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Tag Archives | Commuter Rail

Public comment on Northeast Corridor rail plan through Sept. 14th

nec_study_area_map

Federal Railroad Administration is running a planning program of future needs along the Northeast Corridor rail system and encourages public input:

Welcome to NEC FUTURE, a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), launched by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in February 2012. FRA’s work will include new ideas and approaches to grow the region’s intercity, commuter and freight rail services and the completion of an environmental evaluation of proposed transportation alternatives.

The NEC, the rail transportation spine of the Northeast region, is a key component of the region’s transportation system and vital to its sustained economic growth. Today, the 457-mile NEC—anchored by Boston’s South Station in the north, New York’s Pennsylvania Station in the center, and Washington’s Union Station in the south—is one of the most heavily traveled rail corridors in the world.

Visit NEC Future to submit your comments.


See also: ProJo: Agency explores methods to expand rail service to D.C.

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Commuter Rail, Urban Infill Stations, and Shuttle Train Rapid Transit

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DMU train in Luxumbourg. Photo (cc) bindonlane

This post was submitted Greater City: Providence reader Peter Brassard. If you’ve written something you’d like us to consider posting, please contact us and let us know.

Rhode Island’s commuter rail service as currently conceived may not be conducive to encouraging ridership. Distances between existing and proposed stations are too far. Much of the focus has been on extending the system further into low-density suburbs. For Rhode Island commuter rail to succeed, more needs to be done to take advantage of existing walkable urban neighborhoods that have a high potential for passengers. Some of these areas have large amounts of commercial/industrial space or development opportunities. Due to Downtown Providence expansion, the rail system will be challenged, as long as there’s no internal downtown high-frequency transit, such as the proposed Core Connector, to directly link rail passengers to the far reaches of downtown.

Rhode Island’s commuter rail doesn’t capitalize on density variations and neighborhood assets of the Providence area. If Rhode Island’s commuter rail functioned as a rapid mass-transit system, besides increasing the number of passengers, it would help to revitalize and expand development opportunities for neighborhoods along the rail line. The implementation of medium frequency shuttle train service within the Rhode Island instate rail corridor would offer predictable headway times at regular intervals that could operate in addition to MBTA commuter and Amtrak trains. Air and intercity train travelers, commuters, and the general public would greatly benefit from this level of service.

A variation to a commuter rail or shuttle train is the German S-bahn or French RER or San Francisco’s BART. An S-bahn type system is usually the same as commuter rail in suburban areas, but differs when it’s within the central urban core, where it has characteristics of a subway or metro. Usually stations within the core zone are located close together at quarter- to half-mile subway station distances and schedule headway times typically fall somewhere in the middle of commuter rail and subway schedules. Depending on the city, central core rail infrastructure can be underground or at grade utilizing existing rail corridors. A hybrid of a shuttle train and an S-bahn might be best for Rhode Island.

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And you want a train, and you want a train…

New London

Amtrak train at New London Station. Photo (cc) mjpeacecorps

The Day of New London editorialized this week about our new train service to Wickford Junction. The gist of the editorial being they like more trains and want even more. Currently, New London is stuck in a bit of a train void, Shore Line East service to New London does not run on weekends, and at this point neither does MBTA service to Wickford Junction. Nonetheless, a weekday drive from New London to Wickford Junction, parking in the garage, and a ticket to Boston cost less than either driving straight through, or paying for direct Amtrak service from Boston to New London.

New Londoners seem pleased that at the Wickford Junction ground breaking, MBTA officials expressed optimism for extending service further south the Westerly, which would put MBTA commuter rail service within 15 miles of New London. At the same time, weekend Shore Line East service to New Haven from New London is set to start in a year (putting Westerly within 15 miles of commuter rail service to New Haven and New York).

Meanwhile, The Herald News of Fall River reports that officials in Bristol County, Massachusetts are a little miffed that we’re getting commuter rail service built deeper into Rhode Island while Fall River, Taunton, and New Bedford still lack commuter rail service. Though Mass. State Sen. Michael Rodrigues is realistic about the issues involved.

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Wickford Junction Commuter Rail service to start April 23rd

Wickford Junction Station

Wickford Junction Station, photo via RIDOT

RIDOT announced today commuter rail service to the new Wickford Junction Station in North Kingstown will start on April 23rd. The station will be served by 20 trips per weekday to T.F. Green, Providence, and points north. Travel times being 15 minutes to Warwick, 35 minutes to Providence, and under two hours to Boston’s South Station.

“Expanded commuter rail service to Wickford is just over two weeks away,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “This additional service has been highly anticipated and should help alleviate congestion on our roadways.”

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Link

Boston.com: MBTA unveils 23 percent fare hike; limited service cuts also proposed

MBTA riders would pay an average of 23 percent more and most service cuts would be spared under a budget-balancing plan that will be announced this morning by the T, the state’s top transportation official said in an interview.

The changes, to take effect July 1, are significantly less severe than the two proposals unveiled by the T in January and widely criticized at hearings throughout Greater Boston in recent months. Those proposals would have relied entirely on fare increases and service cuts to make up the $160 million deficit the MBTA faces for the upcoming budget year.

No word yet on what will happen to Commuter Rail service.


See also: MBTA.com: Fare and Service Changes: MBTA Staff Recommendation

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RIDOT Public Meeting on MBTA fare and service changes, February 27

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Photo (cc) EdKopp4

From RIDOT

RIDOT to Hold Meeting on Proposed MBTA Fare and Service Changes

February 10, 2012

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced today that it will hold a public meeting on Monday, February 27, 2012, to discuss the proposed changes to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) fare and service schedule.

The meeting will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Atrium at the Rhode Island Department of Administration, One Capitol Hill, Providence. RIDOT will facilitate a discussion between the public and representatives from the MBTA, who will be on hand to present the plan and answer questions.

Facing a serious revenue shortfall, the MBTA has introduced a proposal to increase fares by an average of 35 to 45 percent and to eliminate service on many of its transit lines. In Rhode Island, this would affect the Providence/Stoughton line, which provides commuter rail service to Providence and T.F. Green Airport.

Under the plan, service at these stations would be eliminated on weekends, and on weekdays after 10 p.m. Rhode Island would lose four weekday stops and 19 weekend stops.

More information about the MBTA’s proposal can be found at its website.

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News & Notes

Streetcar Shuffle

Seattle Streetcar, photo (cc) kcl_in_pdx

→ Pedestrian Observations: Improving the MBTA

The MBTA has a problem. And I say this coming from New York, whose standards for good regional transit aren’t all that high, but now Metro-North looks like something to look up to from the MBTA. Ridership on the system is rising, but not very quickly; the MBTA moreover has no plans to modernize. Most of what I’m going to suggest will involve commuter rail, not because it’s the most important portion of Boston’s public transportation but because it’s the part I’m most familiar with and also the part that seems most direly in need of improvements. Put another way, I’m necessarily going to talk about the MBTA as perceived from Providence, rather than from within Boston.


→ Fast Lane: American streetcar projects creating jobs today, livable communities and economic development tomorrow

Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on streetcars:

Today, streetcars in New Orleans and Tucson are under construction. Dallas, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City are currently designing their own streetcars. Tampa extended its popular TECO Line Streetcar System, which has already created billions of dollars in economic development. And Cincinnati will break ground very soon on the Queen’s City’s unique streetcar project.

It’s simple: this streetcar revival means greater mobility and more American jobs. DOT will continue to improve public transit services by supporting these critical projects that create jobs today and livable communities and economic redevelopment tomorrow.


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MBTA proposes service cuts, fare increases

MBTA

MBTA Commuter Rail train at Providence Station. Photo (cc) willismonroe

If the MBTA’s proposals for fare increases and service cuts [.pdf] come to pass, we could be not seeing trains after 10pm or on weekends at Providence Station, or any commuter rail station for that matter. For the remaining trains that continue running, the one-way fare may raise as high as $11.25 from the current $7.75.

While service frequency to T.F. Green was just increased and the train station at Wickford Junction is set to open this spring, the MBTA is facing a monster deficit of $161 million. The deficit was $185 million before the agency knocked $24 million out of it through “efficiencies and savings in energy, operations, health care.” Also, while it is down slightly from 2010 to 2011, non-fare revenue is generally up over the last decade. That leaves fare increases and service cuts as the current last resort for closing the deficit.

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Commuter Rail service to T.F. Green to increase

Commuter Rail train at T.F. Green Station

MBTA Commuter Rail train at T.F. Green Station. Photo from RIDOT.

The Governor, RIDOT, and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation announced today that MBTA commuter rail service to T.F. Green Airport’s station at the Interlink will almost double starting November 14th.

The biggest gripe about the Interlink service since it started last December has been the timing of the trains. Few people have been able to take advantage of the train service to connect to flights at the airport. The initial service was always set to increase once the station at Wickford Junction came online and initial service was more catered to commuters heading to Boston than to people needing to reach the airport. Wickford Junction station is slated to come online sometime in April (it is currently ahead of schedule!); this early boost in T.F. Green service is welcome news.

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Rhode Island awarded portion of rail money rejected by Florida

Providence Station

ProJo reports today that Rhode Island has been awarded $28 million in funds rejected by Florida. When Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, rejected $2 billion dollars in high speed rail funding, awarded by the federal government, other states started scrambling to get a piece of it.

Rhode Island’s Senators Reed and Whitehouse applied for funds for 3 projects here. Two of those projects were awarded funding:

Rhode Island – NEC Kingston Track, Platform Improvements – $25 million for design and construction of an additional 1.5 miles of third track in Kingston, RI, so high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 150-mph can pass trains on a high-volume section of the Northeast Corridor.

Rhode Island – NEC Providence Station Improvements – $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work to renovate the Providence Station. These upgrades will enhance the passenger experience, keep the station in good working order and improve transit and pedestrian connectivity.

The Kingston project will allow for the commuter rail to be extended from Wickford Juntion, to Kingston, providing a rail stop for URI and allowing connections between its main and Providence campuses. As well as allowing for commuter transit for South County residents.

As for Providence Station, we’ll just talk about that in another post soon.

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I want it all


Photo (cc) CCCPxokkeu

The Woonsocket Patch has news this week about State Rep. Lisa Baldelli Hunt’s desire to see commuter rail service re-established to Woonsocket. Woonsocket has a rich rail history which formerly connected the city to Providence, Worcester, Hartford, and Boston. Sadly, the last passenger trains departed Woonsocket in the 1960s.

Badeli Hunt would like to see rail service return to Woonsocket and has asked Senator Reed to secure federal transportion funds, which were rejected by Florida’s Governor, and bring those funds to Rhode Island for Woonsocket commuter rail service.

“In addition to putting existing resources to better use, taking cars off a congested route, and better enabling northern Rhode Islanders to access employment and other opportunities in Providence, a commuter rail would undoubtedly have a positive impact on Main Street, Woonsocket, bringing commuters who will be looking for the convenience of nearby shopping, dining and other services,” said Baldelli Hunt (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) in the letter, a copy of which, her offices report, was also sent to the governor.

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For realz this time. Commuter rail to T.F. Green Dec. 6


Photo (cc) Mr. Ducke

It is not a trick, RIDOT issued a press release and everything. Commuter Rail service to T.F. Green starts on December 6th.

Trains will depart from T.F. Green, inbound to Providence/South Station, at the following times:

  • 6:13 a.m.; 6:52 a.m.; 7:15 a.m. – To Providence and South Station
  • 6:27 p.m.; 7:36 p.m.; 7:51 p.m. – To Providence only, change train at 8:12 p.m. to continue to South Station

Trains will arrive at T.F. Green, outbound from Providence/South Station, at the following times:

  • 6:01 a.m.; 6:25 a.m. – Arriving from Providence only
  • 6:17 p.m.; 6:53 p.m.; 7:26 p.m. – Arriving from South Station and Providence

The one-way fare between Providence and the airport it only $0.25 more than it costs to take the bus.

Ticket fares will vary by distance traveled. Travel between T.F. Green and Providence constitutes travel in two zones and costs $2.25 each way. Travel between T.F. Green and Boston costs $8.25 each way. Seniors and persons with disabilities get 50 percent off. Children age 11 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Monthly passes for unlimited travel between Providence and T.F. Green cost $77. Monthly passes for unlimited travel between T.F. Green and Boston cost $265, which also includes travel on all MBTA buses and subways and the Inner Harbor Ferry.

Schedule information can be found on the MBTA website. Fare information can be found at here.

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Commuter Rail service to T.F. Green starts…


Image from RIDOT

No train service Monday, it was all in our imagination, and in a .pdf schedule released by the T. See all the details on the drama here.

It is not the perfect schedule by far, but it is a start. Trains will begin running to the new station at T.F. Green on Monday.

Weekday only service is scheduled as follows:

T.F. Green to Providence and South Station
T.F. Green Providence South Station
6:13am 6:33am 7:45am
6:52am 7:12am 8:16am
7:15am 7:35am 8:51am
6:27pm 6:42pm N/A
7:36pm 7:51pm N/A
7:51pm 8:06pm N/A


South Station and Providence to T.F. Green
South Station Providence T.F. Green
N/A 5:41am 6:01am
N/A 6:00am 6:25am
5:00pm 6:06pm 6:17pm
5:40pm 6:42pm 6:53pm
6:10pm 7:11pm 7:26pm



As expected, these hours are largely beneficial for a commuter from the Warwick/South County area to Boston. There are also reverse commuting options from Providence to the airport. I believe those are partially intended to allow airport workers to reverse commute down to the airport and may serve some utility for passengers grabbing shuttle flights in the early morning.

But I suspect looking at this schedule most will complain about the cost of the station for such a meager offering of service. All that can be said is this is preliminary service; service will expand when the Wickford Junction Station opens late next year.

Download the full Providence Line schedule as effective Nov. 22nd at MBTA [.pdf].

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News & Notes

→ FTA authorizes $2 million for Pawtucket commuter rail [The Valley Breeze]

→ Cardi’s installs state’s first car-charging station [The Providence Journal]

→ Researchers Confirm Link Between Active Commuting and Better Health [DC.StreetsBlog]

→ 11th Annual RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival (Aug. 28) [Pawtucket Arts Festival]

→ Dispelling the Magic Bullet Myth “While increasing numbers of governments at all levels are embracing the use of new media tools for public participation, there’s less understanding about the fact that technology is just a means to an end. And all too often, the conventional government decision making process is not designed to embrace citizen input. Thus, simply creating an opportunity for input – even using the coolest new social media technology – likely won’t lead to a significant or sustainable increase in citizen engagement on its own.” [Next American City]

→ Richmond [Virginia] plans conversion of one-way streets downtown [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Providence is also working on converting a number of one-way streets into two-way streets including Empire and Weybosset; possibly Exchange Terrace, Sabin, and Dorrance; and likely several streets in relation to the rebuilt Route 195 streetgrid such as Richmond and Chestnut.

→ Wellbeing Lower Among Workers With Long Commutes Back pain, fatigue, worry all increase with time spent commuting [Gallup]

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Wickford Junction Station

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Photo (cc) EdKopp4

Update Reports from the Wickford Junction Station groundbreaking state that the FTA announced that they have just authorized the release of nearly $2M in federal funds to RIDOT for preliminary engineering of a proposed MBTA commuter rail stop in Pawtucket.

WPRI has all the commuter rail details from the groundbreaking today of the Wickford Junction Station.

The MBTA plans to make three round trips daily between Boston and Warwick when the airport station first opens this fall. That will increase to eight by the time Wickford opens next year, according to R.I. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Dana Alexander Nolfe.

The number of passengers using the Wickford Junction station daily is forecast to rise from about 1,500 when service starts in 2011 to 1,669 in 2020, according to projections made in 1995 and cited by state planners. An additional 240 commuters are expected to use the Warwick station.

A ticket from North Kingstown to Boston will cost $9 each way, and a monthly pass will cost $280, Nolfe said. To go from North Kingstown to Providence, a one-way ticket will cost $2.75 and a monthly pass will cost $101.

One-way trips from Warwick will cost slightly less – $2.50 to Providence and $8.25 to Boston. Officials hope the airport station will be ready to open in October. That project’s final cost is estimated at $267 million.

The Wickford Junction station is set to open sometime next year. In addition to Wickford Junction, MBTA service is being considered for the Kingston and Westerly Amtrak stations, and at new stations in Pawtucket, Cranston, and East Greenwich.

Ted Nesi from WPRI also spoke with Senator Reed about the long process of making this station happen. It actually started with Senator Pell, remember him? No, neither do I.

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RIDOT announces preliminary Warwick rail schedule


Photo © RIDOT

With train service to the InterLink (aka the Intermodal Station) at T.F. Green Airport in October, RIDOT is busy planning the routes for the service. Good news, the schedule will include reverse commuting options.

Reverse commuting means trains running in the opposite direction of the typical peak direction, in the morning for example, the peak direction would be northbound toward Providence and Boston. The concern had been by some that people would not be able to commute to Warwick and the airport from Providence in the morning, stifling future development around the station, and preventing people from being able to access morning flights via the train.

The schedule tentatively includes 3 trains leaving Warwick in the morning heading north to Providence and onto Boston with 2 trains running from Providence to Warwick. In the evening, 3 trains from Boston will pass through Providence and continue to T.F. Green, and 2 or 3 trains will run from Warwick and terminate in Providence.

A full schedule with specific times is still being worked on.

RIDOT also continues negotiations with Amtrak to bring have their trains stop at the new station.

In other Rhode Island Commuter Rail news, a groundbreaking for the proposed station at Wickford Junction is scheduled for this Wednesday. The station at Wickford Junction is scheduled to open in 2011.

Of course with the addition of Wickford Junction service, RIDOT and the MBTA will have to revisit commuter rail schedules, hopefully further expanding service to T.F. Green at that point.

Related:
Airport’s station to get new routes [ProJo]

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June InterLink Update

The Intermodal Facility is 85% complete and on schedule for opening in Fall 2010. The project has officially been renamed the InterLink, a name demonstrative of its multi-modal connectivity. Students attending Rhode Island Colleges and Universities with concentrations in business, marketing and/or communications were invited to assist in branding the facility by submitting names and taglines for consideration.

The winning proposal was submitted by Bryant University seniors Justin Andrews. Jameson (Jack) Antonowicz, Jacquelyn Parr, Pat Sargent and Brittany Beckerman with help from Mara Chapin and Hillary Smith. The students are all marketing majors under the instruction of Professor Jean Murray. The final name, tagline and logo was a collaborative effort of RIAC working in conjunction with their agency of record, RDW Group. (Name, logo and tag are visible above.)

An aerial view of the InterLink spanning Post Road. The airport terminal is visible to the left.

Terminal End Improvements (TEI)

At the terminal end, drywall installation on ceilings and walls is complete. Painting and finish work is now underway. The elevator install is complete and awaiting final inspection. Framework is being installed under the escalators. The two moving walkways in the TEI are nearing completion.Metal panel and light fixture installation is complete for the TEI ceiling. Metal parapet framing and sun shades have been set in place along the exterior of the curtain wall glass.

Skywalk

Moving walkway work continues with the addition of chains, glass outer rails and rubber handrails at various points in the Skywalk. Lighting fixtures are complete. Framing for smoke doors is complete. Work on fire alarms, communication wiring and lighting control systems are all ongoing. Another milestone has been reached- the stretch fabric ceiling installation is underway. The fabric is heated by a propane powered unit and stretched into place. Once the fabric has reached a certain elasticity the installed can wedge the sides into the already installed frame.

The process of heating, stretching and forming the fabric ceiling panels.

A view of the train tracks with the anti-projectile screen visible above.


Customer Service Operations Building (CSO)

Exterior door and hardware installation are complete. Painting is underway as well as installation of lighting fixtures. All testing and programming for cooling tower and other control systems have been continuing. For tenant work, application of prime paint on finished drywall is finished. Metal panels are being installed simultaneously to rough-in for overhead systems. Major accessories in the toilet room have been installed and toilet partitions are to being placed next month. Glass doors between the CSO and garage connector bridge have been installed. Site work at the north side of CSO has started. Once the office trailers are removed from the site, the roadway, sidewalks and curb can be constructed.

A view of the parking garage from the Jefferson Blvd.


Garage

Granite curbing and concrete sidewalk are being installed on Jefferson Boulevard and other locations surrounding garage. Detail work is on going throughout the garage. Lights were installed at the south ramp entrance canopy meaning the majority of permanent light is up and running inside the garage. Elevators are at various stages of completion. Concrete slabs have been poured for stairs. Escalators are in the process of being assembled. An anti-projectile screen has been installed facing the train tracks. Work on the parking revenue equipment has begun. Installation of fire alarms and lighting controls continue throughout the garage. Fueling tanks and windshield washer fluid tanks are installed. Fit out for fueling islands and carwash equipment in reclamation room has been on going. Installation of the fueling system at the platforms continues. Rental car quick turn around office construction is well underway in the garage.

RIAC

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Stimulating


Photo (cc) Daniel Case

RIDOT is getting $1.2 million from the stimulus to study a third track at Kingston Station. The third track would provide a siding, allowing MBTA commuter rail trains to serve the station while highspeed Acela trains are able to move through without stopping.

However, though we are getting stimulus love for Kingston Station, New England gets the shaft on the $8 billion federal high speed rail stimulus porgram. New England is getting under $200 million dollars or about 2% of the total funds.

Massachusetts really lost out, no money for New Bedford/Fall River commuter rail, no money for the “inland route” which would have upgrade tracks between Boston and Springfield and improved service on the Worcester commuter rail line, and no money for the $1.9 billion north/south rail link in Downtown Boston (that last one is no surprise, no one wants to open the PR pandora’s box of spending more federal money in the Central Artery corridor post-Big Dig).

New England did get money to move forward on improvements in the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield – Vermont corridor, and to expand Amtrak’s Downeaster service north from Portland to Brunswick, Maine.

New England receives 2 percent of high-speed rail funds [Boston.com]
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