions, they won't be there.
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