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Air Boston

  • We believe Boston’s current transportation system is noisy, slow, unreliable, and most importantly inefficient.  Our purpose in making “Fly Boston” was to create a solution to the incompetent source of travelling, using cable cars.  We redesigned the Green line, as well as added to it.  What our system ensures, is a fast and smooth ride, that will take you to where you want to go, without making a substantial amount of noise, and causing traffic along the way.  Our cable car system will replace the B C and part of the D line.  It will additionally add a line from Kenmore Station to Central Station on the red line, and a line from Kenmore to the Museum of Fine Arts on the E line (we call those two lines “Kenmore Express”.  The third part of our proposed cable car system is the tourist line.  That connects all of the top tourist attractions.  It starts at Kenmore then, goes to the Boston Common, then the Children’s museum, then the Aquarium, and finally the Science Museum.  

        Each of these lines travel at 17mph.  The B, C and D line, as well as Kenmore express can hold 60 people.  The tourist cable car can hold a maximum of 15 people.  These lines in total can transport up to 100,000 people per day, with 62 stops along the route.  Each line offers the option of round trip, so for each cable, the cars are going back and forth.  There is at least one tower between stations, in most cases two, that propels the cable. When in a station, the car will detach from the cable and wait 2 minutes for people to load and unload.  It then reattaches and matches the line speed.  A car is scheduled to come every 1.5 minutes, to fit everyone’s flexible schedule.  The retro futuristic stations have an elevator up to the top level which is where the cable car comes and leaves from.

        Kenmore station is the hub of the entire system.  Six cable lines are attached, where cars are both going in and coming out.  A huge part of the Kenmore station though is the system that transitions the train into a cable car. With this proposed system, we would be redesigning the train, so it could have the ability to turn into a cable car. This transition takes 5 minutes total, both when a train turns into a cable and when the cable car turns back into the train.  This process is only used for B, C, and D line, because the other three lines did not exist with the Green line in place, therefore there are no trains that would be used for those routes.  

        We designed this cable car system to have the capability to be put in place in boston.  Throughout all of the work we did, we made sure what we were doing, was realistic, and could suffice in the city of Boston.  Designing this sytem would cost 1.2 billion in total.  Fly Boston has the potential to work as the city's primary source of transportation because of it's reliability, efficiency, and flexibility.  



    Max took on the challenge of designing and 3-D modeling the stations and support towers. He thought of many concepts for the stations and ended up deciding on an hourglass shape for the station design. First he sketched out and created a concept floor plan for the stations using Rhinoceros (“Rhino” is a 3-D modelling software). His next step was to take that floor plan give it realistic dimensions. He carefully thought out how large each aspect of the floor plan should be. Max’s next step was to 3-D model the station, he did this in mainly three steps: 1) He laid the plan for the second floor the right distance over the first floor. 2) He then proceeded to loft the two floors together and finished the shape of the building. 3) Lastly he extruded the individual parts of his plan.


    His next task was to design the support towers for the cable car. Max was inspired by the design of the support towers for the Emirates Airline (also known as the Thames Cable Car) in London. In this design the support towers are an elegantly twisted combining trusses and curved surfaces that are both light and strong. Max sketched out ideas for the support towers and decided on an idea which looks slightly like a T in order to match the projects name. Max then 3-D modeled the tower.

    Max’s final task was to render the station and towers and place them into an image of where they would go if built. He rendered them with Toucan, the built in rendering system for Rhino. Next he found a picture of the Waterfront in Boston which he photoshopped the rendering of the station over.

  • MAPS: Kathryn

    There were three big pieces of our project, the maps, the design of the system and the important questions and answers. In terms of the maps we had a couple of challenges. In addition to replacing part of the green line we decided that we wanted to connect some of the t stops on other lines, so our first problem was deciding what stops needed connecting and how to properly connect them. We decided on several stops as Boston’s “Greatest Hits” which evolved into the “Tourist Line”, a way to connect some of the most popular spots in Boston. We also created the express line, hoping to shorten some people’s commutes by a lot. The next issue was the maps themselves. We were replacing many of the stops on the green line extension and we needed a way to show that they weren’t T stops but they were still on the green line. We decided that the best way to show this was by making the stops on the line black instead of the usual white. We made different maps so it was easy to see from many directions.


    DESIGN:  Dan

    In terms of design of the system itself we wanted to do multiple car types. We wanted the normal car (from Kenmore to all the extensions) to be transformer cars, that go from cable cars to trains and back again. We hoped that this would eliminate the need to change trains if you were riding the green line elsewhere. These cars would carry about 60 people. The Express car (from Central to Kenmore and then to MFA) is identical to the commuter car, except that it is not a transformer. The tourist car is much smaller and only holds around 15 people. It has many windows so Boston can always be seen. Kenmore station is the cable car hub and the largest station in our system.There are three different stories in the top of the station one for each of the lines. These are different from the Kenmore stop because they only have one line going into and out of them


    PR DATA:  Lizzie


        Lizzie worked on the PR data.  She did all the calculations and figured out how the cable car would run.  She started this process by researching previous cable cars, and gathering information about successful transportation systems.  She also used the MBTA website as a huge resource of information about the Green Line.  Lizzie used this data to compare it to the cable car system.  This helped her improve the system as much as possible.  However, the specific data we needed in order to make the cable car system be more realistic, was sometimes not found anywhere.  During Lizzie's research, she went on the MBTA website to copy down all of the T stops.  With those, she found out the distances between each one, by using the "train" tool on Google Maps.  After this step, she had the majority of the information needed to start calculating the data.  However, she referenced back to some of the sites she used for some more information throughout the project when she needed to.  


        After collecting all the information she could find, she created a spreadsheet to organize all the data.  This then helped her see what was missing and needed to be calculated.  When Lizzie was researching, she found out the speed the cable car realistically could travel at, to ensure a safe ride, yet still beat the Green Line.  The speed is 17mph.  With that statistic, and the distance, she was able to find out how much time it would take to get from stop to stop.  In Lizzie's research, she came up with the time each car would be in the station for (how long people would have for loading and unloading).  Using her research of other cable cars, she came up with a practical solution, which was 2 minutes.  Adding the time between stops with the loading time, she got the time 1 ride 1 way would take.  However this cable car system offers round trip, so Lizzie multiplied that number by two and discovered the time for the whole trip.  The cable car can hold 60 people, given the sturdiness of the design, and the speed of the car.  The cars are also running for 20 hours a day (the same as the green line).  Using both of these pieces of information, she was able to find out how many people were on the cars at one time, how many rides people would take per day, and how many total people could ride on that specific line.  She went through this process for the B line, then the C line, then the D line.  Those were the only lines we replaced of the green line.  An additional part of the spreadsheet she created which was extremely valuable in her work, was discovering the time between each stop that the train would take.  This gave us a better picture of the functionality and efficiency of the Cable Car system.

        In our project, there is also a tourist line that is for exploring Boston.  It takes you to all the local attractions that make the city special.  This line travels the same speed (17 mph) however can only hold 15 people.  The rest of the information for the tourist line is the same as the B, D and C line (like loading time, hours of service etc.) so Lizzie went through the same process of calculations and discovered times between stops, round trip time, total cars, people at one time, rides per day and total people using this line per day.  There are two extensions of the tourist line so she split this information in to two different parts.

    (Visualizing the information)-

        Lizzie gathered loads of information, both that she researched and that she calculated, so she thought of ways of conveying the data, in an interesting way.  This lead her to working with Illustrator and Photoshop.  Lizzie created multiple diagrams and graphs showing what she found out.  She made a graph comparing the time on the green line and the time on the cable car.  She made a map of the routes the cable car takes you, and the times between the stops.  She also did some of the rendering and photoshopped our Logo and cable cars into some pictures of boston.  After this phase of visualizing the information, she decided she wanted make it as realistic as possible, so she created a brochure.  This brochure included many of the maps and images of the cable car.  It also included a description of each line and what this new source of transportation was potentially going to offer the people of Boston.  This brochure was extremely helpful in the final presentation because the audience was more interested and had a better picture of this cable car system being put into place.  Overall, Lizzie's process included research and gathering background information, doing many calculations to ultimately make this cable car be able to replace part of the green line, as well as add to it, and finally visualizing it which meant making maps, graphs and diagrams, as well as a brochure.  



    Isabella took on the challenge of finding all the essential information for AIR T. Isabella started by looking at past cable car projects as important case studies in order for her to assemble the information for AIR T. Her next step was to create a spreadsheet for AIR T that would contain all of the relevant information such as cost, number of cars in the system, speed of the cars, capacity, and frequency of cars at the stations. Isabella estimated the numbers by taking the information she had found in her research on existing cable car systems, and then plugging the numbers into equations that one of her coaches helped her create. Using this information, a graph was created that placed the timing of the AIR T cable car in comparison to the rush hour timings on a Tuesday and Saturday.


    Isabella created many prototypes of the logo on Illustrator and conducted a survey to determine the best logo. This resulted in the name “AIR T” with colors of the boston strong theme.


    After Isabella did this she started to assemble all the information from our group and created a board with all the essential information. When planning the board Isabella had to take into account that she needed to have the maps, three renders of the stations, towers, cable cars, the description of the project, and a graph with the time comparison data and the logo.

  • One of the first things that we decided to do was to pick the stops that we were going to connect. We wanted to eliminate the length of time it took for someone on the  red line to connect to the green line so we added the express line that connects the red line to the green line. We also wanted some of the most popular spots in Boston to be connected via cable car. We hoped that this would alleviate some of the pressure on the T after Red Sox games or other such events. We also hoped to eliminate some  of the confusion that tourists may experience in the T. We chose to include Kenmore, the Boston Common, the Childrens Museum, the Aquarium, and the Museum of Science. These were the most visited places in Boston so we decided to connect  them.

    In terms of Map design itself we wanted to make sure that the lines stood out against the already bright colors of the map. We wanted to make sure that the colors stood out against the map, but also made it clear that it was a cable car not a train. We decided to use pink and purple because they were the only colors that weren’t already represented on the T map. The stops themselves we made black because they very clearly show that it is not trains. We wanted to make it clear but also have it fit in with the overall look and theme of the already existing maps.

  • I volunteered to be the head designer of the maps we would propose for our cable system. Printing maps were my main priority at the beginning of the studio. The maps were then printed and sketches were then drawn onto the maps to potentially be the AirT maps in the future. I kept designing and prototyping and came to a conclusion on a very average and basic map. I soon realized that the maps would not work it would need to be changed. The map that I had in my head was very detailed geographical map of the T lines. Rowan helped me out then printed out one of these maps. On the map I marked out the rough sketch of what stops we would use and the paths they would take, which on the map is marked in orange.

    We were then asked to come up with an idea of replacing the green line completely which was tough. Figuring out which stops should be kept in and out were an issue but the path was drawn out in green. Then in blue sharpie, I marked down the almost final draft of the map. An issue came up when this happened. A mile of cabling and machinery would cost several million dollars so the map had to be revised. It was challenging trying to determine exactly where it should go. Should it be a closed loop connecting all of the lines? Would it be better only if it connected the green line together? I then thought about it a little and consulted with my group and we came up with the joint idea of having a loop connect all of the lines together with small segments outside of the main city.

    Once the design was chosen, the bare geographical map was loaded into Adobe Illustrator. The group kept consulting on different designs and colors for the map and decided that the final map would have eight stops connecting the green line to the red line and even the blue line. Furthermore, two more maps were thrown through this process. One of the maps was a up close and personal view of the streets of boston and the specific streets and areas the stations for the cable carts would go. The last map that was created showed a rough estimate of where the cable cart towers would go along these routes. Trying to get more into detail, a zoomed in view of where the stations would go was then made. This was done by finding the original T stops in boston using google maps, then finding areas with large enough space to hold one of the stations. Even on top of that, the stations had to be within walking distance of the original T stations so that transferring would not be an issue. Moving onto helping out the PR group, they needed some images of these cable cars in boston. This posed an issue due to the fact that we needed pictures around where the stations would go and needed these to be the same quality as other pictures going to be photoshopped together. After a bit of searching, two photos were found that could be morphed together. This picture involved having cable cars flying overhead of Boston. The process to making this picture began with the first picture being the background and cutting out everything that would be conflicting with the other picture. Once this was done, the other picture was simply added behind this picture making the effect that Boston actually had a cable car system!

    The second picture easily took the victory of being the most challenging. This picture was an inside view of a cable car looking out into Boston. It was made similarly to the first picture but needed more precise editing due to it having people on the inside of it. When it was finished being edited, it came out personally as the best picture that was made. By the end of all these being formed it was end of the two week studio.

  • Calculations: Time between stations, time around, operation hours, people per car, trips per car per day,people per car per day, number of cars, people per day, rush hour on the (T) at eight am on tuesday and saturday tweleve pm. 

    Time between stations: Our first step was to convert eighteen mph to 18 mpm. We did this by putting 18 miles over 60 minutes, then taking one of each of the distances over 18miles and 60 minutes, then timing the distance and the 18 miles by 60.Leavining us to divide the distance divided by 18. We did this for each distance to find the time between each station. 

    Time around: The time around all the stations we found out to be 1 hour. We found this by first adding all the times between the stations, then we encounted for 3 minutes for people to get on plus having eight stations. So therefore we times 8 by 3 and then added that to the total minutes between each. And we got 51 minutes. We say an hour to encount for transfering and other problems. 

    Operation Hours:  I looked at the timing of the t station and I also looked at the NYC capable car and saw what there operation hours were and made times based off of theres. Which ended up being sun-thurs (6am-3am) and friday- saturday (6am- 3:45am).

    People per car: We have not finalized this number but we came up with the number 50 people. We made this educated decesion by looking at past gondolas. However we are still doing research. 

    Trips per car per day: We took the hours of operations which was 21 all together then times it by 1.So the trips per car per day would be 21.

    People per car per day: We took the people per car (x) the trip per car per day and got the result of 1050.Which means that 1,050 people are on the capable car per day.

    Number of cars: Since we want the cars to come continuously we thought 34 cars would be enough. However this number is not finallized either, because it might be a possibility that we could have more. 

    People per day: To find how many people would or could ride the car a day we took the people per car per day (x) number of cars. Which gave the result of 35700 people per day. 

    Rush hour 12pm: To find the amount of time it takes during rush hour on a saturday at 12 in the afternnoon. I did this by going to the MBTA website and typed in each station to find how many minutes it takes to get from each. 

    Rush hour 8am tuesday: I did the same process for the other mbta time. 

    --This showed the difference of the length of time on a capable car vs the T rail. 

  • Daniel took over the designing part of the project. We all wanted the design to be retro-futuristic, sort-of like the 1960’s show “the Jetsons”. We chose to make everything green to clearly show the new green line. Since we made the lines we did, we had to make a Tourist Cable car, a Commuter, and a Connection car. We built two different towers, a large kenmore tower and a tower for the rest of stops.


    The Cars were actually much different from eachother. The two busiest lines will use the commuter and connection car, while the Tourist car has much less expected users.They will have to be big, fast, and frequent enough to deal with the large amounts of people. The tourist car will be used mostly for tourists and pleasure, so it will not have to be as large. The Commuter Car is the largest size we designed. It is 30 feet long, and 10 feet wide. The Car has a capacity of 60-70 people(originally we said it could hold 100 people, but there was no way the car could hold that weight). We added a double cable to help support the heavy weight. There are two cable connectors, and one retracting power supply for when on tracks. This power supply goes up and down when told to. The car is able to lower from in the air to the pre-existent tracks. The car has  6 train wheels on each side, that will be used when on tracks. This car also has a bike rack to hold 3 bikes on the back. It folds up and locks bikes secure. The connection car has the same body as the Commuter, but does not have the wheels, train power connection piece, and obviously the wheels were removed. The Tourist car was much different from these commuting cars. It is the smallest cable car,  being 15 feet long, and 10 feet wide. It can hold about 10-15 people at a time. We put windows all around, so the people can see the city below. There are 2 cable supports on the roof, and hold onto one cable.


    The Kenmore tower is much larger than the typical tower. The Kenmore tower is almost 160 feet tall and 100 feet wide at the widest point. There are three main floors: a bottom/underground floor, the second floor, and the top floor. The bottom is where the commuter line transforms from cable to tracks. This floor is also where people will get on the elevator to other floors. People get underground by the exterior winding staircase. The second floor is where the purple line comes in, going both north and south. The third floor is for boarding the tourist line. This tower will be placed in the park across from the existing stop. This tower is the main reference point, and is where all lines connect in one tower. The normal cable car stations will be placed at every stop except Kenmore. It is about 100 feet tall, with a large oval shaped top that is 80 feet long. It has two elevators on each side, with a glass protected boarding area on top.

  • “Air Boston” was an urban design studio with the challenge of improving Boston’s Rapid Transit (MBTA) Green Line by augmenting it with a cable car system. Isabella, Matt, and Max worked as a team and began by assessing the key problems with the Green Line, which runs above ground for a significant portion of its four routes. A key cause of its congestion and inefficiency is because the MBTA (“T”) system, and in particular the Green Line,  requires it's passengers to go all the way inbound to the center of Boston in order to transfer to other lines. Furthermore, the Green Line is often slow and unreliable because of above-ground traffic and frequent break-downs due to weather conditions and the aging rolling stock.

    Our approach to this challenge is creating a cable car network that connects all the current lines in a ring formation, making it possible to transfer among the different lines outside of the center. This way it is significantly less expensive than replacing the entire Green Line. For the next several days, the team researched existing cable car systems. From their research, the team decided to use a gondola system rather than a tricable or reversible system, because gondolas are generally smaller, cheaper, and detachable, which would allow for more cars running at greater frequency, to keep a constant flow and alleviate congestion.

    Once they had planned the general configuration of their new “Air T” system, each team member took on a specific job. Isabella took on logistics— how many cars, how many people per car, and costing. She gathered and organized data on capacity, costs and time savings, prototyped a logo design, and laid out an informational poster.

    Matt was in charge of maps—where the stations would be located and the design of the final T map. Matt figured out which current T stops on each line would be most appropriate to locate the new Air T stops. He created a map using Illustrator, overlaying the new Air T ring onto the existing T map.

    Max took on the design and 3-D modelling of the stations and support towers. He chose an hourglass shape for the station design and created a floor plan and 3-D model using Rhinoceros (“Rhino” is a 3-D modelling software). His inspiration for the towers was the Emirates Air Line (also known as the Thames Cable Car) in London, in which the support towers are an elegant twisted design combining trusses and curvilinear surfaces that are both light and strong. Max rendered the station and tower design in V-Ray (a rendering software) but encountered some problems which made the renders low quality.

  • Today, I worked all day on the tower design. I built the floor plans on rhino, and began building the 3D model. The floor plans really helped me set up the 3D design. Some changes today, were the spiral staircase around the middle, the new oval shaped elevator, and the plan of making the structure thinner closer to the top(then larger for the top two floors). Tommarow I will hopefully finish the towers design.

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  • The green line is the oldest subway line in the United States. There has been a plan to expand it further into new neighborhoods but budget constraints are complicating the process. How would you feel about replacing the green line with cable cars? Where would you place the stations? How would the whole system cost? 

    At the end of the studio, students will present a comprehensive proposal that outlines the location of stations, a design of a station, and a business plan.