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Albany, NY wants in if we ever build middling-speed rail out to the Berkshires

The Albany Times-Union takes note of the latest Massachusetts effort to consider extending the Worcester Line to Springfield and maybe even Pittsfield and asks that as long as we're going to the bother, could we push the line a bit further and hook them up?

The paper says that many Albanians, that is, people who live in New York's capital city, rather than people who live along the Adriatic, already wear Sox or Celtics caps and says extending the line could bring economic benefits to both sides of the state line - just think of all the people from Troy and even Schenectady who might be tempted to hop on the train for "a leisurely day trip" to Boston, if only they could.

And while there might not be as much pent up demand inside 128 to visit Albany - although the Hudson Valley is as scenic as the state capitol complex is not - Bostonians would benefit from being able to tie into the existing north/south rail line between New York and points north, which, well, OK.

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I would rather have high speed rail to Portland and Burlington VT (if not Montreal) much more, so I hope regional transit authorities also consider MY needs.

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There’s already the (not that slow) Downeaster that goes to Maine. Boston to VT or MTL would be expensive since the rails though NH have been removed in what would’ve been the two best routes (NW from Concord or through Keene).

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I’d rather have high-speed rail to NYC.

For the Berkshires and Albany, the best option would be frequent low-fare bus service. If buses ran every hour, cost $15, and connected with trains in Albany, people would actually consider them.

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No. The best option would be to do nothing. Look it up. The startup cost alone is north of $30 million per daily rider.

In a ranked list of stup|d ideas, spending $25,000,000,000 on a train that would benefit 820 people a day would place very high.

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How would buses be best? Best for the auto/oil/tire industries? Best for the people who don't want more - or any - rail traffic near their homes? For passengers, buses are a markedly inferior mode of transport compared to trains. Maybe you mean most likely to be implemented.

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The public purse, despite the statements of some politicians, is not unlimited and high-speed rail across the state would be an enormously expensive project.

Even if HSR to Springfield and Pittsfield (ignoring Albany for now) were to bring in the same amount of ridership as the Worcester Line (it wouldn't due to distance and lower population density), you're talking about 20,000 weekday passengers pre-Covid or around 5 million annual trips. Over a 50-year lifespan that's 250 million trips. The cost of the project would be $25 billion, or $100 for every single trip over a half-century, completely ignoring operating costs. That's insane.

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You mean the loser limo?

The one train a day to Montreal (and second to Rutland) aren't much of a draw, admittedly.

But four trains a day across NY state to Buffalo (one continuing to Montreal) might be nice.

I think since B6 ramped up in Logan it has gotten easier/cheaper to get to SYR/ROC/BUF than it used to be, but I'm old enough to remember when a trip to ROC was pretty much a black hole and sometimes required a transfer in at an NYC airport or something awful, or a 6 hour drive or longer bus/train trip.

Even a 7 hour train trip 3-4x/day via ALB might have some takers. Might beat sitting in a car for the same amount of time dodging trucks on the Turnpike and Thurway and paying for the privilege of doing so.

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This is like the interstate equivalent of West Roxbury asking to get the Orange Line too if it’s ever extended to Roslindale. Similarly people in the denser and wealthier destination don’t see as much value in it as those at the end of the line, and also I don’t see either happening soon.

Anyway I’d think if Albany were to focus on high speed rail getting to NYC would take present over all other routes by far, and that seems a way off still.

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Many current West Roxbury residents actually don't want the Orange Line. If they did, then don't you think they would have used their political sway to re-zone the Commuter Rail stations to Zone 1A - especially given that Lynn (Zone 2, by the way) has done it? They're paying $214/month - more than double the $90/month 1A price - but not for nothing.

Just like suburban Atlanta, the lack of affordable, easily accessible transit keeps poor people out, for lack of a better phrase. In West Roxbury, look no further than the pre-COVID level of MBTA service: a Commuter Rail train every 2 hours on Saturdays (soon to be eliminated entirely), and a 36 bus every hour on Sunday mornings. Noticing a similarity?

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My advice is to not say that to their face.

But yes, the 36 has better weekend frequency than every commuter rail line on the T, and dropping the fare to Lynn during this time has a lot to do with keeping the Blue Line from becoming too crowded. I think the people of West Roxbury can take the numerous available bus lines to Forest Hills and then the Orange Line without dealing with crowds.

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They're showing that the lack of a movement to rezone the commuter rail and bus service is evidence of a community that at least doesn't have the infrastructure to support poor people living there but could also indicate hostility to lower income people living there.

Buddy, if anything we need to build some kind of wall to prevent people from going to or from greater Buffalo NY.

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let it sink into lake erie

and while we're at it, give rochester to lake ontario.

upstate new york: the most depressing place i've ever been.

I agree.

Traveling cross-state is lack luster, and I can see the benefits of planning beyond Springfield. Even if it was just to Albany to start would have great economic benefits. Especially for Western Mass. Pittsfield especially.

From talking to my west-of-i-91 W Mass friends (mostly in Pittsfield, and North Adams) the general consensus is that the Albany area is a very viable work-center, and in many cases, better than Springfield or Boston.

Sure both towns are on the bleeding western edge of the state but they are taxpayers too. But remember W Mass always tries to Boston projects because "I don't live in or go to boston". Well give them a train line that goes in the direction they want to go in too. They can't complain if it goes clear across the state and the service is the same too.

The other good thing about this is that it is New York State, and NYS isn't shy about giving transit dollars. (as opposed to say, New Hampshire where it will be like drive a ' 85 Ford Escort up the Mt Washington Auto Road to get support and dollars for rail into NH from Boston)

NYS and MA working together might yield some savings or more federal dollars since its multi-state.

And yeah I agree a train to Toronto (I think you meant Toronto above vs Montreal) would be great. Its really not that far from Buffalo.

I can see a HSRL between Toronto and Boston, with stops in all the main cities across the way would have far more of a draw than Boston to Montreal.

I'm from an area that has a stop on the current Montrealer/Vermonter train (the only stop in NH), and there's not that draw. The train goes thru several hundreds of miles of sleepy towns between Springfield and Burlington (sorry VT, Montpellier isn't a big place)

And while I wish my hometown more transit, there's just not that much of a draw to take a train in either direction unless you're going to Springfield, or the end points (MTL or NYC). Local travel, not so much. There's other transit projects in those areas that need these transit $ more than a lesser used rail line. (i.e. Bus service from Lebanon NH to Concord along I-89)

Connecting 7 medium to major cities together with high speed rail just seems to be far more draw, and and could easily be a win.

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You are missing my point that I would personally prefer this vs. what's actual good transit policy.

Also flights to Montreal have always been stupid expensive compared to other similar distance flights for, I think, Montreal reasons.

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But you are making one assumption

all riders are going to the end points. Not destinatinations in between.

If I wanted to lobby for direct connections, your airfare point would be a reason to start to make stink. BUt for trains. Maybe in the distant future.

When I look at these pie in the sky projects, I look at total riders gained and how many people either would

a) make new trips using the service
b) take existing car or other service trips on new service

I also take in account for inter-line riders. Its not always about the final destination, it's about all the stops in between which those riders are going to keep the ridership high.

Considering all of that.. Boston Montreal vs Boston Toronto

Riders gained would be far greater.

I love me some Montreal but even as a final destination, I see Toronto gaining more riders. And even more connecting all the cities cross-state.

So there's a lot more added expense there and the train is less competitive than flying in terms of cost/time savings. I'm just not sold that there's some big market to get people from Utica or Schenedaty to Boston where Burlington and White River Junction are regionally important places in New England, of which Boston is the commercial capital. The economic gravity of upstate NY is Rochester/Buffalo, Albany and NYC.

as opposed to say, New Hampshire where it will be like drive a ' 85 Ford Escort up the Mt Washington Auto Road to get support and dollars for rail into NH from Boston

This is true, about NH. Maybe 20 years ago, there was what looked like a viable proposal to extend the Lowell commuter rail to Nashua. As near as I can tell, it was shot down by NIMBYs who objected to the location of the proposed Nashua station - regardless of the fact that there are no backyards in that area. I was mightily disappointed, because the proposal also included a stop in walking distance from where I lived at the time.

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It was the NH business community that didn't want jobs going to Boston when they could be in Nashua, Hudson, and Merrimack. They put pressure on Concord to kill the deal.

So your "As Near As I Can Tell" answer is you pulling answers out of your arse.

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My memory says different, even if I adopted your apparent belief that businesses can't be NIMBYs - which I do not.

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Some of John Costello's point below

The issue is..

New Hampshire has no rail facilities of its own. None. In fact, next to my hometown as I mentioned above, and Portsmouth. NH has no other rail service and its all Amtrak operated (okay the clog if you count that).

To have a train to concord would require some agency to run it. Obviously since it would connect to or extending existing commuter rail service along the Lowell line, it makes sense to incorporate as an extension of the Lowell line. And who runs that.. the MBTA. (and MassDOT)

New Hampshire (esp the residents) do not want any of their high property taxes to be spent on anything to do with the MBTA due to its history. Its the biggest issue that comes up every time. And while service to RI has gotten better, at the time when this was proposed in the late 90s, the TF Green connection wasn't built yet and service to Providence was lackluster. So NH residents always used to say that as an example why not.

But in fact, it would work well.

NH still has some sort of rapid transit into MA on the table. The rebuilding of I-93 from Manchester to the Mass line includes rights of way and grade for BRT or Light Rail along 93.

The talk of a train to Concord via Lowell and Nashua is still lurking around in the background. In the minds of most residents of So NH, transit *will* happen, whether they like it. Its gaining momentum and attitudes about it have changed alot in the past 20 years or so. Traffic has just gotten to people.

Plus there's alot of push to make Manchester Airport as an alternative to Logan. Since we already have a train to TF Green (a new stop) and it's helping to sustain some lower cost airlines at the airport.

Manchester Airport has had issues keeping airlines because the only people who care about MHT are NH residents. TF Green is easier to get to from Boston, MHT, not so much. A train would fix that. The more recent plans (within 3 years) I saw of a train proposal included stops at Nashua (mall area), Downtown Nashua, Merrimack, MHT/Londonderry, Downtown Manchester, Bow, and Concord. Its a nice plan.. if they can get it built.

The difference from the plan from the rail plan from late 90s (when I-93 widening was being lobbied for) and now is.. a) the stop at MHT was not there. It also just went to Nashua and not further.

Also jobs have changed. In 1999, many jobs were in Boston. But with big companies moving offices to Nashua like Fidelity did. The idea jobs would be lost isn't so valid anymore, and in fact, its been shown transit can be a factor when having satellite offices. (easier to get to for employees traveling between)

anyways I could babble more. New Hampshire will get there eventually.... They will just bitch every step of the way.

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Obviously since it would connect to or extending existing commuter rail service along the Lowell line, it makes sense to incorporate as an extension of the Lowell line. And who runs that.. the MBTA. (and MassDOT)

MBTA runs the line, but does not operate it. That operator is Keolis. Presumably, Keolis would also operate the trains into NH. The authority you're pretending does not exist is the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority.

Manchester Airport has had issues keeping airlines because the only people who care about MHT are NH residents.

Not at all. MA residents north of 495 often prefer MHT to Logan. It's a much better experience, and easier to get to from those communities.

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Why write that Cybah is 'pretending' that the NH agency doesn't exist, which assumes some nefarious motive to his comment, instead of just assuming the less judgemental view, which is he simply wasn't aware of the NH agency?

He makes a whole lot of statements of fact, from an apparent position of expertise, but clearly implies that there is no NH analogue to the MADOT. He does this in service of arguing that NH is unprepared to handle the proposed rail extension. I made no assumption of nefarious intent, as you seem to have done, but the fact that there is a NHRTA undermines his argument.

As a sometimes resident of northern MA, I found his assertion that nobody outside NH cares about the Manchester Airport a denial of my experience.

The state should seize their rights to the Fitchburg to Greenfield train line that is current, as I understand, available.

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I have seen commuter rail cars in the Greenfield yard. Extending the CR to Greenfield for a few trips would be super cool.

That's some weird geography, Unless you're coming from Cleveland.

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Advocates and pretty much every person who has been involved with East-West Rail has been asking this question, except of course for the people at MassDOT.

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Amtrak has been running a daily train to Albany, where I have family, for decades. But it takes 5+ hours (you can drive it in 3) and isn't much used except for those continuing to points west. I don't know how much people in the Albany area know or care about Boston or even western Mass. Saratoga, the Catskills, and NYC get far more attention in the local media than Tanglewood, the Berkshires, or Boston. But who knows what it would be like if there were decent public transportation running east-west. The train line through the mountains (Berkshires, then Taconics) is windy and probably could never compete with the Pike for speed. But if they could just reduce the time for the 100 miles to Springfield from 2-1/2 to 1-1/2 hours, that would make a big difference.

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Oh, not in Utica, no; it's an Albany expression.

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There is limited train capacity at South Station. This will be constraint, regardless of whether you want east-west rail, more Providence line trains, frequent EMUs on the Fairmount line, or more Amtrak service to NYC, DC, and points south.

One potential solution: OLX/GLX to replace the Needham Line. This frees up 16 train slots (i.e. 16 departures and 16 arrivals) per day, at a fraction of the cost of a North-South connector.

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One potential solution: OLX/GLX to replace the Needham Line. This frees up 16 train slots (i.e. 16 departures and 16 arrivals) per day, at a fraction of the cost of a North-South connector.

This needs to happen. Yesterday. It's a no brainer.

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The building of the North_South rail link, makes more financial sense and help many more people, than a railroad to Springfield.

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Commuters.

People already commute to Providence by train.

The low housing costs would draw people out to Springfield.

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Much closer than Springfield. MassDOT's estimate of the cost of connecting Pittsfield and Boston with high-speed rail -- with an estimated trip time between Springfield and Boston of 79 minutes -- is $25 billion. For $25 billion, you could build 50,000 units of housing in the Boston area at a half million dollars each. That's just about enough to house everyone in the City of Springfield.

And we know what a great job MassDOT does with staying within cost estimates from projects like the Big Dig and GLX.

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Housing costs are already super low in Worcester and they already have the train. Nobody wants to live there because it's trashy and the train still takes a long time. That would be triple for Springfield

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,

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How about a monorail to Springfield?

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Dagny Taggart might have something to say about this railroad line extension. But if only one could utilize John Galt’s supreme engine. Magoo.

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We can't get EMUs on the Fairmount Line, nor an Orange Line extension to Roslindale, nor subway service past midnight -- and we're supposed to subsidize New York, a state that has an extensive 24/7 bus and subway network in its economic center?

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A lone voice of reason interrupts fantasy.

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Nor is commuter rail comparable to intercity rail; they are used by different groups of people for different purposes.

Commuter rail may be moribund; since the pandemic struck, it has only 13% of its former ridership, and some are speculating that as office jobs move permanently to working at home, those riders may never come back.

Intercity rail is used for business and vacation travel; over short distances (300 miles or so) it's competitive with air travel even at moderate speeds. There are a substantial number of Americans who won't fly; for them, intercity rail over longer distances may be preferable to driving.

Were a Boston - Concord - Lebanon rail corridor developed comparable to the current Amtrak Downeaster, it could become the engine for significant economic growth in the upper Connecticut Valley, much as the Downeaster has for cities and towns along its route.

The chief beneficiaries of service along the former Boston and Albany main line would likely be Pittsfield and Springfield; continuing service to Albany makes sense, I think, only because Amtrak has a facility there for storing and servicing train sets.

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Were a Boston - Concord - Lebanon rail corridor developed comparable to the current Amtrak Downeaster, it could become the engine for significant economic growth in the upper Connecticut Valley, much as the Downeaster has for cities and towns along its route.

This is a dream of mine. But being practical, as I said above.. I'd love to see a train to Toronto via Albany over one that would take me and my carless behind far close to my family.

I'm from the Upper Valley (well the lower Upper Valley) and I agree, some sort of rapid transit needs to happen between Lebanon and Concord. Traffic has gradually increased on I-89, and so many people are working both in Lebanon (at Dartmouth Hitchcock) and in Concord, a rapid transit connection is needed.

However, in the 80s and 90s, much of the old railways have been converted to a rail trail. Some are actually *part* of I-89. (around the Route 11 alignment). And much of the old railway goes thru town centers that have overbuilt the ROW, and much of it is single track. It just would not be feasible to do so.

It would be easier and more cost effective to build it along or in the median of I-89 and let it be more of a park N ride line than one that hits town centers.The only problem with any sort of rail is I-89 wraps around many mountain ridges & vistas, and it might present some engineering challenges.

New Hampshire is on it tho, Dartmouth Hitchcock's growth as the North Country's medical center is demanding it. The hospital has plans to build 2 more towers. More medical staff. More support crew. they all have to live somewhere. Cars is unsustainable.. DHMC already has 3 huge satellite lots. It can't grow like this.

Even homes in my hometown 30 minutes south have risen just because its seen as a viable commutable distance to DHMC. But much of the staff live along I-89 (especially in New London, Grantham, and Eastman). A commuter transit line would work well (the hospital is 2 minutes from 89).

I read online last year there was a study to build commuter bus service, similar to what runs along I-93 into boston. NH has a couple of park N ride lots already along 89. The plan is to add waiting areas and contract out bus service. Identically to what is on I-93.

Concord Coach dba Dartmouth Coach runs Hanover/Lebanon Boston service. I've rode this service for well over 25 years and I've seen more and more people. Some holidays they pull in 3 buses and you get on the bus for your destination (their service is Hanover Leb New London Boston). So crowded but its a one seat ride and my dad is waiting (Its ~25 minutes to his house).

We'll see, as I said in this thread elsewhere. New Hampshire will get there.They will just complain the entire way.

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Let's fix the current transit subway and bus and commuter rail first and don't do anything until Massachusetts and its Hub gets Covid under control. The working class who need the trains are not invisible.

If you're going to do it, get all the network effects you can. Take the Maple Leaf from Toronto to Albany, including:

Toronto - Niagara - Buffalo - Rochester - Syracuse - Utica - Schenectady - Albany

And link it to the Lake Shore Limited route:

Buffalo - Albany - Pittsfield - Springfield - Worcester - Framingham - Boston

If Ontario, NY, and MA all throw in -- along with Canada and tUSA -- there could be some substantial investment in speeding the line. Every single community on that route would benefit, and both NY and MA would benefit as states with the ability to enhance the economic viability of the cities on the route, add (or shift) population to help with housing costs, strengthen ties between the states, and more.

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The paper says that many Albanians, that is, people who live in New York's capital city, rather than people who live along the Adriatic

Cheers!

https://youtu.be/XhXDcxAM0zc?t=33

Amtrak from Boston to Buffalo takes 12+ hours because the train is slow and stops in Albany for so long. Greyhound takes even longer for the same reason. The bus gets off the Pike/Thruway to visit the local bus station of every city along the way.

I think the solution is buses that run between Boston and Buffalo, stopping only at service areas along the Pike and Thruway. Riders can use Uber for the last 10 miles to their destination. That can shorten Boston-Buffalo into a 7.5 hour trip. There's no way Amtrak can make the train trip that fast.

The Thruway has just gone cashless, too, so there ought to be more Thruway exits getting created over the next few years. In upstate NY where thruway exits are 25 miles apart, NY can now cheaply turn every rural overpass into an exit, since it won't need tollbooths. That will help with dropoffs/pickups.

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many people will not be amenable to using long-distance public transportation and having to sit super-close to tons of other people. That's why the MBTA ridership is so low right now.