While every Democratic candidate for governor supports SouthCoast Rail, every Republican or independent candidate is dragging his heels or outright opposed, as Auditi Guha reports for the New Bedford Standard Times:
Opposed to the rail project in 2010, the campaign of Republican candidate Charlie Baker was vague about his position this time.
“Charlie is committed to taking the idea of a link between the South Coast and Boston from a theory to a reality. The South Coast Rail project is still several years and $2 billion away from providing commuter rail service to the South Coast. If there are ways to achieve the objectives of South Coast Rail sooner and more efficiently, he will aggressively pursue them,” said Jim Conroy, campaign manager in an email.
Charlie Baker is finally getting smart about his opposition to giving people in the economically-neglected Fall River and New Bedford areas another way to get to & from Boston besides traffic-choked Route 24 and I-93. You see, even when the governor is pulling hard for public transportation, projects are hard to get through highway-minded legislatures (just ask Gov. Patrick). If the governor’s indifferent, it’s done for.
Baker knows that as governor, he wouldn’t have to actively kill SouthCoast Rail – in fact, his opposition would only serve as rallying point for its supporters. It’s far easier for Baker to assure reporters he wants nothing but the best for SouthCoast, then should a large meteor strike a Democratic primary debate site and Baker be elected, he could simply study it to death.
The advocacy for South Coast Rail from leaders in Fall River & New Bedford doesn’t reflect that this project is very unpopular with a lot of South Shore residents, including less liberal suburbians whose votes Baker will need. From that perspective, his comment quoted above hits just the right tone: a desire to connect Boston and the South Shore, and an openness to doing that in alternative ways. Coming out in favor of South Coast Rail would hurt him considerably.
I guess that’s because those South Shore residents LIKE the daily three-hour parking lot called the “Southeast Expressway”.
…at least the way I think of them. I think of South Shore as swinging east and basically following Route 3 to the Cape. South Coast on the other hand conjures up images of following Route 24 to FR/NB. Not sure why one might object to increased rail service in their area.
Sorry if I confused you — I said South Shore cause I’ve always used “South Shore” and “North Shore” as shorthand for South of Boston and North of Boston. But Wikipedia seems to agree with your distinction! (South Coast and South Shore each have their own entries.)
Re: your last point, a lot of us aren’t convinced the benefits of South Coast Rail would outweigh the costs. Reasons include the enormous amount of $ that could be spent on other public services, environmental concerns, and the upheaval caused by installing such a project and running trains where there weren’t any in recent history. There are doubts about the ridership to begin with, and considering how the expensive train fares get even pricier further outbound, one wonders whether Fall R/New B folks will want to pay them. (Middleboro is closer than FR/NB, and a monthly pass from there is already $314.)
I think people further north also feel less of a need cause there’s already train service in Stoughton, Mansfield & Canton.
Many local politicians, some of them Democrats, are skeptical or oppose it. There was also fierce opposition from the Norton area (a town that was ultimately passed over).
The combined population of the towns you list is 70,000 people (Stoughton 27,000, Canton 21,000, Mansfield 22,000). New Bedford alone has 95,000 people. Fall River: 89,000. Taunton: 56,000. Dartmouth: 31,000. We shouldn’t block rail to where lots of people are because we already have rail to where some people live.
Those “environmental concerns” are trumped up by wealthy suburbanites who wouldn’t care if New Bedford fell into the ocean tomorrow.
First off, I’m skeptical it will cost just $2 billion. Need I remind everyone of the 15 miles of track the MBTA installed for the Greenbush Line, that little project came in over half-billion dollars. And, the GreenBush Line is grossly under-utilized and will lose money forever.
Secondly, is there a high demand of workers in Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford traveling to Boston each day? I doubt it very much.
Dattco runs 12 round-trips a day from New Bedford-Taunton-Boston route, including 5 NB-Boston runs before 7am that are always full. Peter Pan runs 7 round-trips a day from Fall River-Boston. Keep in mind these are cramped buses that get stuck in traffic charging fares that turn a profit – imagine how many people would ride spacious, affordable trains that run on a reliable schedule.
But Dan doubts it, so it all must be a liberal hoax!