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Old 07-31-2019, 07:13 PM   #801
ErnieAdams
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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Originally Posted by FK4 View Post
...
You know what, I'm not just the president of the Ignore List Fan Club, I'm also a client. If that's what's been going on with this guy, and maybe I'll find that out for myself when the next reply to me is a nonsequitur on how the Braga bridge is way more important than the canal bridges are to our regional infrastructure, then smash that ignore button tonight and wake up to a happier tomorrow. You can't fix people, and moderation is a slow burn around here (which I'm fine with FWIW). All you can do is make it easier on yourself to go super deep on South Coast Rail and the butterfly effect therefrom. That's my real jam, that and ignoring the people who irritate me. Sic Semper Ignore List.
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Old 07-31-2019, 07:36 PM   #802
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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What I was referring to, and what F-Line was quite definitely referring to in his initial remark that kicked off this whole spat, was not simply Rover's most recent post, but his history on this site of [what I would most definitely call] shitposting. His general modus operandi is to to wade in with snipes but then back away when confronted, using facts very selectively, and making not-so-subtle digs at people who disagree with him and then NOT RESPONDING in detail to the thoughtful, reasoned counterpoints against whatever it is he may be saying.
What you're describing seem to be Rover is a more subtle version of TheMagicMan. Posting stuff that inflame and/or annoy without any singular act that actually violate an explicit rule or understood decor. The only threads I see him (or at least followed/active enough to leave an impression) is in the Congestion Tolling thread and here. I haven't seen enough posts to detect that level. That or I just lack that ability to see that nuance. I'm just gonna back away at this point. I just want to understand paradoxical nature of this project where I seem the least favorable press and the most support from the state. Meanwhile the projects I do see the more support gets the opposite level for state support.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:04 AM   #803
Rover
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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Originally Posted by ErnieAdams View Post
You know what, I'm not just the president of the Ignore List Fan Club, I'm also a client. If that's what's been going on with this guy, and maybe I'll find that out for myself when the next reply to me is a nonsequitur on how the Braga bridge is way more important than the canal bridges are to our regional infrastructure, .
The Braga bridge is a way more important than...oh wait a minute.

I fail to see how me pressing F-Line or anybody for some background on their opinions is shitposting? I can give as good as I get obviously, but someone point out to me where I asked a non-legitimate question over the past couple of days? I've never questioned F-Line's technical knowledge but asking people to show evidence of bribes, payoffs, duplicity or anything else shouldn't offend the people making the accusations. If SCR is moving forward primarily because someone is being paid off I too as a taxpaying citizen would not want this project, or ANY project, going forward under those circumstances. I agree with maybe it was ant who said he's learned a few things from our exchanges out here. So have I.

Not sure why I'm living rent free in FK4's head but really not a lot I can do about that and to be completely clear I honestly don't care. If I was actually trolling people I'm sure the moderators would deal with that. Notice however that my posts do always stay on subject...

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Originally Posted by ErnieAdams View Post
All of that said, SCR could actually help the Islands if the scheduled runs to New Bedford are coordinated similarly with the fast ferries embarking from there. A trip from Boston to MVY via New Bedford rail is a really enticing prospect if they can make it work.
EDIT: I meant to address this as well. I was thinking the same thing, although I wouldn't hazard a guess as to how much it would get used. Whale's Tooth is near, but not quite at, the State Pier where the ferry to the islands runs. That's also a bit of an industrial area filled with seafood processing warehouses that would need to be beautified a bit but much like the Cape Flyer or running trains to Gillette during football season I definitely see some possibilities here.

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Originally Posted by ant8904 View Post
I just want to understand paradoxical nature of this project where I seem the least favorable press and the most support from the state. Meanwhile the projects I do see the more support gets the opposite level for state support.
I would say that its a combination of the economic justice issue first and foremost along with this project being on the drawing board for 30 years and with being outside of the Boston media market. Finally I'd say at least for Phase I its the least disruptive of some of the other projects. GLX and Blue-Red for example. Its easier to get a project off the ground if you're not tearing up a main street in a populated area or having to redo all the overpasses in the middle of the city.

Last edited by Rover; 08-01-2019 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:59 AM   #804
roy_mustang76
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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I would say that its a combination of the economic justice issue first and foremost along with this project being on the drawing board for 30 years and with being outside of the Boston media market. Finally I'd say at least for Phase I its the least disruptive of some of the other projects. GLX and Blue-Red for example. Its easier to get a project off the ground if you're not tearing up a main street in a populated area or having to redo all the overpasses in the middle of the city.
I'm brand new here, so I am not going to touch the troll/shitposting argument with a ten-foot pole.

I will, however, say that economic justice is about much more than simply having token train service. If the idea is that Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton need to be connected to Boston, it should be in a meaningful, useful way, even if that means step 1 can't be a train because the train can't be run usefully from day 1. If the train is too disruptive to do at first, do something less disruptive to start - I've got thoughts on what you could do that is better than the present Phase I and even less disruptive.

We're talking about a service that, even in the best case scenario, is slated to provide the worst branch level service patterns of any CR branch (3 peak trains for each terminal, compared to Kingston/Plymouth's 5 AM/4 PM trains, or Newburyport and Rockport's 5 peak trains each, or or or). On top of that, off-peak service is on a 3-hour frequency? If I were in either community, I'd much rather have hourly bus service, at least I have an idea of when the bus will leave. This gets moderately better for Taunton because they get the combination of service patterns, but... correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that after Phase II Taunton would actually lose service levels because of skip-stopping, making this useless all-round.

In that case, all of these communities are probably better served by rubber-tire connections, at least until we can fix the Stoughton routing:

Taunton: Scheduled bus connections to/from Mansfield Station, connecting to a far more robust schedule on the Providence Line than can ever be hoped for running via Middleboro. Can't use Charliecard for CR, so maybe make these buses free with proof of CR fare to avoid whacking non-passholders twice?

Fall River/New Bedford: Commuter buses with Charlie fare platform (for fare integration with both MBTA and SRTA), running a CR-like schedule that is actually semi-useful off-peak. Doesn't need to be every 30 minutes, but it's definitely got to beat every 3 hours off-peak that the broken alts are trotting out. Hell, cut a deal with DATTCO to hijack their service for New Bedford, I'm sure they wouldn't mind adding a few trips in return for state money.

That would be my Phase I, if we are trying to have something right freaking now in the name of economic justice. Roll it out quicker, cheaper, and without the likelihood that someone is going to look at this and say "wow, no one is riding these trains, let's not drop all this money on running via Stoughton", and provide more real life utility to the three key communities. If you do it right, you might even end up with concrete ridership numbers to say "hey, this is why we really need to build the Stoughton alt correctly", and services robust enough in terms of frequency that gimping any alts would correctly then be seen as a reduction of service and probably be a nonstarter politically.
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Old 08-02-2019, 11:46 AM   #805
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Great first post. Welcome!
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:12 AM   #806
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Yes, welcome Roy! I had a couple of questions:

1) I've never seen a proposal to run busses from Taunton to Mansfield. If that's your invention, kudos for thinking outside of the box. How much time to you suppose that would take to get from a central place in Taunton over to Mansfield? I've never attempted that drive myself.

2) Are you suggesting MBTA bus service from NB and FR to South Station or to Mansfield as well?
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Old 08-09-2019, 08:13 AM   #807
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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Yes, welcome Roy! I had a couple of questions:

1) I've never seen a proposal to run busses from Taunton to Mansfield. If that's your invention, kudos for thinking outside of the box. How much time to you suppose that would take to get from a central place in Taunton over to Mansfield? I've never attempted that drive myself.

2) Are you suggesting MBTA bus service from NB and FR to South Station or to Mansfield as well?
I'm just glad I didn't kill the thread!

1) The bus connections are not entirely my idea, I'm fairly sure I saw someone else float a bus connection (though for Taunton or NB/FR, I'm not certain). You could, in theory, go to either Mansfield or Middleborough - they are roughly the same 25 minutes or so away, Mansfield is more likely to take a few extra minutes during rush. If frequency is king, then Mansfield with it's 9 AM rush trains and 6 PM rush trains is going to win out. I suppose you could do both with all this money, but I can't help but feel like that might actually make things more complicated for commuters.

2) I'm floating NB and FR get express service to South Station (whether that gets run as MBTA, SRTA, or contracted out to DATTCO with cross-honoring is an open question). To my knowledge, Fall River doesn't have anything of the sort right now, but New Bedford does! It may be privately run, have poor off-peak headways, and not always show up, but those are fixable problems, especially for the number of dollars we are talking about here.

Now, that's a long bus ride for sure (which is why DATTCO runs motorcoaches instead of standard MBTA bus stock), but it gets the 1-seat ride, and can be ramped up to headways that are equivalent to the end-goal.

As a supplement, you could also run shuttle service connecting to Commuter Rail service... in Providence. Mansfield is a bit too far north to be logical for a bus connection from either New Bedford or Fall River, and Middleborough similarly doesn't make much sense from Fall River, even if it might not be awful from New Bedford. MBTA/SRTA service to Providence could make that ride more affordable, and similar to the Mansfield shuttle, make the bus free with proof of a CR trip (or if the T ever gets CR on the same fare platform as the rest of our little universe, that becomes trivial to handle while still collecting regular fares for the point-to-point market).

Last edited by roy_mustang76; 08-09-2019 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:58 PM   #808
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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I'm just glad I didn't kill the thread!

1) The bus connections are not entirely my idea, I'm fairly sure I saw someone else float a bus connection (though for Taunton or NB/FR, I'm not certain). You could, in theory, go to either Mansfield or Middleborough - they are roughly the same 25 minutes or so away, Mansfield is more likely to take a few extra minutes during rush. If frequency is king, then Mansfield with it's 9 AM rush trains and 6 PM rush trains is going to win out. I suppose you could do both with all this money, but I can't help but feel like that might actually make things more complicated for commuters.

2) I'm floating NB and FR get express service to South Station (whether that gets run as MBTA, SRTA, or contracted out to DATTCO with cross-honoring is an open question). To my knowledge, Fall River doesn't have anything of the sort right now, but New Bedford does! It may be privately run, have poor off-peak headways, and not always show up, but those are fixable problems, especially for the number of dollars we are talking about here.

Now, that's a long bus ride for sure (which is why DATTCO runs motorcoaches instead of standard MBTA bus stock), but it gets the 1-seat ride, and can be ramped up to headways that are equivalent to the end-goal.

As a supplement, you could also run shuttle service connecting to Commuter Rail service... in Providence. Mansfield is a bit too far north to be logical for a bus connection from either New Bedford or Fall River, and Middleborough similarly doesn't make much sense from Fall River, even if it might not be awful from New Bedford. MBTA/SRTA service to Providence could make that ride more affordable, and similar to the Mansfield shuttle, make the bus free with proof of a CR trip (or if the T ever gets CR on the same fare platform as the rest of our little universe, that becomes trivial to handle while still collecting regular fares for the point-to-point market).
Roy-M welcome to the discussion

With all do respect to Sec Polack's report -- file it and move on to real solutions

I continue to believe that the true definition of economic justice is seizing opportunity to improve everyone's status

Despite what some would like to believe are obvious trends that everyone wants to live and work in Boston or any smaller city -- there are lots of folks who for various reasons will be completely satisfied working and living in non-urban settings. In addition there are plenty of employers who don't want to be in Kendall or the Seaport.

That's the preamble

Now the amble -- Boston is surrounded by layers of smaller cities and many towns which are reasonably well interconnected by highways [not necessarily interstate class] and less well connected by rail lines [or abandoned rail right of way] -- mostly radial. There are then the inner few which are connected by subway type of service exclusively radial.

Given that Boston and the rest of the urban core are the fastest growing -- all of the possible enhancements to transit should concentrate on the existing network before anything other than trial-type bus extensions of service:
  1. Fix all the existing known problems and limitations including making simple additions to the core of the system
    1. a pedestrian link tieing all the lines together at DTX,
    2. Dig under D and make the Silver Line from South Station to Silver Line Way -- true electric high frequency [vehicles not electricity] rapid transit
    3. Complete the Green Line to Medford and let it develop just as the Red Line to Alewife developed over then next 4 decades
  2. Do as many in-fill CR and possibly subway projects in partnership with the developers of the relevant areas
    1. West - Harvard -Alston CR
    2. West Kendall Red Line about half way from Kendall to Central close to the Grand Junction path
    3. Wonderland CR - to Blue Line superstation -- let this and Suffolk develop
  3. Blue Line to Lynn
  4. Red-Blue connection @ Charles with possible extension beyond
[*] Build a CR Superstation south of Boston [Taunton?] for bus service to / from places like Fall River, New Bedford[*] electrify CR out to Lowell, Worcester with high frequency dedicated service to major destinations[/list]
Everything else is best handled by buses of some type at least until there is proven demand

The best way to achieve economic justice is to do what is economically justified -- not to do something just for the sake of doing or making someone feel good about spending
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:47 AM   #809
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

I absolutely agree, but you don’t move the ball politically by saying “hey I know you want this for your community and the state keeps saying you’ll get something, but yeah no”. That’s an excellent way to create entrenched institutional enemies (likely why Gov. Patrick didn’t kill this).

The reality is this:

1) Economic justice reasons or not, the South Coast has virtually no transit links to either Boston or Providence.
2) The bus options that do exist are privatized, expensive, have sparse headways, and aren’t all that reliable.
3) Denying the South Coast improves transit altogether hampers the goal of securing funding for improvements in the urban core.

Now, you’re going to correctly say that you only said there should be bus service, not that they should have no transit, but for residents who have been waiting on this, a nebulous “we’ll give you buses” isn’t going to fly. If you’re going to pull $1.1 billion in funding from a region and replace it with buses, you had better be very specific upfront about what you are doing with those buses and how they make their lives better. I wish we hadn’t promised that money, but the State has and that is the world we must now contend with.
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Old 08-10-2019, 12:41 PM   #810
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

GATRA operates a Taunton-Norton-Attleboro route that has pretty terrible headways in the morning rush that sorta kinda are timed transfers to commuter rail. There is a separate Norton-Mansfield route which has comparatively good headways, but I would not propose that a two-ride GATRA itinerary is a realistic part of a commuter's route.

Taunton-Mansfield is obviously more direct, but the bus infrastructure at Attleboro is more built out, and Attleboro is probably a bit more of a local commuter draw anyway, thanks to Bristol Community College and Sturdy Hospital.

So one option would be to beef up the GATRA feeder service to Attleboro, and institute a Commuter Express service from Taunton to Norton to Mansfield.

In terms of services to Fall River and New Bedford, I think reliable public commuter coaches to both Providence and Taunton/Middleborough would be a good measure. Providence-Fall River-New Bedford form a natural corridor as-is that totally lacks public transit. Providence is also likeliest to get electrified commuter rail soon, with hopefully some speed improvements. Express bus from Fall River, transfer to electric train in Providence -- done right, that could potentially be reasonable.

Rail service to Taunton, whether from Middleborough, Stoughton or Mansfield, is a worthwhile goal in and of itself. If Middleboro/Lakeville station weren't on the wrong side of the junction, I would say just go ahead and extend the Middleboro/Lakeville Line 10 miles west (not much farther than the current 8 miles between Bridgewater and M/L). As is, this would either require a time-consuming reverse-move à la Plymouth, or splitting the line north of the station, with some trains going to Taunton and some to M/L.

M/L morning peak headways are already in the 40-60 minute range, and M/L station itself is one of the higher-ridership stops on the route. Splitting the line and therefore the frequencies is a pretty yucky prospect then.

If some magic could happen that could increase the frequencies on the Middleboro/Lakeville Line, then maybe we could get away with line-splitting. The afore-mentioned short-turns of Greenbush and Kingston trains was snuck in to one of the Rail Vision alternatives a few months back and is evocative of one of the crazier ideas entertained mid-century -- terminate all commuter rail routes around 128, and force all riders to transfer to rapid transit.

If M/L service really could be boosted into the 10-20 minute headway territory with timed transfers and the Red Line got some frequency boosts, maybe that idea could work, but I'm skeptical.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:34 AM   #811
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

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GATRA operates a Taunton-Norton-Attleboro route that has pretty terrible headways in the morning rush that sorta kinda are timed transfers to commuter rail. There is a separate Norton-Mansfield route which has comparatively good headways, but I would not propose that a two-ride GATRA itinerary is a realistic part of a commuter's route.

Taunton-Mansfield is obviously more direct, but the bus infrastructure at Attleboro is more built out, and Attleboro is probably a bit more of a local commuter draw anyway, thanks to Bristol Community College and Sturdy Hospital.

So one option would be to beef up the GATRA feeder service to Attleboro, and institute a Commuter Express service from Taunton to Norton to Mansfield.

In terms of services to Fall River and New Bedford, I think reliable public commuter coaches to both Providence and Taunton/Middleborough would be a good measure. Providence-Fall River-New Bedford form a natural corridor as-is that totally lacks public transit. Providence is also likeliest to get electrified commuter rail soon, with hopefully some speed improvements. Express bus from Fall River, transfer to electric train in Providence -- done right, that could potentially be reasonable.

Rail service to Taunton, whether from Middleborough, Stoughton or Mansfield, is a worthwhile goal in and of itself. If Middleboro/Lakeville station weren't on the wrong side of the junction, I would say just go ahead and extend the Middleboro/Lakeville Line 10 miles west (not much farther than the current 8 miles between Bridgewater and M/L). As is, this would either require a time-consuming reverse-move à la Plymouth, or splitting the line north of the station, with some trains going to Taunton and some to M/L.

M/L morning peak headways are already in the 40-60 minute range, and M/L station itself is one of the higher-ridership stops on the route. Splitting the line and therefore the frequencies is a pretty yucky prospect then.

If some magic could happen that could increase the frequencies on the Middleboro/Lakeville Line, then maybe we could get away with line-splitting. The afore-mentioned short-turns of Greenbush and Kingston trains was snuck in to one of the Rail Vision alternatives a few months back and is evocative of one of the crazier ideas entertained mid-century -- terminate all commuter rail routes around 128, and force all riders to transfer to rapid transit.

If M/L service really could be boosted into the 10-20 minute headway territory with timed transfers and the Red Line got some frequency boosts, maybe that idea could work, but I'm skeptical.
Middleboro wouldn't qualify for Urban Rail 15-minute frequencies in an RER'ed universe anyway. It's way too far out of town. The organizing principle of RER is that 128-land* is the land of :15 frequencies, 495-land* is the land of :30 frequencies, and miscellany beyond* is probably hourly.

(*high-leverage and square-peg exceptions nonwithstanding)

So for the Old Colony with a fixed Dorchester-Quincy pinch you may see Urban Rail (or as close to it as they can achieve) frequencies terminating at Brockton, because despite being a ways beyond 128 that's a large city, high-leverage stop, and very large bus terminal for a high-frequency BAT system that could be generously expanded. And it also has a ready-made layover yard next to the downtown station in the form of the leads to the old freight yard. South of there it's not going to make sense to do more than :30 to Campello, Bridgewater, and Middleboro because the density drops off the table and the commute orientation swings harder to 9-5'er (excepting Bridgewater State, where :30 times better with the way classes are chunked out in 60-90-120-240 minute increments). Past Buzzards Bay to Hyannis is definitely in hourly territory.

For the other two branches, probably :30 tops because Plymouth has too-few multimodal connections on its Whitman-north stops, Greenbush is in similar boat Cohasset-west, and neither have potential mid-line layover sites for shift changes or resetting the clock except for Plymouth's Abington maintenance yard located inconveniently between stations.

There's no good alternative for FR/NB here because the manglement of Middleboro station by SCR Phase I prevents threading of :30 headways straight on to Taunton any which way. The pie that's divided in thirds at Braintree must be divided again at Pilgrim Jct...always and forever under this Alternative. If you subscribe to RER's basic organizing principle that :15 = 128 / :30 = 495 / 1:00 = past-495...there is zero shot at narrowing frequencies to the SCR cities to an hour via this alternative. Middleboro Station will vulture some, any notion of (half-assed frequency capped) Buzzards Bay or Cape service will vulture some more. It will not, and can not, fit the RER paradigm...ever. So we pivot back to Phase II, and the risk that the brokenness of Phase I will scuttle any attempt at a Phase II.

--------------------

Now, you can achieve all of this with a non-broken Stoughton route.

First task is doing what the FEIR didn't do: incorporate NEC improvements directly forced by SCR frequencies. That means putting a giddayup on the quad-tracking from Forest Hills to Readville, reaching yes/no decision on keeping Hyde Park (note: traffic conflicts in the 4-track design would be problematic), expanding 128 Station to 4 platform tracks, implementing the RER rec to take most Forge Park trains off the NEC and interline via Fairmount, and revamping Canton Jct. so the NEC side has an Amtrak passing track and all sides have full-length platforms that don't overspill the junction. Needham would be pushed one step closer to death's door on CR mode, but wouldn't need an immediate decision as a project prereq.

Next is taking on the single-tracking fiasco from the FEIR that forces impossibly tight meets and system-high risk of daily delays. The Army Corps of two Administrations ago made a political move to saddle it with requirements of the single-track swamp trestle + the electrification requirement...not because of air quality or speed, but because the single-track meets forced by their own decisions were so tight that the +1-2 minute difference in electric acceleration at those widely-spaced stops were the only thing that covered up how untenable the meets were. Scrap it. The same Corps from another Administration allowed recycling of the Greenbush Line's double-track embankment through a far more environmentally sensitive estuary in Scituate. The Corps is a notoriously political animal, and they made a pants-on-fire rigged decision here to stack the deck on a project that had little chance of fed funding. This is not as hard as it looks to defeat given that the leadership there has overturned multiple times, and the counterpoint offered by the Greenbush example.

Have full double-tracking on the Stoughton main and congestion abatement on the NEC, and you can get those :30 minute headways to Taunton. It'll get easier still if Needham gets expunged from the SW Corridor tunnel and it's just :30 Providence and :30 Taunton pairing off in orderly fashion around the Amtrak slots. If you can achieve :30 locals to Taunton, both reasonable with the fixes and also a reasonable upper limit for what you can cram down the NEC in a major Amtrak+Providence growth era, then you can guarantee hourly all-day both directions to each city. No routing hacks, no skip-stop hacks like on the brain-damaged FEIR, no train meets so brittle you can expect to stay stopped on the tracks for 10 minutes a day, no commute-direction only games, no gigantic midday service gaps, no mockeries of RER operating principles. And hourly is probably very right-sized given that rail-less east/west is the predominant commute direction on the South Coast vs. north/south. You might even be able to plug a couple unidirectional rush-hour supplemental slots on the otherwise displaced Phase I routing to run as time-shortening expresses, since those would be able to overtake the Middleboro locals if used judiciously.


If RER is the future, that's really the only way it can work. Unless Phase II is built with its primary fatal flaws corrected, every other possible way flunks the basic-most definition of RER and leaves SCR dragging the absolute rump of the whole system by a shocking margin on service levels...forever (even in a future NSRL universe). It's imperative that *something* be done to pick up that travesty of an FEIR, even if pushing paper is all they're willing to fund now because they shot their load on this Phase I inanity. What they're building looks bad enough amidst current lousy service levels. If they can't get it in line with RER--which is not possible with Phase I, with the broken Phase II in the FEIR, or with a Phase I that tanks ridership so no form of Phase II gets attempted--then we're taking on a multi-generational problem of bad transit.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:39 AM   #812
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

A couple of thoughts:

1) A while back I asked the question if some of the posters had ever done the commute up from FR and NB. Not to be jerky, but genuinely curious. I asked this because I used to do that commute a long time ago (the 90's! eek ) and the traffic was, even back then, insane. During rush hour it was a 2 hour commute. If there was an accident or other assorted bullshit, it was 2 1/2. Anecdotally I've heard its worse now, which makes sense given the increase in traffic and population from then to now.

So, IMHO, bus service is a non-starter. There is already private bus service and from most accounts it sucks. Hard. A 90 minute train ride might seem excessive to many of us. However, when its a 2-2 1/2 hour daily commute currently, 90 minutes doesn't seem all that bad. I can't speak to going west (Providence, Attleboro, Mansfield, etc) however as I've never done that trip nor do I know anybody who regularly makes that commute.

2) I've seen a couple of times it posted that the Army Corps study of the Hockomock Swamp is faulty due to political influence. Would really like to hear more details on that. In particular who exactly put the shiv into the two track plan (was the original rail line two tracks or one?) and are they still around to do the same thing again?
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:58 PM   #813
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

I did a daily New Bedford-Copley Sq. commute for 3-1/2 months in 2000 when living with a relative. Forced into the move so I could scrape together some apartment money from my temp job after being crushed by student loan payments. Drove from Acushnet Ave. to 18 to 140 to 79 to 105 to Middleboro Station, and caught the equivalent of today's train 004 in. No traffic anywhere because I was coming from the north of NB at a godforsaken early hour and 140 is always a piece of cake north of the Kings Highway exit. Would've been a different story if I were downtown and had to engage 195.

Several days I had to drive all the way in because I had an apartment-hunting itinerary to do. I pretty much wanted to die on those days. Between the clusterfuck at the 24/140 interchange and all the daily suffering Stoughton-north on 24 & 93, it was enough to swear me off ever living away from the train again. And that was traffic 19 years ago, not today.

I've made the same M'boro train + drive trip many times since to get picked up by family scattered between Swansea and Wareham when visiting. Especially when Cape traffic @ 24/495 is horrible it's just easier that way. Even though I'm not a native myself (CT) about half my extended family lives on the South Coast, with one parent being born in FR and raised in NB. They remember taking Budd RDC's to Boston as kids back when commuter rail last ran pre-'58.


Commutes are highly variable down there. As mentioned, mine was a piece of cake because I was closer to Acushnet than Downtown. 195 when you're caught up in the east-west flow of commutes...not so much. The consistently weak (even pre- service reduction) ridership projections for Freetown Station sort of reflect that dichotomy, as it projects off even by transit share of population rather than raw population. But I don't think there's any question the demand is there if the frequencies are delivered. The problem is simply that the frequencies are not minimally acceptable by any definition, and both the FEIR Stoughton routing and the Middleboro routing cripple it further by omitting scheduled stops with access to employment in the Greater of Greater Boston (i.e. 128 belt). And there's lots to skewer on the unwillingness to incorporate multimodal planning as any meaningful part of the last 20 years of process...specifically the implications on the SRTA networks around South Coast stops, and increasing transit shares writ-large with a push from this project.

-------------------------

RE: the Army Corps. See here for a general overview on the politics. They've gotten a bit precious of themselves swinging a big stick on strictly civil projects, and for morphing into an ungovernable collection of fiefdoms (9 regional divisions, all headed by generals who get to throw their weight around on their own agendas). As the Wiki article shows, wetlands and water resources jurisdictions were the hammer the Corps wielded to insert itself and pick project priorities over the wishes of the Federal Government and states. In some particularly pork-laden cases, they ended up pushing shoddy work because the right backs got scratched. And in other cases they tanked badly needed projects with unfavorable environmental reviews because there wasn't enough incentive in it for moi. There have been legislative and executive efforts to curb the Corps' power in recent years, after things really got out-of-hand in the 2000's. But basically they got too big and the Army brass too egotistical, so the Corps ended up abandoning too much of its original limited mission to become its own 'shadow' government on whatever things civilly engineered--water, transportation, ecology--they deem lucrative to sustaining their power.

For SCR they were definitely playing decider against the project. And that is not surprising given that the feds looked pretty dimly on funding the project during the Bush Admin. For awhile the Romney Admin. here was trying to fluff up its FTA cred by calling it "intercity" instead of commuter rail, but the feds weren't buying it. The Army Corps had to come in because there were wetlands, but the resulting FEIR is a travesty of rhetorical bullshit.

The line was historically double-track end-to-end and still features a double-track embankment through Hock Swamp. However, the Corps decided that the embankment would not be enough protection and ordered a trestle with catch-basins to be constructed instead on top of the existing DT embankment at a cost premium of close to a half-billion. Not just any trestle...but a single-track only trestle. Why not a double-track trestle? They never said why...just single-track because said so. Maybe DT would've been a step too far and gotten the state to call BS on them. But the trestle then wrecked the schedules (which were already threadbare from the lack of attention to the NEC), forcing the branches to each skip-stop a separate half of the stations from Taunton to Canton Jct. And then because the train meets were so impossibly narrow, they threw on the electrification requirement--despite the difference vs. diesel being only 1-4 minutes at peak and 1-2 minutes off-peak--to distract that the meets were too tight to ever actually work in-practice. In-practice there would be trains paused at North Easton (the only stop scheduled for all trains) for "schedule adjustment" for minutes on end every rush hour.

Why did they sandbag it? The feds weren't ever going to fund it, so a favorable FEIR wouldn't have advanced project starts at all. It still wouldn't advance project starts today because Phase II is a big chunk of money even done right and it's too much easier for a lackadaisical local Admin. to shove nothingburger service quality down Phase I rather than actually give an honest look at the project's valuation. However, if they larded it up with so much of their own demands--a trestle, the wires because of the meets caused by the trestle--ensuring that if the state really wanted this product badly enough to "Go Big", the Corps would have all kinds of lucrative work ahead of them surveying post-dig spots in the Swamp while hopefully some of their chummiest contractors got to work beside them.

The same probably would not happen today because they've been curbed just a little bit by subsequent Administrations on the kind of gross overreach they were doing in the 2000's right when they were working on SCR. A state motivated enough to challenge the obvious whoppers--such as the meets that can't possibly work on single-track--might be able to get a do-over from a somewhat tamed newer Corps staff. And there is precedent to throw back at them over the swamp. The Greenbush Line, formerly contiguous double-track and likewise abandoned in south-of-Cohasset the same year of 1960 that the Stoughton Line was abandoned south of MA 106, was given the full greenlight by the Corps to run on its historical double-track embankment through several tidal estuaries between North Scituate and Greenbush without special mitigation. Through much longer and more environmentally sensitive lands than Hock Swamp, which absorbs runoff from 24 and 495 all day every day. Greenbush's EIS was done by a previous Admin's Army Corps and a previous general in charge of the North Atlantic Division.

Yes, it matters the world to challenge an old regime's overreach with a new regime that is--if not sympathetic to the project itself--at least sympathetic to the chore of having to constantly clean up some predecessor idiot's mistakes and overreaches. Another crack at the FEIR is very unlikely to come out the same way the last one did. The last one was almost too insane to believe at the amount of overreach and incompetence. But the state has to try it (and give the NEC full treatment this time) because the service will never be good enough any other way.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:28 PM   #814
ssresident
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Some Brockton news that seems relevant here:

This spot is next door to the Campello station:
90+ apartments get zoning approval at Brockton towyard

And F-Line just mentioned this spot a few posts up-thread:
https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/...t-csx-railyard

Also, over on the Kingston branch, in South Weymouth outside of the air station land, there's another 240 apartments under construction at the site of a former warehouse next door to the station, 150 apartments approved on lots behind the parking lot on Route 18, and another 24 apartments about half a mile down the road.
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Old 08-15-2019, 02:54 PM   #815
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssresident View Post
Some Brockton news that seems relevant here:

This spot is next door to the Campello station:
90+ apartments get zoning approval at Brockton towyard

And F-Line just mentioned this spot a few posts up-thread:
https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/...t-csx-railyard

Also, over on the Kingston branch, in South Weymouth outside of the air station land, there's another 240 apartments under construction at the site of a former warehouse next door to the station, 150 apartments approved on lots behind the parking lot on Route 18, and another 24 apartments about half a mile down the road.
I'll believe it when I see it re: the Brockton freight yard. They've had high hopes dashed many times before. Biggest buzzkill is going to be the required environmental remediation before a residential re-zoning is even possible. Some dirty, dirty dirt down there.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:03 PM   #816
GP40MC
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

I did the Dartmouth to Boston gig for 39 years. The increase of traffic levels on RT24 and later on, RT140, was amazing. I primarily worked middle and late night shifts when I first started working for the railroad. You would be lucky to see over five opposing cars on RT140 between Taunton and New Bedford coming home at night. Now it resembles what the lower end of RT24 was like back then. I believe the real transformation started when RT495 came into the area.

For the last 25 years I worked in Somerville. I used to avoid the Big Dig nonsense going up in the afternoon by going up RT128 and in the Mass Pike. Coming home, I would try
the X-Way unless I was sick of the construction. Towards the end of my career, I would always leave 75 minutes (60 mins straight run and 15 min buffer) going to work. Thank God for WBZ's Traffic On The Three's! And I hated (and still do) the Zipper Lane on the X-Way. That thing just made the inbound PM commute from the south worse. You'll never convince me of its benefits after all the wasted time and fuel spent I saw over the years. Not to mention the residual problems like the perennial rear-enders from the constant stop & go, lane changing, etc.

Kudos to F-Line on the whole five-mile trestle debacle. What a joke! I so wanted to use that treatsie he wrote, what, two years ago already to combat the some naysayers on the local radio station?!
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:28 AM   #817
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail (South Coast Rail)

GP - I did Dartmouth to Back Bay for about 4 years and that was enough for me. Can't fathom doing that for 39!

F-Line, thanks for the usual informative and detailed post. Who needs to request a new Army Corps analysis? Would that come from Baker's administration or does the congressional delegation need to weigh in? Any chance this would happen before 2030, as in how long does it take for the wheels to turn between request and completion?
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:52 AM   #818
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rover View Post
A couple of thoughts:

1) A while back I asked the question if some of the posters had ever done the commute up from FR and NB. Not to be jerky, but genuinely curious. I asked this because I used to do that commute a long time ago (the 90's! eek ) and the traffic was, even back then, insane. During rush hour it was a 2 hour commute. If there was an accident or other assorted bullshit, it was 2 1/2. Anecdotally I've heard its worse now, which makes sense given the increase in traffic and population from then to now.

So, IMHO, bus service is a non-starter. There is already private bus service and from most accounts it sucks. Hard. A 90 minute train ride might seem excessive to many of us. However, when its a 2-2 1/2 hour daily commute currently, 90 minutes doesn't seem all that bad. I can't speak to going west (Providence, Attleboro, Mansfield, etc) however as I've never done that trip nor do I know anybody who regularly makes that commute.
I haven't done the commute personally, so I take it at face value that it is horrendous (having driven the reverse and seen the inbound traffic, it looks as bad as described). I don't think that means there shouldn't be a bus downtown though. I do think that means the bus downtown can't be the only transit choice, which is why I'm such a proponent of the Mansfield and Providence services I've outlined as well (they're going to be better than the direct bus, but the direct bus will always have a market so we may as well improve it). Those are basically meant to tide those cities over while we get Stoughton unfucked (F-Line has covered that portion extensively).

The private bus appears to suck massively, but the private bus has an entirely different set of incentives and goals from state-funded transit. DATTCO is running that bus to make money, not out of the goodness of their hearts, and they do all sorts of other charter operations. If a bus breaks down and they need to rob the commuter operation of a bus for a much more profitable charter, well... it's not rocket science what they are going to do. So it sucks under DATTCO, but under MBTA/SRTA operation, it doesn't need to continue to suck the way it has. The travel time will still be long, but if the service is reliable and frequent it becomes a viable option for more people, and becomes part of a network providing options, as opposed to being the sole, unreliable, transit option. It also has the benefit of not taking 4 years to execute.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:53 PM   #819
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail (South Coast Rail)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rover View Post
Who needs to request a new Army Corps analysis? Would that come from Baker's administration or does the congressional delegation need to weigh in? Any chance this would happen before 2030, as in how long does it take for the wheels to turn between request and completion?
A Notification of Project Change on Phase II concerning the same Army Corps project area would trigger it. Then the state would present its evidence that the FEIR build would not work (easy...the service levels are fucked), and the new information that the existing double-track embankment would not be environmentally destructive as feared along with proposals of better offsets to make sure. Those offsets can be things like stormwater management projects on 24 and 495 where they directly abut, as well as railbed treatments that are similarly effective on the earthen embankment as with the concrete trestle. For example, the latest "Jetsons Shit" mixture of trackbed rock ballast now being used in freight yards has a kitty litter -like composition for absorbing chemical spills before they ever reach the ground. While such risk was always overblown on a route where there's zero-ever potential for freight and passenger trains would be speeding through at 79 MPH, something like that would check off the what-if's box on a loco or EMU (yes, they can leak lubricant and coolant too) blowing a hose through the swamp. At maybe $500K extra premium per mile over 5 miles for the kitty litter pebbles instead of $500M per mile on the single-track only trestle.

Then just hope they have their vendettas at the Corps counted correctly. No guarantee it'll be approved...and if not, just try again in 15 years because a broken service is unbuildable and they can't/won't put a shovel in the ground for that. But the FEIR was so shockingly bad a document and the 2000's decade such a nadir for Corps overreach that their chances of succeeding at a challenge have a better starting position by default. It's all about whether they want to pursue it. 2nd-term Patrick and Phase I -deking Baker pretty obviously didn't have any stomach for directing their people to pursue it. The best you can say is that at least no clock is ticking on that, though a Phase I ridership failure scuttling Phase II remains the biggest threat.
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