Donate Today!



Progressive Community

The press releases posted here have been submitted by

America's Progressive Community

For further information or to comment on this press release, please contact the organization directly.

February 19, 2009
12:58 PM

CONTACT: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933; Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337

Ridership for Stoughton Line Falls as Costs Rise

Worst Eco-Alternative Rail Line Will Cost Massachusetts $800,000 per Commuter

BOSTON - February 19 - The state's official estimates of ridership for the controversial Fall River/New Bedford rail line to Boston have fallen by nearly a fifth since 2002 while costs continue to swell, according to figures released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, construction costs for the state's preferred alternative transit plan, which would plow through Massachusetts' largest freshwater wetland, the Hockomock Swamp, will be approximately $800,000 per commuter

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), a state agency, is pushing a plan to bisect the Hockomock with a commuter rail line to bring people from New Bedford and Fall River to Boston. MBTA contends that this route is superior to alternatives, yet -

  • Ridership figures presented for the first time last week to the Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force indicate that MBTA projects only 2,500 new round trip riders for the New Bedford line. This estimate is a significant dip from the estimated 2,953 new riders MBTA projected back in 2002;
  • Ridership estimates for the Middleboro Alternative do not take into account the proposed Middleboro casino, which potentially involves thousands workers and tens of thousands of visitors per day. By contrast, rapid bus (dedicated lane, flexible fuel) has an estimated ridership of 1,750 new riders, but it is much less damaging, a fraction of the cost and much faster than rail; and
  • The estimated cost for the New Bedford project is $1.4 billion without mitigation. Adding required environmental mitigation will push the final cost over $2 billion. This would mean that the project will spend approximately $800,000 for each new commuter.

"For $800,000 we could fly each commuter to New Bedford every day in a helicopter," stated New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, who noted that the job creation rationale for the project also makes little sense. "Massachusetts has no shortage of projects that will put people to work and make economic sense. Why push this boondoggle to the head of the line?"

Ironically, MBTA submitted its Environmental Notification Form without the ridership figures and then requested an extension citing the lack of ridership figures. Now that the paltry ridership numbers are in, the state will have a hard time justifying the destruction of one of the most ecologically important wetlands in the northeast.

"MBTA is already facing a projected $142 million deficit for the coming year," Bennett added. "Using federal stimulus money on this project will stimulate us all to the poorhouse."


Look at declining ridership estimates

See the overdue state ridership report


Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.


Note: Disqus 2012 is best viewed on an up to date browser. Click here for information. Instructions for how to sign up to comment can be viewed here. Our Comment Policy can be viewed here. Please follow the guidelines. Note to Readers: Spam Filter May Capture Legitimate Comments...