Connecting Montréal to the American Rail Network

A New York-bound route would attract far more passengers than one heading for Boston.

Montréal is one of North America’s most appealing cities and it’s only a few dozen miles from the border. As a result, both American and Canadian politicians have been arguing for the expansion of rail service from the metropolis south into the United States. Yet, after decades of work, little of consequence has actually been completed. But with stimulus funds for high-speed rail soon to be distributed, it’s worth considering what routes would be most appropriate for possible service.

In 2000, at the request of the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the Federal Railroad Administration designated the Northern New England route as an “official” high-speed corridor. This series of lines would include connections between Boston and Portland, Boston and Albany, Springfield and New Haven, and Boston and Montréal. The three states began studying a connection with

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MBTA Moves Forward With Blue Line Extension Planning

Long-planned link between Revere to Lynn, however, still lacks funding source.

Yesterday, the Government of Massachusetts announced that it would sponsor the completion of a planning report on a northeast extension of the MBTA Blue Line. The completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Study, which is a required step on the path to building a major infrastructure project in the United States, will demand about $300,000 in consulting fees. Yet this new guarantee of planning funds in no way ensures the eventual completion of the project, which would stretch from the Blue Line’s existing terminus at Wonderland to Lynn, several miles up the North Shore. Boston’s transit agency is mired in billions of dollars of debt and has a number of projects that are being prioritized over this extension.

The Blue Line opened in 1904 to streetcar operations and was converted to rapid transit technology in 1924. It

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Boston to Extend Silver Line to Mattapan and South Station

BRT — currently operating in two sections — will be united

Boston’s MBTA opened the Silver Line bus rapid transit project in 2002 and 2004 to little acclaim. The state had paid for the corridor as an environmental remediation effort for the Big Dig highway tunneling project being built simultaneously and had promised excellent rapid transit service, but what the city’s citizens actually got was a two-part, slow bus line that didn’t attract much more ridership than the routes it replaced. Now Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick has announced that he will spend $114 million in federal stimulus money to connect the two independently operating parts of the line and extend it to Mattapan, through areas currently underserved by rapid transit.

Part of the problem with the Silver Line is that it’s not so much a “line” as a collection of corridors with the same name. The MBTA operates Continue reading Boston to Extend Silver Line to Mattapan and South Station »

Massachusetts Looking to New York for Clues on Funding Transport

New Massachusetts Transportation Authority would combine MBTA and the Turnpike Authority

As a result of today’s difficult economic circumstances, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is facing a $160 million budget deficit and the state government is pushing for major reforms to prevent the agency from again falling into the fiscal hole. After being prodded on by Governor Deval Patrick (D), the state House and Senate are currently considering legislation that would radically alter the face of Massachusetts transportation by combining the MBTA and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority into a new Massachusetts Transportation Authority. The formulation – transit services plus toll-raising bridges, tunnels, and roadways – closely follows the form of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The new authority would be under the direct supervision of the governor, who would sit as the head of the board, and who would also appoint all four other members. The lack of

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The Misuse of Stimulus Funds

Boston’s proposed South Coast rail exemplifies what isn’t high-speed rail

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) told reporters yesterday that he envisioned using some of the high-speed rail funds from the stimulus legislation currently under discussion to “accelerate the process” of implementing the South Coast rail corridor, a proposed commuter rail system to run between Boston and the cities of Fall River and New Bedford. The problem is that he seems to think that the Senate’s proposed $2 billion for high-speed rail will provide the dollars to get this commuter rail project moving.

Mr. Kerry has been one of the nation’s top rail advocates in recent years, so to see him pushing forward with the idea of using high-speed funds for what will be a relatively typical commuter rail system – running with big diesel locomotives at speeds of less than 100 mph – is myopic. What is the point

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