Boston (Piers Transitway Phase 2)

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South Boston Piers Transitway - Phase II

Boston, Massachusetts

(November 1996)


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is building Phase I of an underground Transitway connecting the MBTA's existing transit system with the South Boston Piers area, located adjacent to Boston's central business district. Electric powered trackless trolleys will operate in the Transitway tunnel and on limited surface routes in the eastern end of the Piers area. Phase I will connect South Station--which is the terminus of the MBTA's south side commuter rail operations, the terminus of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service, a major bus station, and a station on the MBTA's Red Line--to the World Trade Center in the Piers area (see separate profile).

Phase II, the subject of this profile, would extend the Transitway from South Station to Chinatown Station on the Orange Line and Boylston Station on the Green Line, a total distance of approximately one-half mile. Phase II is estimated to cost $258 million (1996 dollars). An escalated cost estimate will be prepared once a construction schedule is developed for Phase II.


Section 3035(j) of ISTEA directed FTA to enter into a multiyear grant agreement with the MBTA for $278 million to carry out construction of the Phase I segment from South Station to the World Trade Center.

In February 1993, the MBTA completed alternatives analysis and selected a 1.5-mile underground transit tunnel from Boylston Station to the World Trade Center combined with surface bus operations as the locally preferred alternative. This alternative is referred to as the Full Build Transitway, which was proposed to be constructed in two phases. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed in December 1993. A Record of Decision (ROD), signed by FTA in May 1994, applies to the Full Build Transitway.

In 1994, FTA signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for $330.73 million (includes a contingent commitment for $53 million) with the MBTA for Phase I. Congress has not authorized or appropriated funds for Phase II. It is not expected that the State would proceed with Phase II construction until at least the year 2000, when Phase I opens for service. Phase II is scheduled to open in 2008.


To address uncertainties regarding the timing and intensity of future development in the South Boston Piers area, the MBTA analyzed two growth scenarios. The high-growth scenario is based on development projections prepared for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project for the year 2010, while the lower-growth scenario assumes that development projected for the year 2000 will not occur until 2010. New Start justifications for Phases I and II have been prepared for both growth scenarios.

Mobility Improvements - Phase II extension of the Transitway to Boylston Station will provide direct connections to the MBTA's Orange and Green Lines, improving travel times and surface congestion. The Phase II extension involves the routing of additional bus services into the Transitway tunnel, which will replace the temporary surface shuttle bus connections operated as part of the Phase I system. Phase II is thus expected to save 1,700 hours of travel time per day in the lower growth scenario, and 2,200 hours per day in the high growth scenario, as compared to the Phase I segment.

Cost Effectiveness - The cost-effectiveness index for the Full Build alternative (Phases I and II combined) is $12 in the lower-growth scenario and $8 in the high-growth scenario (1996 dollars, 2010 ridership). In comparison to the Phase I segment of the Transitway, the Phase II segment has a cost-effectiveness index of $7 in the lower-growth scenario, and $6 in the high-growth scenario.

Environmental Benefits - Metropolitan Boston is a "moderate" nonattainment area for carbon monoxide and a "serious" nonattainment area for ozone. As compared to Phase I, Phase II is expected to reduce regional vehicle miles traveled by an additional 25,000 per day in the lower-growth scenario and 31,500 per day in the high-growth scenario. There may be a small but positive effect on carbon monoxide levels in the central business district.

Operating Efficiencies - The systemwide operating cost per revenue passenger for the Full Build Transitway is $2.38 in the lower-growth scenario and $2.16 in the high-growth scenario (1996 dollars, 2010 ridership). The Phase II extension represents an operating cost savings per passenger of $0.02 in both the lower and high-growth scenarios as compared to Phase I.


The MBTA is proposing a Section 5309 New Start funding share of 80 percent for Phase II, with the local share to come from State bonds. The capital financing plan is rated "medium." The bonding mechanism is in place and the 20 percent local share is relatively small compared with the available bonding capacity. The MBTA has obtained the State funding needed for Phase I and has assumed that the financing for Phase II will be forthcoming.

The stability and reliability of MBTA operating funds are also rated "medium." The State has strongly supported the operation and enhancement of the MBTA system. The MBTA system is being adequately maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment. In 1995, the average age of the MBTA's bus fleet was 11 years, substantially above the national average. The average age of the rail transit fleet was 14 years, and commuter rail equipment averaged 8.2 years of age.


Parking Policy - Boston has established a cap on the number of parking spaces to be provided in downtown and the South Boston Piers area to reduce air pollution. The cap will promote transit ridership through more effective pricing of parking in the metropolitan area.

Central Artery Mitigation - Phase I of the Transitway is being jointly constructed with portions of the Central Artery highway project. In addition, the Full Build Transitway will provide mitigation for this highway project.

Integration with Washington Street Replacement Transit Service - The MBTA continues to analyze alternatives for the replacement of transit service in the Washington Street corridor. The Phase II extension of the Transitway service could be integrated with future Washington Street service at Boylston Station.

Proposed Phase II Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $206.40 $0.00 million appropriated through FY 1997
State: $51.60 N/A
Total $258.00

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions.

South Boston Piers Phase 2 Map. The project would extend the underground Transitway from South Station to Chinatown Station on the Orange Line and Boylston Station on the Green Line, a total distance of approximately one-half mile.