Commuter Rail to New Hampshire?

jklo

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I agree that population makes a big difference when it comes to ridership. Good thing that Nashua (pop. 91,322) and Manchester (pop. 115,644) aren't lacking in that regard.
The census data suggests that Manchester would be even worse. Only a small percentage work(ed) in Middlesex as it is.

If there is some belief that there will actually be post-Covid demand, I'd suggest an stop in Tyngsboro as a parking sink and go no further.
 

themissinglink

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If there is some belief that there will actually be post-Covid demand, I'd suggest an stop in Tyngsboro as a parking sink and go no further.
How would a park & ride station outside of Nashua itself be better than a station inside of Nashua city limits with good walkability and parking?
 

jklo

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How would a park & ride station outside of Nashua itself be better than a station inside of Nashua city limits with good walkability and parking?
Don't need the NH government to be involved. Also probably guessing that the 2019 Boston workers live in the more suburban parts and not downtown. Don't know if the census data would give that kind of info.
 

tysmith95

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Hilariously enough, there is no SB exit at the mall. Only NB. You can see the obvious intent of the mall in the first place. I think that's why Spit Brook has been studied more.

You could still do the layover facility there.
You could build a flyover. Would be tough with it being split between two states though.

Split brook traffic can get bad during holiday shopping.
 
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themissinglink

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Don't need the NH government to be involved. Also probably guessing that the 2019 Boston workers live in the more suburban parts and not downtown. Don't know if the census data would give that kind of info.
I definitely agree that a Tyngsborough terminus is acceptable if the project is unable to continue into New Hampshire for political reasons. But if the NH state legislature ever warms to the idea of Commuter Rail again, the extension should at least go as far as the Crown Street station site to provide better access (relative to a station in Tyngsborough) for the residents of Nashua.
 

The EGE

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There's less than 5 miles of track from the state line to Crown Street, all within Nashua city limits. There's nothing stopping Nashua from coming up with the capital funds for track work, station, and layover (including federal sources) and inking their own deal with the MBTA for subsidizing operations mileage north of the border. (Could the state legislature come up with a law to specifically prohibit that? I have no clue. But that seems much less likely to pass the legislature than simply prohibiting state funding.) I suspect the MBTA would happily come up with the money for Lowell-to-border track work if they're getting a layover facility out of the deal.
 

Riverside

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So I've been playing around in the US Census OnTheMap tool, looking at work locations for residents of different areas. What I've found so far suggests that there likely is demand in southern New Hampshire for commuter rail to Boston.

First, I drew a polygon rougly surrounding the rail corridor by 3 miles on each side, which was enough to encompasss almost all of Nashua, all of Manchester, but excluded Londonderry and Derry. This area counted about 150,000 workers, of whom 30K worked in Manchester, 23K worked in Nashua, just under 5K in Concord, and 3.5K in Boston. (I can provide the OTM settings files for these, if anyone is curious.)

1650830779432.png


On the face of it, this might seem like a rather low share of commuters to Boston. (Although also worth noting that Lowell itself has similar numbers, suggesting that it might be a destination unto itself.)

However, I then ran a similar analysis on Providence + Pawtucket -- roughly 3 miles on each side of Providence station and South Attleboro (slightly larger to account for better bus coverage). This yielded a similar number of workers: 142,000. Of those. 40K worked in Providence, 10K in Pawtucket, and cumulatively 25K worked in Cranston, Warwick and East Providence.

But -- and this is the key point -- Boston itself came in with almost exactly the same number of workers as it did on the NH analysis: 3,800.

1650831112690.png


So... at a similar distance, there are roughly as many PVD-BOS commuters as there are NH-BOS commuters. And there's a stronger "halfway commute" market with NH-Lowell, and that's with having to drive at least halfway.

And just to sanity check myself, I ran a similar analysis on Fitchburg/Wachusett/Leominster:

1650831287267.png


A larger, though similar, share of commuters to Boston, and a lower number overall.

The numbers suggest at least some superficial similarities between Providence and Nashua/Manchester, as well as a pretty clear exceeding of the lower bar set by Fitchburg. Commuter rail to Boston "works" from both Providence and Fitchburg, suggesting it could also "work" from New Hampshire.

I know it's not a perfect comparison, but it does seem worth considering.
 

Riverside

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Also would be comparable within-corridor demand:

Cumulative corridor demand to Boston: 3,500

Nashua-Manchester: 3,000
Nashua-Lowell: 1,300
Nashua-Boston: 1,400

Manchester-Nashua: 3,500
Manchester-Boston: 900
 

cburns

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In addition the towns of Dunstable, Tyngsborough Westford and Chelmsford will throw sh*fits. Very easy bypasses through these towns for a toll.
put several gantries up on Rte 3 to avoid the "skipping the toll crowd." Toll MA residents like $0.25 and like $2.00 for out of state....no different than what ME and NH do to us...
 

millerm277

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put several gantries up on Rte 3 to avoid the "skipping the toll crowd." Toll MA residents like $0.25 and like $2.00 for out of state....no different than what ME and NH do to us...
Different toll rates are generally done by giving a discount to EZ-Pass transponders from a certain state, NOT to residents from a certain state. There's no residency requirement for a transponder.

If you enact significantly different rates, you'll just have all regular NH commuters pick up a MA EZ-Pass. (I have a 2nd EZ-Pass from NJ for NJ/Port Authority tolls with how often I'm down that way).

AFAIK actually tolling by state of residence is likely to run afoul of interstate commerce laws.
 

reno

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NH is setup to lure residents and vacationers from nearby states to buy products with no sales tax, cheap alcohol that is sold in a state owned monopoly (untaxed all profit goes to the state of NH!!), high (8.5%) room and meals taxes. The NH attitude is we hope you had fun skiing, hiking. snowmobiling, camping, leaf peeping, and thank you for contributing all this money to our state.
 

millerm277

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high (8.5%) room and meals taxes.
Boston's rooms tax is 16.45% at a typical hotel, so that sounds like a bargain....
(5.7% state, 6.5% city, 1.5% "tourism assessment", 2.75% "convention tax")

And the 7% on meals isn't a whole lot lower.
 

tysmith95

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NH is setup to lure residents and vacationers from nearby states to buy products with no sales tax, cheap alcohol that is sold in a state owned monopoly (untaxed all profit goes to the state of NH!!), high (8.5%) room and meals taxes. The NH attitude is we hope you had fun skiing, hiking. snowmobiling, camping, leaf peeping, and thank you for contributing all this money to our state.
The beautiful mountains and lakes helps as well.
 

Stlin

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That NH HB1432 that prohibits state funds from being expended on CR in NH just reported out of Senate committee. Its been amended and recommended as an ought to pass unanimously 5-0. As it is listed on the consent calendar, I would expect this to pass the Senate shortly & be on Sununu's desk once the house accepts the amendments. As always, Sununu (hopefully) can veto, and any future legislature can agree to fund CR.

My reading of the amendment is that they have removed the prohibition on using highway toll credits to complete the project development phase, delaying enactment to permit the completion of the contract as previously approved, and also no longer requiring notifying USDOT and OMB of the existence of this act.
 

themissinglink

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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. Business leaders and other rail supporters had argued the legislation was premature because an ongoing study early next year will report on how the state could pay to bring passenger rail from Boston to Manchester and on to Concord.
(source)
 

Stlin

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I'm rather amazed that this got stopped only by sheer bullheadedness on the parts of the legislature. The Senate gave the House almost everything they wanted in their amendment, and it was as good as passed. (The legislative mechanism is that the house refused to concur with the Senate amendment, and requested a conference committee to work out their differences. The Senate tends to follow the direction of the relevant committee chair, who refused to acede to the request for conference, making it impossible to create a identical bill passed by both houses to hit Sununu's desk.)

That said, I would not be surprised if this came up again next legislative cycle - and I'm not certain if a procedure exists for the House to "revote" it's concurrence or not with the Senate amendment, or for the Senate to agree to conference committee, or if it's actually dead dead.
 

Java King

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Boy, this is confusing to read! I couldn't figure out if they voted against funding commuter rail or not, but finally it seems like Commuter Rail to New Hampshire might live on after yet another study. :)

From the article: "Business leaders and other rail supporters had argued the legislation was premature because an ongoing study early next year will report on how the state could pay to bring passenger rail from Boston to Manchester and on to Concord."
 

tysmith95

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As a Massachusetts resident I'm in favor of extending the commuter rail up to Nashua, and am ok with our state government paying for it.

Reason being, it removes cars from Massachusetts roads and encourages more people to pay MA income taxes while living in New Hampshire.
 

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