Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Massachusetts’

Valley Flyer Gets Ridership Goal for Continued Funding

February 14, 2020

Preservation of Amtrak’s Valley Flyer will hinge on the experimental service handling 24,000 passengers a year by 2021.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has set that ridership goal that must be met if the state is to continue it funding of the service between Springfield and Greenfield.

The Valley Flyer began operations on Aug. 30, 2019, and also stops in Holyoke and Northhampton.

The line is also used by the Vermonter, which is funded by the state of Vermont.

Massachusetts is paying $1 million a year to support the Valley Flyer.

The ridership goal is double the number of passengers that were being handled by the Vermonter before the Valley Flyer began service.

Dana Roscoe, principal planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield, said supporters of the Valley Flyer are trying to determine how ridership has been going.

They have sent staff to station platforms to count the number of passengers boarding and disembarking.

Compiling ridership data is complicated by the fact that Amtrak only publishes that information once a year.

“We can’t just have an annual number and go with that,” Roscoe said. “At this point I honestly can’t tell you how we’re doing. My sense, completely anecdotal and word-of-mouth and from visiting stations, is that we are probably doing OK but we are absolutely are not where we need to be.”

Officials do know from Amtrak ridership data that patronage of the line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield has been growing at a rate of 25 percent a year.

The ridership information gleaned from hand counting Valley Flyer passengers will be used as part of a $350,000 marketing and branding campaign seeking to boost business.

In the meantime, the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to improve stations in that state at Windsor and Windsor Locks.

The work will include installation of platforms on each side of the tracks, sheltered waiting areas, real-time train arrival displays, snow melt systems at ramps and on platforms, parking on both the east and west sides of the tracks, and security cameras and emergency phones.

That work is expected to be completed in 2021.

The work at Windsor Locks station includes a single platform, a multi-use trail with connections to the Canal Trail via Bridge Street, parking, and other amenities.

The 510-foot-long platform will comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with level boarding from every train car.

Other work being undertaken by CTDOT includes adding a second tracks north of Hartford to increase the frequency of service in the region.

A connecting is being built in Windsor Locks to link to Bradley International Airport and digital displays are being installed at stations on the Hartford Line station to provide real-time train arrival and departure times.

Mass. Rail Expansion Plan Has Costly Numbers

February 8, 2020

A study by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation estimates that expanding rail passenger service between Boston and the western region of the state could cost upwards of $25 billion.

However, the study drew fire from rail passenger advocates who questioned its methodology.

The study laid out six proposals. The lowest cost plan would be to increase service between Boston and Springfield and creating bus connections to Pittsfield.

That plan will cost an estimated $2 billion.

The high end proposal of $25 billion would create 150-mph high-speed service.

MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack described the cost estimates as “sobering” and said federal funding will be needed to “get this done.”

However, former Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi criticized the study as containing “questionable modeling” that he said is “unreliable and deliberately negative.”

The only Amtrak service currently linking Boston and the western region of the state is the Lake Shore Limited between Boston and Chicago.

Funding Approved for Berkshire Flyer Pilot Program

August 2, 2019

Funding has been approved by the State of Massachusetts for a two-year pilot program to launch Amtrak service from New York City to Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

The Berkshire Flyer has been allotted “not less than $270,000” for its inaugural year, which is expected to start in Spring 2020.

Legislation authorizing the funding also set aside $30,000 for a project manager and $100,000 for marketing the service.

The Flyer is will operate on weekends during the summer season between New York Penn Station and Pittsfield, using the Empire Corridor to Albany-Rensselaer, New York, and the route of the Lake Shore Limited east of there.

One train is expected to operate from New York to Pittsfield on Friday while its counterpart will return to New York on Sunday.

Trains will operate from Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekends with the fare set at $70 each way.

A marketing plan will be created by 1Berkshire, the county’s economic development and tourism council while the Massachusetts Department of Transportation needs to work out schedules and other logistical matters with Amtrak.

Also involved in the planning and implementation of the service will be the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority.

Track Work to Disrupt Lake Shore Limited

June 15, 2018

Track work being performed by Keolis/Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will affect operation of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited between Albany, New York, and Boston between June 16 and Aug. 5.

Passengers traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) on Train No. 448 will get off the train at Albany during the periods of June 15-16, July 27-28, Aug. 3-4 and ride a bus to their destination.

No alternate transportation is being provided to Framingham. Passengers traveling to Boston Back Bay station will disembark from the bus at South Station and be directed to an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train to Back Bay.

On June 16-17, July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5, Train No. 449 will not operate from Boston (South Station) to Albany.

Passengers slated to board at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany.

No alternate transportation is being provided from Boston Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay should board at South Station or travel on alternate dates.

Passengers boarding at South Station and Worcester should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Worcester passengers will board at the main entrance in front of the station and not at the bus terminal.