2018 National Planning Conference

Light Rail Surface Station Design: Boston

Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 2:45 p.m. - 4 p.m. CDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC188268

Location: R01

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  • Surface light-rail station-design criteria related to accessibility, universal design, building and safety codes, and railway design standards
  • Context-sensitive design options that meet a complex set of design criteria
  • Conceptual planning process for upgrading a historic light-rail system


Boston's Green Line - with 66 stations, 22 track miles, 205 cars, and four branches carrying nearly 250,000 passengers each weekday - is the busiest and one of the oldest light-rail systems in the nation. Portions of the downtown tunnel network were opened in 1897, making it the oldest subway in this hemisphere. The Green Line can be proud of its long and distinguished history, but most of its surface stations reflect a bygone era and do not fully meet expectations for a modern transit service. In 2017, a study team set out to develop conceptual designs for 26 stations that had gone decades without upgrades or significant rehabilitation. The new stations would meet all modern codes related to accessibility, emergency egress, passenger comfort, and convenience, while minimizing the cost of required upgrades and impacts on adjacent transportation services that share right-of-way with the light-rail network. This presentation will report on challenges and solutions developed by the design team. Key considerations included: o comprehensive design criteria; o evaluation of existing conditions; o development of design options; and o station consolidations.

Session Speakers

David Nelson
Jacobs Engineering
Boston, MA

Thomas Nee
Boston, MA

Ana Julian
Institute for Human Centered Design
Boston, MA