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CCRTA White Paper on Seasonal Rail Service

CCRTA White Paper on Seasonal Rail Service

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Published by wgbhnews
The phase 1 project report for providing summer weekend train service to Cape Cod. Provided to WGBH News by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. (March 2012)
The phase 1 project report for providing summer weekend train service to Cape Cod. Provided to WGBH News by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. (March 2012)

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Published by: wgbhnews on Apr 27, 2012
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07/31/2013

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TPRG
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PHASE I Project Report:Cape Cod Seasonal Passenger Rail Service
Prepared for Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Transportation Planning and Resource Group,March 2012
 
TPRG
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TPRG
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1. Project: Cape Cod Seasonal Train Service
The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) engaged the Transportation Planningand Resource Group (TPRG) to explore if and how seasonal passenger rail service(essentially during Summer weekends) could be reintroduced to provide a rail connectionto Hyannis.Cape Cod suffers from extreme road and bridge congestion due, in part, from the need formost visitors to use the existing two roadway bridges (Sagamore and Bourne). Summertraffic on the bridges almost doubles and has increased significantly over the years. This
extensive congestion is not good for either Cape Cod’s economy (with a significant focus on
tourism) nor the air quality. At the same time, there is a vastly improved local publictransportation network on Cape Cod.The purpose of this initiative is determine if and how to use the existing railroad right-of-way (owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through its MassachusettsDepartment of Transportation (MassDOT)) to encourage those who are Cape-bound tocomfortably, reliably and efficiently come to Cape Cod on the train rather than in anautomobile. The target service would be weekends between Memorial Day and LaborDay(Boston to Hyannis Friday afternoons/evenings with return Sunday afternoons andSaturday round trip service).The initial study plan was to focus on the steps necessary to bring back rail serviceoriginating in Boston with a target date of Summer 2012. Subsequently, there would be anexamination of service to Hyannis from New York. While a potential private sectoroperator was contacted early in the study, it soon became apparent that the more feasibleplan was to extend existing Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)commuter rail trains that would normally terminate in Middleboro on the existing tracks toHyannis. This would eliminate the need for new rolling-stock and would mean betterutilization of existing public assets that were not in use.Unfortunately, during this process, the MBTA has faced the most significant financial crisisin its history.
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As of March 2012, the MBTA’s proposed FY13 budget includes the largest 
fare increase and service cuts in its history - cuts that include the elimination of allweekend commuter rail service, which would severely impact the ability to provideseasonal rail service in a manner that is affordable. While this debate is pending, theprospect of major service cuts and fare increases is a major impediment to any effort toadvance any new services - no matter how appealing or well supported they may be.
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Even though the proposed Seasonal rail plan would have no impact on the MBTA’s cost 
structure, the reality of massive service cuts and fare increases has restricted the
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Though not as highly publicized, MassDOT is also facing a massive budget crisis.
 
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The budget actually has two options - one with a smaller fare increase and more service cuts and the otherwith a larger increase and fewer cuts. Both proposals, however, currently contemplate the end of late night and weekend commuter rail service.

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Albert Pisani added this note|
Not surprising that rail service to the Cape was shot down this year. The state had over FIFTEEN YEARS to "get it right" and instead, not only did they block any proposal year after year, they removed the portion of the Falmouth rail line from the wasted Falmouth depot to North Falmouth for a bike path. And they keep finding plenty of money for roads!
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