MBTA Old Colony Commuter Rail Service Restoration Transportation Impact Study

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Posted January 2001

In September 1997 the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) reinstituted passenger service on two routes of the former Old Colony Railroad system. Previous passenger service on these lines had ended in 1959. This report presents the final results of a study conducted for the MBTA by the Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) of the impacts that restoration of Old Colony passenger service has had on other transportation facilities. The results of a survey of Old Colony riders conducted by CTPS in September 1998 are presented in a separate report.

Because the Old Colony lines began operating during a time of rising demand for transportation to Boston from the area they now serve, most of the riders who switched to Old Colony trains from older transportation facilities have been replaced by new users of those facilities. Therefore, it can be concluded that Old Colony trains have helped to reduce the amount of congestion that would otherwise have occurred on the other alternatives.

The most notable exception to the general trends has been on private carrier bus routes to Boston from the Old Colony service area. As a group, these bus lines lost nearly 40% of their riders in the first year of Old Colony operations. With a few exceptions, they have continued losing riders since then, and have reduced capacity accordingly. Among former bus users, as among Old Colony riders in general, nearly 70% cited convenience as a reason for using Old Colony service. Thus, although many Old Colony riders are not new transit users, they are being provided with a more convenient travel alternative than was formerly available to them.

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