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Old 05-29-2007, 01:49 PM   #41
Lrfox
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Sorry to bump, but i have been away for a while.

I think the timing is off. Unless the project were underway already, I doubt the Casino will do anything for the rail. The only correlation i could see here is that if the rail were completed, the tribe might be more drawn to New Bedford due to easier accessibility. Middleborough already has a line in, and the New Bedford line is not quite a sure thing. Not for a while anyway. So again, if the line were under construction or even completely approved the Casino would help, but this early in the game? i doubt it.

On a side note, I think 195 through NB gets a lot more traffic than 495 through Middleborough. Especially with Cape Traffic (yeah they both get it, but 195 has a higher volume). So i don't see why New Bedford isn't a better location anyway.
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Old 06-20-2007, 01:36 PM   #42
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The report below is from the Rappaport Inst. for Greater Boston at the Kennedy School. It basically says that Commuter Rail is expensive and only sort of helpful. Although I'm a big believer in completely doing away with the CR, I would absolutely love to spend a weekend taking the train down to New Bedford, relaxing in all the luxury that an Indian Casino has to offer, maybe walking around a new and improved water front, and then taking the train back home.
http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rappaport...muter_rail.pdf
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Old 06-20-2007, 01:45 PM   #43
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I'm a big believer in completely doing away with the CR
Explain.
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Old 06-20-2007, 02:15 PM   #44
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^^^^^^

Yes, please do. I'm a big fan of commuter rail since I take the Silver Line from Logan to South Station and from there, the train to Bridgewater! No hassle, no traffic, no worries about finding a ride from Braintree (via MassPort's Braintree Shuttle). The parking lot in Bridgewater and in the other towns along the route are full of cars that would otherwise be on 24 and 93 every day.
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Old 06-20-2007, 02:23 PM   #45
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The parking lot in Bridgewater and in the other towns along the route are full of cars that would otherwise be on 24 and 93 every day.
Exactly. Boston's roadways and parking lots don't have the capacity for that many cars. Without the commuter rail, the city core would either decline severely or would be forced to compromise its urban character to accomodate suburban drivers. The commuter rail is what keeps the city the city.
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Old 06-20-2007, 04:14 PM   #46
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Here's a Globe article better explaining the Rappaport research: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/edi...s_only_so_far/ . CR costs a ton of money for people who predominantly don't use it. Meanwhile, the people who do use public transportation could use the Urban Ring, the red line/blue line connection, and the indigo line. Get rid of the CR, use the old ROWs out to 128 w/diesel replacements, build huge parking garages there, put zip cars in each garage, turn 93 and 2 into toll roads, and bill the entire state for it. That's my personal pipe dream at least. On the other hand, being realistic, I agree that the CR is great in comparison to nothing.
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Old 06-20-2007, 04:37 PM   #47
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The problem with your proposal is that both the current small benefit and the future potential of the commuter rail in areas outside 128 would be nullified. Better planning and development, like the Westwood Station proposal, might make investment in CR worthwhile. On the other hand, encouraging everyone outside 128 to drive to stations would simply encourage more autocentric development where the commuter rail was abandoned.

I do agree that projects like the Urban Ring should be higher priority that commuter rail expansion to far-flung parts of Massachusetts, but to find funding for them, the target shouldn't be complementary transit, but the ungodly amount spent on highways, or the effective subsidy resulting from low taxes on gas.
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:23 PM   #48
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I totally agree that spending less on highways, a gas tax, and better planning are all needed. That being said, the Rappaport study shows three things: 1) the CR costs a ton of money for the few people who use it; 2) the people who use it would also use a bus; 3) CR doesn't affect density at all. In other words, it doesn't take cars off the road, it could be done cheaper, and it does nothing to curb sprawl. Planning should be focused on under-used urban areas, not un-used suburban and rural areas. What if we took all the money spent on CR/Westwood Station/etc., and spent it on brown field development/affordable housing/education in the city of Boston? Well... the city would probably waste it, but that's another problem!
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Old 06-21-2007, 12:59 AM   #49
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1) the CR costs a ton of money for the few people who use it
This is interesting, because whenever I take the Commuter Rail at rush hour the trains are invariably full, sometimes to the point of needing to stand at points along the way. If the CR is at capacity, is it just inherently a money waster? If so, is this because of mismanagement, or because it will always cost far more to maintain per person than a subway line? Is it the trains run at off peak hours that are hemhorraging funds? Or is my impression off; could much more use be encouraged with greater TOD?

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2) the people who use it would also use a bus;
I skimmed the report and didn't see the data or rationale behind that. Did the author poll or interview people about this? It's conventional wisdom, or so I thought, that a train was almost always more attractive than a bus - as a symbol of commitment, or comfort, or solidity, or simply because it's assumed it will take a shorter period of time to arrive at its destination than a vehicle stuck on the same road as one's car.

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3) CR doesn't affect density at all.
...because it isn't aligned with better land use policies. Of course suburbanites are going to only drive to the station - or anywhere else - if all that's provided for them is a parking lot next to a station in the woods. Government has to do more to incentivize density. In some places, zoning is restrictive and actually prevents TOD. And let's not forget TOD itself is a relatively new concept among planners in the Boston area, however much sense it has made for people on this forum. One example of delayed reaction is Needham. Since service was restored to the Needham Line in the 90s, the town has seen an increase in homes split into condos for sale to more rail commuters. Now, over a decade later, the government is becoming involved, actively seeking ways to increase the density of the town center. Westwood Station is another good example.

And, one could argue that, in a way, CR does affect density - in downtown Boston, which it supports. But that's a rather obvious point.

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In other words, it doesn't take cars off the road,
To be somewhat glib again, it does take cars off the road that would otherwise be heading to Boston, or which would be headed to offices that would be more likely to locate in the parking-plentiful suburbs, accelerating sprawl. And, again, CR can't act alone; it requires better design and development to complement it.

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Planning should be focused on under-used urban areas, not un-used suburban and rural areas. What if we took all the money spent on CR/Westwood Station/etc., and spent it on brown field development/affordable housing/education in the city of Boston?
I agree, but there are at least two major problems with this:

1. The Boston metro has a significant population that's committed itself to the suburbs. Planners could either accomodate them by designing what are, in effect, better suburbs, or they could ignore them and let them sprawl away. Redevelopment in the city center has its positives (and shouldn't be precluded - it doesn't necessarily come at the expense of suburban TOD; Westwood Station is privately financed!) but it wouldn't necessarily be bringing all those suburban families back into the city, i.e., back into an denser, more environmentally friendly form of development. Suburban TOD would have a greater impact on development in the state as a whole.

2. Like it or not, the T will always be committing money to the suburbs. This has a lot more to do with politics than policy; a far greater number of state legislators represent towns served by the commuter rail than do represent cities and towns served by the rapid transit system, and they want a slice of the pie. It's less likely that if less is spent on CR, more will be spent on the subway than that the suburbs will seize on that money for some other purpose. In the face of such realities, the T and the towns it serves should do what they can to make the best of the opportunities inherent in CR.
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:35 AM   #50
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Here's another interesting article, only a few years old: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rappaport...2/ggb_full.pdf . Sorry for all the KSG stuff, but it's interesting, and it's where I work. The report says that in 2002 there were 14 million car trips in MA, a number that's probably up a bit by 2007. 56% came from outside of 128, and 1/3 or them were work related. That means that in a best case scenario, CR as currently operated outside of 128 would divert 2,613,333 and 1/3 car trips a year ( I want to be in the 1/3 trip). If we figure that the average work year is about 250 days (maybe fewer), then CR, serving every single person outside of 128 who could possibly use it to commute to work (assuming everyone living outside of 128 is driving to work downtown, which I doubt) would divert about 10,000 car trips a day. Compare that to the estimated 282,000 rides per day that the UR would create, along with diverting 47,000 car trips (I admit, I got the UR numbers from Wiki, but the EOT page is like a slow death with pretty charts). The Rappaport article I posted earlier said that the New Bedford line would create 10,000 new rides in a year (not sure how many diverted rides that is) and cost $1.4 billion. If the UR diverts 47,000 car trips a day, that's 17 million a year. Even if the UR ends at its upwards projection of $7billion, and hey, it's MA, so you know it's going to be at least $9billion, it's still more cost effective at reducing car trips than the New Bedford line, and possibly more so than the entire CR network outside of 128 put together.
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Old 06-21-2007, 12:08 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by underground

The Rappaport article I posted earlier said that the New Bedford line would create 10,000 new rides in a year (not sure how many diverted rides that is) and cost $1.4 billion. If the UR diverts 47,000 car trips a day, that's 17 million a year.
I'll admit I didn't read the articles, but I think your units are off. 10,000 rides/year is the equivalent of about 27 people a day.

I think this is supposed to be 10,000 per day and with the fact that many of the future Urban ring users already use public transportation (urban ring is supposed to ease capacities downtown) the cost benefit analysis between the two are probably a little closer.
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:35 PM   #52
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I have to admit that going back through all of the articles, I can't figure out for the life of me where I found the 10,000 new riders number from, but I think your correct - it must be 10,000 new riders a day. That being said, that becomes 3.65 million new riders a year for the New Bedford line, compared to 17 million diverted car trips for the UR. Notice also that the numbers we are comparing are new riders to diverted car trips. The UR isn't just an improved service for people who are already taking the T, it's service to people in Everett, Chelsea, Somerville, Roxbury, and Dorchester who are currently under-served by the MBTA.
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:21 PM   #53
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I find it hard to believe that those 10,000 people are driving point to point in areas along or within the Urban Ring. Many of the communities you mentioned are dense, relatively poor, and underserved by rail transit: they're more likely heavy bus users.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:24 PM   #54
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Don't mean to bump an old thread, buuuuut... a different perspective.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/...74/1011/TOWN10

OUR VIEW: Build rail districts with new zoning


January 17, 2008 6:00 AM

The way some tell it, the reintroduction of SouthCoast passenger trains serves mainly to connect us to Boston. Not so.

Bringing back trains means so much more. With the right kind of planning, the region can craft around its rail stations attractive mixed-use districts where SouthCoast residents will want to live, work or both.

Some riders from New Bedford and Fall River will go all the way to Boston, well over an hour's ride. But others might disembark at Myricks Junction in Berkley, spend the day at work in a new bank branch, buy vegetables from a nearby farmer's market for dinner, and hop the train home to the city. Or riders from the Stoughton area might come south to New Bedford to work, to catch a show at the Zeiterion, or to eat in the city's restaurants.

Even now, when Standard-Times reporters talk to riders at the Lakeville/Middleboro station, they find that many people don't fit the here-to-Boston mold. Riders commute to school at Bridgewater State College or to jobs outside the city as well.

In light of the dangers of carbon emissions, SouthCoast residents shouldn't have to drive to Middleboro to get the train. Years ago, they didn't. Previous generations enjoyed train service on the Old Colony Railroad from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th.

Understand, trains do not bring sprawl; bad planning and zoning do.

With millions in bonding for preliminary work and support from Gov. Deval Patrick, SouthCoast is closer than ever to getting its trains back. But even if the project doesn't meet the governor's goal of a 2016 opening, municipal officials should start thinking about special zoning districts around the stations.

The location of stations is far from finalized, but the wheels of local zoning law turn slowly. The process will require exhaustive public discussion and the consideration of myriad alternatives.

At the regional level, some of SouthCoast's best planning minds ? among them former New Bedford Mayor John Bullard, who chairs a task force on the rail extension, and Stephen Smith, director of the region's quasi-public planning agency and a Freetown resident ? are working to make the revived train system something that benefits our cities and towns with few bad side effects.

They will need public support when the tough local decisions have to be made. Not everyone will want their street re-zoned for more dense development or their home to be near a train station.

Yet with good, early planning, SouthCoast rail districts can become places to gather homes and businesses in a village-like setting, reducing the distances we drive and leaving more of our land in its natural state.

Today, in the third installment of our opinion series on land use, Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen outlines the preliminary tasks that face SouthCoast communities as they prepare for the train.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:27 PM   #55
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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Originally Posted by Lrfox View Post
Understand, trains do not bring sprawl; bad planning and zoning do.
It's amazing how many people don't realize this.
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Old 01-18-2008, 08:48 AM   #56
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

"But others might disembark at Myricks Junction in Berkley, spend the day at work in a new bank branch, buy vegetables from a nearby farmer's market for dinner, and hop the train home to the city. Or riders from the Stoughton area might come south to New Bedford to work, to catch a show at the Zeiterion, or to eat in the city's restaurants."

Whatever one's views are on this project, hopefully we're all in agreement that the above scenario is an unattainable fantasy.
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Old 01-18-2008, 08:52 AM   #57
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Why is this a bad idea? Whether it works depends completely on where stations are located and on the timing and frequency of trains.
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:07 AM   #58
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Is there any T commuter line (even Fairmount?) whose timetable makes it a viable option for local trips?
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:38 AM   #59
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

It's not a bad idea, but it's also not realistic. Ample free parking is available at all of the locations that would be served by stations on this line and traffic congestion is not a big issue for any auto trip beginning and ending south of Stoughton.

That's not to say that in the future auto congestion won't be so bad, or gas prices so high, or the land adjacent to outlying commuter rail stations developed so intensely, and train frequencies increased so much that you'll see a signficant number of non-Boston oriented commuter rail trips. If and when that day comes the money for rail infrastructure investments from the feds will be pouring in. But until then it seems silly to list the New Bedford bound Zeiterion-goer as part of the potential market used to justify this investment, which may or may not have enough merit as a Boston-oriented commuting service to get built.
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:50 AM   #60
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

I'd be much more likely to attend any kind of entertainment event in New Bedford if there was reasonably scheduled train service. Right now, the only way to get there is the Dattco bus, and the last bus back to Boston leaves at 7 pm. Since there are also no hotels in New Bedford, that means I don't even think of going to any events there unless they are in the daytime.
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