Fall River/New Bedford Commuter Rail (South Coast Rail)

F-Line to Dudley

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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.
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.

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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.
 

Rover

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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?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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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.

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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.
 

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/20190803/brockton-planning-largest-development-in-citys-recent-history-at-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.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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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...pment-in-citys-recent-history-at-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.
 

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?!
 

Rover

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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?
 

roy_mustang76

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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.
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.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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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.
 

Semass

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Sorry to bump this but I would rather place this in the proper thread than the MBTA construction thread.

There was recently a bidders forum for two bids: The New Bedford Main Line, Stations, and Layover and for the Fall River Secondary, Stations, and Layover. A very interesting powerpoint is now posted to the MBTA Bidding Web Page:
https://bc.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/B...se 1 New Bedford Public Meeting_web_final.pdf

The bid is active now and there has been a lot of work on existing culverts and tracks. The SCR page on the MassDOT site is updated frequently with construction info.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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As if "How the fuck are we going to run this thing?" wasn't aleady enough of an unanswered conundrum, the price for Town of Middleboro's appeasement on moving most service from the current TOD-rich station through the new Pilgrim Jct. parking sink was that the state had to re-commit to another Buzzards Bay CR study in tandem. So...yippee...take three branches off the Dorchester-Quincy single-track pinch that absolutely no one is talking about how to scale up for RUR and make three more branches-off-a-branch because they tied themselves in knots putting cart before horse with the local negotiations. Surely this isn't going to be an unresolvable quagmire when one or more of these moving parts has to be ultra slow-walked once they realize the enormity of the capacity jam they're painting themselves into.
 

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How close will the new Fall River and New Bedford station be to their respective downtowns?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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How close will the new Fall River and New Bedford station be to their respective downtowns?
New Bedford terminus (what they used to call "Whale's Tooth") is near dead-center downtown at the Pearl St. footbridge over MA 18. About two thirds of the way down 18 between I-195 and US 6, about 8 blocks north of the Whaling Museum and SRTA bus hub...close enough that they can probably easily widen out the bus loopage between the SRTA terminal and the CR station to incorporate both into nearly all route termini. Hopefully at some point soon they tear down that eyesore of an expressway stub and boulevardize 18 completely as an extension of JFK Memorial/Acushnet Ave. because that would be the finishing touch for a full downtown. There's still a bit much of Chinese wall effect from 18, which is why they are giving the footbridge over it to the station so much attention in the plans.

I don't know why they're renaming the "Kings Highway" intermediate to utter generica "North New Bedford" unless that's suddenly got squishy on station siting and they're sticking a placeholder on it while they troubleshoot. It's quizzically absent from the station slides now after being thought of as a lock pretty much all along, so don't know what's going on with that.


Fall River Depot is at the historic station site south of the President Ave. overpass. Durfree St. becomes the de facto station driveway where it wraps between Turner St. and N. Main. The Battleship Cove station further south was deleted from the project due to low projected utilization, but can be re-added if service is extended to Newport (tracks to the RI state line are being funded for freight reactivation right now for two customers way down by Mt. Hope Ave., with a runaround track to go next to the sewage plant at the literal state line). FRD is more problematically off-center from the SRTA bus hub at City Hall Plaza, and details have been lacking pretty much since Day 1 as to how they plan to integrate local transit. Much of what used to exist around Davol St. there the last time commuter rail service hit the FR Depot location was nuked from orbit to build that Route 79 expressway eyesore, so while there's decent residential density to the east the waterfront is basically a sad half-empty strip of blighted plazas and auto shops. Right now only two routes--SRTA 2 & 14--go near the CR station, which is not nearly enough to meaningfully affect transit shares in the city. Battleship Cove station was originally justified on grounds that it was closer to the City Hall bus depot...but it still wasn't close enough.

While New Bedford is pretty much a shoo-in to make decent use of bus transfers from Day 1, Fall River has a lot of work to do...and the SCR Task Force has been too busy chasing payola for its own connected pols than trying to do multimodal planning drudgery. Preparedness is a concern here. While one would expect downtown New Bedford to at least tread water on ridership IF the advertised Phase I frequencies can be met with decent OTP (big if, however...) and to start thriving quickly if they un-break the frequency cap with a properly designed Phase II...Fall River has bigger question marks to square with its multimodal integration. The picture gets rosier if MA 79 expressway teardown Phase II proceeds and boulevardizes the highway all points south of the US 6 interchange into a revamped Davol St. with oodles of TOD. That can--if planned well--infill a whole new neighborhood around FR Depot and drag in a much more impressive local transit revamp along with it. I would say if local planning were a bit more on-the-ball with these things there's still time to keep pace and get these 'vision thing' multimodal and TOD considerations set...but Fall River politics is absolute clownshoes right now with the Mayor's escapades and the SCR Task Force members are absolutely fucking useless so right now there's a concerning lack of local organization and general stability for integrating this into the urban fabric. Ridership might well struggle here to much greater degree than New Beford until they get their house in order on SRTA and other things. It's a steeper planning learning curve than New Bedford inherits. They have par odds of eventually getting it, but the incumbent local leadership starts out in rougher shape compared to New Bedford.
 

Java King

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As if "How the fuck are we going to run this thing?" wasn't aleady enough of an unanswered conundrum, the price for Town of Middleboro's appeasement on moving most service from the current TOD-rich station through the new Pilgrim Jct. parking sink was that the state had to re-commit to another Buzzards Bay CR study in tandem. So...yippee...take three branches off the Dorchester-Quincy single-track pinch that absolutely no one is talking about how to scale up for RUR and make three more branches-off-a-branch because they tied themselves in knots putting cart before horse with the local negotiations. Surely this isn't going to be an unresolvable quagmire when one or more of these moving parts has to be ultra slow-walked once they realize the enormity of the capacity jam they're painting themselves into.
It's so frustrating living on one of those branches and the restricted current service levels because of the single track mainline. The state spends millions of dollars on construction, but then follows up with horrible schedules that aren't convenient. I feel a big part of the reason that Greenbush has such low ridership numbers compared to expectations, is the fact that headways can exceed 2 hours between trains. I fear the state is doing the same thing for South Coast Rail and Buzzards Bay.

Is there any serious proposal to double track the whole Old Colony main line? I didn't understand why they didn't take the opportunity to double track when reconstructing the Quincy Station Garage? I guess the other possibility would be to run all commuter rail trains only to Braintree and then have a RUR like shuttle between Braintree and South Station that runs every 15 minutes?
 

Semass

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I guess the other possibility would be to run all commuter rail trains only to Braintree and then have a RUR like shuttle between Braintree and South Station that runs every 15 minutes?
That was, in fact one of the alternatives in the Rail Vision study. That study also envisions the full SCR build through Stoughton.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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That was, in fact one of the alternatives in the Rail Vision study. That study also envisions the full SCR build through Stoughton.
Same deal with turning the Needham Line into a dinky with forced transfer at Forest Hills. The idea was...to say the least...NOT very popular in public comment, with a lot of local pols and Legislators sufficiently angried up by the constituent phone calls to go "If you even THINK about doing this. . ." So, no longer under any serious consideration for a bunch of obvious reasons.

It's so frustrating living on one of those branches and the restricted current service levels because of the single track mainline. The state spends millions of dollars on construction, but then follows up with horrible schedules that aren't convenient. I feel a big part of the reason that Greenbush has such low ridership numbers compared to expectations, is the fact that headways can exceed 2 hours between trains. I fear the state is doing the same thing for South Coast Rail and Buzzards Bay.

Is there any serious proposal to double track the whole Old Colony main line? I didn't understand why they didn't take the opportunity to double track when reconstructing the Quincy Station Garage? I guess the other possibility would be to run all commuter rail trains only to Braintree and then have a RUR like shuttle between Braintree and South Station that runs every 15 minutes?
No...absolutely nothing planned. And Quincy + Braintree aren't interested in lobbying on anyone's behalf because they've got their Red Line. Wollaston Station was closed for a full year without slightest hint of foresight for provisioning for DT commuter rail by shifting things around. It reopened on the same exact footprint as always, meaning that single-track restriction is now baked in permanent. No consideration at Quincy Ctr. either for scooping out the gravel fill between the CR station wall and Newport Ave. while the parking deck floors above are all demolished to provision for a 2nd track cavern they can bust down a wall and make an island platform out of. Though theoretically that shouldn't be an enormous task to do detached from anything related to the ex- parking decks, because they aren't structurally conjoined. Still, though, it's more expensive to come back and do it later.

Double-tracking just JFK and QC -proper into island platforms so there's a passing/meet opportunity around any stopped train is the biggest single service increaser they can swing, and it's single-point touches only...moderate cost at Quincy for the structural work, dirt cheap at JFK because you're just reconfiguring the busways to serve up the extra space. More consequential than any running track touches, which are going to take awhile to stage...especially on the Savin Hill pinch where burying RL Braintree-under-Ashmont to carve out the room is a complex (if hardly megaproject) undertaking with troublesome planning because of how MassHighway and the MPO always hijack it to a billion-dollar price tag for cramming stupid I-93 HOV capacity grabs. But nope...nothing. Not even any cheapo JFK considerations, which would immediately allow M'boro and Plymouth to run right against the taillights of any Greenbush train to the gain of a handful more backfill slots from the resulting mass schedule recalibration.

The speculated FR/NB schedules are so thin on margins anyway that even though they're making a big show of "See, see! We did it with Phase I, you haters!" the windows are so incredibly brittle by any Purple Line standards that OTP is going straight in the tank for all five (six?) Old Colony branches. Which already happens constantly enough when Greenbush gets shafted with a delay to make up time on a blown Plymouth or M'boro schedule. Everyone gets to join in that fun from now on...then multiply the occurrences by 10 so it makes perennial-dregs Worcester OTP look downright aspirational by comparison. At least if somebody were awake enough to at least cue up a JFK track doubling and put Quincy into prelim design there'd be a solution in the pipeline for inoculating OTP back to safe do-no-harm levels so this whole Phase I adventure seems less bonkers on its face. But nope...as it has always been, SCR brainlock forces every planner who gets sucked into it to adopt the same rote arse-end-up mentality and completely spazz on how one gets the trains moving in one piece across Route 128, let alone I-495.
 

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The Battleship Cove station further south was deleted from the project due to low projected utilization
What, 20 Boy Scout troops per weekend being conveyed to and from the USS Massachusetts wasn't justification?

<in all seriousness, it's such a neat floating museum--and those who can combo it with seeing its sister ship, the USS Alabama, anchored in an equally grand setting in Mobile Bay, are strongly urged to do so. As grim and desperate as the times that we live in now are, touring the memorabilia section and seeing the displays of captured Japanese Imperial Army weaponry and this issue of Time magazine are a reminder of how horrific the global situation can get...>
 

Java King

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F-Line, Thanks for your comments and detailed explanation on Old Colony Main Line restrictions. Yes, it's just maddening they rebuilt Wollaston with no planning for expansion in the future for Regional Rail. I fear I'll be dead before I see Greenbush under wires with 30 minute....or even 1-hr.........service levels.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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What, 20 Boy Scout troops per weekend being conveyed to and from the USS Massachusetts wasn't justification?

<in all seriousness, it's such a neat floating museum--and those who can combo it with seeing its sister ship, the USS Alabama, anchored in an equally grand setting in Mobile Bay, are strongly urged to do so. As grim and desperate as the times that we live in now are, touring the memorabilia section and seeing the displays of captured Japanese Imperial Army weaponry and this issue of Time magazine are a reminder of how horrific the global situation can get...>
Oh, I've done Battleship Cove many times. It's an absolute ace tourist attraction, and they have enough rotating exhibits that you learn something new each time. Amazes me how many people drive right by it without ever giving it a second thought, but that speaks to how much the ugly-ass MA 79 wall still hurts the city. The at-grade boulevard replacing the decayed viaduct interchange with 195 actually makes it far easier to reach FR Heritage State Park than ever before, because now you just bang a right at the first light after the expressway ends and you're immediately there, with the loop-around way back from the park parking lot taking you straight to the intersection for the new 195 access. That's a big improvement...especially because traffic counterintuitively seems to move better than ever on the well laid-out boulevard than it ever did on the rickety shoulder-less old viaduct ramp spaghetti. Now MassHighway just needs to stop dragging its feet on Phase II teardown between US 6 and Battleship Cove to remake Davol St. into that complete-streets boulevard.

Transit is never going to work correctly or feather enough routes across the gap between SRTA hub @ City Hall and commuter rail @ FR Depot unless a re-boulevardized Davol can take up role as a major bus artery. Durfee & N. Main split the bus loading where they operate as a parellel one-way pair out to FR Depot, but the actual waterfront itself is un-covered with pronounced waterfront transit gap north of the CR station when N. Main goes 2-way and bends inland, and that strange transit no-man's between City Hall and State Pier that bears the scars of the deleted 79 spaghetti ramps. It'll be easier to walk several blocks from FR Depot to reach Battleship Cove than take local transit as it's laid out today, because of how much those gaps hurt. It's not going to work for them unless they can elbow-grease Central St. + Pocasset St. as one-way bus pairs west of City Hall then run a substantial route schedule all the way up Phase II boulevardized Davol to re-weight the whole downtown local transit map and do their best imperfect-but-plenty-good-enough rebalancing of the SRTA network around the split City Hall vs. FR Depot nodes. Arrival of Purple Line needs to come with an explicit mandate to increase the city's transit shares overall with full-treatment workover of SRTA, because while it's a transit-oriented city the primary nodes are locationally not plug-and-play like downtown New Bedford. Fall River and the state via regional RTA actually has to work it to the hilt here with a companion-piece "Better Bus" effort. Then, in concert with 79 Phase II teardown and all the waterfront TOD canvas that serves up to use wisely (or unwisely?) they've got their ducks in a row. Think about it this way: if those Boy Scouts can get a bus right at the station kiss-and-ride that drops them off at Battleship Cove's front-door instead of hoofing it or making the convoluted connection, how many more Troops would bother scheduling field trips in the first place? Hell...Heritage Park can just keep an on-demand shuttle van on standby just for booked group tours (give schools a freebie fare on it as a perk) and easy-as-pie square the only logistical hurdle for the permission-slips bearing hordes of screaming kids.

It is bugfark-maddening the anti-attention the SCR Task Force has given this important piece, because relatively-speaking it's just "no-build" service-side bus optimization best-practices the likes of which is so in-style these days with the overall RUR conversation and its intermodal coattails. And for City of Fall River said optimization is really set-it-and-forget in terms of imparting stability and growth curve to FR Depot. Get the bus connections more optimally laid out so the fundamentals are rock-solid, then watch the year-to-year mode shares slowly but steadily build as the waterfront builds mindshare. But the brainfreeze on all that touches this project is so pervasive that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if it doesn't include showy $$$ for steel, concrete, and striped parking spots. I really think as it stands now FR Branch ridership is going to struggle a lot vs. its NB counterpart, and these people at the top will be utterly baffled to explain why while relative conditions on the ground are veritably beating them over the heads with the answer. As it stands you can take any-bus in New Bedford to nail the rail transfer...and that's going to let the Phase I ridership meet or slightly exceed expectations even with Phase I train frequencies still shit. You can't do the same in an otherwise well bus-covered city like Fall River where FR Depot is born into a broken circuit to three-quarters of the bus route network. There has to be a strategic transpo + dev retrenching around the waterfront that starts now.

Captain Obvious shouts "DUH!" until he's hoarse, and so on. . .
 
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