Established in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The Greater Boston area’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, known locally as “the T”) has much to offer the discerning rail and electric traction fan — 13 commuter rail routes, three heavy rail rapid transit lines, four trackless trolley routes, five light rail lines and the unique Silver Line dual-mode bus rapid transit subway-surface network. The five light rail lines, or the Green Line, includes America’s first subway, the Tremont Street Subway, opened in 1897, and is the second highest ridership light rail network north of the Rio Grande, carrying 232,000 passengers each weekday on its 23-mile network. For those traveling with non-traction fan family members, Boston offers spectacular sightseeing, dining and shopping, whether it’s the historic Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, or Charlestown historic districts adjoining the U.S.S. Constitution, the Boston Common and Public Garden, the Downtown Crossing district, Back Bay, Harvard Square or dining in the Italian North End or the Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Join your friends in Boston, August 30 through September 4, and experience these highlights with us!
The Omni Parker House Hotel is America’s longest continuously operating luxury hotel and will serve as our convention headquarters. Located on the Freedom Trail at 60 School Street in downtown Boston, the venerable Omni Parker House Hotel opened its doors in 1855. Grand views of historic downtown are just outside, while inside, distinguished décor and thoughtful amenities are evident in every striking detail in each of its 551 luxurious accommodations. The award-winning Parker’s Restaurant is the birthplace of the famous Boston Cream Pie and Parker House rolls and offers guests a superb culinary experience and exceptional personal service. Walk to Beacon Hill, Quincy Marketplace, Faneuil Hall, the Financial District, the Theater district, Back Bay, Boston Common and much more. Each of the T’s three subway lines and Green Line light rail stations are no more than a four-minute walk from our hotel, enabling our convention guests to quickly travel anywhere in Greater Boston. The “T” rapid transit system provides easy access to South Station (½-mile, Amtrak, intercity buses), North Station (½-mile, Amtrak to Maine) and Logan International Airport (2 miles).
The ERA has secured special rates in one of the nation’s most expensive cities for a block of rooms — $99 per night for one person per room, $109 per night for two persons per room for check-in on August 30, check-out on September 4 (plus two days prior and post these dates, depending on availability). Given our experience with past conventions, these rooms will be booked quickly and to capacity once the convention flyer (download PDF below) reaches our membership. The cut-off date for reservations is August 10, 2012 OR when our room block has been fully booked, whichever occurs earlier.
Due to final scheduling issues, the slate of speakers for both the August 30th Annual Slideshow and the September 1st Banquet have been changed as described below.
We will kick off the convention with our Annual Slideshow at the Omni Parker House Hotel. Doors open at 7:30 PM and the slideshow begins at 8:00 PM. Our speaker will be David Barker, manager of operations technology for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) instead of Bradley Clarke, president of the BSRA, as originally scheduled. The MBTA operates one of the nation’s most comprehensive mix of transit services: commuter rail and heavy rail, light rail trolleys and electric trolley-buses, local bus and bus rapid transit, ferry service and paratransit. The MBTA runs America’s oldest subway and is also on the cutting edge of transit technology. In his presentation Dave will talk about the Agency’s history, service, infrastructure, initiatives, challenges, and future.
We will leave our hotel at 8:00 am and enjoy an escorted tour of the Green Line and Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed Line trolleys. At this flyer’s press time, we have requested a chartered Green Line train. We will leave from Government Center Station on a two-car train and start with the Green Line’s scenic Beacon Street line (line “C”) and travel the length of the line past Brookline’s Town Center to the Cleveland Circle terminus. Beacon Street was the first electric trolley line in Boston, started by Henry M. Whitney of the West End Street Railway in 1889, and was the pilot operation for the first large scale conversion to trolley cars in the U.S. Participants will have an opportunity to photograph equipment in the adjacent Reservoir Yard before boarding outbound Riverside Line (“D”) cars to the end of the line at Riverside. After a brief stop at the Riverside terminal, we will return inbound to Reservoir Yard, and head up Chestnut Hill Avenue, west to the Boston College terminal of the “B” Boston College line. We will then head inbound to Park Street on the “B” line for our lunch stop.
After lunch, we will travel roundtrip on the Heath Street “E” line. We will transfer to the Red Line subway traveling to Ashmont. Here we will ride the Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed line, one of the nation’s two remaining trolley lines operating with iconic PCC cars in regular service. These cars are the last air brake PCCs in revenue operation in North America. Participants will be able to photograph equipment at Mattapan Yard before traveling back to Ashmont and then Park Street ending this all-day trip at around 6:00 PM.
Evening activities are on your own. Outstanding dining opportunities abound in nearby Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the Italian North End districts, all within several blocks walk of the Omni Parker House. For really classic New England cooking, try Durgin Park at Faneuil Hall. Food is served family style, and special tickets get you past the long waiting lines if you first have a drink at the downstairs bar.
We will leave the Omni Parker House at 8:00 am and travel by chartered coach to two museums, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum and the Lowell National Historical Park. The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum preserves and operates Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway trolley car No. 10, built by Wason Manufacturing Co. in Springfield, Mass. in 1896. It was delivered new to Shelburne Falls and has never left the valley. For 30 years it served its namesake towns, ending up as a storage shed before finally being brought back to life by the museum. Participants will be able to ride and photograph the operating line and enjoy the visitors’ center with historic photographs of the valley and gift shop.
We will have a lunch stop enroute to Lowell. In the afternoon, we will visit the Lowell National Historical Park, an immaculately restored collection of mill buildings from the mid-19th Century, Lowell’s contribution to America’s Industrial Revolution. We will ride Lowell’s collection of trolley cars, which transport visitors on the nearly two miles of track operated by the National Park Service. The cars in the National Streetcar Museum roster include New Orleans Public Service Perley Thomas No. 966 as well as one closed and two open replicas of J.G. Brill trolleys operated by the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company. Also included is a satellite exhibit from the Seashore Trolley Museum exploring the history of urban rail transportation in Lowell within the broader context of American transit history and how the rebirth of the streetcar is helping to revitalize U.S. cities. Our coach will return to the Omni Parker House at approximately 6 PM. Those who are interested can return to the Omni Parker House on their own using the “T”’s Lowell-North Station commuter rail line and then travel two stops on the Green Line to Government Center Station.
ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held in a private room at the Omni Parker House Hotel. An hour-long informal reception and cash bar will begin at 7:00 PM, and dinner will follow promptly at 8:00 PM. James Schantz, chairman of the Seashore Trolley Museum, will present the past, current and future directions of one of the world’s museums dealing with historic electric transit operations instead of the MBTA representative as originally scheduled. In addition to its longtime Kennebunkport, Maine operation, STM also operates the National Streetcar Museum in Lowell, Mass., co-located with the Lowell National Historic Park and its heritage trolley operation. This satellite museum’s exhibits trace the history of urban rail transportation and its current role in the rebirth of American cities.
We will leave the Omni Parker House at 9 am for a single destination, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. This museum, founded in 1939, houses a collection of more than 250 historic transit vehicles from all over the U.S., Canada and many other countries around the world on its 330-acre campus. The Seashore collection is the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. Its national collection of streetcars captures a vehicle from almost every major U.S. city that operated streetcar service, from the northern woods of Maine to the pristine coast of California, from the city streets of Detroit to Dallas, and focusing on Boston. Streetcars from every corner of the globe are also exhibited as well as a growing collection of buses and trackless trolleys.
Sufficient time will be allowed for participants to experience all aspects of Seashore, including the permanent exhibit History in Motion: Public Transportation Connecting Maine Communities, exploring the 330-acre museum grounds, seeing the bus and trolley collection, shopping at the world-class gift shop, observing work being performed at the Town House Restoration Shop, touring the three exhibit car barns containing a sample of Seashore’s worldwide streetcar collection, and taking unlimited rides on authentically restored streetcars. Seashore has always gone all out to bring out extra equipment for railfan enthusiast groups such as the ERA. Limited lunch and snack facilities are available on-site. A dinner stop at the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant in Kittery, Maine will be made on the return to Boston. We anticipate a late return for this trip (9 PM to 10 PM).
We will leave the Omni Parker House at 8:30 am to visit one of New England’s other pre-eminent trolley museums, the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point. The Connecticut Trolley Museum features over 70 pieces of rail equipment dating back to 1869. During your visit, you can view and photograph historic passenger and freight street “trolley” cars, interurban cars, elevated railway cars, passenger and freight railroad cars, service cars, locomotives, and a variety of other equipment from railways around Connecticut. You will also find examples from Brooklyn, Boston, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Springfield, Lynchburg, Montreal, and even Rio de Janeiro. While smaller in scope than Seashore, the operating right-of-way is one of the most impressive and bucolic of all North American trolley museums.
Limited lunch facilities are available on-site. Sufficient time will be allowed for participants to visit car barns, ride cars and make purchases at the gift shop or eat lunch. We will depart the museum around 3:30 PM. Those wishing to make an immediate return trip to New York can request drop-off at the nearby Windsor Locks Station, three miles away, for the 4:23 PM Amtrak departure for New York’s Penn Station.
Our last day features a wide variety of visits and inspection trips. We will leave the Omni Parker House at 8 am, with your T pass (mailed to you when you register for tickets), and travel on the Blue Line to the Orient Heights Blue Line shop. At Orient Heights we will be given a tour by MBTA maintenance personnel and permitted to photograph both the current new equipment and recently retired equipment in publicly accessible areas. We will then return by Blue Line train to the Airport Station and transfer to Massport Shuttle buses to Logan Airport. At Logan Airport we will take the unique Silver Line dual-mode articulated coaches to South Station for our lunch stop. After lunch, we’ll board the Red Line and travel to Harvard Square. At Harvard Square we will tour at least two of the MBTA’s trackless trolley lines. Photo stops will be made throughout the day. Our last tour of this convention is expected to end by 4:00 PM.
The Omni Parker House Hotel is located in downtown Boston. Those traveling by Amtrak and intercity bus will arrive at South Station. From South Station, take the T Red Line subway from South Station two stops to Park Street and walk north on Tremont Street approximately three blocks (four minutes) to the Omni Parker House. Those with luggage may wish to travel one stop north on the Green Line, from Park Street to Government Center and walk 2-3 minutes to the hotel.
Those flying to Boston will arrive at Logan International Airport. While taxi service is available for approximately $20 each way, free Massport shuttle buses connect all airport terminals with the T Blue Line subway. Take the Blue line toward Downtown Boston, traveling four stops to Government Center station. From Government Center station, walk one long block south (2-3 minutes) to the Omni Parker House.
Schedule times given in this flyer are subject to change. Individual daily trip itineraries may be changed without prior notice to ensure on-time return at the end of each day. Announcements will be made to update guests on essential information during ERA events.
Note that chartered buses will not be used on Tuesday September 4. This trip will utilize regular MBTA service and involve climbing stairs at some stations and a ½-mile walk between Orient Heights Blue Line station and the subway shops and then back. Each participant who registers for this day will be provided with a seven-day pass for subway-light rail travel that will be mailed with your ticket order.
If you have questions regarding the itinerary or accommodations for this convention, please contact Bob Newhouser, ERA president and convention chairman, by e-mail at [email protected] or call him at 917-482-4235.
Our holiday weekend visit to Boston and New England offers a comprehensive view of commuter rail, heavy rail, trackless trolley and light rail network and the other major U.S. collection of first class trolley museums!