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Two of the other lines operated by the MBTA in Boston, the Orange and Blue lines, have gone to single person train operation. Many have raised concerns, especially over the Orange Line going SPTO, with regard to budget priorities and the usual fear of increased criminal activity. The specific example of the Green Line is different from the heavy rail transit because 4 lines get condensed into two tracks that run through downtown. Higher load times due to high passenger volumes make it difficult to run the trains more frequently through downtown. Only the Southbound Park Street and both Kenmore platforms enable simultaneous loading of two trains on two separate tracks, but the bottleneck always ends up being the Northbound Park Street platform because of heavy foot traffic and since trains must load sequentially. The optimal solution would be for the MBTA to order longer, conventional light rail trains at the same length as 3 car trains being piloted on two of its lines (which has been discussed ad infinitum on the Railroad.net forums), but because of Boston's segregated residential and commercial zones due to the zoning laws created mid-20th century based on false perceptions of improved quality of life, ridership falls sharply outside of peak hours and the MBTA takes this as an opportunity to exercise the originally intended flexibility of this format of light rail vehicle (much to the chagrin of many Bostonians who find themselves on crowded poorly-timed off-peak single-car trains). Alas, the MBTA has many other budgetary concerns and improved throughput on the Green Line would be better found through improved infrastructure and rollingstock that is less likely to fail and cause delays. As Jarrett noted, these sorts of things are moreso restricted by staffing requirements than availability of equipment and that's the case we have here in Boston. Higher frequency at the same capacity would be ideal, but if you're looking for cost savings through lesser capacity but higher frequency, you'd still have to contend with higher load times as more people try to cram themselves into the train in front of them rather than wait for the train 'immediately behind'.
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2011 on that second on-board employee at Human Transit
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Feb 16, 2011