• Potential MBTA Southern NH Service

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

  by mbrproductions
 
Thanks. I guess its up to the NH Legislature to decide what goes on from here, lets hope it goes well, it looks like the financial plan has NH not paying much for this, and having most of it paid for by federal funds, that should be enough to calm the fiscal conservative NIMBYs down. Fingers crossed.
  by jbvb
 
The current NH House is Republican controlled but only by one vote. So it might get through there, but the Senate and Governor's Council still have safe Republican majorities.
  by FatNoah
 
that should be enough to calm the fiscal conservative NIMBYs down.
Tell me you don't live in New Hampshire without actually saying you don't live in New Hampshire. :grinning:

If the project's capital costs were 100% paid for by someone else, with the state's only fiscal responsibility being a $500k-$3M annual subsidy, people would still cry foul for any number of reasons:
  • Why should I pay for something I don't use?
  • As a corollary to the above, why should people in the north pay for something used by people from the south
  • We're just one step closer to being Massachusetts north
  • MBTA is a) corrupt and b) full of Massholes
  • It's not useful to me, so I can't imagine how it's useful to anyone else
That list is only slightly hyperbolic, and while many of the concerns aren't necessarily specific to NH, they do have a very strong root there. It's a complex mix of things, but a limited tax base where the direct effect felt by most is in their property taxes, plus the state of school funding, makes nearly anything tax-related very contentious. There's very much a sense of opposition to "other people spending my money for the benefit of someone else".

Another compounding factor is that the nature of the legislature. In MA, being a state legislator is a full-time, paying gig. You're not getting rich, but something like $70k plus a travel stipend makes it possible. In NH, it's closer to $100 + mileage. Maybe you get free tolls, too. I'm not sure. It's also a huge legislature. There's 1 rep for every 3300 people, so things can get hyper-local. That's a great recipe for a high percentage of randos with an axe to grind and who don't particularly care about the "greater good" or long-range thinking. Again, issues everywhere but magnified in NH.

This is slowly evolving over time as demographics in the state shift, but it's a long, slow journey.
  by Allouette
 
For both the 400-member NH House and 24-member NH Senate, the pay is $100 per session (two sessions per term) plus mileage, and you do get a free EZPass.

Anything involving a contract is also subject to scrutiny by the five-member Executive Council, an institution unique to New Hampshire. Even requests from the highway lobby occasionally run into trouble there. Only two of the five Councilors live in what would be rail-served districts.
  by BandA
 
Haven’t read the study yet, but 82% farebox recovery seems unbelievably high. How does that compare to the existing Lowell Line? The entire commuter rail system?

How does the capital and operating costs compare with highway costs, such as the recent i-93 add a lane project? If I was a nh taxpayer, I wouldn’t mind so much the capital cost but would be angry about any operating subsidy. Capital cost is literally an investment that lasts 30-100 years, operating costs are subsidizing the rider to make it more “affordable” as they say in Washington Newspeak.. Maybe the big commercial & office properties in Manchester and Nashua will agree to join a special tax district to cover the subsidy.

I’d rather have NH’s $100 legislators than MA $70K “full time” part time legislators.
  by CRail
 
82% farebox recovery is probably realistic considering most of the service's costs are already taken care of by the bulk of the system elsewhere. Much in the way a "piggyback" equipment order is cheaper because most of the groundwork and design is already done, NH would be piggybacking on an already operating service.
  by jbvb
 
BandA, I can only suggest you look around at the bills filed by those 400 randos. I've been watching for years to see what's going to ding local towns and cities. It also means only semi-retired business owners and rich hobbyists can afford to be in the NH legislature. This has a bunch of side effects; Those relevant to RR passenger are: all legislators have nice cars, few commute other than to Concord, the roads to Concord are the best in the state, few even travel into MA in rush hour. Having lived in MA during the "amateur to professional legislature" transition in the 60s, IMO NH would be much improved by a 75% personnel cut and living wages.
  by mbrproductions
 
ARTICLE: "CloseUp: Mass would face $96M cost for NH commuter rail"
https://www.wmur.com/article/closeup-ma ... l/43420874
VIdeo included in article
Executive councilors' received a briefing last week on the cost associated with bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire.
  by BandA
 
Is there a link to the briefing documents (NHDOT presentation to the Executive Councilors). So, project capital cost $1B+ in NH and almost $1B on the MA side. For an existing, active train line, so maybe adding a track. Seems like a bargain compared to MBTA GLX! But seriously, why is this project so expensive? Is there a skunkworks version? So the MA portion is just for trackage, no stations?
  by mbrproductions
 
I understand your concern, but you do know that $100M is not $1B, right? that would be $1000M. Both states would not be paying anywhere close to $1B for this project.
  by charlesriverbranch
 
Allouette wrote: Thu Mar 02, 2023 2:32 pm Anything involving a contract is also subject to scrutiny by the five-member Executive Council, an institution unique to New Hampshire. Even requests from the highway lobby occasionally run into trouble there. Only two of the five Councilors live in what would be rail-served districts.
Massachusetts has one, too; it's called the Governor's Council. Both are vestiges of the old royal governors' privy councils.

It's probably not a coincidence that MA and NH are the only states whose constitutions are older than the federal one.
  by BandA
 
mbrproductions wrote: Wed Mar 29, 2023 9:34 am I understand your concern, but you do know that $100M is not $1B, right? that would be $1000M. Both states would not be paying anywhere close to $1B for this project.
The costs of the projects are, very roughly, $1B each in NH and MA, of which the states have to cover roughly $100M each. The other $900M each represents money the treasury will have to print up, that theoretically could be used for other projects like widening roads in NH or speeding up the MBTA in MA.
  by newpylong
 
Nearly a billion to extend Class IV trackage and PTC a few miles to the state line on the MA side? What are these people smoking...

I am all for conservative numbers but no wonder why our legislators keep baulking when given fairy dust numbers like this.

Contract CSX to do it for 1/8th the cost.
  by CRail
 
$782 million is not $1B+. It's also in line with what NH paid to widen I93 which funnels into the not widened MA portion of the highway, a much less sensible project than rail service to urban communities.

Special interest groups and lobbyists all get their hands in the pot and that skyrockets the price of all public capital projects. Rail is not an anomaly and it's evidently not prohibitive in any other application.
  by Tallguy
 
Pushing service to the border, or possibly to Nashua center, could be done as a mainly single track route with simple 400 ft platforms (See Holyoke s $3.2M station). CSX is rebuilding it's 5 mile "siding" in Springfield up to Class 4for $500K per mile. $20M plus signal upgrades and PTC. And surplus existing rolling stock when the Legislature drags the T into EMU-land kicking and screaming
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