Sunday, May 1, 2022

CommonWealth Magazine: "Calculating the right price for commuter rail"

"RIDERS ON THE MBTA commuter rail know that the network is significantly more expensive than the T’s local bus and subway service. It’s due for a change now.

For any trip on the Commuter Rail within I-95, local bus and subway service is often cheaper. It costs $7 to travel from Needham Heights to South Station and from Waltham to North Station. Route 59 to the Green Line in Newton? $2.40. Route 70 to the Red Line in Cambridge? $2.40.

These examples are not just anomalies within the system. The commuter rail gets proportionally more expensive closer to the Boston terminals. With the significant difference in cost, it’s clear why the commuter rail is not a popular option for many in the Greater Boston area, especially in communities closer to downtown. In 2018, Waltham saw about 500 passengers board the Fitchburg Line each day. At the Riverside Green Line station in Newton, over 1,800 passengers boarded the Green Line that same day."

Continue reading the article online

Note: for my 2 cents, pricing for commuter rail is not the only factor. Consider the cost for parking at the station, a better schedule, and reliability of on-time service as the key factors to increase ridership along with the commuter rail fare.

CommonWealth Magazine: "Calculating the right price for commuter rail"
CommonWealth Magazine: "Calculating the right price for commuter rail"

1 comment:

  1. This is not a discussion of cost it is a discussion of price. The prices of commuter rail fares generally do not reflect the actual cost of the service, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers and by other fare payers and has been for generations. In general, the only portion of the MBTA system in which the fare prices approximately match the cost of delivering the service has been diesel buses. All other parts of the system are subsidized. This is in part due to a failure to engineer a complete system. Probably no public transit system in a similar sized metropolitan area has so many different and incompatible subsystems (trolleys, 3 kinds of rapid transit rail, two distinct and disconnected commuter rail systems, electric "trolley buses", boats, etc.). Similarly, fixed routes have with few exceptions been "inherited" from 19th century transit corridors that do not necessarily match present-day needs. Until planners address these issues the MBTA will always be a bottomless financial pit.