Tag Archives: MBTA

For MBTA and Amtrak, FAST Act a fast track to federal court

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is suing Amtrak in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts after the two companies failed to reach agreement on new, vastly increased access fees for MBTA commuter trains operating between Attleboro, Mass., at the Rhode Island border, and Providence, R.I., on the Northeast Corridor.

According to reports published by the Boston Herald and Politico, the Capitol Hill-based newsletter, the MBTA is asking a federal judge to throw out a claim that it owes Amtrak $28.8 million in annual fees. Amtrak, MBTA’s 26-page court filing says, is “claiming that it is both permitted and required … under a pair of federal statutes … [to] demand that MBTA pay it tens of millions of dollars each year for the very services that Amtrak is already obligated by the Attleboro Line Agreement to provide MBTA without charge.”

The existing Attleboro Line Agreement was struck by MBTA and Amtrak in 2003, when Amtrak ceased operating MBTA trains under contract and MBCR (Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad) took over. Keolis has been MBTA’s contract operator since July 2014. In 
exchange for allowing Amtrak to operate its intercity trains on the state-owned portion of the NEC between Attleboro and Boston’s South Station, Amtrak maintains portions of the right-of-way and 
provides access for MBTA trains operating between Attleboro and Providence, R.I.

According to the MBTA, Amtrak has cited language in the new FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act and PRIIA (Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008) that established a commission tasked with developing cost-sharing policies used to replace existing contracts between Amtrak and state commuter rail agencies. Amtrak reportedly has threatened to go to the Surface Transportation Board if the MBTA doesn’t fork over the near-$30 million.

The commission, the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Operations and Advisory Commission, is named in MBTA’s suit along with Amtrak.

The MBTA argues that “federal law that Amtrak is invoking … is unconstitutional … Congress cannot by statute relieve federal agencies, such as Amtrak, from their contractual obligations without putting those agencies into breach of contract.” The MBTA is asking for declaratory judgments saying that the new cost-sharing policy violates the U.S. Constitution, and that Amtrak is in breach of contract with the MBTA.

According to the lawsuit, under FAST and PRIIA, Amtrak saves $56 million a year on the Northeast Corridor, while requiring Massachusetts (MBTA) to pay $28.8 million, New Jersey (NJ Transit) to pay $90 million, Pennsylvania (SEPTA) to pay $14 million and Maryland (MARC) pay $1 million.

The complete lawsuit, Civil Action No. 16-10120, “MASSACHUSETTS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY,Plaintiff, v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORP., d/b/a AMTRAK, and NORTHEAST CORRIDOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND OPERATIONS ADVISORY COMMISSION, Defendants,” can be downloaded in PDF form by clicking HERE.

MBTA commuter trains achieve best on-time rating in December

Keolis Commuter Services, operator of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) commuter-rail system, logged an on-time performance rate of 92.4 percent in December 2015.

The figure marks the best on-time performance last year, Keolis officials said in a  press release.

When adjusted for delays beyond Keolis’ control, such as trespassers or police activity, December’s on-time performance rate was 95.5 percent. December is typically a challenge month because of the transition between falling leaves, falling temperatures and winter’s first snow, Keolis officials said.

The numbers show that the service improvement agreement between MBTA and Keolis is producing positive results, said Keolis Commuter services General Manager Gerald Francis.

In August 2015, Keolis developed a service improvement plan for the last five months of 2015 that set performance benchmarks for commuter-rail service in areas of on-time performance, fare collection, staffing levels and locomotive availability. By year’s end, Keolis had met or exceeded those goals, company officials said.

Additionally, between July and December last year, the number of late trains on the commuter-rail system decreased by 25 percent when compared with the average for that period over the last decade.

The MBTA’s Real Map

TRANSLATION — Joke maps of the MBTA, like this one that has been making its way around Twitter this week, might elicit some frustrated chuckles now. But as delays get worse and patience runs out, politicians are scrambling to make sure they aren’t blamed for the T’s performance this winter. First and foremost is Governor Charlie Baker. On Wednesday he demanded that Keolis, the French company that operates the commuter rail, shape up in time for Monday, when school vacation ends. He took a similarly strong tone with transit officials last week. It’s clear the MBTA has become a political hot potato, and Baker doesn’t want to be left holding it.

Boston to Replace Metro Fleet

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MASSACHUSETTS Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has issued requests for proposals to replace the 44-year old trains on its Red Line and the 32-year old cars on its Orange Line at a cost of around $US 1.3bn.

The train replacement project is designed to increase capacity on the two metro lines and is part of a wider program approved by state governor Mr Deval Patrick to improve two highways and replace a road bridge in Boston.A pre-bid meeting will be held on December 3 for the procurement of the trains. MBTA requires 152 cars for the Orange Line, plus 74 cars for the Red Line with an option for an additional 58 cars.

MBTA says it wants the new cars to provide improved reliability, accessibility and energy efficiency. It wants increased capacity and additional seating compared with the existing trains, wider and electrically-operated doors, four accessible areas per car, LED lighting, modern HVAC systems and advanced passenger information and announcement systems. MBTA expects to award the contract by winter 2014-15, and has stipulated that final assembly should take place in Massachusetts. Following extensive pilot train testing, Orange Line car delivery is scheduled to begin in winter 2018-19 with the delivery of the Red Line cars following in autumn 2019.

 

Cape Cod Is Finally Going To Town

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After a lapse of 25 years (not counting Amtrak’s Cape Codder during its last years in the mid-1990s), the public will be able to take the train from the Boston area to Hyannis on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.  Details on the new CapeFLYER service can be found at www.capeflyer.com, as well as the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Capeflyer

There are a couple of good articles in the WIKI too

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CapeFLYER
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Cod_Central_Railroad

The train will depart South Station Fridays at 5.12 p.m., making all regular commuter rail stops down to Middleborough/Lakeville before continuing on the Buzzards Bay and Hyannis.  The return trip leaves Hyannis at 8.30 p.m. Fridays.  On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) trains depart South Station at 8 a.m., with the return trip leaving Hyannis at 6.30 p.m.  The Saturday, Sunday and holiday trips will have limited stops between Boston and Middleborough/Lakeville.

The train will consist entirely of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail equipment.  One car, BTC-1C class single-level coach #224, has been reconfigured into a bike and concession car, with limited seating.  Passengers will be able to purchase food (snacks and wraps) and drinks, including I am told beer and wine when east of Middleborough.

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority has organized this new service, working with the state, the MBTA, ferry lines and private bus lines.  Coordinated, connecting bus and ferry services will be offered at both Buzzards Bay and Hyannis.

Hopefully this new service will be successful.

The New York Times just published the following article on line about the CapeFLYER.  Based on what I’ve heard, this looks to be about the most accurate media account of the service so far.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/us/capeflyer-begins-train-service-from-boston-to-hyannis.html?_r=0

Both the Boston Globe and Wareham Week report the CapeFLYER had 770 passengers this first weekend, according to the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority.
According to the Boston Globe, if ridership is strong through the summer, the MBTA would consider continuing the train into October:
“The CapeFlyer, the MBTA’s revival of the Boston-to-Cape-Cod rail tradition, has just begun service this weekend, but Beverly A. Scott, general manager of the MBTA, is already considering extending the service past its scheduled Labor Day closing date if it garners enough popularity.

““There is a possibility that service could be extended through October if the demand is evident,” Scott said at a MassDOT meeting last week. “”

Here is a link to the MBTA website with a video of the first weekend of service, enjoy!!!

http://capeflyer.com/#sthash.q4JJ5Prw.dpbs

From the July 1st Cape Codder newspaper (http://www.wickedlocal.com/brewster/news/x273426890/Transit-talk-Boston-Cape-train-a-hit-bus-ridership-up#axzz2Y5uM7ykA):

“There are six trains a weekend,” Cahir said. “This past weekend we had 714 riders. It’s really been an extraordinary story. It allows people to get to the Cape without cars and I’m very pleased with that. The numbers are overwhelming.”

All told over the first five weekends it’s carried 3,200 passengers. The breakeven point is $10,800 in fares each week and so far the Flyer has exceeded that with over $67,000 in revenue.

The CCRTA has budgeted $162,000 to front the operating costs of the train for 15 weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.  As reported above, $67,000 has been recovered during the first five weekends, so revenue is well ahead of projections.  The CCRTA had expected the train would operate at a loss during late May and June, with revenues being made up during higher ridership in July and August, so the ridership so far has been a very pleasant surprise.

Excluding the third weekend, when the weather forecast was terrible for the Cape, the six weekend trains have averaged ridership around a bit more than 700 passengers.  During the third weekend, ridership was only 352 — still enough to cover operating costs that weekend.

The best news so far:  last night’s train from South Station to Hyannis had 589 passengers, per the CapeFLYER’s Facebook page and other sources.

Word is the CapeFLYER left Hyannis this evening with 609 passengers.  No word so far on how many passengers were picked up at Buzzards Bay.

Traffic reports according to the Cape Cod Times state traffic was backed up as far as 25 miles on the Mid-Cape Highway (U.S. Route 6)  east of the Sagamore Bridge during the height of the backup mid-afternoon today.

4TH of July Weekend

“And, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Thomas Cahir said the weekend traffic was a great advertisement for the CapeFLYER, the new summer train service from Boston to Hyannis.
There were more than 2,000 riders on the trains that ran from Wednesday through Sunday, Cahir said.”  — Cape Cod Times
, 8 July 2013.http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130708/NEWS11/130709691

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