The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to study and identify current and future commuter rail needs and improvements as part of the MBTA's Commuter Rail Vision.
“Commuter rail is going to play a more important role than ever before in the years ahead as people seek to reduce their carbon footprint, look for more efficient travel options and strive for more life-work balance by putting the time spent commuting to good use in either relaxing or finishing up with office responsibilities,” said Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and MBTA management team hope to look at housing, real estate, and other factors that will have an impact on the demand for commuter rail.”
MBTA says that its current commuter rail service limits the potential to grow ridership during off-peak times with the overwhelming majority of trips made during peak commuting hours and in peak directions. Current service also limits the potential to encourage reverse commuting and to provide frequent connections between gateway cities and Boston.
The scope of the study will include a review of previous studies and data collection, analysis of the future market, peer market comparisons within North America and Europe, objectives for a 2040 Commuter Rail Vision, identifying potential service alternatives, analysis of operations and the development of a systems simulation model, ridership projections and the operating costs of service alternatives, the capital investments needed to support these alternatives, stakeholder engagement plans, final recommendations and an implementation plan.
This study, led by the Office of Transportation Planning and supported by MBTA Railroad Operations, is proposed to take place over 2-2.5 years with project funding of $3 million from the MBTA Capital Budget. This schedule positions the MBTA to have identified a service model that can inform and be incorporated into a new operating contract.
The MBTA expects to award a contract to the winning bidder of the RFP in September 2017 with the study anticipated to begin several weeks later.