More Commuter Rail Chatter

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To make my bias plain, I’m a regular commuter rail user and a big fan.

That said, Tuesday’s Globe had some dispiriting news about the newest commuter line — Greenbush. Its getting roughly 2700 riders per day (or around 1350 round-trip passengers) but a quarter of those are from another form of public transit — the commuter boat out of Hingham.

So, we paid $500m+ to get about a thousand people a ride into the city (that’s a cool $500,000 per person). To be fair, the line may become more popular as time goes on, but this is not an encouraging sign.

Looking back at the planning documents (see pg. 19 of this document), the seeds of this problem were actually quite clear. It forecast over 11,000 new riders on the train (a number significantly higher than 2,700 for those of you without strong math skills) but only 4,700 “net” new public transit riders. The implication being that 6,300 riders would be pulled off other forms of public transportation. Wish someone had questioned that earlier.