MassDOT Rail: Springfield Hub (East-West, NNERI, Berkshires, CT-Valley-VT-Quebec)

Ruairi

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Ok, now compare to Greyhound

BOS-ALB is *today* 4:15 (1:05 minutes faster than train, 5 minutes faster than the future train) with ZERO capital expense or operating subsidy on Greyhound from SS to ALB bus terminal.
BOS-SYR could be 7:00 with ZERO capital expense if there was a bus' worth of demand (or a small operating subsidy)
BOS-BUF is about 8 hours of drive time. Still way better than 10:22 on the train.

Virginia, the other great state and adding intrastate rail service, has realized that rail is not the answer to connecting their state to economic opportunity on long-and-thin routes, nor when they could run "for free" on uncongested interstates. And in a move that I'd recommend to MassDOT, Virginia is overlaying its Amtrak network with a really fine set of bus routes (operated by Megabus in state-purchased coaches) that gather demand and move it at 70mph on the interstates (https://virginiabreeze.org/)

BOS-ALB-Beyond won't make economic sense until NY has upgraded ALB-BUF to outperform the NY Thruway.
Busses get stuck in traffic.
Leave South Station on friday at 4.30 and you'd be lucky to be past Worcester by 6.30 then sit in some more traffic at 84/90 then more traffic for the constant repairs because all the traffic means the highway needs to be constantly repaired. Also, you're on a bus.
For me, a big part of this is getting people to switch from cars to shared transit. Busses won't do that.
 

jass

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Busses get stuck in traffic.

For me, a big part of this is getting people to switch from cars to shared transit. Busses won't do that.
Thats a political choice.
 

Ruairi

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Thats a political choice.
what's a political choice, people not wanting to take a bus or me wanting people to take public transit?
either way, if you make public transit appealing, some people will ditch the car. I don't think that's a political choice, more one of convenience and comfort.
 

Riverside

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I wouldn't take those timetables at face value though. For years I was a twice a week New Haven <-> Boston bus rider and those are more like rough guesses than actual schedules. Anyone who's consistently ridden intercity bus will tell you you're just as likely to be over an hour late as you are on time.
Out of curiosity, how much of that variability would be eliminated by dedicated lanes on the relevant interstates?
 

millerm277

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what's a political choice, people not wanting to take a bus or me wanting people to take public transit?
either way, if you make public transit appealing, some people will ditch the car. I don't think that's a political choice, more one of convenience and comfort.
I think the point they were trying to make was regarding dedicated lanes or separate busways. Buses being stuck in traffic is a political choice in that sense, not one inherently required to be a thing that happens on buses in busy areas.
 

Ruairi

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I think the point they were trying to make was regarding dedicated lanes or separate busways. Buses being stuck in traffic is a political choice in that sense, not one inherently required to be a thing that happens on buses in busy areas.
ah gotcha.
I don't see anyone sacrificing a lane at the busiest points of the pike for busses any time soon so yea, that's prob political.
apologies for the confusion on my part.
 

Stlin

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While a dedicated lane is probably a nonstarter, you can probably find your way to a authorization process to certificate private bus drivers to use the shoulders. Probably restrict that to common carrier vs the employer shuttles though.
 

bigeman312

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By investing heavily in rail on the BOS-SPG corridor, and in efficient bus transfers at SPG for more frequent service to Pittsfield, Albany, etc, traffic concerns are mostly addressed.

The stretch of the Pike west of Springfield is far less congested than east of Springfield.

No matter which of the three remaining alternatives that’s pursued on East-West Rail, after completion we are left with travel time of 2:43 between Albany and Springfield.

That’s non-competitive with theoretical bus service at all hours of the day. I’m with @Arlington 100% on that.
 

Arlington

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that's a great idea, not sure what politician would have the guts to put surge pricing on the pike tho!
I still dont understand how "people who like to sit in traffic in order to save a few dimes" is a political constituency worth pandering to.
 

bigeman312

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I still dont understand how "people who like to sit in traffic in order to save a few dimes" is a political constituency worth pandering to.
Car culture is deeply ingrained in this country. Moreso than even the “_____ culture” that you more often hear as a hot topic (rape, gun, etc). Many many people hate anything that feels like an attack on their car culture. Heck, something as simple and obvious as tying gas tax to inflation lost a few years ago! That proposal is much less “scary” to your average driver than congestion tolling and people more often vote on “scariness” not on what’s best for the system as a whole.
 

Brattle Loop

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I still dont understand how "people who like to sit in traffic in order to save a few dimes" is a political constituency worth pandering to.
It's less a constituency than a psychological effect. "Thing that was free" becoming "thing that costs money", especially if it doesn't immediately result in a tangible benefit of acceptable trade-in value, tends to provoke considerable ire, regardless of the overall merits of it. Nobody's actually conceptualizing it as "sit in traffic in order to save a few dimes", though it'd be nice if they were because then it would be an easier policy to sell. The problem is that it's high-salience whenever the cost is direct (and going from free to not free is very salient) and the benefit isn't as immediate or as clear (and if the surge pricing is set wrong, they might still be sitting in traffic) with the result that people are driven to complain, and politicians tend to understand this. Call it pandering if you want to, and I'd agree that it is to an extent, but knowingly antagonizing a potentially-large and unquestionably-loud section of the electorate requires considerable resolve, sadly not something necessarily associated with members of the General Court.

Car culture is deeply ingrained in this country. Moreso than even the “_____ culture” that you more often hear as a hot topic (rape, gun, etc). Many many people hate anything that feels like an attack on their car culture. Heck, something as simple and obvious as tying gas tax to inflation lost a few years ago! That proposal is much less “scary” to your average driver than congestion tolling and people more often vote on “scariness” not on what’s best for the system as a whole.
This is a good point, though I'd also throw in people's tendency to instinctively reject change, especially when it's unexpectedly or unwillingly foisted on them. We've had decades and decades of roads being free (with limited exceptions in the minority of toll roads and bridges) and suggesting a wholesale change to the entire experience and paradigm of road travel is a big thing to digest even before you get into the twin issues of car culture ideology and the inevitable lobbying of road interests.
 

Charlie_mta

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The Pike should be dynamically priced to ensure it is only congested by accidents.
I would take that further and implement congestion tolling on all limited access highways (expressways and turnpikes) inside I-495. Then use the revenue to build more transit (LRV, HRT, and dedicated bus lanes) and CR projects.
 

Brattle Loop

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I would take that further and implement congestion tolling on all limited access highways (expressways and turnpikes) inside I-495. Then use the revenue to build more transit (LRV, HRT, and dedicated bus lanes) and CR projects.
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it not allowed to put tolls (or the equivalent) on the interstates that didn't have them or aren't new-construction (like the Ted Williams)? That's not me arguing against the idea, but if it's the case, it'd take a change to federal law to allow it which is a much heavier lift that would need to be accounted for.
 

Charlie_mta

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Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it not allowed to put tolls (or the equivalent) on the interstates that didn't have them or aren't new-construction (like the Ted Williams)? That's not me arguing against the idea, but if it's the case, it'd take a change to federal law to allow it which is a much heavier lift that would need to be accounted for.
It is allowed on a very limited basis with specific approval by FHWA. See https://www.governing.com/archive/states-take-closer-look-interstate-tolling.html. However, given the ease of electronic tolling plus the funding shortfall for transit and highways, I would expect those rules to change in the future to allow more widespread use of tolling on existing non-tolled Interstates.
 

Brattle Loop

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It is allowed on a very limited basis with specific approval by FHWA. See https://www.governing.com/archive/states-take-closer-look-interstate-tolling.html. However, given the ease of electronic tolling plus the funding shortfall for transit and highways, I would expect those rules to change in the future to allow more widespread use of tolling on existing non-tolled Interstates.
I certainly hope that's the case, though when it comes to Washington and road/car interest lobbying, I'm firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp. (Paying attention to Congress and/or federal agency rulemaking for any significant length of time should come with a mental health warning like those side effect disclaimers on pharmaceutical ads. o_O)
 

jklo

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I would take that further and implement congestion tolling on all limited access highways (expressways and turnpikes) inside I-495. Then use the revenue to build more transit (LRV, HRT, and dedicated bus lanes) and CR projects.
I was under the impression that tolls can also only be used for road maintenance and any road projects on that road. You can't just divert the revenue to some other purpose.
 

HenryAlan

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I was under the impression that tolls can also only be used for road maintenance and any road projects on that road. You can't just divert the revenue to some other purpose.
True, but you can divert state funds that would have been used to supplement federal highway funding as those are replaced with tolls.
 

Blackbird

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Car culture is deeply ingrained in this country. Moreso than even the “_____ culture” that you more often hear as a hot topic (rape, gun, etc). Many many people hate anything that feels like an attack on their car culture.
I don’t know if it’s just a “culture” thing. Our infrastructure is built in such a way that most Americans really can’t travel anywhere at all without driving. Even in a big city/metro like Boston there are a lot of transit voids or missing connections. Central and Western MA don’t even have Boston’s lackluster options. There’s only one: cars.
 

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