Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sam's Operational Oculi: The MBTA's 10 garages

“Oculi” means “Eye” in Latin. Don’t worry, I had no idea what that meant either. You can thank Miles for the name.


I’m Sam Hegg, a lifelong supporter of public transportation. I’ve grown up in the Boston Area my whole life, and was exposed to the MBTA from a very young age. Over the years, I have learned a lot and gained a lot of connections at the T. Probably the thing that interests me most about the T is how it operates. Operations is a huge part of the T. For the intents of this series Operations will include everything from how your local bus line's schedule is made to whether your train will run express today. In essence, operations is all of the moving parts that allow the T to provide over 1.2 million passenger trips on it's fixed route services. There are plenty of things that I could talk about in this column, but I think the best place to start is the structure that allows this all to take place, which is the garages and carhouses that store the T’s vehicles.


The MBTA has 178 bus routes, three rapid transit lines, and one to two light rail lines (depending on if you count “the stepchild” of the MBTA, the Mattapan High Speed Line). Roughly 784 buses, 336 rapid transit cars, and 152 light rail vehicles are required to operate during the peak period. Like other agencies that run this many vehicles, the MBTA sorts it's operations into garages, which not only serve as actual garages and facilities for the vehicles, but a division of the major operation that takes place. Each garage has its’ own routes, buses, drivers, officials, and service area. So I figured to start out my series on operations at the T, it would make sense to make a sort of “profile” for all of them.


While the rapid transit and light rail line facilities are fairly straightforward, the buses can be much more complicated. Managing up to 40 routes out of one base presents plenty of challenges not seen when dealing with the Red, Green, Orange, and Blue Lines. Buses can shift between lines (or “interline”), and can drive out of service between the garage and a terminus of a route (pulling out or pulling back), or between two termini within the garage’s service limits. Some garages will “cover” for other garages, providing service to another garage’s routes during off peak hours. Many aspects of operations are unique to a particular garage, and each garage has a sort of personality. Below is a list of the garages and the routes and communities that they serve.


GarageCommunities ServedRoutes
Albany
Newton, Brighton, Waltham
04, 57, 59, 60, 65, 170, 193, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 553, 554, 556, 558, 701(CT1), 708(CT3), 747(CT2)
Arborway
Boston, Dedham, Norwood, Walpole
14, 21, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 34E, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 50, 51, 52, 195
Bennett (North Cambridge)
Cambridge, Watertown
71
Cabot
Boston
01, 05, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 43, 44, 45, 47, 55, 57, 59, 65, 66, 171, 193,, 504, 553, 9701, 9702, 9703
Charlestown
Charlestown, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Malden, Melrose, Somerville
89, 91, 92, 93, 101, 104, 106, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 325, 326, 352
Fellsway
Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Malden, Melrose, Reading, Wakefield, Woburn
94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 105, 108, 131, 132, 134, 136, 137, 354, 411, 430
Lynn
Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Danvers, Peabody
114, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 424, 426, 428, 429, 431, 434, 435, 436, 439, 441, 442, 448, 449, 450, 451, 455, 456, 459, 465
Quincy
Quincy, Milton, Weymouth, Hingham, Randolph, Braintree
201, 202, 210, 211, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 220, 221, 222, 225, 230, 236, 238, 240, 245
Somerville
Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, Burlington, Waltham, Lexington, Bedford
62, 64, 67, 68, 69, 70, 70A, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 350, 351
Southampton
Boston
Silver Line, 28, 39

A more comprehensive list of all of this can be found here: http://www.transithistory.org/roster/ (scroll down to buses)

I plan on writing about each garage in it’s own post later down the road. In particular, I hope to have Quincy Garage’s post up by tomorrow, so please stay tuned for that. Finally, If you have any topics that you want me to try and touch on, please let Miles and I know by using the “ask me anything” feature!

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