Definitions

Wonderland (MBTA)

Blue Line (MBTA)

The Blue Line is one of four subway lines of the MBTA. It runs from northeast to southwest, extending from Wonderland station in Revere, Massachusetts to Bowdoin station near Beacon Hill in Boston. It meets the Green Line at Government Center, connects with the Orange Line at State Street, and provides service to Airport station with a free shuttle connection to Logan International Airport.

History

The line is designated Blue because for much of its length it uses the old Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad right-of-way along the seacoast in Revere and East Boston, and the tunnel to East Boston runs under the Atlantic Ocean. Boston's Blue Line was the first subway in the world to run underneath a section of the ocean.

Blue Line cars are unique among rapid transit vehicles in Boston in that they use both third rail and overhead pantograph current pickup. The line switches between the two at the Airport station where it transitions between running in a tunnel and running above ground. The overhead pantograph was implemented to avoid the third rail icing that frequently occurs in winter.

The Blue Line cars are also shorter than otherwise similar ones running on the Orange Line, as the Blue Line (known as the East Boston Tunnel before the MBTA was formed) was initially designed to carry streetcars. The subway portion of the line was retrofitted with raised station platforms and rapid transit cars in the 1920s, with the surface portion between East Boston and Revere (known pre-MBTA as the Revere Extension) added in the 1950s.

The 1998 romantic comedy Next Stop Wonderland features scenes from the Blue Line.

Ongoing renovation

The Blue Line Modernization Project begun in the late 1990s includes renovating stations to increase the length of trains from four to six cars, make all stations wheelchair accessible, and improve appearance. Bowdoin Station is likely to be closed due to the difficulty of accommodating the longer 6-car trains around the loop which turns the trains around to head back to Wonderland. Platform lengthening of Bowdoin is unlikely to occur because of the station's layout. If platform length is increased to the west, expensive track re-organization must occur, and expanding to the east would make the station too close in proximity to Government Center Station. (Bowdoin is the western terminus, where inbound trains follow a tight loop to the outbound side.)

The first Blue Line six-car trains began service on September 15, 2008.

Extensions

There is a proposal to extend the Blue Line northward to Lynn, Massachusetts. The land to extend the line was purchased during initial construction, but due to budgetary constraints Wonderland station was designated the northern terminus. Two potential extension routes have been identified. One proposed path would run through marshland alongside the existing Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line, on rail lines formerly operated by the Boston and Maine Railroad. An alternative route would extend the line alongside Revere Beach Boulevard through Point of Pines and the Lynnway, along the remainder of the BRB&L right of way. Other alternatives include increased commuter rail or bus service, or connecting the Blue Line to a commuter rail stop near Wonderland via a short connector.

In 2005, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healy estimated construction would begin in 2017. Authorization to bond for planning money for the project was included in an April 2008 state bond bill, and $25 million in federal earmarks have been obtained. A 2004 state bond bill authorized $246.5 million on the condition of finding 50% non-state matching funds (which presumably would come from the federal government). The Draft Environmental Impact Report is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.

In addition, the MBTA has committed to designing an extension of the line's southern end west to Charles/MGH, where it would connect with the Red Line. This was one of the mitigation measures the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to as part of the Big Dig, originating from planning of the Boston Transportation Planning Review.

Finally, if the Blue Line is extended to the Charles/MGH station it will procede under Charles Street to Beacon Street. The line will run underneath Beacon Street to connect with Kenmore Station where it will terminate. A new station halfway between Charles/MGH and Kenmore will be built on the new Charles/Beacon Street extension of the MBTA Blue Line.

Station listing

Station Time to Government Center Opened Transfers and notes
Wonderland 21 minutes January 19, 1954 former Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad station
Revere Beach 19 minutes January 19, 1954 former Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad station
Beachmont 17 minutes January 19, 1954 former Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad station
Suffolk Downs 15 minutes April 21, 1952 former Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad station
Orient Heights 13 minutes January 5, 1952 former Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad station
Wood Island 11 minutes January 5, 1952 Formerly Day Square, renamed Wood Island Park October 21, 1954, renamed Wood Island 1967
Airport 9 minutes June 3, 2004 Old station opened January 5, 1952 and closed June 2, 2004
Maverick 7 minutes April 18, 1924 Streetcar portal opened December 30, 1904
Aquarium 4 minutes April 5, 1906 Formerly Atlantic, renamed February 13, 1967
Had a transfer to the Atlantic Avenue Elevated
State
(outbound platform only)
2 minutes December 30, 1904 Orange Line
Formerly Devonshire, renamed January 25, 1967
Government Center 0 minutes March 18, 1916 Green Line
Formerly Scollay Square Under, renamed October 28, 1963
Court Street opened December 30, 1904 and closed March 17, 1916
Bowdoin 2 minutes March 18, 1916 Closed evenings and weekends

Accessibility

The Blue Line is accessible except for the most important stations: those downtown. Currently, the outbound Blue Line platform at State Street is wheelchair accessible to the street. Inbound wheelchair users can take the Blue Line to Government Center and cross the platform there to an outbound Blue Line train and take it to the accessible State Street platform. The MBTA has plans to make the remaining Blue Line stations accessible as part of a larger effort to permit 6 car trains on the line. See MBTA accessibility.

Equipment

The Blue Line is standard gauge heavy rail. Unlike the rest of the MBTA rapid transit system, equipment have a projected lifespan of 24 years as opposed to 35 because the line runs very close to the ocean and runs next to a major airport, resulting in prolonged exposure to corrosive substances. Its current fleet is the 0600 series, built 1978-1980 by Hawker Siddeley Canada Car and Foundry (now Bombardier Transportation) of Fort William, Ontario, Canada. They are 48 feet 10 inches (14.884 m) long and 9 feet 3 inches (2.819 m) wide, with two pairs of doors on each side, and a design maximum speed of 65mph (105 km/h). They are based on the PA3 model used by PATH in New Jersey. There are 70 Hawker cars, numbered 0600-0669. Most cars are scheduled to be retired soon because of severe corrosion due to the nature of the line. However, 12 cars will be retained until 2012.

The MBTA has ordered 94 new cars (47 pairs) with stainless steel bodies from Siemens Transportation Systems with dimensions identical to cars of the current fleet. The cars will be numbered in the 700 series. The cars are of a similar design to those built for the Tren Urbano system in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also designed by Siemens. Originally scheduled to be delivered beginning in January, 2004, the development of the trains has been beset with problems. The contract price of the cars is $174 million, with a total cost to the MBTA (including engineering and other related services) of $200 million. New cars arrived for testing in August 2007 at the Orient Heights carhouse and an unused express track between Wellington and Sullivan on the Orange Line. Each car must be tested and run for at least 500 miles before it is allowed to be in service. The first of the new cars began service on Wednesday, February 20, 2008. Cars will be delivered at a rate of 4 per month until summer 2009, when all 94 cars should be in service.

References

External links

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