Bringing Commuter Rail in House

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby bierhere » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:48 pm

In the debate last week between the two Democratic candidates for Governor, both proposed bringing the commuter rail system "in-house" making it directly state run and firing the contractor.

I'm curious what that would entail. I think various threads in the past may have touched on it, but I could necessary find one dedicated to it. What would need to occur to have the state take over the operation directly? How long would it realistically take? How much would it cost, any estimates? What is the real benefit, if any?
bierhere
 
Posts: 262
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 4:09 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby BandA » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:00 pm

Aren't transit workers paid (& benefits) more than Commuter Rail workers?
User avatar
BandA
 
Posts: 2455
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby dieciduej » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:50 am

By moving the commuter rail out of the State's house there is a cost savings and a person/company to blame. Take the winter 2014/2015 if the commuter rail was state run and fell apart we would want the pol's heads on a platter but its being run by a contractor so we won't invite them back for a new contract. The State's hands are clean! So I wouldn't think they will be brought under the State fold anytime soon.
JoeD

Member of IEEE, BSRA, ERA, BERA, SPH&TS, SFRH&MS, RGM&HS, UPHS, NHRHTA, NE PRRT&HS and PRRT&HS

This message was sent from a DEC VT100!
User avatar
dieciduej
 
Posts: 596
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 9:37 am

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby BandA » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:22 am

This state's "Track" record is pretty dismal both in managing projects in-house or hiring management companies. One question is will they get decent bids on the next contract? Amtrak & PAR did not bid last time.
User avatar
BandA
 
Posts: 2455
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby edbear » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:48 pm

The MBTA's pay scale is higher and eligibility for a full retirement is far fewer years than for a railroad. Other benefits are more generous too.
edbear
 
Posts: 462
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:44 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:31 pm

What the critters in the state capital need to do is study how New York State did it with LIRR and later on with Metro North.
Both are state run operations.
NJT was a good state run operation until former Gov. Christe played with the $$$ and planted a bunch of political hacks in key positions,
that should be the way of HOW NOT TO RUN STATE COMMUTER OPERATION!
Backshophoss
 
Posts: 5535
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:58 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:36 pm

Backshophoss wrote:NJT was a good state run operation until former Gov. Christe played with the $$$ and planted a bunch of political hacks in key positions.
Some NJT bus routes and two of the light rail lines (HBLR, RiverLine) are private contract carriers.

MARC was among the few legacy non-Conrail commuter services that remained private contract (CSX) long after a state agency took over.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
User avatar
R36 Combine Coach
 
Posts: 5200
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby CRail » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:12 am

edbear wrote:The MBTA's pay scale is higher and eligibility for a full retirement is far fewer years than for a railroad. Other benefits are more generous too.

Full retirement is 30 years for both MBTA and railroad retirement. Different classifications within the transit system and railroad each have their own pay scales. Transit systems and railroads are not comparable, and who the operator is whether it's a public agency or a private company has little to no impact on collective bargaining agreements. Remember, too, that public agency payroll information is public record, that of a private company is not.

In the current system, the T has to pay enough to run the system and have some left over for corporate profits. Private companies have shareholders that want to get paid. The argument for the sort of arrangement now is that a private company has an incentive to reduce costs so it can make more money. What it actually does is incentivize the company to spend as little as possible on maintaining the operation at a savings of nothing to the taxpayers since it's paid a flat rate, save for quality of service standards fines and incentives.

This arrangement made sense when the T was assuming railroad assets and responsibilities with none of the knowledge or experience of how to run a railroad. Simply taking on the capital control and operational expenses while continuing to utilize the manpower and management skill of the companies who already provided the service was, in my opinion, the best course of action to take at the time. Now that the Penn Central, New Haven, and Boston and Maine railroads are all fallen flags, and what railroads remain abandoned passenger service decades ago, there's no one left to hire that can provide the benefits that the heritage railroads did in the inception of the Commuter Rail. It no longer makes sense to bring in multinational, multi-functional (like Veolia, the majority component in MBCR) corporations in to run such a specific operation.

The best case scenario in my mind is for the railroad to become the property and responsibility of MassDOT, leaving the MBTA to go back to focusing on transit. The MBTA and Commuter rail would be separate divisions of MassDOT the way New York City Transit and Metro North are separate divisions of the MTA.
Moderator: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Avatar:3679A (since wrecked)/3623B (now in service as 3636B).
User avatar
CRail
 
Posts: 2281
Joined: Tue May 18, 2004 8:27 am
Location: Eastie

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby Balerion » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:36 am

CRail wrote:The best case scenario in my mind is for the railroad to become the property and responsibility of MassDOT, leaving the MBTA to go back to focusing on transit. The MBTA and Commuter rail would be separate divisions of MassDOT the way New York City Transit and Metro North are separate divisions of the MTA.


Our rail system is transit and we need to be thinking more progressively about how to make it more transit-like and less commuter-only. I don't think kicking it from the MBTA to MassDOT would further that end.
Balerion
 
Posts: 132
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:57 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby CRail » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:17 am

Railroad and transit are not the same. For one thing, they’re governed differently. It’s interesting that you take issue with my scenario for it not being transity enough despite the example I give being the closest thing to a long distance subway system this country has.
Moderator: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Avatar:3679A (since wrecked)/3623B (now in service as 3636B).
User avatar
CRail
 
Posts: 2281
Joined: Tue May 18, 2004 8:27 am
Location: Eastie

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:28 pm

I've ridden a lot in Boston, Chicago, Santiago de Chile, Oslo, Salt Lake City. In general, on that list, the two easiest for the passenger are Oslo and Salt Lake City, where the same agency runs buses, trolleys, subways in Oslo, and trains, and has them in the same fare structure with the same fare system. The hardest for the rider is Chicago, where Metra and the L are totally separate, use totally different fare structures and payment systems, and, due to unfortunate inherited designs, don't even connect with each other at the same stations. In Boston, the T is a bit of both: Commuter Rail connects well to the subway, and there are passes that cover both, but one can't get a one-way ticket that covers both systems.

Not every place needs to do what Oslo does, and have all modes of transportation cost the same within a given zone or across a given set of zones. I can see reasons to charge extra for express services, whether that's commuter rail instead of subway, express buses, or something else. UTA in Salt Lake does that smoothly, using one payment system that can sell a ticket from any station to any other station, priced according to distance and modes needed. But splitting up the T's partially unified system would make things more complicated. Apart from potentially breaking up the website, trip planner, holiday scheduling, and other customer info, it would create two separate entities fighting for funding, possibly leading to a Chicagoland result -- way more money for commuter rail than for subway and bus. And that outcome wouldn't be good for anyone except suburbanites who work close to a CR station, esp if the two entities no longer gave a good deal on combined CR-subway passes.

Boston CR is perhaps more different from subway than Chicago Metra is (especially the Metra Electric district). It is certainly more different that Oslo train service, esp. on the busy main line, is from subway service -- headways can be similar. Possibly Boston CR should change to be more transit-like: more frequent, therefore possibly electric, more automated fare collection. But that doesn't really matter; whatever happens, Boston CR and transit should be part of the same system.

I am not saying the same entity has to physically operate the the trains, buses, trolleys, subway trains, commuter boats, but I am saying that the same entity should set the fares, sell the tickets, and probably determine the levels of service, and especially tell passengers how to find their way. It's just going to be an easier trip that way.

Anyone who wants a counter-example could consider Tokyo, where two different subway companies run more or less identical services, JR East runs above-ground service on the same headways and in the same basic style of equipment as the subway companies, and a few "private railways" run suburban service from pretty far out of town into downtown via trackage rights on regular subway lines. But there there are similar fares for similar service, a single plastic card to pay all the fares, and a possibility of passes that cover either one subway company, both, or subway and train, IIRC. More than three entities, almost seamless travel, except for extra turnstiles here and there. But I doubt separating the CR from the rest of the T would lead to a situation anything like the one in Tokyo. :)
Arborwayfan
 
Posts: 764
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:35 pm

Germany has that situation in many cities, where buses, streetcars, and subways are operated by one entity and commuter rail by another -- sometimes DB and sometimes a regional agency-- but as far as the passenger is concerned it's all one: the fare from one zone to another is the same regardless of the mode used (and mostly Proof of Payment -- are you listening, SEPTA?) and the various operators get together periodically to apportion total revenues according to recent actual ridership. It's called a Tarifverbund and seems to work fine -- they have them all over.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3909
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:59 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:But I doubt separating the CR from the rest of the T would lead to a situation anything like the one in Tokyo. :)


I'm crossing my fingers that Brightline and Texas Central actually go somewhere and get the ball rolling for more Japan-style private passenger rail development.

Imagine a world where a private developer could decide to reactivate an old ROW to their new development in order to boost the value of it, while leasing trackage rights along the T's ROWs into the city, all under a unified fare structure. Something like reactivating the Minuteman bikeway with pantograph-equipped EMU's that run from transit-oriented-developments in Bedford/Burlington to Alewife where they run into Boston along the Red Line trackage before short-turning at JFK and heading back North, or developers in Marlborough, Sudbury, and Waltham deciding to re-activate the Central Mass to pump the value of their residential/commercial properties along it by way of passenger service into North Station via their own rolling stock. One can dream, I guess...
Bramdeisroberts
 
Posts: 356
Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:45 pm

Re: Bringing Commuter Rail in House

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:49 pm

Who knows ... it may only take one developer (Brightline?) to do it successfully, and then others may follow.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3909
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm


Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests