South Station is overflowing with commuters, and experts say it lacks sufficient space, seating and amenities to keep waiting riders comfortable. And with fewer tracks than it had when it opened in 1899, it can't meet demand for more rail service around the state and the Northeast corridor.
That is why transit officials are talking about expanding and enhancing the heart of the Hub's public transit system.
MassDOT recently announced there will be public meetings on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, so officials can hear riders' ideas on what they'd like to see happen with the project.
"We're looking to introduce people to the project and engage residents and businesses, and also the thousands of people who use the station," said Kate Fichter, South Station Expansion Project manager.
Over the next three years, MassDOT will develop a $43-million planning and design process that will include an analysis of rail operations and an environmental review, but construction wouldn't begin any time soon.
In fact, Fichter said there is no estimate on when construction will actually begin.
"We're just starting the planning... It's a lengthy project."
Ridership to soar
In June, The Urban Land Institute predicted that within a decade, the T may see between 100,000 and 367,000 more daily riders, putting pressure on the Red, Orange and Green lines as well as commuter rail lines dependent on South Station.
By the numbers
Though it is only an estimate, the project could add up to 7 new tracks
The $43-million study process is funded through a $32.5-million federal grant awarded for in 2010 and through a $10.5 million match from the state transportation department.
Today’s Northeast Corridor on-time performance is roughly 85 percent for Acela Express and 75 percent for Northeast Regional trains.
The 2030 target for on-time performance is 95 percent for Acela Express and 90 percent for Northeast Regional, but officials say that goal can’t be met without an expansion.