Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:09 pm

atlantis wrote: I don't think we should write off the Greenbush line just yet. I think improvements must be made such as better transit connections at stations.
In my opinion, it seems in this country, especially this state, commuter rail is often set up as an extension of driving. For example, at Greenbush station, I'm not aware of any connecting bus to Scituate. I don't think thaer'es even a local taxi service. (although someone can correct me on this)
Such transit connections could make the service more viable, IMHO.

Hingham and Scituate are entirely creations of the auto...basically zero multifamily homes, and single family homes on large lots. Youre not going to change them not matter how many bus dollars you thow at them. I want to throw bus $...but at places like Chelsea and Watertown...they'd use them!
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby UpperHarlemLine4ever » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:18 am

Let me get this straight. Bazillions of dollars were spent to reopen this line and now people are calling for it's closure. No, don't go there. Here in New York, Metro North RR is bursting at the seams. I've seen trains arrive at terminals (Croton Harmon and North White Plains and these are terminals, not intermediate stations on the lines) where you would think a subway train, not a commuter rail train had just arrived. Years backs lines were abandoned and due to political and real estate interests, these line, eventhough the right of ways exist (well at least one) will never be rebuilt. One line was unfortunately built a bit ahead of it's time. This line was also a NH subsidiary. If it had lasted even 5 years more today it would be reducing the crammed ridership on one of the lines. Don't reabandon a line which 10 years from now you'll be kicking yourself in the backsides for not keeping.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Ron Newman » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:30 am

Hingham and Scituate are entirely creations of the auto.


No, both existed centuries before there were any automobiles around. They were settled during the same decade as Boston. The Old Ship Church in Hingham is one of the oldest in the whole USA.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby livesteamer » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:50 am

Ron Newman wrote:
Hingham and Scituate are entirely creations of the auto.


No, both existed centuries before there were any automobiles around. They were settled during the same decade as Boston. The Old Ship Church in Hingham is one of the oldest in the whole USA.



While it is drifting off topic, I will absolutely agree that Scituate did not grow up around the automobile. I grew up in Scituate having moved there in 1957. Scituate was a sleepy little seacoast town (with a year round population of something less than 7500) and the Greenbush line was a critical link to Boston. The building of the Southeast Express sealed the fate of the Old Colony and created all the auomobile dependant suburbs we now know.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby butts260 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:51 pm

livesteamer wrote:
Ron Newman wrote:
Hingham and Scituate are entirely creations of the auto.


No, both existed centuries before there were any automobiles around. They were settled during the same decade as Boston. The Old Ship Church in Hingham is one of the oldest in the whole USA.



While it is drifting off topic, I will absolutely agree that Scituate did not grow up around the automobile.


Yup ... two of my ancestors were: Tim Cushing, born 1738 in Hingham, who married Desire Jenkins, born 1745 in Scituate.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:41 pm

Arlington: Hingham and Scituate are entirely creations of the auto.
Ron Newman: No, both existed centuries before there were any automobiles around. They were settled during the same decade as Boston. The Old Ship Church in Hingham is one of the oldest in the whole USA.Livesteamer: I will absolutely agree that Scituate did not grow up around the automobile. I grew up in Scituate having moved there in 1957. Scituate was a sleepy little seacoast town (with a year round population of something less than 7500) and the Greenbush line was a critical link to Boston. The building of the Southeast Express sealed the fate of the Old Colony and created all the auomobile dependant suburbs we now know.


Oh come on "grew up" or "creation" isn't the same as "originally settled"...heck, they were Wampanoag subsistance villages originally ;-)

Here's the on-topic restatement: TODAY's Hingham and Scituate owe their prosperity to the automobile. The Scituate of the early 1900s, with its layout of many houses by the sea (and few clustered near the rails) and no significant industrial concentrations show that it was neither a "mill town" or a "rail commuter" community, but rather was a very-low density seaside retreat town until the advent of the automobile.

Census Population of Scituate (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical ... sachusetts )

1900 2,470
1910 2,482
1920 2,534
1930 3,118
1940 4,130
1950 5,993
....1951 Route 128 opens (with non-freeway branches to Hingham & points south)
....1959 Old Colony Ends / SE Expwy Opens
1960 11,214
1970 16,973
1980 17,317
2000 17,863

Today's Scituate was TRANSFORMED from sleepy summer seacoast town to a year-round bedroom community of boston (population ~18,000) by the automobile. It has no significant industrial or office concentrations, and few living in town now could afford to live there if they could not be connected to their high-paying jobs by the automobile.
Last edited by Arlington on Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Teamdriver » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:01 pm

This line serves quite the affluent area.I dont think parking fees or train fares mean too much here. i just dont get why these people would rather drive up rte 3a or rte 3 in all that traffic than be in a nice train car.What could cause this insanity?
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:20 am

Teamdriver wrote:This line serves quite the affluent area.I dont think parking fees or train fares mean too much here. i just dont get why these people would rather drive up rte 3a or rte 3 in all that traffic than be in a nice train car.What could cause this insanity?

The line runs where the people ain't.

Here's the math: Plymouth County + Cohasset have essentially 248,000 people in the workforce (source: 2000 census). Of this number, 226,000 (about 90%) live in the central (Kingston Branch) or Western (Middleboro Branch) parts of the County. For these 226,000 people, the taxpayers built two lines for $500m and netted 5% of them as 10,000+ new daily transit users. Hooray!

For the 22,000 who live along Greenbush (just 10%) the train netted 5% of them as 1,000 new daily transit users. Completely sane. They're no more (or less) likely to use the train than the other towns...its just that there are so painfully few of them (The workforces of Hingham = 9,000, Cohasset = 3,000, Scituate = 10,000) and we spent so painfully much on them.

Sources: US Census ZIP fact finder http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=Search&_zip=02066&_lang=en&_sse=on&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010&show_2003_tab=&redirect=Y and county stats http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=Search&geo_id=86000US02025&_geoContext=01000US|86000US02025&_street=&_county=Plymouth+County&_cityTown=Plymouth+County&_state=04000US25&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=860&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=DEC_2000_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null&reg=null:null&_keyword=&_industry=
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby jonnhrr » Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:14 am

Remember that not everyone living in the areas works downtown. If you are working somewhere along 128 for example driving will generally be more convenient as there are no radial transit routes around Boston to speak of. I remember living in Hingham in the late 1960's and commuting to summer jobs in Waltham and Natick, I couldn't wait to get a car and not have to depend on several bus and subway transfers to get to work every day. Of course this was before Greenbush but wouldn't have been much easier today.

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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Sat May 03, 2014 10:57 pm

Here we are in Year 7 of Greenbush, and in the 2014 Bluebook (now available) it shows just 2,800 inbound riders per day (Ch4 page 6)instead of the "year 3 to 5" estimate of 4,200. Although ridership has grown (and perhaps the 2010 numbers were unusually low) Sen Bob Hedlund's quote from 2010 still looks fresh:

“This has done nothing from an environmental standpoint,’’ said state Senator Robert L. Hedlund, a Hingham Republican first elected in 1990 in part over his opposition to the project. “It has simply drawn sorely needed capital funds away from other projects that made better environmental sense, never mind transportation-planning sense.’’

Hedlund is now calling for the Legislature to convene a hearing to examine Greenbush’s progress and consider the lessons it holds for South Coast Rail, the Patrick administration’s proposed $1.4 billion to $2 billion commuter rail extension to Fall River and New Bedford via Taunton



Arlington wrote:The situation is really much much worse that just under-performing its ridership estimates by nearly 1/2 (doing 2,133 per day instead of 4,200). It is 74% BELOW its estimate for new transit riders. because nearly half of riders were taken not from cars, but were cannibalized from the commuter boat!

The reality is that for $534m was "supposed" to entice 3,600 new transit riders, and it only enticed 950 which is just 26% of forecast. Even had the line cost its original $200m its hard to justify it based on this ridership

I've reconstructed the projected and actual based on the Boston Globe article (which is found here and is a "must read"
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/10/31/after_3_years_greenbush_ridership_below_projections/)

Projected 3 to 5 Year Ridership:
4,200 daily
of which....
3,550 new transit users
450 cannibalized from commuter boat (forecast was for 1 boat rider taken for each 8 taken from the road)
200 cannibalized from other transit (this is unstated, but I'm guestimating from actual cannibalization)


Actual Ridership at 3 years
2,133 daily (and falling...but more like "at its likely max" if not for the recession)
of which...
950 new transit users (44.5%)
995 cannibalized from the commuter boat (46.6%)
190 cannibalized from other transit (8.9%)

$534,000,000 spent per each of 950 new transit rider is $562,000 per new rider BEFORE operating subsidy. You'd probably have gotten way better environmental benefit by giving away 200 new Priuses (for free) every year for the next 50 years (which could be funded with more like $300m, and would require no operating subsidy). Or given away 950 condos along the Mattapan High Speed line. Building this line was financial insanity.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby GP40MC1118 » Sat May 03, 2014 11:53 pm

Gee...maybe if the project wasn't delayed for years by Hingham and its fellow travelers,
it would've fared better.

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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Stmtrolleyguy » Sun May 04, 2014 2:55 am

I've gotta agree with some of the population numbers.
The ridership just isn't there. Not everyone commutes to Boston! You have lots of people who need to get to other places to work, and right now, most of the rail transit around Boston is all going in and out of the city - there's very little that actually goes around the city anymore.

The train is not a viable option for my current commute. I'd have to go Reading - Boston, then Boston-Newton on the Green Line. It's an hour and a half that way, instead of a 30-minut drive. It would cost more, since I only do it 3 days a week - and there isn't even an early enough train to get me there on time. There might be people who'd love to give up their cars along the Greenbush line - but the train or bus doesn't always get them where they need to go.

Looking at Fall River and New Bedford, I think you really do have a commuting population. They don't really have ANY easy means to getting to Boston - route 24 crashes right into central artery traffic one way, and going the other, you're stuck with Cape Cod traffic heading South. If you cleaned it up a little bit, you might even get people going TO New Bedford in the summer. If you integrated it right, there' could even be ferry service to Nantucket and Marthas Vineyard. If I'm reading the map right, it's the only way to get there by sea WITHOUT crossing the Cape Cod Canal - which is the major backlog to Cape access anyways.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby chefsef » Mon May 05, 2014 11:50 am

As far as arguments on ridership, they can only get better over the long term because the population everywhere will only increase. I grew up in Scituate and used to commute to BC High and then Umass/Boston and it was bad. Being a poor student, I probably would have been hard-pressed to come up with the 4 bucks to park plus the round-trip zone 6 fare (8.50 one way?) but it would have been nice to have the option especially given that there's a stop at JFK/UMass.

Living out here on the edge of Central Mass and commuting to Cambridge while not quicker by any means (though as I type this track is being upgraded to Class IV (?) ), it is so much nicer than logging the miles and dealing with the Pike.

So, I say, give it more time and make the service better (cheaper, more frequent, bar car) and ridership will increase.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby highgreen215 » Tue May 13, 2014 12:21 pm

What are the comparable trending ridership numbers for the Plymouth/Kingston line? Better, I hope.

And with the recent trend of outer suburbanites returning to Boston to live, I have to wonder how this will effect CR ridership in the future. Of course not EVERYONE is moving back to Boston but the inner suburbs and downtown are building like crazy to accommodate the new residents. This is the demographic group that traditionally uses CR but now may not need it.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue May 13, 2014 12:47 pm

chefsef wrote:So, I say, give it more time and make the service better (cheaper, more frequent, bar car) and ridership will increase.

Until other lines that *people actually use* have these things, there's no point putting them on a line that people don't use. Resources need to be concentrated where the riders are, not where they're proven not to be.
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