Saturday, February 24, 2007

GLOBE: Commuter rail plan is met with protests

Mac Daniel writes on Saturday how residents of the Town of Easton are not happy with a proposed Commuter Rail extension through their town.
The final route will largely determine if and when it gets built. Murray and Governor Deval Patrick promised during their campaign to extend rail service to the South Coast, but the administration has released few details about the timing or financing. On April 4, the state is scheduled to release its plan for the project, which is estimated to cost more than $800 million.


Is this going to become another Greenbush fiasco?

800 million is a lot of money for a system that says it is broke. Certainly it would be nice to have rail service to New Bedford and Fall River and for that matter Cape Cod as well but the reality is the South Coast has bus service now that seems to meet the demand from those cities. That 800 million could be put to far better use on the existing system.

Maybe it is time for the Commonwealth to consider running the Commuter Rail as a separate entity from the MBTA. To this observer it seems as though Commuter Rail gets far more attention than the core subway and bus in the city when you consider the number of passengers served. Keep in mind the reason the MBTA was created in the first place in 1964 was to help save the existing Commuter Rail service into Boston. That is no longer an issue but the reality is T service inside 128 is the worst it has been in decades.

5 comments:

John Mc said...

I usually don't disagree with Charlie, but this one got me going a bit.

I do agree the T is over-extended in both money and service. The need for FR/NB could indeed be questioned. but...

like the Greenwood line, the proposed Easton line is restoring rail where it used to run. They're not plowing under new ground here. That doesn't mean restoration is the right thing, but it shouldn't be a 'shock' that they want to run trains where they previously ran for 80 years.

The bus comment is terrible. Saying service meets the demand. Transportation, like many things is 'build it and they will come'. Bus service meets the need because only so many people want to take the bus. That is no gauge of how many people might take a different form of transportation.

And the MBTA was created because the MTA was in shambles. (I'm sure someone can provide a better history). But in 1964 both north and south side rail service were still run by private companies, not the government - although they did get some government subsidy...

Charlie said...

John Mc said...
I usually don't disagree with Charlie, but this one got me going a bit.



John I respect your opinion....

If you browse through the blogs tags on T History we look hard at how the MBTA was created back in 1964. When the New Haven Railroad closed the Old Colony Lines in 1959 ( as the Boston and Albany RR closed the Riverside line in 1958 ) there was a fear that the Boston and Maine RR would do the same to the North Shore lines and the MBTA was spawned from that.

The only point I was trying to make is that 800M right now would be better spent on the existing system....

I personally would love to see Commuter Rail expanded but I would rather see the money spent on projects like expanding the Blue Line to Lynn/Salem

Bill said...

I think 800 million could be much better spent improving the Green Line. Adding an express track to the B-Line would allow most trains to bypass the Blanford to Packard's bottleneck during rush hour, and would probably cost a fraction of that. Sitting through seven stops each way when most people are getting off either downtown in the morning, or Packard's and beyond in the evening is just insane.

Ben said...

Hey Charlie! Long time reader.

First, as a South Coast (New Bedford, to be exact) resident, I'll tell you that Bus service is NOT the rosy picture that you mentioned. They are crowded, slightly more expensive, and very unreliable. Even worse then the T.

I moved down to New Bedford in January and took the bus until June until they upped their rates. At that point my wife and I decided that we could save a few bucks if I drove the 20 minutes to Middleboro and caught the commuter rail from there. When this January and the new rates rolled around, I made the decision to eat the extra cost due to the fact that the Commuter Rail had a MUCH better record of being on time, less cramped, and just better overall service.

I think I've been late to work two or three times due to T-related difficulties since I started taking the train. With the bus, it was not uncommon for me to be late at least once a week.

Bring on the New Bedford line!

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