Saving money

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Saving money

Postby Yellowspoon » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:07 am

I am a huge rail fan. But I'm also an accountant. Here's why an underground North-South-Rail-Link (NSRL) is a poor idea. Do something else with the money.

Even in Romney's day, the expected cost was eight billion. At four percent interest, that means that the interest costs are $867,000 per DAY. That does not include the operating costs or maintenance costs. A million dollars a day may not seem like much to you, but it's more than I make in a whole year. Even if five thousand people per day used this link, that's still $160 per trip. It's not worth it. And I think the number of users would be less than two thousand per day ($430 per trip).

The first question I have is to determine what the goal is.
A - Do you want through trains from NYC to Manchester?
B - Do you want through trains from Framingham to Lynn?
C - Do riders from Wilmington want to get to South Station without changing trains? We all want to get to our destination without changing trains. If you're going to connect North Station to South Station, why not connect North Station directly with Logan Airport, too?

(1) There is no significant demand. Between 1901 and 1938, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated was an existing NSRL. At the heyday of rail travel, it was abandoned due to lack of use. Currently, the #4 bus only runs during weekday rush hour.

(2) How many people want to get from NYC/Providence/Canton to Wilmington/Manchester/Portland? Consider the following: New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. Less than three miles away is the most populated island in the nation. Rails already connect these two places. Several hundred passenger trains per day use these tracks. So, take guess. How many trains per day take passengers directly from New Jersey to the most populated island in the USA? The answer is ZERO. In order to get from New Jersey to Long Island, one must change trains in Manhattan. Surely, there must be thousands of people that want to get from NJ to Jamaica. So if the rail link already exists, why isn't it used? We all want to get to our destination without changing trains, but we can't connect every village to every other village. Note: this same logic applies to those who want to connect Penn Station to GCT.

(3) In order to get under the Big Dig and subways, subterranean NSRL would need to start descending by Copley Square and could not emerge before Somerville. Why not build on the Rose Kennedy Greenway? Let's see how many North End residents favor that plan.

(4) Are we going to electrify all the way to Framingham/Middleboro and to Manchester/Portland for 20 passengers a day?

So save the two million dollars to do a study. It's simply a waste of money. There, I saved two million dollars.
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Re: Saving money

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:36 pm

I'll take a stab at a few of these.

(1) There is no significant demand. Between 1901 and 1938, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated was an existing NSRL. At the heyday of rail travel, it was abandoned due to lack of use. Currently, the #4 bus only runs during weekday rush hour.


The Atlantic Ave El was not equivalent to the NSRL. Commuter trains from the south did not run through South Station and onto the El. And I'd like a citation for it being abandoned "due to lack of use." As for the #4 bus, there's not a huge demand for it because if you're going to have to transfer anyway, why not just take the Orange Line instead of a bus?

(3) In order to get under the Big Dig and subways, subterranean NSRL would need to start descending by Copley Square and could not emerge before Somerville.


Big Dig planners left space for it within the slurry walls around the Big Dig tunnels. Yes, the NSRL tunnels would likely need to fork from the surface routes before all those routes merge together (e.g. the NEC/B&A and Old Colony would need separate portals), but that's why a NSRL would likely be implemented in phases, with only the major routes feeding into it, at least initially. And personally I don't see a problem with having portals farther out. What would be the problem with the northern portal(s) being in Somerville by BET, for example?

(4) Are we going to electrify all the way to Framingham/Middleboro and to Manchester/Portland for 20 passengers a day?


Many of these lines should be electrified anyway. Run electrics to Providence, Worcester, Lowell, and Beverly, maybe more, and use dual-modes for other lines that will still run through the NSRL.

--

The plan I've heard unofficially tossed around is to run-through Amtrak trains to Woburn, allowing those north of Boston to have an equivalent to RTE station, and relocate Amtrak's presence in Southampton St Yard to Woburn, where land is cheaper, freeing up the current yard space. Commuter rail lines would be paired, e.g. B&A-Eastern, Franklin-Haverhill, Providence-Lowell, Old Colony-Fitchburg. The first phase would involve electric short-turns (e.g. Salem-Framingham) running through the NSRL, with some high-demand outer zone trains running through using dual-modes and the remaining trains terminating at the existing surface stations. I think that'd net a lot more than 2,000 daily passengers. 129,000 people ride the commuter rail every day. More than 2,000 of them are going to make use of such routings as Lynn-Yawkey, or Woburn-Ruggles. Especially if the proposed Central Station is included in the plan, I'd hazard a guess that maybe 50,000 of those 129,000 people are going to use at least a portion of the NSRL. Plus the NSRL will likely make the commuter rail more attractive, drawing more ridership. Plus you have Amtrak ridership. Then you have the other benefits, like ease of moving equipment from one side of the system to the other, and removing even a portion of the ridership currently cramming onto the orange, green, and red lines for last-mile trips.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:15 pm

Yellowspoon wrote:And I think the number of users would be less than two thousand per day


This is what I have the hardest time figuring out, but I respectfully disagree on a number of other points as well. How do you come up with 2,000 riders through the NSRL? We're talking Amtrak, commuter rail, and possibly a new regional EMU service all utilizing this rail link. North of the city, there is no direct access to Amtrak services to points west -- if regional services terminated at Anderson/Woburn at a minimum, then we're talking ridership from that station on the level of Canton/128. The Downeaster is also currently noncontiguous with the rest of the Amtrak system, meaning riders need to utilize a third party (and third seat) to make connections. This also results in the need for another crew to make a circuitous route to perform equipment swaps.

Next, let's think of folks traveling between anywhere on the Blue Line or Eastern Route and the Red Line or Southside lines -- that's a three seat ride reduced to two seats, and in some cases one seat. The same applies to folks on the Lowell and Haverhill lines going to the south side or Red Line. These are also folks who will be removed from the core subway system, adding more capacity to subway system without any work on the subway system. While few people may currently commuter Lynn to Worcester, Woburn to Providence, or Fitchburg to Quincy, the ability for growth in that market comes to fruition -- and until that comes into play and grows, thousands will already use the services for points in between, ensuring that the link never goes to waste.

Lastly on ridership, the ability for EMU services to be layered on should not be overlooked at all. We're talking about the ability to provide rapid transit or near-rapid transit level service with existing infrastructure. This creates a dense urban network with a plethora of service options and capacity. Resources from elsewhere, such as buses could be reviewed and reorganized to ensure a high efficiency network that drastically increases competition with driving.

Now, a point you didn't mention is layover space and the service and inspection facilities. Deadhead moves on equipment could be reduced significantly with the ability to utilize other facilities or terminate a run closer to those facilities. Readville and Billerica could be built and easily utilized by sets from the other side of the system. Just terminate the trains at Woburn or Hyde Park and proceed to the facility without changing ends or performing circuitous moves or requiring another crew. There's a few ways this could all play out, but this is just one suggestion of mine.
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Re: Saving money

Postby dbperry » Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:25 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote: These are also folks who will be removed from the core subway system, adding more capacity to subway system without any work on the subway system.


I'll bet there are 2000 people who get off the CR at Porter and use the Red Line to get to the 'south' side of downtown Boston (via Downtown Crossing or South Station) everyday.

I'm looking forward to reading the results of the $2 million study to see what the experts say about ridership, demand, and feasibility. Will it be perfect and not controversial? Doubt it, but probably better than what I can do off the top of my head.

Why is this a separate thread and not in the NSRL thread?
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Re: Saving money

Postby BandA » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:52 pm

A million dollars a day may not seem like much to you, but it's more than I make in a whole year.
Wish I had that problem, lol
Even if five thousand people per day used this link, that's still $160 per trip. It's not worth it. And I think the number of users would be less than two thousand per day ($430 per trip).
Exactly; Only way to justify is if you have the same or greater passenger density per track than you have per lane of I-93.
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Re: Saving money

Postby The EGE » Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:12 pm

dbperry wrote:I'll bet there are 2000 people who get off the CR at Porter and use the Red Line to get to the 'south' side of downtown Boston (via Downtown Crossing or South Station) everyday.


A 2012 CTPS study showed 1616 people transferring to the Red Line at Porter. Many were presumably going to Kendall Square (which is difficult to reach from North Station), others to downtown or the Seaport, and some to Harvard/Central or Alewife. With the job growth in all these areas recently, 2000 daily transfers is very likely today.
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Re: Saving money

Postby SM89 » Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:40 pm

It also should be worth noting that if NSRL isn't built, they'll have to spend billions to expand South Station to keep up with current demand. If you want to make a money comparison, you should first subtract the cost of the South Station expansion from NSRL. With NSRL, you wouldn't need the additional tracks at South Station.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BandA » Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:57 pm

As was pointed out in another thread, a deep cavern South Station + North Station + couple mile long tunnel is going to cost a lot of money. Probably more than expanding south station and increasing yard capacity. Thru-running stations are more efficient than stub-end terminals, but I don't think that's enough to justify the expense. Better to spend money adding express tracks to the subway system, expand South Station, make CR fare system compatible, and increase CR frequency. Imagine if Orange line ran express trains from North Station to Back Bay, and if there was easy access from North Station CR platforms to Orange line.
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Re: Saving money

Postby ohalloranchris » Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:40 pm

BandA wrote:As was pointed out in another thread, a deep cavern South Station + North Station + couple mile long tunnel is going to cost a lot of money. Probably more than expanding south station and increasing yard capacity. Thru-running stations are more efficient than stub-end terminals, but I don't think that's enough to justify the expense. Better to spend money adding express tracks to the subway system, expand South Station, make CR fare system compatible, and increase CR frequency. Imagine if Orange line ran express trains from North Station to Back Bay, and if there was easy access from North Station CR platforms to Orange line.


True, but one would think that adding express tracks to a very old subway system would also be quite expensive. That's essentially a new tunnel through the heart of downtown Boston.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BvaleShihTzu » Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:00 am

Take a look at where job growth is likely to be concentrated in the future, and you will see a lot of sites which are near commuter rail but badly served by the current North/South divide. That's important for the modern economy, where job changes are a fact of life -- living on one side of the divide makes whole swaths of the city awkward for rail commuting from one side or the other. Previously it was pointed out that 2000+ riders certainly alight at Porter to get to places ill-served by North Station. EZRide is apparently hauling close to 3000 per day, mostly North Station - Kendall -- and is SRO throughout the rush hours.

Assembly Row -- Orange Line access via Back Bay, but that doesn't help Old Colony line commuters. Just getting commuters to delay switching to Orange Line from Back Bay to North Station would ease central subway congestion; Seaport District -- royal pain to get to from northside. Allston Landing -- really big pain to get to northside

Throw in also all the nearby older cities that could become residential hubs (e.g. Lawrence, Lynn, Chelsea on the northside) with better transportation to sites across Boston. There's a lot of additional potential demand, and that demand is certain to grow.
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Re: Saving money

Postby leviramsey » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:28 pm

BandA wrote:As was pointed out in another thread, a deep cavern South Station + North Station + couple mile long tunnel is going to cost a lot of money. Probably more than expanding south station and increasing yard capacity. Thru-running stations are more efficient than stub-end terminals, but I don't think that's enough to justify the expense. Better to spend money adding express tracks to the subway system, expand South Station, make CR fare system compatible, and increase CR frequency. Imagine if Orange line ran express trains from North Station to Back Bay, and if there was easy access from North Station CR platforms to Orange line.


Let's consider what is required for Orange Line express from BBY to BON. Every station between those would have to be rebuilt, on top of the tunnel work to add the track. It's the stations that are expensive, not the tunneling; Orange Line add-a-track to support expresses from BBY to BON is in the same cost league as the NSRL, even before considering BOS expansion.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BandA » Sun Feb 28, 2016 2:14 am

BvaleShihTzu wrote:Take a look at where job growth is likely to be concentrated in the future, and you will see a lot of sites which are near commuter rail but badly served by the current North/South divide. That's important for the modern economy, where job changes are a fact of life -- living on one side of the divide makes whole swaths of the city awkward for rail commuting from one side or the other. Previously it was pointed out that 2000+ riders certainly alight at Porter to get to places ill-served by North Station. EZRide is apparently hauling close to 3000 per day, mostly North Station - Kendall -- and is SRO throughout the rush hours.

Assembly Row -- Orange Line access via Back Bay, but that doesn't help Old Colony line commuters. Just getting commuters to delay switching to Orange Line from Back Bay to North Station would ease central subway congestion; Seaport District -- royal pain to get to from northside. Allston Landing -- really big pain to get to northside

Throw in also all the nearby older cities that could become residential hubs (e.g. Lawrence, Lynn, Chelsea on the northside) with better transportation to sites across Boston. There's a lot of additional potential demand, and that demand is certain to grow.
If the demand is there, then the customers (or the real estate developers, or the real estate owners) will happily pay all the costs in full. Oh right, I forgot, they want somebody else to pay the costs.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:23 pm

Yeah, they want someone else to pay, just like a majority of roadway and airport users.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BvaleShihTzu » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:23 pm

BandA wrote: If the demand is there, then the customers (or the real estate developers, or the real estate owners) will happily pay all the costs in full. Oh right, I forgot, they want somebody else to pay the costs.


There are enormous network effects & benefits which are spread around. Better access to job markets enhances property values across the MBTA service area. Pulling riders into the T creates capacity on the roads for those who can't/won't use public transit. NSRL is a great example of this; the benefits will be spread across the system with little if any concentrated on individual spots, because it will enhance connectivity and provide more options across the system.

Note also that in Cambridge the EZRide is paid for by real estate developers and employers; it is not impossible to get them to kick in. Some employers also run private shuttles to deal with gaps in the MBTA system. Poor transit imposes real costs on employers, which they can and sometimes do recognize.
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Re: Saving money

Postby rethcir » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:55 pm

BON to BBY by OL takes like 10 minutes. Why spend billions to save somebody Like two minutes? Meanwhile you'd be inconveniencing everyone getting out at state, DTX etc.
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