Cape Flyer Discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:43 am

Town of Falmouth owns from Falmouth Depot to Woods Hole, purchasing it direct from Conrail in 1977. That was the earliest rail-to-trails job in all of New England, so unfortunately it wasn't done at a time when there was any legal means of keeping the railroad charter intact. It pre-dates federal landbanking laws ('86), pre-dates the state's buy of all other Cape lines from Conrail ('79-82), and was not included in the mass bankruptcy sale of Penn Central assets to the state ('73) that slapped a court-negotiated 'proto-landbanking' status on all the inactive acquisitions because this branch was simply too far afield to lump inside the expanded MBTA district borders with the others.

North Falmouth-Falmouth Depot is a cookie-cutter MassDOT-owned landbank with a revokable trail lease. The Turkington legislation forced MassDOT to rip out the rail hardware against their will, but did not impose any legal boobytraps on the trail's status because that would've been illegal under all that fed- and owner-preemption legalese. We're dealing with rote-standard rail trail & rail-with-trail legalese here, unlike Depot-WH. Treat the halves as entirely different pieces because the legalities that created those trails are so divergently different in time and place.


It's important to note that when they talk rail restoration, Falmouth Depot is the one that truly matters because it sits right next door to the huge Steamship Authority parking lot and the CCRTA + intercity bus depot. There's extremely little parking at Woods Hole-proper, and not even much in the way of a kiss-and-ride capacity. The Steamship Authority requires that you transfer to the shuttle buses to get there at all, because the ferry terminal lot is strictly for cars being loaded/unloaded onto the ferries (and they barely even have the space to do that with much efficiency). All other parking lots in the neighborhood are strictly rationed to USCG and Oceanographic Institute employees first, leaving very little share leftover for the hordes of visitors. It's mostly on-street parking in the neighborhood. They graded out a stretch of RR yard a couple years ago with 100+ spaces of linear parking along the bikeway, but it's got this horrible narrow little half-mile driveway totally inadequate to task.

Because you are more or less required to take the Steamship Authority shuttle to get there in the first place, Woods Hole-proper already has a transit share about as high as it's ever going to get. The only way to cram more people there is to run more shuttles. Direct rail would obviously be better, but it doesn't take people out of cars because the cars are already being diverted at Falmouth Depot. It's simply a replacement for much of the shuttle buses. Falmouth Depot is where the carpocalypse truly is, and where the car share is melting down the area's overall functioning from lack of other options. The Steamship Authority lot is massively overcongested. It's a mile south of where the MA 28 expressway dumps all traffic onto a 2-lane downtown main street, causing backups for miles. Falmouth engaged in some stupid parking-centric big box development over the last few decades so the shopping centers and big condo complexes ringing the east end of downtown tend to be car-centric hellholes. And the bus depot is hitting far below its weight because all this congestion on downtown streets limits the achievable frequencies of connecting service from Bourne/mainland or Hyannis.

So in terms of where direct rail addresses the most number of problems most effectively, Falmouth Depot has always been #1 with a bullet. It's everything you'd want as a transit node anchoring a dense area with diverse trip catchments, and the local roads are in no way shape or form built to handle the load. Woods Hole is gravy, but it's functionally extracurricular because the transit share covering the last-mile problem is already fixed-by-fiat by the Steamship Authority mandating that all Pn'R visitors must transfer to shuttle bus at Falmouth Depot. So I wouldn't get too caught up about wouldas-couldas-shouldas on the 1977 section of town-owned trail because that's not where the real paydirt is for creating/diverting new transit trips. The place where 80%+ of that upside exists does have the cookie-cutter MassDOT landbank lease. The travesty of the Turkington action is just how tailor-made the Steamship Authority lot and revamped bus depot are for direct rail in their own right...not so much how that bill made the always-impractical Woods Hole restoration a degree further removed from reality.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:14 pm

Friday: 282 & 5 bikes
Saturday: 209 & 55 Bikes (53 bikes to Hyannis)
Sunday: 121 & 13 bikes
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:03 pm

So far from Boston:

Friday: 213 / 16 bikes

Saturday: 150 / 9 bikes
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:45 pm

Sunday: 111 + 21 bikes
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Falmouth Secondary to Otis » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:53 pm

Yellowspoon wrote:Slightly off topic: Are the tracks between Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole still usable?

I was under the impression that these tracks had been abandoned long ago and had been turned into a walking/bike path.

My daughter went to visit a friend who rented a house about a mile from the RR bridge in Monument Beach, about 100 yards from the tracks. My daughter swore she saw a train go by with passengers eating dinner. The Cape Cod dinner trains shows a route from Hyannis to Buzzards Bay, but nothing in the direction of Woods Hole. It would seem like a lot of work to use those tracks as the bridge must be down in order to use them (because the switch is so close to the bridge)


The tracks have never been abandoned between the Canal to North Falmouth then out to Otis / Joint Base Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Central Scenic train use's the line every season and while the Upper Cape Regional transfer station on Otis ( SEMASS trash train ) stopped at the end of December 2014, they are slated to start up once again after the final contract is approved which is to be voted on 8/21/17 by the Board of Managers. Also U.S. Army Col. Patrick Keefe wrote a letter to MassDOT on 6/1/17 stating that the Military plans to maintain and improve rail operations at Camp Edwards / Otis
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Cape Cod Central Dinner Train on the Falmouth Secondary line on 8/11/17 at Monument Beach in Bourne
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:34 pm

The discussion about the North Falmouth line, Joint Base Cape Cod and the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station probably belongs under the Mass Coastal Railroad (MC) Discussion thread, but here are some additional details:

A copy of Col. Keefe's June 1st letter to MassDOT has been posted to scribd by the Cape Cod Times and can be found at:

https://www.scribd.com/document/3558970 ... -to-Trails

The letter includes an interesting map showing Joint Base Cape Cod's plans for the rail lines on the base.

The link to the letter was posted in the Times' August 9th article titled "‘Rail-to-trail’ biking connector faces long odds." The article details opposition to the North Falmouth rail line's removal by JBCC, MassDOT, the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station's board of managers, Cavossa Disposal Corporation (the UCRTS board's chosen operator for the station), and Mass Coastal Railroad. My favorite line in the article is by Mass Coastal's president and COO Chris Podgurski -- I hope it is proven true:

"Bike path advocates are living in an “alternate reality” if they think the tracks will be ripped up, said P. Christopher Podgurski, president and chief operating officer of Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, which currently leases the railroad."

http://www.capecodtimes.com/news/201708 ... -long-odds

The Cavossa contract is scheduled to be voted upon by the UCRTS board next Monday, after a two-week delay. A majority of board members must approve the contract for it to become effective. The Friends of the Bourne Rail Trail have already forced the Bourne delegate to vote 'delay,' so they only need one more vote to block the contract. It appears from recent news articles neither the Sandwich nor Mashpee delegates are likely to vote for a delay, so the focus is now on the Falmouth delegate. The two-week delay was requested by Falmouth, so I have been concerned where Falmouth will fall on this vote, but after reading this August 15th Falmouth Enterprise article, I'm feeling a bit more hopeful:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/ ... f890a.html

In Bourne, the delegate has been forced to vote 'delay' by a 4-1 selectmen's vote. No such vote has been made in Falmouth, and the Enterprise article makes no mention of selectmen directing their delegate on his vote. The selectman who did request for more information on the contract delaying the vote is a bikeway proponent, though.

We'll see what happens with the Cavossa contract on Monday.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:52 pm

I always thought the line from North Falmouth to Camp Edwards was owned by the U.S. Government. It was listed in the NHRR employee timetables of the period as U.S. Government railroad or something to that effect although it was operated by the New Haven using New Haven's rules. Another thing we all need to remember and that is that rail trail people are almost always our friends nor are they friends of the railroad. Examples exist right on the Cape with the line to Falmouth which was needlessly torn up some years ago when it could have been of good use. It is even worse in New York State with the Catskill and Adirondack organizations both fighting to keep their lines intact with mixed results. Only when the rail lines in question have absolutely no possible hope for rail operations should they be torn up. All three examples that I have mentioned here had futures either as a common carrier or a tourist railroad and as such they should have been and should be left intact with not one particle of track torn up for a trail.
Repeat after me: RAIL TRAIL PEOPLE ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS!!
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:01 pm

Hi Noel,

You are correct -- the federal government owns the rail spur from North Falmouth onto Joint Base Cape Cod. The bikeway advocates are trying to block the transfer station on the base from reopening, as they don't want to see any rail traffic return to the rail line between the canal and North Falmouth. If they're successful, they'll then turn their efforts against Joint Base Cape Cod leadership's desire to keep the rail line in place for military use.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby BandA » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:10 pm

So the alternative is more trash and/or construction waste trucks on the road, and more soldiers killed when we go to war
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:56 am

There's no "alternative" because as detailed up the page what these earth-salters are attempting to do is 100.00% illegal when umpteen different parties with vested interest in the active rail line all have ironclad federal preemption protecting the line's active status. This trail scheme is acid fever dream at best, fake news at worst the more pub it gets and more hysteria it causes. There is ZERO comparison to Adirondack Scenic's predicament. The towns can cast as many show votes as they want, but they're incapable of causing even as much disruption as the Grafton & Upton gang of petitioners are at attacking that railroad's transload biz as a so-called "non-railroad" entity. Here there's no way possible to argue to the STB that an active rail line used every single week isn't an active rail line. The most damage these NIMBY's are capable of landing is gaining an injunction to shut down the reactivation of Falmouth Transfer Station for its new freight tenant...and those hearings are nearly over so this group started way too late to affect the conclusion of that proceeding.

Honestly...bridges clogged with trash trucks and soldiers-at-war??? Look at the facts before sounding alarms like that. This is a nothingburger's nothingburger in the real world of federal railroad regulation.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:47 am

Bill Reidy wrote:Hi Noel,

You are correct -- the federal government owns the rail spur from North Falmouth onto Joint Base Cape Cod. The bikeway advocates are trying to block the transfer station on the base from reopening, as they don't want to see any rail traffic return to the rail line between the canal and North Falmouth. If they're successful, they'll then turn their efforts against Joint Base Cape Cod leadership's desire to keep the rail line in place for military use.


Actually, MassDOT purchased the Otis Branch in 2015 from the base. Transaction was done quietly soon after they purchased the Framingham Secondary from CSX. The running track, wye, transfer station, and derelict yard area are all state-owned, while the military only retains the spur onto the active base itself X length north of the wye. This was done in direct support of the transfer station's reopening under new management, the CIP funding for Falmouth Branch upgrades, and what Col. Keefe described in his letter about enhancing base rail access. Putting the spur under the same MassDOT ownership as the to-be-upgraded branch was the conduit for all these upgrades now that two entities don't have to coordinate the red tape for reaching the transfer station, and the base is able to give its near-forgotten spurlet a little love now that they've lightened their load on administration of the trackage to the transfer station. This package of upgrades on the new CIP budget has been years in the making.


You all may want to check out this thread on the NE Railfan subforum, which got bumped to do some deep-diving into a trio of Cape rail line items that got left off of the final FY2017-21 MassDOT CIP funding list. Two of them are related to Buzzards Bay commuter rail (one for track, one for the station-proper), and one is for adding a wye leg to Cape Jct. so on-Cape trains do not have to induce a bridge opening and backup move @ Buzzards Bay station to get from the Cape Main to the Falmouth Branch. BB commuter rail was proposed in Gov. Patrick's huge 2013 transportation bill as a priority build, but since the Legislature significantly underfunded that bill it's been deferred indefinitely for future action. More practically, however, the large package of Cape Main upgrades that did hit the FY17-21 CIP for funding have to be constructed before you can even attempt a Foxboro-like commuter trial to BB...let alone finish the job. Especially with the Cohasset Narrows bridge west of the BB platform the biggest-ticket single structure under construction in the next 3 years. So these unfunded items were moot for the 2017-21 CIP to begin with, since the next CIP after this one would've been the first chance to do that work given their direct dependencies on upcoming work. However, their inclusion in the 2013 transpo bill and Bourne voting itself into the T district means there's urgency to move on at least a portion of them in the next CIP revision. So while tight budgets may deem that it's a Foxboro-like trial first and not the full extension package right away, you are very likely to see money committed to move some portion of these initiatives along in the next CIP...lest Bourne reconsider its district vote and Baker/Pollack make a political enemy out of the Cape Chamber of Commerce. Political expediency says that's not a hill nearly expensive enough for them to risk reelection political capital on with Plymouth & Barnstable County voters by backtracking.

By MassDOT's project numbering scheme these three items are in close enough succession that the eyebrow-raising Cape Jct. wye proposal appears to be some sort of direct project dependency for full BB commuter rail, and not some low-priority one-off. Since it's not a particularly expensive project, only requiring a strip of private property acquisition well-buffered behind one isolated residential home and minimal wetlands impacts, MassDOT may have deemed that the necessary quid pro quo concession to Iowa Pacific for a future Purple Line extension constraining CCCR's & Mass Coastal's slots across the bridge and onto the BB platform. It makes some degree of sense. The trash trains have more flexible scheduling if they can hit all of the on-Cape transfer stations in one direction, then need only a single bridge opening to precision-time their shot to Rochester between MBTA slots. And under a full 10 round-trip per day extended Middleboro schedule CCCR is going to have limited chances to hit BB station, meaning their primary vector for schedule and revenue growth in a commuter rail era is going to be "ringing the shore"-type excursions from Hyannis to North Falmouth instead of making every single schedule dependent on an open slot @ BB. So, logical reasoning that Iowa Pacific would push for the Cape Jct. wye leg and MassDOT would accommodate by lumping that proposal in with the BB commuter rail CIP items awaiting future action. It sets the terms of engagement. Now we just have to wait to see if a Foxboro-like limited commuter trial in 2022 is enough to trigger the Cape Jct. cheapie, or if the state's only going to do that mid-decade after a couple years of trial schedules when they inevitably fund the full-schedule upgrades.


The Otis Branch buy feeds into this CIP accounting, too. If Iowa Pacific is looking at a future of doing a lot more thru-running from Cape Main to Falmouth Branch so all-day MBTA trains get their priority slots on the mainland, they're going to need some modest amount of space for a second ops base @ Otis. Definitely so if the excursion trains are going to be "ringing the shore", as some trips to Hyannis will surely be originating from North Falmouth; they'll be turning more equipment between runs @ Otis wye and laying over for the night by the transfer station instead of threading every single train out of Hyannis. Figure also that if the trash trains are consolidating their movements to all on-Cape stops before departing for Rochester between T slots they start pinging Yarmouth-Falmouth, then staging departure to Rochester via Falmouth...also requiring more use of Otis turning wye and storage track therein. The derelict freight yard next to the transfer station thus becomes a key part of the MassDOT purchase, as CCCR/MC will have a need for a few new storage tracks for these revamped moves. Furthermore, Hyannis Yard is cramped so any increases in layovers for additional Cape Flyer frequencies, limited-service Purple Line commuter extras, or a return of Amtrak during the 2020's pinches already tight space inside CCCR/MC's main base of operations. They may need a second remote yard for storing equipment and staging schedules @ Otis, and certainly would desire having that option in-hand as a means of charting revenue growth. So this line Otis spur buy by MassDOT provides that option. And it's all related to the Cape Jct. & BB commuter rail unfunded CIP line items, which are in turn related to the funded track upgrade line items and new transfer station tenant.


Funding timetables aside, the various moving funding parts fit together pretty nicely and paint a bright picture for where the various rail-user parties are taking the complete Cape rail network in the next decade.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:20 am

Thanks F-line -- I didn't know about the change in ownership. Makes perfect sense in the context of the state and base's plans.
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby Bill Reidy » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:53 pm

Back on topic, today's Bourne Enterprise reports ridership is up again this year on the CapeFLYER, and the train will once again cover operating costs this season:

"Ever since 2013, every Friday evening between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, the MBTA’s CapeFLYER train has arrived in Buzzards Bay at approximately 7:15 PM.

"There to greet the train on each occasion has been Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Thomas S. Cahir. Mr. Cahir said that he takes the time to count the number of passengers and greet the people who have chosen to use the service. The vast majority take a moment to thank him, he said.

"“It’s a unique experience. Everyone loves it,” he said.

"The numbers bear out his claim. Since its inception five years ago, annual revenues have exceeded operating costs by as much as $20,000 to $30,000. There is a corresponding rise in ridership as well. As of Sunday, August 13, 10,927 passengers had taken the CapeFLYER this year compared to 10,590 at the same time last summer, he said.

"“It’s gotten better every year for five years,” he said..."

https://www.capenews.net/bourne/news/ca ... edf85.html
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:22 pm

Friday's edition only had 196 & 10 bikes out of Boston. Into Hyannis with 203 and 15 bikes

Saturday's train had 112 & 12 bikes. Into Hyannis with 120 & 13 bikes.

D
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Re: Cape Flyer Discussion

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:35 pm

The Sunday edition has 142 & 14 bikes out of Boston. Into Hyannis with 156 & 11 bikes.

D
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