Rockingham Racer wrote:You have to wonder, then, why there were what I'll call "super expresses" on the Hudson Line which made only Poughkeepsie, New Hamburg, and Beacon. I haven't lookied at a Harlem Line Schedule, but there must be a market for a similar service for the Wassaic area folks in terms of commuting.
Western Dutchess County experienced quite a boom starting in the mid- to late-80s. I used to live within sight distance of the New Hamburg station -- it was nothing more than two low-level platforms and a shelter when MNR reopened it in the early 80s. As a young kid, I mostly remember seeing SPVs for most of the day, until the Shoreliners arrived on the scene. After that, it wasn't too long until the parking lot was expanded (multiple times) and the station was eventually upgraded to longer, high-level platforms in the late 90s. By the time we moved further upstate in the late 80s, you could literally watch cars streaming out of the parking lot for a good 15-20 minutes, non-stop, after each outbound train had discharged its commuters.
In addition to Dutchess County itself, you also need to consider people commuting from the west side of the Hudson. Beacon station is close to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Lots of people drive or take buses across the bridge to catch the train here. Even though Orange County is an MTA county and has "MNR" service (operated by NJTransit) via the Port Jervis Line, that service is infrequent, doesn't go through Newburgh, and it winds up in Hoboken rather than GCT.
Similarly, Poughkeepsie station is very close to the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which brings people over from Ulster County... and you have the added appeal of the fact that it's also an Amtrak station.
New Hamburg is right in the middle. It's just far enough away from the two bridges that west-of-Hudson riders wouldn't be interested, but that makes it more interesting for east-of-Hudson riders who don't want to compete with WOH traffic for parking spots at POU or Beacon. It's also located in the Town of (different from the City of) Poughkeepsie, and more convenient for most riders in the Town of Wappinger.
Poughkeepsie was already a fairly sizable city to begin with (relative to Dutchess and surrounding counties), and the surburban growth that started in the 80s resulted in more and more ridership on the Hudson Line. You also have people coming over from the west side of the river. I suspect that highways such as US9, US9W, I-84 and I-87 make the immediate mid-Hudson Valley more desirable. Not to mention, once ridership picked up, the fact that the Hudson Line is already double-tracked (or more) in its entirety meant there was little or no difficulty when the time came to add more-frequent service including those super-expresses.
By contrast, eastern Dutchess County is more rural and mountainous, so even though some areas may have become more popular, the terrain prevents the area from being developed as densely as areas like Beacon, Fishkill, Wappinger, Hopewell Jct and Poughkeepsie. Housing and commercial districts aren't quite as robust along NY22 as they are along US9. For example, Poughkeepsie has a major shopping mall and several mini-malls. If you're in Dover Plains or Wassaic, you're driving to either Poughkeepsie or Danbury for that kind of scene.
Even if the area suddenly experienced some kind of commuter boom, MTA would find it difficult to add much more service to the upper Harlem due to the fact it's single-tracked, with a few passing sidings that were added within the past (15? 20?) years. I would imagine the introduction of "super expresses" that might only serve , say, Patterson, Dover Plains and Wassaic, would likely require upgrading the remaining single-track portion to double-track, along with adding new platforms for each station. A pretty big expense for likely little return. And with money being tight, I think we can all agree replacing the Gennies is a bigger need than increasing service... after all, a bigger schedule isn't worth the paper it's printed on if you don't have the locomotives to make it happen.