Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby CRail » Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:16 pm

Easy there tiger.

Lines catch on as people realize the benefits of using them, it takes a while to change people's habits. Most new business take about 5 years before they're going full swing, and this is comparable to a new branch of a company. Getting into the city on the expressway is miserable, but word on the street is so is taking the train (I choose driving over transit whenever possible and I'm a fan of transit, figure that one out). People for one reason or another may have to try it once, and if they like it they'll stay. Word of mouth factors in here. The remaining people are surely only a trickle, but that's enough to get the ball rolling.

Arlington, your data is also emphasized to lead us to your position. The HALF BILLION (oh my, the state spent a lot of money as usual) dollars was not spent for the alleged initial 950 riders to stop driving, it was spent for ALL the riders which will travel on the line throughout its existence. The line is not 70% under projection (I know you didn't say that, but you emphasized one detail in lieu of the big picture, which is my point), it is less than 50% under (according to the numbers presented). This is disappointing but not catastrophic in my opinion. My purpose here is not to say that the line was in fact worth while, because as I've stated I will reserve judgment until a time when I feel the line has had enough time to incur significant growth, and simply because I don't care. They aren't going to just stop running trains to Greenbush so I'm having trouble understanding what you're getting at.

I will admit, however, that when Ashland, Southborough, and Westborough stations opened on the Worcester line, it took almost no time at all before every rush hour train was met by a full platform at each stop. Again, if the numbers (which were provided by a media source) are accurate, then that is disappointing, but they don't mean to me that it's time to start ripping up tracks. I'm not that short sighted.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:53 pm

CRail wrote:Lines catch on as people realize the benefits of using them, it takes a while to change people's habits.

The was idea of a 3-to-5 year forecast...whether 3 or 5, they're about the same...if you're grossly under at 3 you're going to be grossly under at 5.

CRail wrote: The HALF BILLION (oh my, the state spent a lot of money as usual) dollars was not spent for the alleged initial 950 riders to stop driving, it was spent for ALL the riders which will travel on the line throughout its existence.

If your attitude to a half billion dollars is "oh well," you're going to rightfully come in for a lot of political heat.

All projects are built for all their future riders. We do 3-to-5 year forecasts to figure out which projects will serve the most people across that vast future.

A certain number of projects will NEVER get built because this one was. Those unbuilt projects could have served 3x, 5x, or 10x the number of people. Its practically theft, what happened here, and what threatens to happen again with South Coast rail...and that's Sen Bob Hedlund's point...a very valid point, in my opinion.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Marley » Tue Nov 09, 2010 2:21 pm

I think tolls are needed on the expressway and every other freeway inside of 128. Every penny should be spent on expanding subways inside 128. The thought of waiting in tolls will bump those numbers up. It may even push up off peak ridership.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby livesteamer » Tue Nov 09, 2010 2:26 pm

IIRC, no Greenbush line = no Big Dig money.

And, the lovely folks in Hingham and the eco-nuts added how much to the cost? How much "pork" was added to this project--no horns--so spend few extra millions of dollars to build FRA quiet zones; built a rotary in Greenbush to make Scituate happy; build a tunnel underneath Hingham and delay the project for how many years hoping it would go away--adding millions of dollars to the project.

The real question: what is being done to promote and market the line? A customer base has to be built. Why not drop the "pain in the butt" parking fees in an effort to encourage ridership? Bar car service in the return trips?
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:01 pm

livesteamer wrote:IIRC, no Greenbush line = no Big Dig money.


That was the last-minute deal cut by Dukakis and the Conservation Law Foundation. CLF would have sued to tie up the Big Dig, so instead Dukakis cut a deal with them full of his favored rail goodies. And then Romney appoints Douglas Foy (of the CLF) to his administration. Knowing what they knew along the way, somebody should have rather spent a few millions trying to break/amend that deal rather than build Greenbush (and indeed, the Red-Blue connector was in that deal and was not built...so none of it was a real legal imperative). In that whole calculus do you see anyone actually asking whether these projects had any hope of being worth the money? Nope.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:08 pm

livesteamer wrote:The real question: what is being done to promote and market the line? A customer base has to be built. Why not drop the "pain in the butt" parking fees in an effort to encourage ridership? Bar car service in the return trips?


No way. Spend money on towns that actually use the system. Not on [people who've rejected a half billion dollar gift].
Last edited by Arlington on Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby livesteamer » Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:01 pm

"Not on ingrates"

Up until now, this has been a civil and well developed discussion on the merts of the Greenbush line. So why now, resort to name-calling?
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Ron Newman » Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:04 pm

How long did it take the Newburyport extension to meet its target?
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:35 pm

livesteamer wrote:"Not on ingrates"
Up until now, this has been a civil and well developed discussion on the merts of the Greenbush line. So why now, resort to name-calling?

Point taken. I've edited that post (and this one)
Last edited by Arlington on Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:46 pm

Ron Newman wrote:How long did it take the Newburyport extension to meet its target?


Probably not very long because it was only a 2-stop extension of the existing Ipswich line vs. a whole new service, and a significant number of commuters already drove in to Ipswich to catch the train. Also, service on that stretch was only gone for 20 years vs. 48 years for the entire Greenbush line. There were commuters who took the train from Newburyport until service stopped in 1976 still in the workforce in 1998 to take it again, so the population had not overturned so near-total in that area in the gap between trains to have forgotten that they ever existed like with the South Shore.

Newburyport service may not ultimately have met ridership projections simply because they NIMBY'd out the downtown station site and stopped at the lest convenient one on the outskirts, but that's the town's own fault.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby sery2831 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:48 pm

Going off topic here...
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:31 pm

Arlington wrote:
CRail wrote:Lines catch on as people realize the benefits of using them, it takes a while to change people's habits.

The was idea of a 3-to-5 year forecast...whether 3 or 5, they're about the same...if you're grossly under at 3 you're going to be grossly under at 5.


Not really, when the first 3 years are during a major recession.
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby Arlington » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:24 pm

jamesinclair wrote:
Arlington wrote:
CRail wrote:Lines catch on as people realize the benefits of using them, it takes a while to change people's habits.

The was idea of a 3-to-5 year forecast...whether 3 or 5, they're about the same...if you're grossly under at 3 you're going to be grossly under at 5.

Not really, when the first 3 years are during a major recession.

No. Really. Great Recessions shrink economic activity in the 10% range, and employment in the 4% range, and indeed, ridership on the MBTA is seeing effects on this order. If ridership were 10% or even 25% below projections, there'd be no heat to fuel this thread.

Greenbush is underperforming 50% (ridership) to 70% (new transit riders). (consider how bad 50% to 70% unemployment would hurt!). But while the Great Recession looms large and hurts like hell, it can only explain, at most 1/10th to 1/5th of Greenbush's failure.

Here's Total, non-farm employment for the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area (see this map http://www.housingbubblebust.com/MetroM ... hEast.html its about as perfect and as detailed as you can get for seeing the effects of employment on the MBTA's market) for the last 10 years:

2010 1663400 (from this source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t04.htm)
2009 1657600 *
2008 1716700
2007 1703600
2006 1673700
2005 1649400
2004 1640500
2003 1648700
2002 1694100
2001 1745500

From the peak (which actually was there in the first two years of Greenbush) of 1,716,700 to the bottom (in 2009) of 1,657,600, employment only fell about 4%...and indeed Greenbush is down from 2008 numbers by about that much recently. Let's say employment booms back to 1,800,000 in the next two years, that's still only an 8% "lift" for a line that needs 100% growth to meet its ridership numbers and nearly 300% growth to meet its share-from-cars numbers.

* from here: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=elwdterminal&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=EOLWD+Data+and+Statistics&L3=Labor+Market+Information&sid=Elwd&b=terminalcontent&f=dua_economic_data_labor_force_and_unemployment_rates&csid=Elwd
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby danib62 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:36 pm

Ingrate is a bad name? Really? We can't use that word?
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Re: Political Heat on the Greenbush Line

Postby livesteamer » Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:44 am

danib62 wrote:Ingrate is a bad name? Really? We can't use that word?



Not so much a bad word, but rather a little bit of name calling in a discussion thread that has produced some well thought out comments. Name-calling comes into play when you can not continue to make a solid arguements for your case.

Returning to the topic at hand: rather than "Monday-Morning Quarterback" about money already spent, should the politicians starting working on ideas to encourage more and more ridership not just on the Greenbush line but all lines serving the South Shore? Maybe the boats need to stop running or receiving subsidies. Maybe free parking at all CR stations. Maybe employers sponsored discount monthly passes.
Last edited by livesteamer on Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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