Yes, it's even stupid for RIDOT - because, again, not everybody boarding trains in South Attleboro or Attleboro is going to Boston, and not everybody boarding the Providence-Cape train would be going to the Cape. Also, not to engage in a pointless semantics argument for no reason, but the Cape is not the RI commuter market. Never has been, never will be.Incredibly stupid for whom? This is a service paid for by RIDOT and serving the RI commuter market. All decisions about that service are going to hinge on how to maximize its advantage for the RI commuter market. Attleboro, MA's needs are not RIDOT's concern. And if RIDOT ponies up the subsidy within its MBTA contract to run a RI-centric service...like they are doing elsewhere...the T will go where they tell it to go. The T is slap-happy to run its trains on somebody else's money...that's how we're getting from Boston to Hyannis in 2013, no?
What I can say is that you have 10 years of Cape Codder data from 1986-96 to chew on and make educated guesses about the Providence-Cape ridership subset from the CC's original D.C.-Hyannis run. The Cape Codder went: Providence, Taunton, Wareham (M'boro didn't exist back then), BB, Sandwich, West Barnstable, Hyannis. No NEC stops. This is the most recent regular service run to the Cape, and the most reliable template for any new service.
OK...establishing that, if RIDOT is picking up the tab it is a reasonable assumption that they are going to want to pick up tix and parking revenue on this run from Pawtucket to max their intake and help fund this thing. Amtrak wouldn't want that, but this isn't Amtrak: it's a home-state service with a vested interest in serving Pawtucket station. Add that to the schedule as basic cost of doing business. Yes, it's a few minutes of schedule burn...on a stretch of NEC between Providence and Central Falls where you're only hitting 40-50 MPH to begin with. Not the end of the world.
Where's that leave the Attleboros? I don't know, but if you're working off the known-knowns from the Cape Codder service template and have to ration in-state revenue collection needs with your choice of possible NEC intermediates...this service map doesn't start with both of them included. It may end with one or more of them *earning* their way onto the schedule, but you don't start kicking numbers around that far removed from the known-knowns in the baseline. We aren't reaching here with a speculative market or a megaproject...it's re-initiating a recent service for a more narrowly-defined local market than the old D.C. intercity direct, and doing it with gradual upgrades that work Cape-backwards and overlap areas-first (i.e. Middleboro Jct. south). Nobody is doing this for NEC corridor development. That comes last when RI starts wrapping all its overlapping commuter rail dreams around a Providence hub. If Boston-Hyannis is a limited service that can gingerly start in 2013 and meet or exceed modest projections right from Season 1, Providence-Hyannis is a limited service that can gingerly start in 2015 on modest and easily exceedable projections when the T has more pooled equipment available and there's been a couple years worth of incremental speed improvements south of Middleboro.
That's it. Known-knowns, sharply defined market, conservative reach...build it up from there with the demand cresting at their backs. Even the T's not going to bother with the fully ADA'd and well-maintained Sandwich and West Barnstable intermediates for Season 1 until it gets more 40 MPH track to run on. There's no way it's going to be zippy enough east of Attleboro for Season 1 from Providence to consider stopping at any of the current or pending NEC intermediates. If South-frickin'-Attleboro's place in the pecking order is giving ANYONE indigestion...may I suggest not overthinking this so much at least for the first few seasons of service?
More to the point, the express trains into Wickford that RIDOT is ponying up for - 808, 813, 817, and 819, notable in that they are (excepting a couple of Stoughton Line trains) the only trains which pass through Route 128 without stopping, as well as 806 which does stop at 128 - make stops at Attleboro and South Attleboro. Why? Well, I'm no expert but I'm guessing it's because RIDOT wants them to. And if RIDOT sees the merits of stopping an express train into Boston at the Attleboros, I think it's a safe bet they're going to be stopping their Train to the Cape there, too.
Of course, this is all assuming that it's going to be RIDOT at the helm at all - the entire argument flies out the window if it turns out that the CCRTA wants to run this hypothetical train, which is entire worlds more likely than RIDOT suddenly shifting focus away from South County Commuter Rail and Woonsocket Commuter Rail to go after a train to the Cape - a place which is, once again, well outside of RI's commuter market and has the added "bonus" of being a great way to ferry tourists out of a state that lives and dies on the strength of its tourism market.
CCRTA is serving a completely different market - but they likely want as many people as they can possibly get to pony up for the service, which suggests a full stop-load. Again, two of these are essentially free stops. Pawtucket Station is going in on a relatively twisty and low-speed section of track, and Attleboro is right on top of the split. Three minutes each, plus another minute even on accel/decel times. Seven minutes total isn't a deciding factor for anybody - it's barely worse than a rounding error or being a bit too generous with schedule pad.
Now, with CCRTA at the helm, South Attleboro probably looks a whole hell of a lot less attractive. I can see it being skipped - I could, in fact, probably make a good case for it being skipped. My "incredibly stupid" comment only applies to stopping at one of Pawtucket/South Attleboro/Attleboro and skipping the other two. Stopping at two out of three and skipping the least desirable stop - South Attleboro - certainly makes more sense than skipping both Attleboros or stopping at one of them and skipping Pawtucket.If I had to guess, if all the Cape speeds rounded into nice enough shape and it got time to consider adding new intermediates...South Attleboro is still going to be the more likely skip. The station was built in the first place to offset the subsidy-loss induced closure of the original Pawtucket stop, and it sits on 150 MPH-rated straightaway that T diesels could blow through at 90 MPH. If it's a choice of one or the other, Pawtucket's the much lesser drag on the schedule because nothing is moving at full track speed through there. Easy decision. Attleboro-proper...it sits at the junction, so wouldn't burn much 90 MPH territory to plunk a stop there. But I'm still of the mind that you start conservatively, get the end-to-end service cooking, THEN *graduate* new intermediates on their merits.
By the way, that logic applies to MBTA service as well once a Pawtucket station is built - I think it'd be a missed opportunity, in a big way, to have some or most Providence Line trains stopping in South Attleboro and skipping over Pawtucket rather than the other way around.
Assigning exclusively 90 MPH equipment to any particular line would require the people lashing up consists to exercise their brains every once in a while, something they've proven unwilling or unable to actually do. (Every time I see a train where every car BUT ONE is a bilevel, I want to scream. Especially if there's a train with exactly one bilevel on it parked somewhere else.)And, no, this isn't going to impact Providence Line headways or make a measurable difference in service levels in Attleboro. Assigning the 90 MPH-rated locos and coaches in the fleet to the Providence pool alone creates far more new schedule slots in Attleboro and S. Attleboro than any Cape service ever would. RIDOT upgrading the freight track to passenger duty from Providence to Central Falls in prep for the new Pawtucket stop creates more schedule slots. 3rd track Readville-Canton, 4th track Readville-Forest Hills, passing tracks at Sharon and Mansfield, wiring up the extra tracks around Attleboro, level boarding at all stops...all of that creates more new schedule slots through Attleboro. There is nothing a Providence-Cape run would add that wouldn't be dwarfed by the regular Providence Line schedule expansion already in the works. Moreso after RIDOT South County is running at full load if the T decides to draw a line in the sand at T.F. Green for one-seat rides to Boston.
Schedule fluffing to Providence is an utterly unimportant consideration for this service vs. the quality of life in Attleboro. If Attleboro generates enough demand to the Cape to *graduate* into this narrowly-targeted RIDOT-run service, so be it. But let's see some study numbers first, because we're working from a service template here and aren't grandfathering intermediates by default. And yes, agencies that study these things, please do study...we don't know, and it would be beneficial to know.
Level boarding and wiring at all stops isn't coming before 2020, and I think the odds are stacked against the track expansions coming before level boarding does. FRIP is the only thing I'm optimistic about because P&W and RIDOT seem to have their respective acts together. Cautiously optimistic.
That aside, every single train counts. Even if you're only adding one each way, each day, that's still one more opportunity for someone to board the train, and therefore it's that much likelier that the times are going to line up so that taking the train makes sense for somebody.
Would it matter as much if there was a train out every 15 minutes, all day long? Of course not. But that's not happening, that's probably not happening in 2020 and I'd be shocked if we had that in 2035.
But I'll agree with you in as far as I want to see these things studied. I'm just confident that the studies are going to prove me right, that's all.
Again, not to enter into a semantics argument without reason but the total number of New Haven-terminating Regionals is zero, and until Amtrak stops negotiating with terrorists over 'bridge slots,' the total number of trains they could be running north of New York and aren't also happens to be zero.As for Amtrak...they make a good mint catering to premium-class customers. That's their NEC meal ticket, and that's what got the Cape Codder goodish ridership on the first go-around. I agree that there's a local need that can more immediately be served from Boston or Providence and that the locals are going to have to make the first move on track improvements before Amtrak starts sniffing around. MA didn't exactly have their back in '96, so they'll want to see the commitment. But bottom-line is that if their NEC business class regulars show enough demand for reinstatement of D.C.-Hyannis, that's probably going to be one of the very first routes they revive. Robust Downeaster and Vermonter numbers during tourist season make it a low-risk/high-reward thing to try, and they can get away with charging high fares for it. And equipment, scarce as it perpetually is, is a lot less difficult to come by on warm-weather weekends than it is in the dead of winter or during peak business/school travel periods in Fall or Spring. We aren't talking big equipment needs...the old CC was 2 trainsets total for a Friday and a Sunday. That's barely a drop in the bucket for the NEC equipment pool. It's basically taking a New Haven-terminating Regional, sending it on thru to Providence...then "off-roading" it for a couple extra hours.
Although in this case, based on how I refer to Connecticut's marine trade lobby here and elsewhere, you can probably guess that I don't consider the movable bridges a real obstacle to running more trains.
None of those towns merit 3+ stops either, except for Needham and Melrose and both of those should have seen Green and/or Orange Line service a long time ago. Even so, they all have one other thing in common: abysmal ridership numbers.Brockton has 3 stops, Newton has 3 stops, Wellesley has 3 stops, Needham has 4 stops, Dedham has 3 stops, Melrose has 3 stops, Beverly has 5 stops.
So why is it necessarily bad for Taunton to have 3 stops? (for commuter rail, not Amtrak)
I can tell you why all of those stops are underperforming: because you've got 3+ stops doing the job of one.
If you axe Montello and Campello, those riders don't evaporate - they go to Brockton, and suddenly Brockton's ridership numbers have tripled! Same with Newton and Wellesley - instead of six stops with some of the lowest ridership numbers in the system, you'd have two stops putting up strong numbers day after day. Same thing's going to happen in Taunton if you build three stops there - the already low ridership expectations just got cut down to a third. With numbers as low as they are already, you just can't afford to divide the numbers like that.
Only, wait, it's even worse in this case! Given the overbuilt palaces promised at every single stop on the line by the South Coast Cheer Squad, we wouldn't just be getting three stations to do the job of one - we'd be paying three times when we could have paid once! And, considering how absurdly inflated the price tag on this disaster is already, paying more than we have to ought to be the last thing on anyone's mind.
Which is probably why, as F-Line mentioned, three stops for Taunton was put to paper and seriously proposed, possibly multiple times at that. It's not about great service, passable service, or anything that has any basis in reality. It's about paying more and getting polished shit - but polished shit stinks just as bad as regular shit, no matter how much you get it to shine.
Newton isn't covering that large an area when you get right down to it, which factors in to why all three of those stops are struggling. (Not the only reason, but it's one of them.) Brockton's iffier, which is maybe why those three stops are the best-performing three stops of all 21 stops mentioned.Brockton and Newton cover a large amount of area. Needham, Newton, Melrose, and perhaps even Dedham are suited to rapid transit conversions. Beverly also covers some decent area, and some of those stops are split into two lines of service, and even then some of them don't see stops for all of the trains which pass through. All of these stations are also very old, too, and some not ADA compatible in the slightest. They're not massive, bloated hogs with 800 foot high level side platforms with elevators and ramps up the wazoo and a massive parking lot that never fills.