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Station articles[edit]

It wouldn't be such a bad idea to merge all of the red line station articles into this article. I doubt that any of them will grow beyond a few paragraphs or so. jdb 08:18, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The usual Wiki alternative is to create an article such as "Red Line blah-blah-blah Stations" and put all the station info into that. But I certainly agree with your point. Atlant 23:11, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Some of the station articles may eventually be quite significant, but the the real problem with merging them into an article on Red Line Stations is that many of these facilities serve transit other than the Red Line. South Station, Porter Sq., JFK UMass, and Braintree, also are commuter rail stations. Park St., Downtown Crossing and South Station also are used by other underground mass transit. Harvard is a major bus station, etc. Putative consolidation in the manner suggested would result in multiple entries for many articles on the various routes they serve. I think separate station articles is preferable. --DRTïllberġTalk 16:40, 1 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Zoetrope Ads[edit]

Currently, the article mentions that a zeotrope like system is used for the in tunnel ads between South Station and Broadway. One day, I was riding in the last car of a train and took an opportunity to scope out the ads as the train was pulling away--so I could see if they were posters or whatever. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I saw a long line of flatscreen monitors! There were definately no strobe lights--the monitors appeared to be backlit, and switched off a few seconds after we passed them. It seemed like the monitors were all just playing a video clip, and every monitor was displaying the same thing at any given time. Can someone else verify this, and either make the edit or respond here? Thanks. Michaelwsherman 20:34, 2 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The ads are actually a long stripe of static images, much like a filmstrip. Strobe lights are most certainly used, as can be seen clearly when riding from the front of a Bombardier and viewing through the front windshield (older trains are constructed differently making viewing difficult at best). The strobing effect appears to be created by white LED lights instead of incandescent flash bulbs.
Also, the article's reference to the zoetrope is incorrect, as there is no masking system to cause the zoetrope effect - the riders are moving at the same speed as the train.
The appearance of the posters being continuously animated as if they where flatscreen monitors is a side effect of the strobe light - for the same reason you can see several "copies" of the ad playing at once outside the windows of the train, you can view a large portion of the strip in this way appearing animated as wel l from the front or rear of the train.
Does anyone know if the ads are triggered by the ATC systems? (talk) 00:23, 7 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

If you ride from the Harvard Square end going inbound you can see them. Sometimes there are delays and the trains drive slow which is the best time to see the inner works.. When the train leaves Harvard there is one as it heads towers Central. It is closer to the Harvard End than the Central station. From what I observed they were posters that change slightly (again) like a film strip. The strobe lights look like they were shielded underneath a little black bar (like a lamp shade) above the posters. Also if the train is traveling at the wrong speed the ads may not look clear and may appear jerky in appearance.CaribDigita (talk) 07:54, 18 June 2009 (UTC)[reply]


A tour guide once told me that this particular line was selected to be red because it passed by Harvard, a bastion of liberalism. If there is any truth to this anecdote, should it not be mentioned? --Adoniscik 23:36, 11 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Harvard's school color is crimson (red). The MBTA claims that as the reason for the color. --SPUI (talk) 20:57, 12 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Rolling stock[edit]

A nice addition to the page would be a section describing the rolling stock of the Red Line. This should include the current older mainline trains, the newer Bombardier mainline trains, and maybe the PCC streetcars run on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line (although that's probably better left to the sub-article). Atlant 16:33, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Good idea. There's a table of the car quantities at at http://members.aol.com/rtspcc/roster/MBTAroster.html jdb ❋ 20:47, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Photo in the article
I'm confused about the photo, which the article describes as aluminium-bodied (1969-1970) equipment. I rode the Boston subways a lot in 1970-71-72, and recall that at that time, there were old cars and new cars both in service. The new cars were unpainted and I thought they were of stainless-steel construction. The photograph shows a painted car, and it resembles what were the old cars at the time --- judging by the lists on the MBTA roster page and the links from it, 01400 series. Can you clear up my confusion?

The 1970s unpainted cars were painted the old 1400 series red colors after a rebuild, and new stainless-steel cars were introduced in the 1990s. -- (talk) 01:51, 6 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]

"No smoking, please!"[edit]

I added the trivia item (which has now been expanded to):

* At the Harvard station, the electronic voice used on the newer (Bombardier-built) trains makes a special announcement: "No smoking, please!"

I haven't checked in the last few months, but it was definitely true the last time I've been the distance between Alewife and JFK/U.Mass that the announcement was only made at Hahvud. I always found it amusing; the synthivoice is *SO* emphatic about it.

Atlant 20:58, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Odd that it's only at Havahd. The only other place I've heard it was on a B-line Type 8 Green Line car entering Boylston inbound. jdb ❋ (talk) 16:39, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I did some field research yesterday afternoon and what I said is still true: Between JFK/UMass and Alewife, it's only Hahvud that gets the special announcement. They have been making tweaks to the synthevoice announcements, though, with a female voice now added to the ordinary Charles/MGH announcement: she adds "Mass Eye and Ear". Quelle difference!

Atlant 13:32, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The high-pitched female voice saying "Mass Eye and Ear" at Charles/MGH was there for a while in the mid-1990s, when the Bombardier trains were new. It seems to come and go. --Matt McIrvin 14:07, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I wonder if the Mass Eye and Ear announcement got installed on some train cars but not all of them. JNW2 (talk) 04:06, 26 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]

It says it going inbound at Harvard (towards Park Street), and at Broadway going inbound (towards Park Street). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:34, 15 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Incorrect roll signs?[edit]

A rollsign in a Red Line car. This selection is most likely incorrect; Davis-bound trains usually terminate at Alewife.

A recent editor added this image and caption.

The caption led me to wonder whether, during the construction of the Alewife extension, there was a time when the trains reached Davis but not yet Alewife? This would explain the roll sign.

Atlant 11:10, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, between December 8, 1984 and March 30, 1985.[1] --SPUI (talk) 11:44, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I remember being on an older Red Line train earlier this year with really old roll signs - one of them read "Harvard/Park Street". I have a feeling that they don't pay much attention to what these older signs inside trains read anymore. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:25, 4 July 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks! I'll take that as an explanation for this roll sign and edit the article to reflect that fact.

Atlant 12:11, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Right. I've no doubt that the sign was printed correctly, but it was certainly set incorrectly, since I took the photo this year. jdb ❋ (talk) 17:10, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Atlant 17:16, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I wonder if it's worth noting in this article that when trains fall behind schedule, the MBTA tends to run ``express between Harvard and Alewife, not stopping at Porter or Davis. This invariably feels like doublespeak, since riders generally don't have to wait nearly as long for non-express Red Line trains, and thus express trains do not tend to get the rider to the destination faster when factoring in wait time. Express trains generally blow their horn repeatedly while going through the station, and in the last year or two with the new train arrival announcements, there's generally an announcement something along the lines of ``Attention passengers, the next red line train to <destination> does not take passengers. Please stand back from the yellow line. JNW2 (talk) 04:06, 26 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Map request[edit]

A map showing the complex geography of the historical portions and expansion of the line would be very helpful. -- Beland 05:35, 22 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Under header 'Station listing'[edit]

  • There's a listing of train stations on the Red Line. The so called "Stadium" exit? Was that actually exiting on the *Boston*(Allston?) side of the Charles? As in near Harvard Stadium CaribDigita 19:43, 19 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
My mother says if her memory serves her correctly, she believes the stadium exit came out at the current positing of the Charles Hotel. Just beyond the current alley where the trackless trolley buses go now to turn around.(Close to the Harvard Square Post office.) CaribDigita 20:39, 27 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

There's more info about this also on nycsubway.org See area about Eliot Station. CaribDigita 23:37, 16 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

{{mb}} to {{MBTABus}}[edit]

I have changed the {{mb}} template to a new {{MBTABus}} template (which is identical to the old {{mb}} template) so that {{mb}} can be used for {{Mfd bottom}}, in the same way that {{Ab}} can be used for {{Afd bottom}} —Mets501 (talk) 22:23, 20 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

1944? for Tom Lehrer song[edit]

I tend to doubt that the song "Boston" was written in 1944: Lehrer would have been pretty young at the time, and he started performing about a decade later. Perhaps that was 1954? -- BRG 19:14, 10 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Ride times[edit]

All the "time to park street" info is WP:OR and should be removed. - Keith D. Tyler (AMA) 00:15, 27 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Sounds like the talk of "Stadium Station" is also OR. Grandmothers, while generally WP:RS, are still WP:OR. - Keith D. Tyler (AMA) 00:18, 27 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Shawmut Station[edit]

According to the book Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree, Shawmut existed as a Shawmut Branch Railroad station. The book has pictures of the station prior to the conversion, so I'm inclined to believe it. -- 20:38, 1 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Trivia heading removed[edit]

I've removed the trivia heading, but other than cleaning up the advertising stuff a bit, I haven't gotten rid of text that was under that section. And I think this article might benefit from a little bit more work in that area; the exact set of things that are in this article don't feel like they quite match the most important things to know about the Red Line. In some cases, expanding on those points may be a good way to end up with something that's reasonably well balanced. JNW2 (talk) 04:30, 26 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]


Regarding Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district (PDF), it's over 300 pages. If it has information to support claims in this Wikipedia article, it would be helpful for specific page numbers to be mentioned next to specific claims, rather than just having a general mention at the end of the article. However, Wikipedia:No original research also suggests that self-published sources are less likely to be reliable, and Changes to Transit Serivce in the MBTA district appears to be self published, so it would probably be best to find other sources that substantiate any claims. JNW2 (talk) 23:24, 29 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Train width[edit]

Someone put in the edit, without reference, that claimed that the MBTA would probably replace some Red Line cars with Orange Line cars. The substitution with the latter would not be possible, as the Orange Line cars are narrower than the Red Line cars. See Brian Cudahy's book. The writer was assuming that many transit cars are replaceable, line to line, as with the interoperability of the IND cars with the BMT cars in the New York City transit system.Dogru144 (talk) 01:01, 18 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

That's not what it said. It said that the new orange and red line cars will share some elements. This is a true statement because procurement for both replacements are being grouped under a single contract for one manufacturer. Grk1011/Stephen (talk) 01:06, 18 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Rolling stock Type vs. Series[edit]

I have been doing a lot of needed cleanup of the entire article. The info box mentions Types 1, 2, and 3, but there is no explanation of the meaning, and the text talks about Series 1400 through 1800 cars. Either there should be a translation of the "Type" designation, or it should be deleted. Reify-tech (talk) 16:34, 31 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Take a look at the NETransit inventory - it's the gold-standard source for every piece of rolling stock that the MBTA has ever owned, and goes back to the end of the 19th century for most equipment types. While an unofficial source, it is updated almost daily with rather inside information; discussions elsewhere indicate that the MBTA allows this because they use it as an informal source internally. In short, every piece of rolling stock has both a type and a series; the correlate approximately but not exactly 1:1.
The heavy rail type designators reset from line names (the 1400s were #5 Cambridge-Dorchester type) to colors (the 1500s and identical 1600s are #1 Red Line type, the 1700s #2 Red Line, and the 1800s #3; the as-yet-unnumbered-but-probably-1900s cars to be delivered in 2019 will be #4 Red Line type) post-1967. Streetcars have a weird history based on surface cars versus tunnel cars (which eventually became identical); the BERy had Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4 plus derivatives, Articulated (rebuilds formed from pairs of 1890s streetcars), Center-entrance cars, Type 5, and finally the PCCs; the MBTA tested a mockup Type 6 before settling on the Boeing LRV, then went back to standard numbering with the Type 7, Type 8, and now-ordered Type 9 cars.
I've been putting off heavy overhauls of the subway line article for a variety of reasons, but when I get a chance I'll try to turn that section into a more useful chart complete with images. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 16:57, 31 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you for your customary helpful info that includes accessible sources! At least the Series can be inferred from the car numbers painted on the rolling stock itself, but there is no way to know the Type without a conversion table. If the Type designation is to be useful, a chart would indeed be helpful. Reify-tech (talk) 17:31, 31 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
The Type information should definitely be included; that's the name that appears on official documentation. That said, the series is far more obvious to the public eye; that's why the Commons categories and such are under those names. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 19:39, 31 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Cambridge Tunnel built by private capital[edit]

The Cambridge Tunnel was built entirely by private capital. This fact should be mentioned in the article. (see: Cheney, Frank. (2002) Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, page 7).

This was one of only three U.S. subways to be built entirely by private capital (the others were the Market Street Subway and Elevated, Philadelphia, and the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, now Port-Authority Trans-Hudson, aka PATH).

In 1920, shortly after the beginning of the period of public control over the Boston Elevated, the Cambridge Tunnel was sold to the Commonwealth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:40, 10 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Zoetropic ads[edit]

@Pi.1415926535:, you sure that isn’t worth a sentence? Qwirkle (talk) 02:19, 19 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I don't personally think so, and certainly it's not worth a top-level heading. At most it's a minor historical curiosity (here's a source for the installation); I don't believe the ads are still there. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 02:43, 19 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Agree on the top-level heading, but I suspect this is a bit like the neonized moving walkway connector between O’Hare’s United terminals in terms of noticeability. Qwirkle (talk) 02:56, 19 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
It's an interesting story, but the cited source doesn't mention the Red Line. Dicklyon (talk) 02:14, 15 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Yet the one just 7-8 lines up does. Qwirkle (talk) 03:46, 15 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]
True that. Could be worth a mention. Dicklyon (talk) 04:26, 16 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Cambridge subway lowercased based on a single cite?[edit]

@Qwirkle: In reverting this edit (and others) you asked whether this is based on a single cite (since my edit summary said something about the cited source there). Fair question. But no, it's based on surveying uses in books over many years. See early usage that shows it was not capped back in the day, and more recent usage that shows a few spurts in capitalization in a couple of years, but still not approaching the "consistently capitalized" threshold of MOS:CAPS. Dicklyon (talk) 17:12, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Given that you're typically asked to prove why each of these "fixes" is valid, I would encourage you to make a note on the talk page of each article with customized links similar to above for every term you are going to change. My watchlist is full of new changes by you every day, most of which appear to be undiscussed and just as controversial (likely to be reverted). Grk1011 (talk) 18:01, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I'm typically not asked about my case fixes; maybe a percent or two. So sticking WP:BRD seems OK. If you think some of my fixes are wrong, revert and let's discuss. Dicklyon (talk) 00:06, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
As far as I can find, the only case edits of mine that you've questioned were where you wanted to cap bus route descriptions as titles. Was there something else I did that you noticed and thought was sketchy? Let me know. Dicklyon (talk) 00:38, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Ngrams tell us nothing about those usages: whether they are reliable sources, whether they are useful indicators of capitalization, and whether they even refer to the subject in question. They are also heavily skewed by a number of factors: multiple scans of certain documents, limited selection of modern books, and limited types (almost no post-1925 periodicals and government reports, etc). Using them is no substitute for actual familiarity with reliable sources, which consistently use "Cambridge Subway." Pi.1415926535 (talk) 18:19, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Obviously, I've looked at a lot of sources. See for example these. Do you see any uses of "Cambridge subway" referring to something other than the subway we're talking about here? See for example: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]. The books that cap it are the railfan books. Dicklyon (talk) 19:57, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
So, we have a children’s book, a selfpublished...whatever you want to call it, a person who conflates Harvard Square with “the Cambridge subway station” (DOS tip: There’s more than one!), a mention of the “subway yards”, a source which uses both capitalization, and one that unequivocally uses l.c.. Kewl. Qwirkle (talk) 22:02, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
More importantly, we have usages that aren’t about a particular piece of concrete, steel and wood that was built a little over a century ago, which is what this article is quite narrowly about. Qwirkle (talk) 00:03, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Finally, only one source you give there seems railfanish, the juvenile. Which others do you see in that category? Qwirkle (talk) 00:03, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I didn't cite the ones that cap it. The recent ones are (mostly) railfan books. Dicklyon (talk) 00:58, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
In reverting this edit (and others) you asked whether this is based on a single cite (since my edit summary said something about the cited source there). No, I asked that once, about a single edit. Qwirkle (talk) 21:11, 24 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
On the others you asked "Based on what?" Those are what I'm answering. Based on usage and stats. Modern uses are pretty thin, and yes the one I linked that says "Cambridge subway station" is probably one I should not have picked. The contemporary uses are more dominantly lowercase. See whole timeline, smoothed. Dicklyon (talk) 00:03, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
You are seriously citing “evidence” the term took off in the 1860s, and reached near peak by 1880. The sealion act needs work. Qwirkle (talk) 00:40, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The way the running-average smoothing and normalization work in the ngram plots does lead to some misinterpretation possibility like that, yes. Reduce the smoothing to see what years those hits are coming from. Dicklyon (talk) 00:56, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Also note that the ngrams count occurrences, not sources. In the 21st century, this one 2002 book makes a big spike with its 6 occurrences, which you can see here. Smoothing with a running average is not a very useful way to characterize the trend, but it's all they offer there. Dicklyon (talk) 01:21, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
They offer the ability to look at the cites from various time frames in detail. what does this say, for instance? Qwirkle (talk) 02:47, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, and you can set whatever dates you like, and you get a non-case-sensitive search. That one shows that caps were not consistent in the 1920-1932 period, consistent with the graph shows caps running a bit ahead in those years. Dicklyon (talk) 04:21, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Gentle reader, look at the hits, and then consider whether it is not fairly consistently capitalized in them. Qwirkle (talk) 04:31, 25 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The central principle of MOS:CAPS (and WP:NCCAPS) is that WP does not employ capitalization on anything that is not capitalized with near-uniformity in reliable sources. So the answer, to use lower case here, is obvious. This is not about a simple majority of recent sources. Unless lower-case usage is virtually unattested in reliable sources, WP uses lower case. I think everyone here knows this, given the large number of lower-casing RMs we have been through, in transport/transit topics in particular, with the end result always being to use lower case when source usage is mixed/inconsistent. If someone is going to engage in a "never give up, never surrender" pattern of WP:TE/WP:POINT activism and resistance against any guideline, especially if there's a "my pet topic is magically different" special pleading air to it, then a topic ban is probably in order. We spend way too much time having to re-re-re-argue the exact same style matters over and over again after they have already been settled years ago in guidelines and reaffirmed in hundreds of RMs.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  20:29, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Exactly. Even after the consensus to lowercase Tremont Street subway and Boylston Street subway in the RM discussion (wow, 20 months ago already: Talk:Boylston_Street_subway#Requested_move_14_December_2018), these guys kept fighting to cap subway on those in articles. That eventually petered out; now they want another go at interfering against guidelines at the Cambridge subway. It's exasperating. Dicklyon (talk) 22:05, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Consider... you have faced essentially the same complaint/opposition by multiple editors at multiple articles. Perhaps it is time to accept that the problem is with the guideline, and not with individual editors. At a minimum, we should consider making an exception to the guideline for this topic area. Blueboar (talk) 22:32, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Like "Wikipedia capitalizes words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in reliable sources, plus words describing infrastructure that trains run through or on, such as Subway, Branch, Line, Incline, Portal, etc." Maybe that would fly... Dicklyon (talk) 22:41, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I'm so tired of this bullshit. It's the same pattern every time: you make capitalization changes on an article you've never otherwise contributed to. You're reverted by editors who do actually contribute to the article, and you edit war about it. If you don't win by exhausting the other editors, you make talk page claims based on flimsy evidence, entirely based on cherry-picking results from Google Books. When consensus is still against you, you bring in other MOS editors who also have no intention of making actual contributions to the article.
Someone who is openly dismissive of any sources written by anyone with an actual interest in the topic, regardless of the actual quality and reliability of the source, is unqualified to be making judgement calls about any disputed aspects of the topic. Someone who believes that two minutes searching a topic gives them greater understanding than editors who have spent substantial periods of time researching that topic is unqualified to be making judgement calls about any disputed aspects of the topic. Someone who believes that every editor in a topic area is mistaken is unqualified to be making judgement calls about any disputed aspects of the topic.
And yes, MOS:CAPS is a problem. Instead of the common sense "nouns should be capitalized when that style is used in the majority of reliable sources, particularly those sources with substantial coverage, and with the understanding that capitalization rules substantially changed during the 20th century", you use it to mean "nouns should only be capitalized when that style is used in an overwhelming majority of sources, regardless of how trivial the coverage is or when the source is from." The reason you constantly clash with other editors over railroad-related topics is because reliable sources - including government agencies and historical organizations - usually treat railroad infrastructure as proper nouns. No matter how much you dislike that, editors following those sources will also capitalize those names. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 23:39, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with this sentiment. Grk1011 (talk) 15:10, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Sounds like someone has an ownership issues? The point of the ngram stats is to avoid cherry-picking, and just look at trends. The trend for the last 50 years is near 50/50 caps for subway there, with a blip that I pointed out in 2002 for a book with it capped 6 times; most of the other counts are 1 or 2 per years, so not over 2 per book usually. Yes, a few of those are like "Cambridge subway station" and "Cambridge subway line", but most are actually about the Cambridge subway itself; if that were accepted as a proper name, by more than the railfan authors, we'd see it capped a lot more often. The reality is that most things called subways are not proper names (the SF MTA's Central Subway being a notable exception; that one is always capped in sources). Dicklyon (talk) 00:08, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Also, please note that style gnoming is contributing. I have 17 edits to this article, mostly uncontroversial style fixes, mostly lowercasings. And this constitutes only about one ten-thousanth of my edits; I am not focused on rail infrastructure or the MBTA or you, but yes I do have a focus on over-capitalization and other style issues. Dicklyon (talk) 00:11, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
A textbook example of begging the question.Qwirkle (talk) 01:18, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Another problem is a confusion between descriptives and proper nouns. It is possible to refer, for example to “the Boston-Cambridge subway”, which describes rather than names the thing, and quite rightly uses l.c. for the word “subway”. “Cambridge subway line” is also parsable as a descriptive. Qwirkle (talk) 23:54, 29 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
If most of the lowercase uses were in the context of "Cambridge subway line" or "Cambridge subway station", not specifically about the "Cambridge subway" itself, then you might have a point. But that's not what I'm seeing in sources. Dicklyon (talk) 04:12, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Nonsense. The majority of the cites you gave as examples above are either simply descriptives, or parsable as descriptives. Would you like to go through them one by one here? Qwirkle (talk) 04:46, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Sure, but it might be more illuminating if you'd show capped examples that you think are not "parsable as descriptives". Dicklyon (talk) 16:58, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Sophistry. By that standard, neither the White House nor Penn Station could be capitalized. Qwirkle (talk) 17:06, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Which is way we prefer to look at source stats. Dicklyon (talk) 18:12, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Which is to say you, because your view is a minority outside your club, prefer to use an oversimplistic rubric which generates the answer you want already. The overwhelming bulk of the supposed counterexamples you’ve given here reflect that. Qwirkle (talk) 18:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
So what's your rubric? Something like a rail infrastructure except, as Blueboar proposed? Dicklyon (talk) 03:44, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Most native english speakers do not need a rubric to figure out when a phrase is being used as a proper noun. If you can not, perhaps you should pass on the sort of “gnoming” that suggests bridges rather than caverns.

Now, there is a real enough problem with folks who mistake proper capitalization for disrespect of their pet subject, or who overuse clippings of proper name phrases, which do not belong in every context. When the members of the 15th Field Snurdlewonger Regiment (Grytpype-Thynne‘s Own) toast “The Regiment”, with capital letters that can be heard even in speech, they are doing something grammatical in context. Using that to demand capitalization in other contexts would not be.

In this case we have a particular entity which is almost always capitalized when referred to as such. The Cambridge Subway runs from Park Street Under to Harvard. It does not go to Alewife. [It] wanders not in Dirty Dot...hellHell, it doesn’t even make it past whatever they are calling Washington this week. It stops clean, as it ever has, at these two points, for values of “ever” that approximate “1912.”. It is a particular thing, differentiated by construction, and by ownership, and by place. There are other subways in Cambridge. They are not the Cambridge Subway, even if they are, in fact Cambridge subways. References to “the Boston/Cambridge Subway” or to “the Cambridge subway line” do not necessarily refer to this particular place and thing, and their capitalization is not relevant. Qwirkle (talk) 04:16, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I hear you, but the evidence seems to contradict you. Dicklyon (talk) 04:47, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, you really do not. You have presented no evidence against the idea that the Cambridge Subway is a proper noun, and capitalized; you have presented evidence that the same component words can be used in constructions that are not capitalized. No one has disputed this, largely because it isn’t material. The “Boston /Cambridge subway”, for instance, is a descriptive...and a singularly inept one, since it is entirely unclear what it refers to. It could be the whole Red Line at certain points in time; it could be the whole rapid transit system at others. What it almost certainly is not is the Cambridge Subway as a discrete entity. The “Cambridge subway line” could refer to one direction of the entire Red Line to this day, since, with a minor excursion into the (former) wilds of (the former) Slummerville, the whole end of the this thing is in Cambridge. These phrases have different referents besides “the Cambridge Subway.” Qwirkle (talk) 05:06, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
And per the edit that started this, the cited source 62 from 1979 does not cap it; it's far from the only such. Source 64, too. I don't have 63 handy to check. Dicklyon (talk) 04:56, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Fischler isnt a bad cite in many ways, but did you read the actual claim made? Harvard is distinctly absent, as is Central. Makes you wonder what else is off. Qwirkle (talk) 05:21, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, I did not. Dicklyon (talk) 01:36, 1 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Capitalization of proper nouns, based on clarity and readability[edit]

We should not lose sight of the overall educational goals of Wikipedia, which prioritize clarity and readability over rigid adherence to unchanging rules regardless of context and meaning. For a global English-language encyclopedia, Wikipedia's Manual of Style (MoS) has been the locus of many disputes among British, American, Canadian, South Asian, Australian, South African, and other native speakers, who naturally tend to prefer their own styles of expression. To prevent such disputes from becoming endless tugs-of-war for symbolic dominance among different cultural subgroups, the overriding goals of clarity, readability, and simplicity have taken precedence over parochial arguments to the effect of "we've always done it that way", or "the majority of people in important country So-and-so do it this way". Compromises in historical "purity of style" are constantly made in Wikipedia writing in the interests of advancing its educational goals; clarity, readability, and simplicity are among the best ways to communicate effectively with a world-wide audience of readers.

Turning to the immediate question at hand here, The Little, Brown Handbook recommends "Capitalize common nouns used as essential parts of proper nouns". The Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers recommends capitalization of "Common nouns used as an essential part of a proper noun". The key word to note in these guidelines is essential.

A useful test for whether a given word is essential is to delete it or substitute another equivalent word for it, and note if this transformation changes substantially the meaning of the expression or the overall sentence. For example, look at the factual sentence, "Harvard Square Station is located near the center of the Harvard University campus." To test whether certain words are essential, let us delete them to produce, "Harvard Square is located near the center of the Harvard campus." Either of these deletions radically changes the meaning of the sentence, so the deleted words are essential. In this example, Harvard may denote a certain exurban town west of Boston, so University is an essential component of Harvard University, and should never be uncapitalized or omitted from its first usage, even if implied context may allow its abbreviation in later references.

By contrast, if one holds that the word campus should be capitalized, note that its deletion alone does not completely change the meaning (though it does slightly mangle the grammar). The words location or neighborhood could be substituted and still convey the same concepts. In the example here, the words Station and University are essential, and should therefore be capitalized as inherent parts of their proper nouns.

Applying this test to the proper noun Cambridge Subway shows that Subway is essential to identifying a particular underground structure, as distinguished from the pedestrian subway passage from one side of Massachusetts Avenue to the other via Harvard Square Station in Cambridge, or the currently-closed subterranean passage crossing under the same street at Hynes Convention Center Station in Boston. Note here that the generic term subway can and has been replaced by the generic words subterranean passage without fundamentally changing the meaning of the expression.

As a reasonable concession to the anti-capitalizationists among us, let us note that the Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers further recommends that "When the generic term is used in the plural, it is not usually capitalized", giving the example of "the Atlantic and Pacific oceans". This rule cannot be applied globally or blindly, and must exempt a full proper name, such as a hypothetical "Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Shipping Company", but not a hypothetical "Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Shipping company", nor a hypothetical "Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Shipping firm". In the latter two examples, note that the uncapitalized words are not essential parts of the proper name.

In summary, capitalization is used to indicate to the reader which words are an essential or integral part of a proper name. The important distinction is between specific and generic references; the deletion/substitution test can help the editor decide this difference.

Remember, our overall goal is not merely to engage in endless arguments over which or how many putatively authoritative sources used whatever capitalization at whatever date. The overriding Wikipedia goals are to write an encyclopedia with clarity and readability (simplicity does not weigh in heavily on this particular question). Reify-tech (talk) 15:54, 31 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not familiar with those guides, but it's clear that "Capitalize common nouns used as essential parts of proper nouns" is inviting a lot more capitalization than is typically found in sources; pretty much the opposite of Wikipedia style, which is to avoid unnecessary capitalization. I think we can mostly agree that the "Cambridge subway" or the "Cambridge tunnel" as it's often called, is no less clear for lack of capping the generic. The trouble with capping there is that it implies that these terms are accepted as proper names by the vast majority of sources, which is counterfactual here. Dicklyon (talk) 01:34, 1 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, thrice. To begin with, you are begging the question on what level of capitalization is “unnecessary”, defining that by Wiki itself, never a good thing. Next, you are conflating the Cambridge Subway and the Cambridge Tunnel. The CS consisited of the Beacon Hill Tunnel, a small El-like bridge section, the separated, but roughly at grade median section on the Longfellow Bridge, and the Cambridge Tunnel itself, which runs out to Harvard Square. You sometimes see metastasistic usages, but the two are actually not, properly speaking, identical. Finally, the idea that every source out there is authoritative on every possible subject is not something we use elsewise; it need not be for this either. For instance, the Cambridge Subway, in the proper sense, is only of interest to historians (and folks interested in history), lawyers, state budget officials, and so forth. Most people, and most sources, don’t talk about the Cambridge Subway, but of the subway in or to Cambridge, a rather different thing. Qwirkle (talk) 02:02, 1 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
"Unnecessary" is defined by evidence in sources, as MOS:CAPS describes. If there's a definition of "Cambridge Subway" of the sort you describe in which the caps are needed to point out that that's the one meant, please show us a source or two that makes that clear. Dicklyon (talk) 15:44, 1 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No. “Unnecessary” is defined as “not required.” You are mistaking the map for the territory.

There are any number of sources just above here that make it quite clear that the initial project which begins at Park Street Under and ends at Harvard was called the Cambridge Subway, as a capitalized proper name, predominantly. No matter how many descriptive counterexamples you give, it will not change that; it will only suggest that you are either sealioning (sealyoning?), or lack the ability to make the distinction, or don’t even bother to read the cites. Qwirkle (talk) 17:29, 1 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I think we can agree that we all know that “Unnecessary” is defined as “not required.” I was referring to how WP decides that w.r.t. capitalization, which is defined in MOS:CAPS. I'm sure you understood so not clear why you throw back distractors. As for that particular stretch of subway, fine, you're not going to cite evidence, so I'll show some that have it lowercase: [8], [9], [10], [11], etc. I'm sure you can pick on each of these for being old, or whatever, but I'm equally sure I could pick on your choices if you pointed any out. Dicklyon (talk) 04:39, 2 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, we surely can not agree that you know that “Unnecessary” is defined as “not required.”, since you are defining it by a styling rubric which does not at all address utility.

Obviously, those are far better examples than those you Google-dredged earlier, and equally obviously they are old, and reflect slightly different capitalization standards - note the variance with “street” in proper names seen also. Qwirkle (talk) 05:24, 2 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I agree that over time we tend to cap more things. "Street" is now universally capped where 100 years ago it was considered unnecessary to do so (it was mixed). But I find nothing to indicate that capping "Subway" conveys a different meaning, or is considered necessary, by modern authors. If there's utility in the caps indicating a different object than the lowercase, I've been unable to see that in sources, and you've been unwilling to try to show it. Dicklyon (talk) 04:34, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
And yet you are writing this supposedly in response to @Reify-tech:’s explanation of how fuller capitalization of proper name phrases can provide clarity to the reader, sourced to fairly respectable sources, and after discovering that some uses of “Cambridge subway” did not necessarily refer to the 1912 project. This does not suggest a failure in transmission, but reception. Qwirkle (talk) 05:58, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
His proposal was theoretical, and of a style contrary to Wikipedia's. I'm trying to emphasize the approach suggested by our own style guide. Dicklyon (talk) 06:03, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I greatly doubt he created a whole new section here simply to discuss theoretical aspects of writing. Your style guide -for it is not “ours”, you and the other myrmidons of the minuscule are at war with actual content creators at all corners of Wikipedia- seeks to eliminate “unnecessary capitalization”. Above are two far more authoritative cites than anything on Wiki itself suggesting that capitalization is, in some cases, necessary for clarity. Qwirkle (talk) 06:18, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The theory that "essential" words (words that can't be removed without changing the meaning) should be capitalized is obviously nonsense. By embedding it like "as essential parts of proper nouns", one just comes back to the question of what's a proper noun. Our style guide says we treat things as proper nouns when sources do so pretty consistently, and otherwise not. I'm not aware of cases where this hurts clarity; when one says the Cambridge subway, it's as clear as the Cambridge Subway, which is why sources don't distinguish (in spite of your claims, unsupported as far as I can find, that the capped version means something different from the lowercase one). I'm sorry you don't feel like you're part of the community that adopted these guidelines, but that doesn't give you license to adopt your own style in your corner of WP. Dicklyon (talk) 21:39, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I appreciate your drive for consistency, but blindly following the guideline is not helping anyone. The MOS:CAPS page says right up at the top that it is "a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply". Combining Reify-tech's extremely convincing explanation (learned this in elementary school!) with other editors' common sense approach on these MBTA articles, I honestly don't see how lowercase is even an option. We don't debate "Bridge" being capitalized as part of the names of bridges, yet you believe that "subway", "station", "incline", etc (all used in the same exact way) are somehow different. Your position is based purely on looking at what sources use across centuries, which I find very flawed. This isn't about "our own style", in fact it's not even a style. It's about common sense and actual usage; aligning with reader expectations. The guideline explicitly allows this type of flexibility. It seems we're either going to have to leave this as a stalemate and the status quo, or a larger discussion about changing the guideline needs to take place. (I'm fine with the guideline as is because I believe it allows us to follow best practices.) I've been watching these discussions play out for days/months (a year?) and all I see is disagreement with no end in sight. Dicklyon, no matter how many times you start discussions and whip out the term usage graphs and cite random books/articles/examples, it's very clear that the other editors here, including myself, don't believe that they're relevant nor do they establish your position with certainty. Shall we keep wasting each others' time, or? Grk1011 (talk) 23:06, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
These terms are not different "somehow". They're different in how reliable sources treat them and cap them. I'm not making this up, or proposing any novel theory. There is absolutely no problem that would be caused if we just followed our style guidance. Nobody is going to be surprised to see lowercase subway or portal or incline (indeed, most such fixes have not been commented upon). Why these guys are so attached to this particular one is a bit of a mystery to me, as sources clearly get away with not capping it pretty often. And the lowercasing of "station" is something that came from within the trains project, not from me or the MOS, so if you can't understand that, go back and review it. Dicklyon (talk) 05:01, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dicklyon: writes: obviously nonsense, yet folk far more expert than you (or I) insist otherwise. An expert cite disagreeing with an inexpert wikipedian should be a slam-dunk, no-question-about-it closed case, and yet... Qwirkle (talk) 23:58, 3 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, I'm pretty sure nobody insists that essential words be capitalized. That was an intentionally nonsensical strawman. Dicklyon (talk) 04:57, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
So, Little, Brown and Prentice Hall are nobodies.

Kewl. Qwirkle (talk) 05:30, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

No, you're just stretching what you think they said to match my ridiculous strawman. They didn't say that. Dicklyon (talk) 01:31, 5 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Gentle Reader, read and see which version of this is true. Qwirkle (talk) 02:12, 5 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Another obvious problem is that you are conflating “proper name” with “thing that must be capitalized”. These are related, but not identical. Qwirkle (talk) 01:34, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, I tend to do that. I'm much more concerned with what should be capitalized than with the theory of what's a proper name; I tend to not distinguish those. Dicklyon (talk) 04:57, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I’ll let this res loquitate for its own damned ipsa. Qwirkle (talk) 05:30, 4 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Response to OP Hi Reify-tech, an interesting argument. I am not familiar with the two sources you have quoted. The sections quoted might benefit from fuller context and or any examples cited therein. In the simple subject-verb(phase)-object sentence construction, each part can consist of a single word (a noun or verb) or a phrase, which consists of two or more words. In a noun phrase, there will be the "noun" and modifiers, that serve to describe the particular "thing" in fuller (more precise or specific) detail. Such descriptive words are generally adjectives but can include "attributive" nouns, which are nouns acting descriptively- eg He hit the red ball. "Red" and "ball" are both nouns, where "red" is acting attributively and "ball" is the "primary" noun being described. If we remove the "primary" noun from the noun phrase, the sentence will not make sense. In some cases, what is considered a proper noun can act attributively. In such a context, it is not acting as a proper noun but because it is derived from a proper noun, it is still capitalised - hence: Bill drove the London bus down the street. It is a particular "London bus" that Bill was driving (and not any old [generic] London bus) because of the definite article. And of course, if we take out "bus" from the sentence it wont make sense but "London bus" isn't a proper name|noun - where a "proper name" is a phrase (more than one word as distinct from a "proper noun", where a noun is a single word). The guidance you have quoted fails unless we first know that we are applying it to a specific case which is a proper name. How do we know this?

Most of us have an understanding instilled (or beaten) into us by our grade 4 teacher, Mrs McGillicuddy (insert your actual teacher's name). This was based on "simple rules" that a nine-year old "should" be able to understand with sufficient pedagogical encouragement. This was the limit of teaching on the subject. While it serves most of us well most of the time, it avoided complexities (such as herein) and by its simplicity, conflates uniqueness, specificity or a perceived need to "distinguish" with being a proper noun, while fostering a "false equivalence" that capitalisation = proper noun (and vice versa). While there is an orthographic convention to capitalise proper nouns in English, what constitutes a proper noun is a matter of linguistics - they are not the same. What constitutes or defines a proper noun is more complex that simply hitting the shit key. While the guidance at MOS:CAPS may perpetuate (to a degree) the simplistic and false equivalence between what is a proper noun and capitalisation, it nonetheless relies on empirical evidence to resolve what should be capitalised and thereby avoids trying to explain all of the complexities that Mrs McGillicuddy couldn't thrash into any successive class of bright-eyed nine-year olds (even if she knew them or her teacher new them when she was a bright-eyed nine-year old - no matter how inconceivable it is that Mrs McGillicuddy was ever either bright-eyed or nine years old).

Generally, proper nouns are not descriptive or, if they are, they could equally be replaced (renamed) with something that isn't descriptive - the name does not rely on it being descriptive. Hence, I may have an Persian cat called "Fluffy". While it may be fluffy, I could equally have called it "Bob" or my cat, Fluffy, could be Sphynx cat. The question becomes muddied because many geographical names are descriptive. Returning to the sources cited, what is an "essential part of a proper noun [proper name]", where we are dealing with a compound name consisting of more than one word? The answer lies in the compound being a unit phrase - eg The Rocky Mountains, which is descriptive (they are both "rocky" and "mountains"). "Rocky" is an adjective. It inherently needs to attach to a noun to make a noun phrase. They are also known as "the Rockies" but this is not just dropping "mountain" - it is an alternative name like "Bill" is to "William". The Rocky Mountains could also be given an alternative name - the Catskills? But this is taken you say? - uniqueness is not a property of a proper name. How many Will Smiths are there? But they are called the "Catskill Mountains" you say? Well, go back to the "rule" quoted. Does "mountain" need to be capped? Is it "essential"? No. But "Catskill" isn't the same as "Catskills" you say? All that has happened is that the plural has moved!

Consider the following:

  • I sailed across the Pacific [Ocean].[12]
  • I rowed along the [River] Thames [River]. Can put river either before or after.[13]
  • I trecked across the Sahara [Desert].[14]
  • I went to Stradbroke [Island] for the week-end. A local holiday spot for me - substitute Catalina

Each of these cases are geographical names that are often used together with a descriptive common noun. In each case, the proper noun can be used without the need of the descriptive common noun. They donot meet the guidance referenced to capitalise the descriptor yet we do commonly capitalise ocean, river and island (but not desert) in each case.

To the example: "Harvard Square Station is located near the center of the Harvard University campus." and the removed words: "Harvard Square is located near the center of the Harvard campus." For me, removing "University" (leaving "the Harvard campus") really doesn't in any way convey a different meaning. That part of the example does not serve to support the case being made. That "Harvard may denote a certain exurban town west of Boston" is a hypothetical but also ignores that proper nouns while specific, do not need to be unique (per "Will Smith" or "Kansas City", of which there are two). On the otherhand, I might write: "I got off the train at the Harvard Square [station] to attend my lecture at the Harvard [University] campus." The argument in the OP starts with the premise that we are dealing with a proper noun phrase. It does not resolve whether the phrase in question is actually a proper noun phrase as opposed to a common noun phrase with a proper noun being used attributively (as in "the London bus" example). There are simply too many holes in the proposition of the OP for it to be of any utility in addressing the issue generally. Nor does it help specifically with the question of whether "the Cambridge Subway" is a proper noun phrase or whether an appelative (common) noun phrase (such as "the London bus"), which is referring "the subway" running through Cambridge. The guidance from MOS:CAPS is to consider how it is used in independent reliable sources.

As to the section heading premise of clarity and readability. The presence of capitals in text actually reduces readability and for that reason, usage should be limited to what is necessary.[15] We do not hear capital letters. It would be a poor article that relied on capital letters for clarity, since it would be ignoring the issue of accessibility for the visually impaired. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 02:14, 8 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

  • None of this rambling across multiple threads makes any difference. MoS is clear that we do not capitalize that which is not consistently capitalized across the vast majority of independent, reliable sources. And we have hundreds of transit/transport-related RMs concluding that this category is not some kind of magical exception, no matter how tendentious various railfans and trainspotters get about it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:40, 26 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Tunnel capping[edit]

@Qwirkle and Pi.1415926535: the "Cambridge tunnel" terminology, capped or not, seems to be rather rare compared to "Cambridge subway". What sources do you find using that term? I don't see any cited. The paragraph that starts with "Construction of the Cambridge Tunnel, connecting Harvard Square to Boston, was delayed..." cites Change at Park Street Under, which does not use that term at all, right? Of the books that do use that term, none cap it, as far as I've found by searching so far. What have you found? I will go ahead and fix it to lowercase again until we have sources to the contrary. Dicklyon (talk) 03:34, 14 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]

The Cambridge Subway, as mentioned here(?) before, consisted of several component parts. A tunnel under Beacon Hill, a short elevated section, an at....grade isn’t exactly right for a bridge, but it’ll do, and a tunnel out to Harvard Square. The Cambridge Tunnel, unsurprisingly, was the c&c work in Cambridge. It would only be seen as a separate thing in contract documents, public records, histories and so forth. Why would you expect otherwise? Qwirkle (talk) 04:11, 14 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Not sure what you're trying to say. That is not at all the way Cambridge Tunnel is being used in this article, or others; Pi says it refers to the whole line, if I understand him correctly. And even if it does refer just to the Main Street dig, it's still not capped in sources. Dicklyon (talk) 22:04, 14 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]
It has referred to the whole line at various times...and, in at least some of those cases, it was used more descriptively than nominatively. But when the Commonfilth and Mr Berry were talking cash, the term was used pretty narrowly. Qwirkle (talk) 03:44, 15 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Again, no idea what you're trying to say. Sources could help. Dicklyon (talk) 23:29, 15 October 2020 (UTC)[reply]