Saving money

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Re: Saving money

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:26 am

NSRL has zero inconvenience to anyone at DTX or State -- in fact it will probably ease congestion and make DTX and State more pleasant. What on Earth are you talking about?

Also, BON to BBY is 10 minutes once you're on a train assuming no delays. You also have to factor a few minutes to walk from your train at North Station to the subway level and a few minutes to wait for a train to show up before you're actually -- maybe -- 10 minutes away. You also need to hope that you can even get on an Orange Line train at North Station. The Orange Line leaves passengers behind at Sullivan Sq at normal peak service levels as it is.
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Re: Saving money

Postby leviramsey » Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:50 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:NSRL has zero inconvenience to anyone at DTX or State -- in fact it will probably ease congestion and make DTX and State more pleasant. What on Earth are you talking about?


I think he's talking about the OL add-a-track, not the Link.
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Re: Saving money

Postby CRail » Mon Feb 29, 2016 6:44 pm

SM89 wrote: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.


This is my main issue with this proposal, that it's INSTEAD of putting the terminals back the way the were designed, as opposed to in addition to. North Station needs expansion if the number of services increase as planned. South Station needs it more! Cape Cod service, trains from Springfield and points west, trains off the corridor, trains from the south coast, all stuff I expect to see in my lifetime. It doesn't make sense for ALL or even most of those trains to keep going north. Some stuff should end in Boston, and limiting what can so a [relatively] few atypical commuters can get a one seat ride doesn't make sense.

I'm not anti-NSRL (although I think we're buying a $2,000,000 I told ya so), but I am against it if it means station expansions and centralized maintenance facilities are abolished.
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Re: Saving money

Postby octr202 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:27 am

The NSRL, for all it's expense, does much more to future-proof both the commuter rail and subway systems to handle long-term growth. One thing that's only been mentioned in passing is the fact that if commuter rail traffic were to grow another 25-30%, can the rapid transit system (already virtually maxed out at rush hour) handle that many more connecting passengers? Look at where the growth is - Kendall, Seaport, LMA, possibly soon Assembly, maybe others soon. The job growth isn't happening in downtown near the terminals (that's another planning issue - at North Station we're now working to surround a commuter rail terminal with residential buildings). The proliferation of private shuttles is ultimately a symptom of that lack of efficient transit capacity. Private shuttles cannot efficiently serve the needs of these growing areas if they are built out much further (funding too unstable, too many commuters don't have access, and most critically, increasing traffic congestion often renders them too unreliable). In addition to helping unclog the railroad terminals, the more connecting passengers taken off the subway system helps alleviate problems there, which aren't just track capacity, but sometimes the ability of stations to handle the amount of foot traffic entering, exiting, and connecting.

A rail-link based commuter rail system will require a major investment and realignment in yards and shops, but aside from the issue of doing it logically, I don't see how the link would threaten the process there. Yes, it would mean big changes from the current scheme (i.e., southside sets being serviced/based at BET, northside sets at Readville or a new Beacon Park facility, for example). In terms of imbalances in services, there's no reason peak-hour downtown terminating services can't also use the tunnel. A heavy rush hour only set from Providence just simply runs through North Station and terminates at BET, rather than having to be backed out to Southampton St.
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Re: Saving money

Postby Yellowspoon » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:50 pm

Apparently few on this board agree that this is a waste of money. Even the feasibility study is a waste of two million dollars in my opinion.

Yes, my estimate of 2000 riders per day was just a guess. Even if the number is ten thousand per day, that amounts to $80 per trip. Are you willing to pay that?

To get off commuter rail at Porter to get to South Station, one saves three minutes. Of the 1600 estimated people who get off at Porter, what's your guess as to how many want to get to South Station? To get to Park or any other GreenLine/OrangeLine destination, it's faster to change at North Station.

No one commented on my Long Island statement. Despite that Long Island is the most populated island in the entire country; Despite the fact that there are at least 15 pairs of track that leave Long Island, you can't take a train from Long Island to New Jersey or Connecticut or upstate New York, or Boston or Washington. All trains from Long Island only carry passengers to Manhattan despite the Hell Gate Bridge and a direct connection to New Jersey.

How about Chicago: Are there connections between Randolph Street Station, Union Station, LaSalle, and the Olgivie Metra station? Are there any through trains that go through Chicago, or do they all terminate in Chicago?
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Re: Saving money

Postby YamaOfParadise » Tue Mar 01, 2016 2:51 pm

It's more than just the convenience of reducing the amount of seats it takes to make a trip, and reducing >15 minutes of the trip time; it's about reducing and spreading out traffic flows system-wide, particularly on the rapid transit network. There is no longer any easy or cheap way to add capacity to the absolutely bogged-down segments of the lines in downtown; you're talking billion-dollar projects for any particular project here, because it's going to involve tunneling under Boston in the selfsame area. And those projects, for the most part, are not nearly as future-proof as the NSRL will be, nor would they collectively get a similar level of utility as the NSRL.

Boston has been choking on its own growth since the beginning of the postwar era... and it's only been getting worse, with no end in sight. I do think it's a good idea on paper. I don't know if I trust the Commonwealth to pull it off properly, the contractor(s) to build it correctly and on-cost, or the Commonwealth to try and hold it together and deal with the potential failures of the contractor(s) in the proper way.


And the L.I. <-> NJ comparison isn't really a proper direct comparison. That's an even more complex situation, as in reality instead of one gap like in Boston there were multiple to confront in NYC's case: L.I. <-> Manhattan, and then Manhattan <-> NJ. We're talking about lacing up two stub-end terminals into a proper through line, which is what has already been in place in NYC for a century. The through-running way just wasn't to the between the Pennsy proper and its LIRR, but rather through to the New Haven, because the New Haven was also electrified via overhead catenary (and went to other major cities beyond, unlike via L.I). The LIRR had went with third-rail for complying with the steam-free ordinance, and had begun to integrate its system with the Els with through-running before Pennsy ownership came into play in 1900. I'm not 100% positive on the Pennsy's exact reasonings for no through-running from the LIRR, but the end result is the same; this comparison isn't quite an apples-to-oranges situation, but is nonetheless not a direct comparison and is several steps removed in difference from the NSRL.

I do respect where you're coming from, though; I just respectfully disagree.
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Re: Saving money

Postby octr202 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:28 pm

And, worth noting, the real benefit from the NSRL is urban area distribution. It makes many lines have the ability to distribute passengers at multiple of North, South, Back Bay, Ruggles, Yawkey, etc. The analogy in NYC isn't to allow an NJT train to terminate somewhere on Long Island - it's the work underway on East Side Access to give LI residents access to two terminals in Manhattan, and to allow some MN New Haven Line trains to go to Penn. There's too many other constraints in to start through-routing trains there (not the least of which are the jurisdictional ones). And, you can get limited benefits, as someone can ride NJT or LIRR to Penn and change to the other railroad as schedules allow. Keep in mind that many NSRL trips might still require a transfer, but it's an in station transfer, not a schlepping across the city one. Philadelphia is a better comparison - there the tunnel benefits are that the vast majority of trains stop at 30th St, Suburban, Market East and Temple Univ. That they often continue on to a line on the opposite side of the system is just gravy, or helps position them quickly for another peak-direction trip.
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Re: Saving money

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:58 pm

What about building the tunnels but installing rapid transit instead (more or less recreating the Atlantic Ave. El, but with dedicated rapid-transit-headway shuttles running on a spur from the red line). How much money could one save by having an approach only at one end, and at rapid-transit grades from the Red Line tunnel? Does the geography even allow such a thing? And would that parallel route with a couple or three stations divert people from crowded other lines and stations. Could such a line be built to run shuttles in Red Line cars off-peak, with a certain number of run-throughs to Ashmont or Braintree in rush hours? Or what about running an electrified Indigo line through to NS, but leaving it underground at the NS end, ready to be extended to the north later on if Boston became London or Tokyo? And how do all these and the NS connector compare to circumferential rail trainsit two or three miles out, connecting all CR and RT lines with frequent service? I would think that getting from one of the downtown CR stations to the other is much less of a problem than getting from Old Colony to Brookline and other commutes that combine CR or RT with crosstown moves.
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Re: Saving money

Postby leviramsey » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:27 pm

It's noteworthy that the two commuter rail systems with dramatically better farebox recovery rates (despite getting lower fares per passenger, and probably even lower fares per passenger-mile) than the MBTA are the two that do the most through-running: Caltrain (a majority of AM peak riders have destinations between Hillsdale (20 miles south of San Francisco) and Santa Clara (45 miles south of San Francisco)) and SEPTA. Metra, LIRR, NJT, MNRR, and MBTA all have somewhat worse farebox recoveries (and the smaller commuter rail systems that don't through-run have worse recoveries still).

Operating costs per passenger-trip and farebox recoveries among commuter railroads with 10 million passenger-trips a year:

Caltrain: $6.16 (62%)
SEPTA: $6.70 (59%)
Metra: $9.12 (46%)
MBTA: $10.81 (50%)
NJT: $11.23 (54%)
LIRR: $13.31 (51%)
MNRR: $13.67 (56%)
Metrolink: $14.70 (43%)
(MARC just misses the ridership cut-off with 9 million trips, $14.86 in operating cost per trip, and a 31% farebox recovery)

The list of operational practices that SEPTA and Caltrain have in common is really small. Rolling stock, energy source, staffing, fare collection, etc. are all totally different. They do place more of an emphasis than the other operators do on being more than getting suburbanites downtown by 9 and back home by 7, but some of that is a consequence of through-running. But it's probably reasonable to suggest that the NSRL/through-running/multiple-terminals will reduce operating cost per passenger-trip (largely by increasing the number of passenger trips each set accomodates per day and increasing the number of passenger trips per turn) by at least a buck or two.
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Re: Saving money

Postby BvaleShihTzu » Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:35 am

Yellowspoon wrote:Apparently few on this board agree that this is a waste of money. Even the feasibility study is a waste of two million dollars in my opinion.

Yes, my estimate of 2000 riders per day was just a guess. Even if the number is ten thousand per day, that amounts to $80 per trip. Are you willing to pay that?


If a substantial fraction of that is new ridership pulled in because previously these individuals would not take the train because of a 2 or 3 seat ride, then yes. How do you propose to add a similar level of highway capacity?

In addition, your estimate of saving 3 minutes ignores the evening problem of variability; it might be 3 minutes on average, but making that train home requires accounting for probably the 95th percentile. This is why large numbers of commuters won't choose the T if they must deal with 2 and 3 seat (or worse) commutes.


Yellowspoon wrote:To get off commuter rail at Porter to get to South Station, one saves three minutes. Of the 1600 estimated people who get off at Porter, what's your guess as to how many want to get to South Station? To get to Park or any other GreenLine/OrangeLine destination, it's faster to change at North Station.

You've picked one of the better connected options, but even then simply delaying passengers from switching modes is a win system-wide, as it frees capacity on the Red Line. Orange Line BON-BBY, as has been pointed out, can be very hard during the rush hour -- I've been left on the platform at Wellington due to a full train.

But consider commutes like Lynn-Boston Landing, Lowell-Seaport or Kingston to Assembly -- all plausible future commutes, and all involving two transfers.

Yellowspoon wrote:No one commented on my Long Island statement. Despite that Long Island is the most populated island in the entire country; Despite the fact that there are at least 15 pairs of track that leave Long Island, you can't take a train from Long Island to New Jersey or Connecticut or upstate New York, or Boston or Washington. All trains from Long Island only carry passengers to Manhattan despite the Hell Gate Bridge and a direct connection to New Jersey.

How about Chicago: Are there connections between Randolph Street Station, Union Station, LaSalle, and the Olgivie Metra station? Are there any through trains that go through Chicago, or do they all terminate in Chicago?


As pointed out by others, NYC is a particularly tough nut -- but given the expansion of financial services along the NJ Waterfront, it wouldn't surprise me if demand really did exist -- it's just without a viable option few if any would take a job imposing that commute. That is a critical point -- people make decisions based on the available transit connections. I rode both CT2 and EZRide at their starts, and both were empty -- it took years for commuting patterns to evolve to fit the routes, but now both are jammed.

A far better analogy is to London, which is simultaneously enlarging the current cross-town commuter rail tunnel system (ThamesLink) and building a new one (CrossRail). Or Paris, where the RER is also simply treated as an integral component of the transit system.

NSRL would also better tie together the system for the interesting expansions on the fringe, both from a business and political perspective. Regular Cape Code summer service is an easier sell and will draw more riders if it also serves the North.

Note on the station that (according to figures from Wikipedia) Philadelphia's Jefferson Station (ex Market East), a four track thru-running station, serves 70% as many riders as North Station, a 10-track stub-end station. I couldn't find useful passenger figures for CrossRail, but they must be astounding (15 long trains per hour!).
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