In 2009, MAGIC generated several transportation ideas from comments that were submitted at “MAGIC Mobility” meetings regarding suburban mobility services and constraints in each town. In 2010, MAGIC voted to spend special assessment funds on two studies: a suburban mobility study for the region’s towns and a feasibility study for a shared bicycle and bus rapid transit (BRT) path along the Mass Central Railroad right of way.
The Central Mass ROW Study
The Mass Central ROW, extends west from Waltham to I-495. MAPC examined the feasibility of the path for functioning as a shared transit corridor.
MAPC took a broad look at the corridor and devoted significant effort towards gathering data on the community level for support of proposed corridor.
A central component of the study is the engagement of communities along the path to determine their level of support for the proposed project, understand community concerns, and coordinate all stakeholders to develop recommendations for the future use of the corridor.
Coordination among the communities is an important factor in the outreach, as the issues facing the proposed path include trail bridge reconstruction and numerous right of way constraints that have emerged over the years.
Outreach components of the study include:
- Outreach (community meetings, online survey, website, outreach literature)
- Research and literature review, global examples
- Site examination (CTPS field work)
- Use and ridership
- Final recommendations
View community outreach materials:
- Community PowerPoint Presentation: Mass Central Connector
- Design Brief Recommendation: Stations & Connections
Maps and Data of the proposed project
Definition of Shared Transit/Intermodal Passenger Transportation
Shared transit, or intermodal passenger transportation, involves more than one mode of transport of passengers. Some modes of transportation have always been intermodal such as major airports with facilities for car parking and contain rail or bus connections to the cities nearby. Urban bus systems generally serve train and subway stations, and often extends to the local airport.
A major goal of modern intermodal passenger transport is to reduce dependence on the car as the major mode of ground transportation and increase use of public transport. To encourage this, Intermodal Journey planners are used to make users aware of possible services and to facilitate their use.
For example, a transit rider will walk up to a half-mile to transit stop, however a cyclist will bike upwards of 2 to 3 miles to reach a transit stop; increasing the ridership potential of that stop sixeteen fold. Connections amongst different modes of transportation whether bike, bus, or train greatly increases accessibility and destinations for all riders.
The shared trail/busway would serve as an alternative gateway for commuters to the economic hubs along Interstate 495, the Route 128 corridors and beyond. Current length between points is 28 miles.
- Increased growth and development is expected in both (95 & 128) areas in the region.
- Serve surrounding communities as a connection to transportation hubs.
- The corridor’s future use, however is contingent on community approval and inter-local coordination.
Definition of Bus Rapid Transit
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an integrated system of facilities, services, and amenities that collectively improves the speed and reliability of bus transit. It:
- combines many of the features people like about rail systems with the flexibility and cost savings of using overthe-road vehicles;
- uses high capacity buses or specialized vehicles on existing roadways or dedicated lanes to quickly and efficiently transport passengers to their destinations; and
- BRT systems can easily be customized to community needs and incorporate state-of-the-art, low-cost technologies that result in more passengers and less congestion.
The advantages of BRT include: lower capital investment than light rail, higher federal funding opportunity, flexibility & short time frames to implement.
Learn more about Bus Rapid Transit on the National BRT Institute website
- Central Mass ROW joint trail/busway report (April 2011)
- CTPS Report (April 1997)
Central Mass. Rail-Trail Feasibility Study
- CTPS Report (December 1996)
Central Mass. Commuter Rail Feasibility Study
- Federal Transit Administration
Advanced Network Planning for Bus Rapid Transit
- Bus-Rapid Transit vs. Light-Rail
- US Department of Transportation
Rails with Trails- Lessons Learned