Thursday, November 20, 2008

Salem’s Transportation Needs

MBTA Buses  2008-11-01 009

The Salem News had an editorial on North Shore transit, long overdue:

Patrick's got a long list of important roads and bridges that need fixing, as well as an ambitious plan to extend commuter rail to the South Coast area. But the North Shore has some very immediate and legitimate needs of its own, and it will be up to Congressman Tierney, along with the region's municipal officials and legislative delegation, to press the case for these.

Here's a few we can think of right off the bat:

Public transportation: The region enjoys good commuter rail service with the lines running up to Rockport and Newburyport.

Tierney has long been a supporter of the extension of the MBTA's Blue Line from Wonderland in Revere to Central Square in Lynn. But it's time to finally decide whether that's a viable project or simply a pipe dream, given the property takings that would be required and the opposition of officials in Revere.


That would be a bitter blow for Lynn, and for Salem, if that dream was abandoned.  It’s well known, for example, that the Salem-Beverly bridge replacement had been wanted for fifty years before it actually happened in the late ‘90’s.

Lynn politicians have pointed out that the Blue Line to Lynn has been a dream for just as long, predating the MBTA itself.

I don’t expect the Blue Line to ever come to Salem, as many have dreamed about, but even if it came to Lynn, it would be a ripple effect that would benefit Salem.  It might, for one, improve headways on the very very busy route 455 bus, which is jam-packed for much of its service day with travel to and between downtown Salem, Central Square and the various campuses of Salem State.

Continuing from the News:

For there are alternatives if it's determined an extension of the Blue Line is simply not a realistic goal. These include the purchase of additional trains to provide more frequent service on the commuter rail lines and construction of a surface Silver Line connection to bring commuters from the Chelsea train stop over to the airline terminals and Blue Line stop at Logan Airport.

The Chelsea idea doesn’t appear much more realistic, with Silver Line buses stuck in that warren of roads between Chelsea and 1A, but the idea of extra commuter rail service has a better chance.  We lost something when the old B&M went out of business with their Budd cars, self-contained passenger railcars that were much more flexible to operate than the trainsets the MBTA is using now.

It would be great to see new RDC cars such as you find on other rail lines like Metro-North, and make the Eastern Branch more like rapid transit.  But unsurprisingly, there’s no money for that either.  Salem needs more than just a few extra trains here and there.

We need a lot more.  Including the garage.

Our view Region has major transportation needs of its own -, Salem, MA

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