Crazy Transit Pitches

Riverside

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Thanks F-Line as always. The lack of robust RTAs is a major piece of the puzzle that I was missing.

Are Lowell/Lawrence/Haverhill centers of gravity in their own right? Driving/transit habits aside, do they form a meaningful satellite node à la Providence and Worcester?

You're totally right that I'm templating my understanding of NH off my understanding of RI, so I'm looking to understand where that analogy breaks down. For example, Attleboro has this unusual role of being both a suburb of Boston and a suburb of Providence. Likewise, Cranston is clearly a suburb of Providence, but also has a reasonable claim to being a suburb of Boston (albeit more distant). So I'm trying to understand how Manchester, Nashua, Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill relate to each other (and to Boston) in a similar way.

(Parenthetically, setting aside the question of feeder services from New Hampshire, there's still something intriguing about rail pinging back between Haverhill and Lowell -- that is a lot of active, well-maintained rail running through the hearts of multiple medium-sized cities.)

Re Quonset Point: no strong disagreement, my point is only that if the landscape ever changed significantly, running a branch to Quonset Point would be relatively easy compared to everything else. (Though, to be fair, the only circumstance that I can imagine is aggressive TOD at Quonset, plus a need for high frequencies to the north [eg to East Greenwich], combined with a reduced need for high frequencies to the south, and thus a need for some short-turn location. Very much a "stars must align thing.")
 

DBM

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West Davisville is already a proposed RIDOT infill
More business for Fred's Antique Shop! (I always get a kick out of rounding the corner on Old Baptist Road there and seeing that country-fied spectacle.)

Also, given that one of the major arterials in the Davisville district is Devil's Foot Road, RIDOT would be completely justified in naming said station "Devil's Foot Station."

Alas, the pencil-necked bureacrats will surely succumb to fears of instigating more of our nation's chronic Satanic Panic syndrome, and will inevitably do the safe thing and name it "Davisville Station." (If that naming isn't in fact codified, already.)
 

Riverside

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Has anyone really studied Newport as part of intrastate service, instead of part of a SCR extension? I can't imagine you can get across Narragansett Bay to Quonset, or to The E. Bay Bike Path running through Bristol to E Prov. That path is too disconnected on the providence end to even contemplate.

(Also, when was the last use of the street running track on Allens Ave/1A?)
I don't know of any formal studies. The only way I can imagine a Newport-Providence service is one that runs via Fall River, Taunton, and Attleboro. And the only way I can imagine that working is if there are timed transfers to high-speed Boston service at either Taunton or Attleboro, and if the Newport-Providence service itself is electrified and high-speed as much as possible. Thus you'd be able to capture local commuters to Fall River and Taunton, and be able to offer a transfer service for Newport commuters to Boston, and be able to capture some Fall River-Providence (and maybe Taunton-Providence) commuters. Pull all those together, and you might be able to stitch together a ridership coalition strong enough to make it viable.

(If all Boston-Fall River trains were rerouted to New Bedford, and Fall River were served by Providence trains with a transfer at Taunton, you might be able to swing high enough frequencies on both to make them effective. Maaaaaaybe.)

But yeah -- Newport-Providence via Taunton is looooooooooong. Like, 55 miles looooooong. (For reference, Boston-Wickford Junction is 57 miles as the crow flies.) RIPTA's 60 bus pings back and forth between Newport and Providence from early morning late into the night, at 15 minute headways (!) during peak, 30 min off-peak, and 60 min until well after midnight. Total journey time is about 80 minutes. After local service on Aquidneck Island, it runs local through Bristol (with stop at Roger Williams University), Warren and part of Barrington, before expressing to Providence. So, a rail route might be able to soak up some of that, and presumably there would be some ridership from Fall River and Taunton.

RIPTA's 14 runs a commuter service via the West Bay at much lower frequencies. Its travel times vary depending on number of stops -- anywhere from 50 minutes to 80 minutes.

Driving time of course is maybe 45 to 60 minutes. And seasonal ferry service is timetabled at 60 minutes.

Could a train beat those buses or driving? I mean, maybe? But, it's a looooong way round. I think the best hope is the coalition outlined above, where Newport-Providence is only a portion of the target market. (Maybe supplemented by some sort of Cape Codder service direct from Boston.)

Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to see it happen. But a lot of pieces need to be put in place first.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Has anyone really studied Newport as part of intrastate service, instead of part of a SCR extension?
Formally it's been studied as a seasonal Aquidneck Island Budd RDC shuttle upgrading the existing tracks. Everything beyond that is placemarked in the RIDOT State Rail Plan as "TBD" for South Coast Rail reaching some sort of resolution.
I can't imagine you can get across Narragansett Bay to Quonset, or to the E. Bay Bike Path running through Bristol to E Prov. (There never was a historical connection there, as I recall.) That path is too physically disconnected on both ends to even contemplate, unless you figure out two very expensive connections on both ends. Though, I think you could make the density/ service argument for that set of towns to work.
Not only that, there was never historically Warren Branch service continuing to Newport. That was electrified service using rickety wood-body ultralight EMU's because of the severely weight-restricted Slades Ferry Bridge. No steam allowed, wires ended at Fall River Depot. NYNH&H thru service went the long way around via Attleboro-Taunton.

(Also, when was the last use of the street running track on Allens Ave/1A?)
Early 90's. But RIDOT has plans to reactivate on-file in the State Rail Plan.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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(Parenthetically, setting aside the question of feeder services from New Hampshire, there's still something intriguing about rail pinging back between Haverhill and Lowell -- that is a lot of active, well-maintained rail running through the hearts of multiple medium-sized cities.)
Well-maintained? On Pan Am? The Lowell Branch is 10 MPH, mostly single-track, with ancient oft-failing signal system. With a southbound wye at Lowell Jct. that's been rotting out-of-service for 25 years. A lot of the freights that interfere with T and Amtrak schedules between Andover and Lawrence shot their OTP load on the Lowell Branch. That's why the T has never thought about leasing rainy-day trackage rights on it for contingencies. It would be an hour slower than Wilmington-Lowell shuttle buses.

CSX has a not-insignificant sum to spend rolling back the state-of-repair neglect to minimally acceptable standards on that branch. There and on the Stony Brook between Ayer and Chelmsford. Same all-of-the-above neglect as Lowell plus a festering modern rep for derailments.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Re Quonset Point: no strong disagreement, my point is only that if the landscape ever changed significantly, running a branch to Quonset Point would be relatively easy compared to everything else. (Though, to be fair, the only circumstance that I can imagine is aggressive TOD at Quonset, plus a need for high frequencies to the north [eg to East Greenwich], combined with a reduced need for high frequencies to the south, and thus a need for some short-turn location. Very much a "stars must align thing.")
How in the hell would "branch" service operate there??? Seaview RR divides itself almost fractally into a zillion micro-branches that meander like crazy around warehouse property lines to every nook of the industrial park. There's no prevailing direction of travel on it, and nothing that masses up enough ridership to fill a train frequency. Its layout is very typical of port trackage.

This is EXACTLY the kind of situation the West Davisville mainline infill and a bunch of shuttle buses were designed for. Pulse up some RIPTA frequencies on the transfer for covering denser corners of the park, implant on-demand paratransit vans for the employers in the nooks and crannies.

This isn't a rail transit canvas. Nothing here is begging to be reimagined as such.
 

Blackbird

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So I'm trying to understand how Manchester, Nashua, Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill relate to each other (and to Boston) in a similar way.
There's also Amesbury and Newburyport. The Merrimack doesn't stop at Haverhill.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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There's also Amesbury and Newburyport. The Merrimack doesn't stop at Haverhill.
And yet...the Essex & Newburyport Branch RR's connecting Haverhill-Newburyport and the Lowell and Lawrence RR connecting the other two were all abandoned by the Depression after years of being loss leaders in B&M's portfolio. The travel affinity between Merrimack cities has been weak at best ever since the Mill Era peaked in New England shortly after the Civil War...and couldn't fill seats on a train even during Peak Train during first 2 decades of the 20th c.

There's really not a big question being begged here. Daily 495 traffic isn't too terrible this many miles north of the Pike+290 chokepoints. If the cities were begging for linkage, express buses on 495 between the RTAs' biggest hubs would probably be the most capacity-appropriate for the job.
 

Stlin

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Formally it's been studied as a seasonal Aquidneck Island Budd RDC shuttle upgrading the existing tracks. Everything beyond that is placemarked in the RIDOT State Rail Plan as "TBD" for South Coast Rail reaching some sort of resolution.
I'm so lost trying to figure out how that could provides any meaningful transit if you only stay on the island. I feel like it'd just be a cheaper faster "sightseeing activity" jaunt competing with (and probably operated by) the dinner train. Pending MA rail restoration to the state line, at least spend the money to restore the bridge and ~3 miles of track to enable the private operator shuttle thing to Fall River.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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I'm so lost trying to figure out how that could provides any meaningful transit if you only stay on the island. I feel like it'd just be a cheaper faster "sightseeing activity" jaunt competing with (and probably operated by) the dinner train. Pending MA rail restoration to the state line, at least spend the money to restore the bridge and ~3 miles of track to enable the private operator shuttle thing to Fall River.
It would be tourist-oriented and in-season only, just offering regularish transit cross-island. Dinner train folks would be the designated operator. Baby steps.
 

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