• Potential MBTA Southern NH Service

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

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by mbrproductions
 
Nothing would be more efficient to the state of NH than paying the T to extend their already operating trains to Nashua and Manchester. Cynical rhetoric is nothing more than just that, yes "ha ha the T sucks..." now that that's out of our system; a look at what has happened to the Commuter Rail from the time the private corporations abandoned it to now is a tremendous success story.
Exactly, what the MBTA Commuter Rail started as and how it is now is something I would consider to be one of the greatest success stories in recent American Passenger Rail history, and its obviously the beneficial for NH to have these trains running between their two largest cities and the capital of Massachusetts.
Now, try telling that to NH officials.
Lets hope they don't come up with a compromise and the bill dies.
  by BandA
 
Lets see...archaic ticketing system with poor transfer to subway / bus system, zone 1A passengers pay transit fare but zone 1 & zone 2, just a little further pay triple the fare (which amounted to about 76cents/mile, more than the cash-cow profitable Massachu$etts Turnpike Extension toll road charged). Trains that sit for 10 minutes waiting just outside South Station. Crappy single track side platforms with bus style shelters for sixty years while they build Taj Mahals elsewhere, platforms that are high level, then low level, then high, high, then low and they wonder why dwell time is high and fare collection is low. Waiting until the need was critical before ordering new locomotives or coaches instead of planning ahead. When I was taking the Commuter Rail there was a total lack of communication of information about delays to the passengers.
  by BandA
 
T improvement projects that take years and years and are always way over budget. Does this apply to Commuter Rail or is it just the transit projects?
  by mbrproductions
 
Lets see...archaic ticketing system with poor transfer to subway / bus system
Well, the Commuter Rail is basically a completely different network from the Bus and Subway systems, so that would explain the "poor transfers" between them. Also, I know I may be in the minority here, but I really don't mind the Commuter Rail's "old fashioned" ticketing system of collecting tickets onboard, after all it is Commuter Rail, not transit.
Trains that sit for 10 minutes waiting just outside South Station.

This happens because trains often need to wait for another train to leave the platform they are due to arrive at, and they usually cannot just go to another platform because of the lack of capacity at BOS, this is why South Station expansion is necessary.
Crappy single track side platforms with bus style shelters for sixty years while they build Taj Mahals elsewhere
While I do agree that there are some real dumps on the system, the modern MBTA standard of Commuter Rail stations is not what I would call crappy, the seating is often enough and the shelters are more reminiscent of old railroad shelters than bus stops (as if bus stops even have shelters :P ). Look at the Old Colony lines for example, the stations on those lines are quite pleasant. The only "taj mahals" on the system are the century old historic railroad terminals.
platforms that are high level, then low level, then high, high, then low and they wonder why dwell time is high and fare collection is low.
I agree with this, the MBTA needs to step up and make all stations accessible, mini-high platforms should really only be in areas where there are wide Freight trains going by daily and building a siding to act as a passing track is not feasible or possible.
When I was taking the Commuter Rail there was a total lack of communication of information about delays to the passengers.
This is likely because most of the stations on the system have no staff stations anywhere, but with the addition of LED displays and information boards to stations, this problem will likely begin to fade.
T improvement projects that take years and years and are always way over budget. Does this apply to Commuter Rail or is it just the transit projects?
I honestly couldn't tell you, the transit projects are mush more common than the Commuter Rail projects, the last time a major Commuter Rail expansion project was being built, this was the case (Greenbush), but that was mostly due to NIMBYs and additional infrastructure built to appease them. I guess we could wait to see how SCR turns out.
  by Trinnau
 
Where to start here... I think everyone here knows the T has its issues for various reasons. Nobody is say that they're perfect. But there is no "perfect" solution out there for this service, it's a matter of white the best option is. Issues with capital projects run by the MBTA are in all likelihood unrelated here because the MBTA is only being considered as the operator of the service, not the group who upgrades the line. Yes MBTA standards for stations are being proposed as a result, but they are certainly not "taj mahal" stations, and they are in-line with exactly what is needed on the rest of the MBTA.

Yes the T's overall fare collection system needs work. They know it, and they also know their fare policy does. AFC 2.0 has been ongoing for some time, it's just moving very slow. But assuming the MBTA figures that out, NH passengers riding on an extended MBTA service would enjoy the benefits of whatever transfer scheme the MBTA settles on. I'll point out that monthly CR pass holders already receive free transfers. If Amtrak or another group came into North Station, you'd still need to go buy that subway pass or ticket. If I were a southern NH commuter I'd have to weigh that added cost vs. just driving to Lowell, N. Billerica or Anderson/Woburn with a free transfer.

If you give this service to another entity, that service has to negotiate with the T for passage from the MA/NH state line to Boston. MBTA will not want to upset their existing service to allow a new service any kind of priority - it doesn't benefit the MBTA's passengers. Keolis can't offer up BET for equipment maintenance, only MBTA can. And we all know MBTA has it's hands full maintaining it's own equipment. Why would they agree to let someone else into their facility on a regular basis and impact their own ability to do their work?

It's been brought up before, but to point it out again the MBTA obtained passenger rights from Pan Am on the line circa 2010, essentially under a right of first refusal. That agreement and all it entails is going to CSX under their purchase of Pan Am. So theoretically MBTA has a stranglehold on passenger service on this line - aside from Amtrak intercity service. NH can't hire CSX, or any other third party, to operate the service unless the MBTA says they won't supply the requested service.

CRail is 100% correct to say that the extension of MBTA service is the most efficient for NH, given the length of the corridor to Manchester and the level of service that could be offered for the operating price - just the cost to operate the line day-to-day, not to upgrade it. It would be comparable in length and schedule time to other very well traveled MBTA lines. There is already a very successful working model for this between the MBTA and the state of Rhode Island. Could it be done cheaper? Sure, but you get what you pay for in terms of level of service. Amtrak service would probably look like the Downeaster, is that enough to lure the commuters who would otherwise drive or go to Lowell, N. Billerica or Anderson/Woburn (or just stay on 3/93 and keep on driving) for more frequent options?
  by mbrproductions
 
UPDATE: On May 12, NH Senator Birdsell refused to Accede to the House's request for a CofC, does this mean the bill goes in their wording?
https://fastdemocracy.com/bill-search/n ... B00008521/
  by hillsboyro
 
mbrproductions wrote: Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:01 pm Does anybody here have any news about the potential extension of the MBTA Lowell Line up the Merrimack River to Manchester, NH?
Is there stiff opposition to it?
Is there a decent amount of support for it?
Possible station locations?
I reached out a week ago to the Capitol Corridor team. I'll copy and paste my questions and their responses here.

1. How likely is it that commuter rail can come to New Hampshire as has been outlined? What seems to be the holdup when looking at a program like this? Is it as simple as not being able to find the funding or are groups blocking the proposal?

2. Assuming things go smoothly, when is your completion date you have in mind? When would passengers be able to begin ridership?

3. How can I support this project? Is there anyone in particular people should be voicing their support to?

Their answers were:

The likelihood of implementation is primarily determined by the project's ability to secure non-federal funding sources based on the assumption that the project will qualify for approximately 50% funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). It is a large project with significant capital costs, so identifying the non-federal funding sources is a challenge that the project team is currently evaluating. The project has received broad support in opinion polls, particularly strong in the City of Nashua and Manchester.


A project start date has not been determined. The availability of funding is a factor that will impact the potential start of the project. The current phase of work will complete the environmental review, 30% design, and the financial plan by early 2023. Typically, it takes approximately 2-3 years following these steps to complete the final design and another few years to complete the infrastructure upgrades. Following these milestones, service could commence.


To support the project, you can voice your opinion to elected representatives at the local, state, and federal levels. There are also organizations that you can reach out to, such as the NH Business for Rail Expansion.

I'm new to this forum so not sure if attaching links is allowed. Hard to tell how much support it has.
  by mbrproductions
 
UPDATE: HB 1432 has officially been killed.
Fiscal conservatives were especially unhappy when the Senate killed without debate a bill (HB 1432) to block spending any state dollars on a future return of commuter rail to New Hampshire.
Thank god, this is very good news indeed and a step in the right direction. Lets hope this project gets started soon!
Link: https://news.yahoo.com/several-conteste ... uR_8eRUlIx
  by BandA
 
Looks like the NH house & senate are not getting along, and killing this bill is collateral damage. How much independence does the NHDOT have for funding the design phase? Gov. Sununu is running for reelection, so he will presumably win.

Capitol Corridor team via Hillsboyro said:
the assumption that the project will qualify for approximately 50% funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). It is a large project with significant capital costs
I thought the capital costs were figured out and that we were debating the operating subsidy. I assumed the towns had the station construction costs mostly figured out. Since it is a freight line too they could apply for freight grants for track upgrades.
  by Trinnau
 
The 30% design will establish more realistic costs. And the town's aren't designing the project and aren't paying for stations, it's all lumped into the 1 project. For reference the 2014 study estimated roughly $250M in capital costs at that time with a very high-level estimate. This being 10 years later and the way costs are now, I'm going to take a semi-educated guess and say this is a $400M project.

Capital funds are indeed a part of the discussion, but people have been quick to point out it's not just "find X million" and you've solved it. There is a perpetual cost that has to be figured out. Generally speaking it's easier to figure out grants and one-time funding allocations for improvements than it is to pay for operations forever.
  by djlong
 
This is something I've been following for nearly 40 years.

For those of you that don't know, there's a reason why you get so much chaos from the NH Legislature. When last I checked, we pay our representatives a salary of $150 PER YEAR. My friend has a saying - When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. In reality, you get people who are NOT professionals. They seem to be of two stripes these days. People who give a damn and are earnest (many naive) but don't have a lot of resources to work with. On the other side, it's Libertarians, often funded by AFP (seriously, an old friend who was a musician at my wedding now serves and that's how she and her husband were elected) who run on a platform of trying to convince people that government is bad and then getting elected and proving it.

I mean, you have people arguing against this project because "why should someone in Laconia pay for Nashua's train" - but that reasoning doesn't extend to the I-93 widening project.

I've just been listening to this crap for SO long that I've become one hell of a cynic. It's made me determined to move out of the state when I retire. As I said in another thread, I can see the damn 10mph dilapidated tracks across the river from my bedroom window.

For those of you counting on the State of NH to "do the right thing", I'll quote the Man in Black "Get used to disappointment".
  by mbrproductions
 
For those of you that don't know, there's a reason why you get so much chaos from the NH Legislature. When last I checked, we pay our representatives a salary of $150 PER YEAR. My friend has a saying - When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. In reality, you get people who are NOT professionals. They seem to be of two stripes these days. People who give a damn and are earnest (many naive) but don't have a lot of resources to work with. On the other side, it's Libertarians, often funded by AFP (seriously, an old friend who was a musician at my wedding now serves and that's how she and her husband were elected) who run on a platform of trying to convince people that government is bad and then getting elected and proving it.
Yes, the NH house is a mess, and they have been stupidly blocking this project for decades. I knew from the moment they conjured up this bill that there are definitely some "monkeys" so to speak, in the House. But I never quite realized that it was as bad as you describe it, is NH's politics really that disorganized/corrupt?

As for the situation with the Commuter Rail project itself (what we are all here for), I think the killing of HB1432 should be something for us to look at as a step in the right direction, and even though it may not be much as of yet, at least the study being conducted by the team can carry on through 2023, and when that is finished, maybe this long awaited project can finally begin to take physical shape. Also, does anybody here have any updates on the project itself? I haven't heard much since HB1432 was killed.

- Thanks
  by BandA
 
There's a study, so you'll have to wait for that to complete (end of this year???).

You folks complain that a cheap part-time legislature is bad. Compare to Massachusetts' well-paid part-time legislature. If you increase their compensation, you're just going to get smarter hacks that are better able to game the system...
  by BandA
 
Yes, exactly, see my comment in the electrification thread. I didn't see anything in the NH bill or hearing that seemed unreasonable or other than two sides with (very) different points of views, but point of views that are somewhat rational. Quite a contrast with Massachusetts or DC. Sometimes it is surprising that the wheels of government haven't fallen off completely there.

The failure to compromise kind of backfired on the conservative Republicans in the NH house. Moral victory? Hopefully the study will have accurate inflation-adjusted costs!!!
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