Media Statement - Regional Rail Report

Today, transit advocacy group TransitMatters released its report calling for modernization of the MBTA Commuter Rail network and an updated business model as part of a larger reimagining of the service. ‘Massachusetts should commit to transitioning from its current Commuter Rail system to a Regional Rail system that offers frequent all day intercity rail service provided by clean electric-powered locomotives’, according to the report.

At a Beacon Hill press conference, TransitMatters President and co-founder Marc Ebuña said, “Our current Commuter Rail system is a vestige of mid-20th Century thinking, based on an antiquated assumption about the kind of mobility choices people expect to have. Many people today do not have 9 to 5 jobs; they require more flexibility from their transit system. Regional Rail offers that flexibility.”

The Regional Rail system recommended by TransitMatters is described in the report as “a reliable and more cost-effective intercity rail system based on a 21st century business model...operating more like a subway service with level platforms and frequent service all day.”  TransitMatters identified five critical components to the Regional Rail business plan: (1) systemwide electrification, (2) high platforms allowing faster and accessible boarding, (3) strategic infrastructure investments to maximize speed and reliability, (4) frequent all-day service – every half hour in the suburbs, every fifteen minutes in denser urban neighborhoods, and (5) fare rationalization, including free transfers between regional trains, subways and buses.

Board member Jarred Johnson explained that the recommendations for a new approach to providing intercity rail service “responds to the way people live today. We are doing our economy and our residents a disservice by continuing to operate and plan for an outdated Commuter Rail system. Our Regional Rail plan takes lessons learned from proven best practices across the US and globally, and offers a highly cost-effective approach to transitioning to a new system.”

According to the group, Regional Rail can begin with affordable pilots projects on the Providence Line — the Commuter Rail’s only electrified line — and the Fairmount Line. The group’s plan proposes cost-effective pilots for these lines as a way to prove the efficacy of the approach and to provide better service and social and environmental justice to Fairmount Line riders and corridor residents.

TransitMatters Board member Tim Lawrence observed that the report responds to the legitimate concern of the MBTA’s FMCB, that the current Commuter Rail system, carries too few riders at too high a cost. “We agree with that assessment,” said Lawrence. “Our plan for Regional Rail addresses this head on — by offering not just a vision, but a new business model. It’s that business model that will be a game changer, moving us away from the unacceptable status quo, and making our intercity rail system operate in a cost-effective, rider-responsive manner.”

The Regional Rail report can be downloaded from regionalrail.net.

Podcast Episode 31 - Ride Sharing, Taxis, and Transit

The TransitMatters Podcast returns from break with a discussion on Lyft and ride sharing services with special guest Tyler George, General Manager of Lyft Boston. Tyler has a spirited discussion with hosts Josh Fairchild, Jeremy Mendelson and recurring panelist, sound engineer (and former General Manager for both Zipcar's Chicago operation and for Hubway bike share here in Boston) Scott Mullen. Our discussion focused on ride sharing services and its effect on the Taxi industry and Transit. This episode was recorded in the studios of WMBR 88.1fm Cambridge, engineered by Scott Mullen, and edited by Charleston Sarjeant.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast — through iTunes or Google Play. Support our work by becoming a member, donating, or volunteering.

Find out more about Josh, Jeremy, and other board members.

Send us your feedback by connecting with us on our various social media channels or contact us here.

Podcast Episode 30.5 - Ride-Along with Jim Aloisi to WGBH's The Scrum

Buses berth at Sullivan Square in Somerville, MA  [Photo via Flickr]

For this mini-episode of the podcast, we were joined by former Massachusetts Transport Secretary and TransitMatters Board Member Jim Aloisi. We both took a trip on transit from Haymarket Station to Brass Union in Somerville's Union Square.

This episode was recorded on 12 July in the lively environs of an Orange Line train, a CT2 bus, and under the I-93 overpass at Sullivan Square.

During the episode we talked about:

And finally WGBH's The Scrum episode we spent 40 minutes trekking to! You can watch our live recording of The Scrum on Periscope.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast - through iTunes or Google Play. Support our work by becoming a member, donating, or volunteering.

Find out more about Jim Aloisi, me, and our other board members.

Send us your feedback by connecting with us on our various social media channels or contact us here.

Podcast 30 - Kids on Transit with Lee Biernbaum

[Lede Photo: Kids on transit is a tale as old as...transit — Shirley Temple Rides the 'L' via Flickr]

We're joined in studio by Lee Biernbaum, an economist for the U.S. Department of Transportation and author of the Kids In The Stairwell blog.   We cover issues with kids on transit including strollers on buses and trains, having a car-free family and children using transit. 

This episode was recorded on June 19th in the studios of WMBR 88.1 FM in Cambridge, engineered by Scott Mullen and edited by Charleston Sarjeant.

TransitMatters advocates for fast, frequent, reliable and effective public transportation in and around Boston. As part of our vision to repair, upgrade and expand the MBTA transit network, we aim to elevate the conversation around transit issues by offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think: connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña @DigitalSciGuy, Scott Mullen @mixmastermully or email us here.

Podcast 29 - Transit Advocacy with Rafael Mares from the Conservation Law Foundation

We're joined in studio by prominent Boston transit advocate Rafael Mares, Vice President and Director of Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice for the Conservation Law Foundation. CLF has been instrumental in improving access and mobility for MBTA users, including holding the state to transit project commitments they've tried to wiggle out of.

We discuss the current state of transit operations and investment, the Control Board and politics, the fate of long-awaited projects such the Green Line Extension, the Big Dig legacy, and much more. This episode was recorded on May 16 in the studios of WMBR 88.1 FM in Cambridge, engineered by Scott Mullen.  Find Rafael Mares online at @RafaelMares2 or CLF.

TransitMatters advocates for fast, frequent, reliable and effective public transportation in and around Boston. As part of our vision to repair, upgrade and expand the MBTA transit network, we aim to elevate the conversation around transit issues by offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think: connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña @DigitalSciGuy, Scott Mullen @mixmastermully or email us here.

Podcast 28 - Commuter Rail Modernization & why the North South Rail Link matters

We're joined in studio by Brad Bellows in this conversation to talk about the state of Commuter Rail and what the North South Rail Link can do for our region. Brad is an architect, board member of the Association for Public Transportation, and a member of the North South Rail Link Working Group which is leading a renewed push to see the connector finally built. 

This episode was recorded on April 19. [Our apologies for the long break, we've been busy advocating for better transit. More shows are in the pipeline. If you're interested in helping with podcast editing and blog posting, please email feedback@transitmatters.info.]

TransitMatters advocates for fast, frequent, reliable and effective public transportation in and around Boston. As part of our vision to repair, upgrade and expand the MBTA transit network, we aim to elevate the conversation around transit issues by offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think: connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña @DigitalSciGuy, or email us here.

Podcast 27 - Transportation For Massachusetts (T4MA)

We're joined in the studio by Transportation For Massachusetts (T4MA) staff -- Josh Ostroff, Partnerships Director & Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director -- to let us know what they do and share recent news on their efforts to secure more funding for transit. Visit t4ma.org or follow them on Twitter @T4MASS. Read about MassDOT's improved but still inadequate Capital Improvement Plan on the T4MA blog.

This episode was recorded on April 5. [Our apologies for the long break, we've been busy advocating for better transit. More shows are in the pipeline. If you're interested in helping with podcast editing and blog posting, please email feedback@transitmatters.info.]

TransitMatters advocates for fast, frequent, reliable and effective public transportation in and around Boston. As part of our vision to repair, upgrade and expand the MBTA transit network, we aim to elevate the conversation around transit issues by offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think: connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña @DigitalSciGuy, or email us here.