• New Hampshire Commuter Rail Discussion

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

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  by b&m 1566
 
It does explain why people in towns outside the Capital Corridor are against commuter rail, there "free money" or "assistance" would go towards supporting rail.
  by Dick H
 
If driving in NH, be extra careful on the highways. In addition to being the only
state without an adult seatbelt law, the NH Legislature is in the process of
banning sobriety checkpoints and allowing entertainers in establishments to
consume alcohol. Beware of that vehicle coming at you in your lane.
  by Arlington
 
BandA wrote:I don't have data for NH, but MA state budget for transportation is <2%!! I think it was 7% like 5-6 years ago. Whereas health & human services is 55% and education 18%. Health & human services was 50% 5-6 years ago!!!

Rural areas don't generate the revenue, but in MA the spending goes disproportionately to big, urban, poor areas which are concentrated in Eastern MA. Also the cities and towns rely on property tax revenue (NH even more due to no personal income tax).
75% of Mass' population is in Metro Boston (planned by the MAPC and roughly equivalent to the MBTA service area if you pair-swap some cities in and out) and, I'd be quite sure, probably 90% or more of income and probably pushing 95% of property taxes, more than enough to "cover" almost any way you'd care to slice any budget (state, local, or state-and-local, or fed-state-local) with money left over to export to rural portions of the state--particularly when human services covers things like opiate addiction.

Whether NH or MA, the combined effect of lower household money (income, home value, wealth) and having much fewer households per square mile quickly means the rural parts of the state can't afford modern infrastructure without help from urban areas. You see the true price (and unaffordability) when you look at how no private cable company or gas (or municipal water) utility can afford to extend unsubsidized service to these places...too few ratepayers per route mile. But we happen to have had statewide programs that subsidized telephone, electricity, and paved roads to rural areas. Where the subsidies went, the infrastructure followed. Where there weren't subsidies, the cable, water, & gas did not go.

Yet my impression is that the density of State Routes is roughly the same everywhere you go (in rural area, your house is much more likely to front on a State road (because they're nearly the only roads), versus, say Nashua, where it is more likely to front on a municipal road)

Using MA rural/urban data to analogize to New Hampshire, it is still the places closer to Boston that are going to have the higher value parcels, and to have more of them jammed together per square mile.

Nashua has an average home price of $250k (actually $259 according to Zillow) but we're swagging here. If those averaged 1/3ac lots, that's 2000 houses per square mile, or $500m in residences per square mile. Near Concord, if we swagged $200k homes on 1/2ac lots that's 200 x 1200 = $240m in residences per square mile. Get out where it's 1ac lots and it halves again to $120m in tax base per square mile (1/4 of Nashua). But real rural areas, we're talking probably one household per 10ac or 20ac and, bam, your base per square mile is just 64 or 32 households and, even if they're worth $1m or $2m, you can barely claw your way to just $64m per square mile..1/8th the property tax base per square mile that Nashua would have, and only 1/20th the number of households paying any other tax. When you see how much state-road-per-capita these rural places demand (Beyond per-capita costs like schools and human services) there's no way they're self-paying for their roads.

Then add the effect of commercial/industrial/office/retail real estate--even more clearly a creature/feature of urban areas--and you see that almost any kind of tax you devise (income, property, sales, gas) is going to be disproportionately paid by the denser more urban jurisdictions.

Ergo, rural voters have adopted the pioneer myth that they are self-reliant & free-living, having no memory that rural life didn't equal modern life until subsidies extended roads & electricity & phone (and later cell service) "out there" as part of an explicit New Deal / Great Society system of $ transfer from urban areas to rural via infrastructure that remains in place to this day. (in US Mail, FedEx, & UPS, rural customers are similarly subsidized in the name of universal service) The only unsubsidized utility that the free market actually delivers to rural areas is Satellite TV.
  by gokeefe
 
BandA wrote:Transportation cost inflation is > 2.5%. ALMOST ALL PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT IN MA IS OCCURRING IN BOSTON AND CAMBRIDGE (AND ADJACENT CITIES LIKE EVERETT, SOMERVILLE, ETC).
Having been to Worcester and Springfield recently the idea that there is not significant development going on there is absurd to me. Worcester in particular is seeing a lot of growth. I think the North Shore (Haverhill in particular) should be acknowledged as well.
  by leviramsey
 
Arlington wrote: Whether NH or MA, the combined effect of lower household money (income, home value, wealth) and having much fewer households per square mile quickly means the rural parts of the state can't afford modern infrastructure without help from urban areas. You see the true price (and unaffordability) when you look at how no private cable company or gas (or municipal water) utility can afford to extend unsubsidized service to these places...too few ratepayers per route mile. But we happen to have had statewide programs that subsidized telephone, electricity, and paved roads to rural areas. Where the subsidies went, the infrastructure followed. Where there weren't subsidies, the cable, water, & gas did not go.
These sorts of subsidies are still occurring.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/20 ... story.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

$4 million to Comcast to extend internet (and HBO...) to sparsely populated parts of Buckland, Conway, Chester, Hardwick, Huntington, Montague, Northfield, Pelham, and Shelburne with a total population of 1100 people.

That's a $3,600 per user subsidy.

There are about 500k daily riders of the MBTA. Multiply by $3,600 and the equivalent is a $1.8 billion capital subsidy to the MBTA (which isn't that far off from GLX or NSRL or electrifying commuter rail inside of 128).

It may well be that for the more built-up parts of Western MA, they're not getting anywhere near the level of subsidy that their more rural neighbors get. On the other hand, how much of Western Mass's economy is based on UMass? If the Commonwealth stopped subsidizing UMass Amherst (which employs somewhere around 30k people, most living in Hampshire and Franklin counties, most earning well above what's typical in those counties), how much would go poof?

Disclaimer: I'm 36. I've lived a grand total of 28 of them west of Worcester, including 11 years in Franklin and Hampden.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Surprise! News report from the Concord Monitor indicates that the legislature has agreed to use federal funds available to do another study. After that, I suppose we'll need a few years to study the study, and on, and on. :wink:
  by newpylong
 
http://www.vnews.com/New-Hampshire-Hous ... y-16236902" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair use quote added per site policy:
The New Hampshire House approved the use of federal funds to study commuter rail within the state on Thursday, overturning a committee decision in a surprise move.

In a 166-160 vote, representatives gave the green light to a last-minute amendment to the state’s 10-year transportation plan, allowing $4 million in federal money to go toward designing a rail corridor that could connect Concord, Manchester and Nashua to Massachusetts.

The revised bill overrides an attempt by a House committee to divert the money into a study of bus service expansion from Concord to Nashua, which connects to Boston.

Commuter rail has long been politically divisive with Democrats holding it up as a key to attracting younger residents and Republicans deriding it as a waste of public money that’s unlikely to attract demand.

As passed on Thursday, House Bill 2018 — the 10-year transportation improvement plan — would now use the federal funds toward both the rail and bus services studies.

...
  by p42thedowneaster
 
The rebuttal stating that NH businesses will suffer a loss of badly needed labor seems ludicrous. Who would bother riding the train counter to the direction of the commute? ...All for a job that probably pays less, and you would still pay MA income tax! If you're going to work in NH it's best to live here. On top of that, buying and registering a motor vehicle is far cheaper in NH.

Arguing the other way makes more sense. NH folks can find great opportunity in MA despite the nasty commute and income tax. The train could be helpful to these people, thus supporting the "bedroom" communities of southern NH.
  by BandA
 
why would you cancel funding for a study that is 100% paid with feddybucks? Is there a competing study that this money will go towards?
  by b&m 1566
 
Why give the pro-rail folks a leg to stand on?
  by BandA
 
b&m 1566 wrote:Why give the pro-rail folks a leg to stand on?
1) I consider myself pro-rail 2) You probably need a study before you can get the feds to invest capital in a project 3) Existing roads and public transportation are over capacity 4) Both NH & MA entities continue to issue building permits to developers, suggesting that depopulation is not imminent, and crowding is going to get worse 5) We are already seeing >10% increase in gasoline prices in the last few weeks, with more to come, and that will be nothing compared to the spike when Israel and/or US likely go to war with Iran. CR is an important option to maintain the economy if there is another energy crisis. 6) Passenger rail is valuable public infrastructure, whose riders will gladly pay fares high enough to cover the operating costs of a thrifty operator ;)

Valid reasons to kill studies: 1) It´s already been studied 2) It´s a scam (for example, if you are studying a rail-trail for an active freight rail line or you want to study ¨reasonable gun control¨) 3) There is obviously no demand for the service, i.e. even bus companies don´t provide service, highways are uncrowded, parking is plentiful and cheap.
  by Hux
 
BandA wrote:why would you cancel funding for a study that is 100% paid with feddybucks? Is there a competing study that this money will go towards?
Why would you take the teeth out of an animal cruelty bill? It is what the NH legislature does.
  by p42thedowneaster
 
This is just party line politics. One side sees this as an opportunity, the other side sees it as a tax they dont benefit from. If you look at the example of the MBTA you can easily argue both sides to it.
  by b&m 1566
 
BandA wrote:
b&m 1566 wrote:Why give the pro-rail folks a leg to stand on?
1) I consider myself pro-rail 2) You probably need a study before you can get the feds to invest capital in a project 3) Existing roads and public transportation are over capacity 4) Both NH & MA entities continue to issue building permits to developers, suggesting that depopulation is not imminent, and crowding is going to get worse 5) We are already seeing >10% increase in gasoline prices in the last few weeks, with more to come, and that will be nothing compared to the spike when Israel and/or US likely go to war with Iran. CR is an important option to maintain the economy if there is another energy crisis. 6) Passenger rail is valuable public infrastructure, whose riders will gladly pay fares high enough to cover the operating costs of a thrifty operator ;)

Valid reasons to kill studies: 1) It´s already been studied 2) It´s a scam (for example, if you are studying a rail-trail for an active freight rail line or you want to study ¨reasonable gun control¨) 3) There is obviously no demand for the service, i.e. even bus companies don´t provide service, highways are uncrowded, parking is plentiful and cheap.
I too consider myself pro-rail, but we have elected a bunch of people in this state who are anti-rail. They believe rail is an outdated form of transportation, money hogging profit losing investment. They don't care nor want to see what the study will show because if it shows that they are wrong, then it gives pro-rail people a leg to stand on, so they are chopping the legs off before we can stand.
They are not interested in rail and don't want it, they don't even want to debate it.
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