Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Commuter trains v. Buses. We can do both, right?

{Contact Names deleted to protect the innocent} From: On Behalf Of Karl Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 4:48 AM Subject: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. The Conservative Opposition in NH never wavers! Published on Concord Monitor (http://www.concordmonitor.com) Home > A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. ________________________________________ Newspaper article: MONITOR BOARD OF CONTRIBUTORS A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Too few riders, too much money By Grant Bosse / For the Monitor September 23, 2012 When it comes to transportation policy, you're either a train person, or you're not. I'm not. __________________________________________________ -----Original Message----- From: Carl Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 2:29 PM Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Let’s not forget that we already have a bust service that is more frequent and cheaper than any commuter rail service would be. Carl, Sugar Hill, NH ________________________________________ From: Tony @ Home Office [mailto:tdonovan@maine.rr.com] Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 3:34 PM To: Carl D. Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Hello Carl Based on national experience, and in regard to some of the analysis we are conducting on restoration of existing railway corridors in Maine and NH, meeting modern transportation requirements, we are finding that bus service is significantly more costly than passenger rail transit. Just in terms of the damage a bus does to roadways -thousands of times more than cars - but also in regards to what type of economic impact a bus system has (zero $ ROI), compared to that of the public and private wealth that is being generated at passenger rail terminal, in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We of course also cannot discount the costs of environmental degradation from both fumes and the impacts of asphalt systems on the environment. But the real impact is that of our continuing dependence on oil-based transport, both in the vehicles themselves, the rubber-based tires and the internal combustion engine, but also the costs of roads that are literally breaking the budgets of households and at every level of governments. Building and rebuilding asphalt roadways every 7 to 10 years is far more expensive than building, and maintaining steel bed roadways that in many cases have withstood traffic and the elements for well over a hundred years. You may have been correct in referring to the service as a BUST. Because the use of buses on taxpayer subsidized roadways is clearly neither cheaper, nor does it have to be more frequent than that of a restored passenger railway service. It is train time. The numbers support it. Please consider that over the past 75 years we have designed a culture that does not make it easy to consider alternatives from that of asphalt. But there must be, and there is a better way. Tony Donovan Maine Rail Transit Coalition Portland Maine WWW.MaineRailTransit.org Mailto: Info@MaineRailTransit.org or TDonovan@Maine.RR.com "Build Trains not Lanes" ____________________________________ -----Original Message----- From: Carl Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:20 PM To: 'Tony @ Home Office' Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Dear Mr. Donovan, There has long been a debate concerning the relative merits of bus vs rail for intercity transport and for urban transit. Your note compares bus service to rail transit, whereas my note referred to intercity service between Concord and Boston. I’m sure that you are aware of the importance of traffic density for comparisons of various transport options; in major metropolitan areas, rail transit certainly has a role – as do bus services. For intercity service, buses travel at low marginal cost over highways used by tens of thousands of cars and trucks daily, whereas rail services travel over capital-intensive rights-of-way. I have worked with railroads for many years, and I understand very well the costs of operation and maintenance. If the traffic volume is there, fine; but if the traffic volume is low, then intercity bus over existing highways is much better – and much more flexible. I think that your statements about the economic impact of rail terminals and bus terminals are misleading. An expensive rail terminal that attracts little traffic will have little economic impact, and the same would of course be true for a minor bus terminal that is underutilized. But remember that the investment for bus is just a few percent of the investment required for rail, so the rail advocates must quantify very much larger benefits to justify the added expense. You note that a bus does the damage of “thousands of cars”, which is overstating the case (“many cars” but not “thousands” and a bus does less damage than the much more frequent heavy trucks). A bus can replace a couple of dozen cars on the highway, thereby reducing congestion, which is a greater concern than pavement costs on busy highway networks.) I am certainly not against increasing rail services. However, I believe that we will be better off with a well-integrated system that involves rail, fixed route intercity bus, local transit, and demand-responsive transit (and cabs and private automobiles as well). I believe that we would be better off promoting improved transport systems, with better use of energy, rather than focusing solely on rail. Thanks for your response, Carl Senior Research Associate & Lecturer (Retired) Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering M.I.T. _________________________________________ From: Tony @ Home Office [mailto:tdonovan@maine.rr.com] Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:31 PM To: Carl Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Carl: Thank you. I did not intend to mean that we should focus solely on rail. My response was in reaction to your comment that appeared to focus solely on buses. In fact we are designing a model of integrated transportation services that uses all modes, but as in many federal studies, supported by highly paid consultants, that conclude rail cannot be a viable mode due to the capital costs, too often rail is dismissed first in favor of buses. Buses are damaging roads equal to the impact of thousands of cars and in many cases exceeding that of trucks ( I will source that for you, but am busy right now). Roads are "capital-intensive rights-of-way" more than that of railways over the long-term. (I will source this also) We are in agreement that alternative transportation system planning needs to include all modes. No longer can we dismiss rail due to perceptions that it is more expensive. and we must consider the proven facts that passenger railway terminal sites are attracting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment. Something buses are not doing, and have never had the reputation for doing. Thanks for your note. Please feel free to follow our work at www.mainerailtransit.org . Our coalition is growing and we do believe that it is truly train time. Thanks. Tony D _____________________________________________________ -----Original Message----- From: Randy Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 5:09 PM To: 'Tony @ Home Office'; Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Carl, Tony, Christopher Good commentary on rail vs bus. I offer one more quick comment from the peanut gallery. Why don’t buses go directly to Manchester Regional Airport? From Concord, one can get to Logan by bus with less hassle than to Manchester. If service was direct, I would use the bus to the airport more frequently. I assume others feel as I do. I also ask for comment if the economics of Trains to Manchester-Concord work, vs bus service for now, except as a stop on thru tracks to Montreal. Randy Bryan _____________________________________________________________ From: Tony @ Home Office Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:11 PM Subject: RE: A commuter train to Concord? No thanks. Hi: In Maine our organization recently was awarded funding from the National Association of Realtors for a grant application that is designed to evaluate the feasibility of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic railway corridor for passenger service as it was identified in the 2011 FTA Small Starts Portland North Alternative Modes project study.. our study is corridor based, multi-modal land-use planning designed to incorporate a system of all modes of transportation to meet mobility and accessibility needs at the community level, for the purpose of funding transit with local support - a key requirement for Federal funding. We believe that our model will enhance economic development, attract private investment and establish a model that is applicable to other corridors throughout the country - applicable to what we are referring to as low-density populated areas like maine (and new Hampshire). We are hard at work, with little funding, but a lot of committed professionals. With luck, and good work, we could answer your question re., Manchester Airport. let's continue the conversation. By the way, the Portsmouth Branch that intersects the Downeaster Amtrak mainline service at Rockingham Junction 9 miles west of Portsmouth, continues west for another 20 miles to the Manchester Airport. The route is blocked by a slight Interstate somewhere in Manchester, but it is a protected railway corridor currently used for recreational purposes. Just a thought........... Maybe I'll blog a bit about this. Have not in a while http://mainerailtransit.blogspot.com/ TD Maine Rail Transit Coalition Portland Maine WWW.MaineRailTransit.org Mailto: Info@MaineRailTransit.org or TDonovan@Maine.RR.com "Build Trains not Lanes"

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