10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Globe

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10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Globe

Postby octr202 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:38 pm

Out in today's Globe, someone overshadowed by the Red/Orange car announcement:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/1 ... story.html

Massachusetts’ commuter rail system, once plagued by delays and widespread consumer dissatisfaction, has succeeded in improving its service, but is wrestling with another persistent problem: a decline in ridership.

Bucking national trends, fewer people ride the commuter rail now than 10 years ago, when MBCR took over running the rail service, the state’s largest operating contract. That contract is up for renewal in June 2014, and the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. is facing competition.

...
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:23 pm

I strongly suspect that the last couple fare increases haven't helped. From inner zones, express buses are roughly half the price of a train ticket.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby NH2060 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:37 pm

Well when you consider what's happened over the past 10 years (2003-2013) you've got:

1) The bank collapses/recession.
2) Elimination of weekend CR service on the Needham, Greenbush, and Kingston/Plymouth lines.
3) The fare hikes (as Tom noted).
4) The cost of petrol in MA, from what I've seen, isn't as expensive as in other states(?).
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby GE45tonner » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:58 pm

Some Rhode Islanders living near the border go to MA to buy gas. The prices are much better over there.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby Rbts Stn » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:46 pm

Bad service and increased parking fees as well.

My commute changed due to a new job that precludes taking the train, but my old "gang of six" from my train is down to 1, as others are driving in or taking the Green Line instead of risking canceled trains.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby BandA » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:54 pm

GE45tonner wrote:Some Rhode Islanders living near the border go to MA to buy gas. The prices are much better over there.
OT gas prices, I think, are higher in 4 out of the 5 surrounding states.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby jbvb » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:35 pm

On top of the fare increases, most of the commuter rail lots got increased to $4/day in this period too.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:25 pm

NH2060 wrote:Well when you consider what's happened over the past 10 years (2003-2013) you've got:

1) The bank collapses/recession.
2) Elimination of weekend CR service on the Needham, Greenbush, and Kingston/Plymouth lines.
3) The fare hikes (as Tom noted).
4) The cost of petrol in MA, from what I've seen, isn't as expensive as in other states(?).


Add several years worth of construction on the Fairmount, Fitchburg, and Haverhill lines + the rolling Old Colony shutdowns for concrete tie replacement and that's some additional seepage.


I doubt there is any one thing, just a collection of temporal events that contributed to the decline. The lousy OTP + the reductions in weekend service are the two they are most able to correct by stepping up their game. Fares aren't ever going to drop. And gas prices or the economy are things no transit agency has any effect over, and which affect all transit agencies more or less equally in the northeast.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby djimpact1 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:29 pm

I never take the Commuter Rail anywhere. Its fare structure makes no sense, especially in some areas that are also served by subway. This has led me to save a little bit of money by taking the subway over Commuter Rail. Yes, subway service typically takes more time to get to your destination, but if you can withstand the difference in duration, I feel it's worth it.

Example: I live near Braintree Station & want to get to South Station. For roundtrip fare, it costs me $4 on the Red Line, as opposed to $12 on the Commuter Rail. To me, it's not worth the extra $8 to get there a little faster (and as long as such a difference in fare exists, I'll always choose subway first).
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby jgeary27 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:09 pm

For me, it was a combination of things. With the down economy, traffic isn't as bad. My job is flexible about when I arrive/leave, so I can avoid rush hour. Worcester line schedules have gotten slower despite the state buying the tracks. Layer a punishing fare increase on top of that, and the train doesn't make sense anymore.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby Eliphaz » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:12 pm

Liefelong Fitchburg line patron here. parking, miserable failure, number 1, 2 and 3. Concord center being the one bright exception.
ten years is a long time, I imagine the three and even the five year trends are up.
the other big disincentive and downer prior to 2009 was the suckiness of North station, the truely unbelievable madness of the afternoon commute when there was any kind of event at - let me think back - the Fleet Center :( :( :( ohhh f*** me , I hated those days.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby trainhq » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:37 pm

What surprises me is that by comparison, SEPTA train ridership has gone up by 30% in the same
period. SEPTA, for a long time, was a service that had significant reliability issues-strikes, late
trains, etc. It may be that they have fixed things there and made their system run better, or
maybe it's just that their model of 3 car EMU trains running more often (closer to subway
like frequency) is one people like better now. Not really sure, but perhaps a more detailed
comparison of the two systems would help explain why one has gone up and the other (MBTA) down.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby Charliemta » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:15 pm

I wonder if part of the decline in commuter rail ridership is due to the Big Dig widening the Central Artery, adding the Ted Williams Tunnel, and improving traffic in general.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby wicked » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:01 am

Ted Williams has been open since 1995, and open to all for well more than a decade (2001?).

The tunnels improved traffic for people going through Boston -- was able to get from Dorchester to Medford, in AM rush, in about 15 minutes last week -- but I don't think you can really say they made traffic into the core all that much better. There are still backups at the downtown exits.

--

About 10 years ago I was working in Pa. and took the train home for the weekend. There was relatively frequent service on the weekend, even out to Paoli, which made the Amtrak connection possible.
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Re: 10-Year decline in Commuter Rail Ridership - Boston Glob

Postby areaone » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:32 am

The addition of regular express bus service from Southern NH/Tyngsboro has also been a significant impact on CR ridership.

Over the past 10 years, you have the addition of Express Bus Service from Salem, Londonderry, Manchester, Nashua, and Tyngsboro MA, with FREE parking, offering a single-seat ride to South Station & Logan. Contrast with paid parking at Kennedy/Lowell & North Billerica, the Lowell LIne CR doesn't look so attractive.

One way fares are $12 South Station/$17 Logan.
I could see the NH Express Bus siphoning riders from Lowell Line, and even from Fitchburg.

With the latest Fare Hike, the one-way fare from about $5.25 Lowell-North Station, up to $8.25. That increase, combined with the parking hikes, made Commuter rail unattractive.

From a personal standpoint, I now drive & park free on-street a Malden, then use a Charliecard to take a bus/subway fare to the Orange Line.
Longer drive, but no parking charge, no waiting at North Station.

The last time I regularly took CR was for a part-time day job in the Longwood Medical Area, in 2005.
I'd finish a third-shift job in Milford NH at 0600, drive to North Leominster or Lowell , catch CR to North Station, then Green Line to Longwood.
The CR ride allowed me to catch a morning nap on the way in.
Not sure how I'd do the same shift these days.

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