Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby trainhq » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:27 am

Not quite sure how they got the ridership projections so wrong; they don't usually miss by half.
Certainly, if they had got it right, the line would not have been built. This won't help service to FR/NB,
but then, at 2 billion I don't want it to.
trainhq
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:07 pm

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:54 pm

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.
Last edited by Arlington on Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3324
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Teamdriver » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:09 pm

If this is the case here,how accurate can the numbers be for the NB Fall River line? How can they be believed now in light of this?
User avatar
Teamdriver
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:18 pm

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:20 pm

Teamdriver wrote:If this is the case here,how accurate can the numbers be for the NB Fall River line? How can they be believed now in light of this?


Sorry, this thread is about Greenbush :-)

The point is that the Greenbush line represents a really bad investment driven by things like an arbitrary line-drawing by the Dukakis and Weld administrations (first as sop to the Conservation Law Foundation, and later a political promise). It deserves every calorie of political heat it is now getting...and I hope we'll learn from it.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3324
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby jamesinclair » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:59 pm

The problem with Greenbush is that its a coastal line, meaning a large portion of the service area is the ocean. That means half the service area is wasted.

A new commuter rail line, like the Lexington line for example, wouldnt have this problem because the entire 2 mile radius from a station is inhabited.

Fall river has a similar problem because the line would go through a lot of empty areas.

Hopefully this political heat means more investment inside the 128.
jamesinclair
 
Posts: 2164
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:22 pm

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby davidp » Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:26 pm

I have to wonder if the numbers whould be better is service was more frequent, and equipment tailored to a lower density branch operation. What if off-peak service were hourly, operated with 1-2 car DMUs and a proof-of-payment system that permitted a one person crew vs. three? Trains could run to South Station or connect to Plymouth/Middleboro trains at Quincy or Braintree. This would surely be a more useful off-peak service - three hour service gaps during the day tend to send potential cusotmers to their cars instead.
Dave
davidp
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 8:41 pm
Location: Boxborough, MA

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Marley » Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:30 pm

Those ridership numbers are appalling! I wouldn't spend another dime on this line for DMU's or anything of the sort! How much does this line cost to run? Would it be more reasonable to shut the line down and have the riders go back to using the existing ferry? It's a shame, but it would teach the MBTA a lesson in mindless political stunts.
Marley
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:58 am

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:00 pm

davidp wrote:I have to wonder if the numbers whould be better is service was more frequent, and equipment tailored to a lower density branch operation. What if off-peak service were hourly, operated with 1-2 car DMUs and a proof-of-payment system that permitted a one person crew vs. three? Trains could run to South Station or connect to Plymouth/Middleboro trains at Quincy or Braintree. This would surely be a more useful off-peak service - three hour service gaps during the day tend to send potential cusotmers to their cars instead.


Face it, people: We've spent money on a turkey. Spending money on wings ain't going to make it fly.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3324
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby jck » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:35 pm

Sad to say, but I guess in this case the NIMBY's were right; this line was not wanted.

If I lived on the South Shore, there's no way I would be able to tolerate such infrequent or such slow service. I bet most Hingham riders just drive to Braintree anyway, so they don't have to rely on such infrequent service.
jck
 
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:46 am

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby diburning » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:52 pm

davidp wrote:I have to wonder if the numbers whould be better is service was more frequent, and equipment tailored to a lower density branch operation. What if off-peak service were hourly, operated with 1-2 car DMUs and a proof-of-payment system that permitted a one person crew vs. three? Trains could run to South Station or connect to Plymouth/Middleboro trains at Quincy or Braintree. This would surely be a more useful off-peak service - three hour service gaps during the day tend to send potential cusotmers to their cars instead.


DMUs? Why not the red line? It's right there!

I hope that the Greenbush line will serve as a "see what happened when you don't think?" example, and that they don't make the same mistake in the future!
User avatar
diburning
 
Posts: 2975
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:37 pm
Location: Practicing safe CSX by using Three-Step Protection

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby trainhq » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:48 am

I hope that the Greenbush line will serve as a "see what happened when you don't think?" example, and that they don't make the same mistake in the future!


Yes, I would say this plus the general state of the T's finances would pretty much kibosh any future CR expansion
for the foreseeable future. Any other locations looking for it will have to deal with the fallout from this. That,
unfortunately, would probably also include Bourne, which could be done relatively cheaply; no one will believe
the ridership forecasts now.
trainhq
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:07 pm

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:00 am

I propose this political lesson:

The NIMBY's *should* win if they outnumber / out-organize / out-complain potential riders.
...and if you find yourself paying them off to satisfy an arbitrary promise of a line on a map, stop yourself before you build a Greenbush

Train nuts (myself included) focus too much on the corollary:

Potential riders should win if they outnumber / out-organize / out-complain NIMBYs

We have to recognize the important role that craven, innumerate politicians play in counting noses at public hearings. NIMBYs always sound the same. That's why we recoil from them. Rail nuts always sound the same, that's why NIMBYs recoil from us. Craven, innumerate, budget-conscious politicians can balance that pretty well.

Sadly, Greenbush had several big, fat, dangerous thumbs on the scale: a completely arbitrary Dukakis/CLF legal deal, big fat sales tax fueled borrowing for the T, and a Governor Weld anxious to prove is environmental mettle.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3324
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby cytotoxictcell » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:10 pm

can someone define infreqent service?

I looked at greenbush and it looks comparable to other lines except at night which kingston and middleboro line lack because of people who live in holbrook and abington.
cytotoxictcell
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:18 pm

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby livesteamer » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:37 pm

Just as a matter of prespective, in April 1959 (using a NH ETT from April 1959), the Greenbush line hosted 6 round trips (Monday-Friday) 5 inbound morning commuters and 1 inbound afternoon with 1 outbound morning and 5 outbound afternoon trains. Looks like about 3 round trips on Saturday and 2 round trips on Sunday. How's that for light service?
Marty Harrison
MP 208.1 on the UP's Sedalia Sub
livesteamer
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:58 pm
Location: Knob Noster, MO

Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby cytotoxictcell » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:32 pm

livesteamer wrote:Just as a matter of prespective, in April 1959 (using a NH ETT from April 1959), the Greenbush line hosted 6 round trips (Monday-Friday) 5 inbound morning commuters and 1 inbound afternoon with 1 outbound morning and 5 outbound afternoon trains. Looks like about 3 round trips on Saturday and 2 round trips on Sunday. How's that for light service?


Well that was the year old colony+greenbush was discontinued. I am sure in the 1920s there was a lot more service than in 1959. Plus the new haven railroad was almost bankrupt in 1959 and it wasn't subsidized with tax payer money like it is today.
cytotoxictcell
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:18 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Type 7 3684 and 3 guests