Tuesday, March 11, 2008

South Coast MBTA Commuter Rail Line and San Diego's New Sprinter Train

The Fall River and New Bedford communities would rather see aid instead of MBTA/MBCR commuter rail access to Boston, according to an article published today in The Sun Chronicle.

If the state decides to extend the commuter rail system to Fall River and New Bedford, the project's estimated cost is approximately $1 billion. In a public forum last night, residents and local officials of the South Coast area said "the state has enough fiscal problems without spending huge sums of money to expand an already-overburdened rail system."

Since we're talking about the MBTA, if Fall River and New Bedford were added to the commuter rail line, the line extension might not be a straight shot from Boston to the South Coast. Rather, one of the ways they are looking to extend the line would be from the Attleboro commuter rail line, something residents of Attleboro are wholeheartedly against.

The line extension is currently priced at $1 to 1.5 billion. The state has not acknowledged where this revenue would come from. Fall River and New Bedford would rather just receive the money allocated towards the commuter rail to be used for local projects that could help revitalize these two large seacoast cities.

If the state does extend the commuter rail line, a new feasibility study would need to be conducted because the existing study is outdated according to federal law.

Many of the speakers at last night's forum mentioned how overburdened the current commuter rail system is.
"We do not have the capacity" to handle more trains, Attleboro City Councilor Walter Thibodeau said.

State Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, said she gets constant complaints from commuters that Attleboro trains are overcrowded and lack heat or air conditioning.

"Let's fix what we have" before building new rail systems, she said.

Transportation officials said they had come up with another alternative that had not been considered before.

Rather than train service, the MBTA could improve bus transportation. One idea would be to dedicate a highway lane just for vehicles with multiple occupants like buses to speed the trip to Boston.

The planners also said the trains could cut their travel time and attract more riders if the lines were electrified, but that would also increase costs.

Lisa Stanley of the MBTA said there are 10 alternatives being considered now, and that will be narrowed to four to six plans by next month.
In other news, "Fitchburg Rider" shared the following in an email: "An interesting article in the San Diego News Tribune today (Monday, March 10th) about their new light rail service called the Sprinter in Escondido. Also a photo of a beautiful, comfortable train..."
Yesterday's launch marked the culmination of 30 years of planning and development, at a cost of $478 million. The project was funded by a combination of federal, state and local funds, including the county's half-percentage-point Transnet sales tax.

About two dozen passengers on the first train were employees or friends of the North County Transit District, the developer of the 22-mile rail line, but most were just local people who wanted to ride history.
Fitchburg Rider than said "Why can't Boston ever get it together?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in San Diego for 4 years and commuted from the equivalent of Marblehead to Downtown on the "Coaster." Yes, I goes down the San Diego coastline, If there's a prettier commute in the USA I'd be pretty shocked. The Sprinter will be a great addition to the area.

I currently live in Grafton. The distance is roughly the same about 35 miles from the downtown area. The San Diego Coaster was about 5 bucks a trip ran on time and made that trip in 45 mins. I don't think I need to detail what the Grafton Trip entails. The train service was amazing, when i decided to return to Massachusetts I actually thought that the MBTA would be better. I was wrong.