Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Windham County Economic Development--A Perspective

Windham County Economic Development--A Perspective

VT Digger today reported the Windham County Economic Development Program is up and running with funds available through a competitive application process.  The program is part of the efforts at adjusting from the severe economic loss due to the closing of Vermont Yankee.

Windham County deserves an across the board economic development investments and initiatives--infrastructure, social services, education and training, urban development, etc.   There are transportation investments which would make significant contributions.  Perhaps first on the list is the reconstruction of Putney Road's commercial section on the drawing boards now for about a decade--replacing signals with roundabouts and providing separate walk and bike mode protected bike lanes/walkways throughout.  This project, part of the Agency of Transportation supported potential projects, arose from a home grown process led by business interests in turn adopted by the Town as their own approach to strengthening retail competitiveness the nearest urban center, Keene, NH.  Add the entire downtown circulation from the State's new "malfunction junction" at the base of Main Street as well as other key intersections which can be converted to mini- and regular roundabouts (Main Street's "malfunction junction" already was determined feasible and went away because of mostly political issues).  Bellows Falls also deserves a serious look for renewal of its traffic circulation for upgrades.  One only has to look thirty miles away in Manchester Center to see how half the 1995 plan for pedestrian circulation--in this case all of Main Street's commercial section--now is totally walkable with the State's first roundabout corridor including one which once was "malfunction junction" now proudly praised as "function junction."  Yes, how one designs and improves existing commercial and retail streets can lead to an improved economy and vast improvement in the mobility of all modes!   Perhaps Brattleboro and Bellows Falls could be the focus of initiating inter-city rail service extending from those two communities to Windsor/White River Jct. to the north and Ludlow/Rutland to the west utilizing self-propelled rail diesel equipment--and update the old RDC sitting in the Bellows Falls rail yard.

This is the kind of creative--not out of the box thinking--to take advantage of changing times and placing Windham County at the forefront of the new era of a sustainable and non-car-centric communities quickly emerging as the car age begins to fade from view.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Burikngton VT "going for the gold corridor"


When the question of funding for Burlington’s (VT) North Avenue came up last year during the early months of the study of the four-mile corridor, local and regional planners sort of rolled their eyes and expressed with knowing glances the dearth of federal funding.  The Advisory Committee pursued a quality approach focusing on a world class, livable street featuring cycle track (protected bike lanes) and the superior all-modes single-lane roundabout at key intersections.  Community participants insisted on a “going for the gold corridor.”

North Avenue now nears the goal line as the first Chittenden County urban corridor to get in line for livable street funding behind Brattleboro and Manchester Center.  Putney Road in Brattleboro, the Town’s busiest commercial corridor, thanks to business leadership first received town and then Vermont Agency of Transportation support for a full corridor with walk and bike mode facilities and all-roundabouts (four, including the first built in 1999, Keene Turn).

In 2012 Manchester Center completed half its long time plan with the State’s first “roundabout corridor,” three roundabouts along its commercial stretch along Main Street—the first walkable State’s first truly walkable all-mode street.  The second half of the Manchester Center plan, converting its only remaining signals to roundabouts along Depot Street with a likely plan revision to include cycle track.  Manchester Center and Brattleboro now compete to see who gets to the finish line with the State’s first both walkable and bikable urban street.  

Meanwhile in Burlington retains a bright possibility of its own for North Avenue as it is the only urban street in Chittenden County with a neighborhood driven draft plan—soon to be accepted by the City Council—containing walkable and bikable infrastructure.  

The opportunity for Burlington lies in the fact that the Chittenden County as a metropolitan area receives a separate stream of federal funding and does not compete directly against Brattleboro and Manchester.  Having the first walkable/bikable street plan in the County puts the City in the driver seat for funding.  Being the first in the State for a walkable/bikable corridor still remains in the cards a real possibility.

Burlington long led the region and the State with its unique contribution to transportation and recreation path development—the Marketplace car free four block plaza completed in 1981 and five years later in 1986 the completing of the amazing shoreline 7.5 mile Burlington Bikepath. 

Stay tuned as it may well be Burlington and its North Avenue “going for the gold corridor” on the quest for completing a State leading trifecta for transportation and recreation innovation.


Monday, July 14, 2014


This paper presentation at the Canadian Transportation Research Forum Annual Conference in Windsor, ON June 1-4, 2014 reproduced below includes the following revisions from the “as published” document: (1) page size, font and related formats for ease of reading; (2) addition of English units of measure (gallons, miles, etc.) in addition to the original metric measures; and (3) if present, any photo material except Map 1.

                                                            CASE STUDY

        Tony Redington

Introduction This Burlington-Montpelier-Charlotte Commuter Rail Passenger Service (BMC Commuter Rail Service) study examines a small metro commuter rail service feasibility for Vermont.  The concept dates from a 1989 report followed by a number of further analyses and actual service 2000-2003 on a portion of the route.  Market potential for commuter rail becomes measurable with more confidence after a decade of commuter bus data and successful demand management experience.

The “Link” commuter buses started 2003 and in 2014 total 60 each workday to and from Burlington along four corridors. The rail route analyzed here includes the 68 km (42 mi.) east-west segment between Burlington and the Vermont State House in downtown Montpelier and the 19 km (12 mi.) segment south from Burlington to Charlotte, the 2000-2003 Champlain Flyer commuter route. The overall 87 km (54 mi.) route evaluated, Map 1, extends from Charlotte via Burlington to State House with 12 stations, eight in town and city centers.

U.S. and Canada Commuter Rail The twenty-five United States and three Canadian commuter rail passenger systems reveal an underdeveloped facet of North American surface transportation. A historic transportation travel change away from the auto in the U.S. includes: (1) the current seven year downturn of vehicle miles of travel (FHWA 2013); time in car travel dropping among all population groups (FHWA 2011, Figure 5), and perhaps most significant, the proportion of under-age-30 eligible with driver licenses dropped about 10% since 1995 (Sivak and Schoettle 2011). These factors call for reexamining commuter rail feasibility even in small metropolitan areas. Commuter rail constitutes an important part of overall public transportation. The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) reports yearly data on 15 public transportation types with commuter rail accounting for 17.4 billion passenger kilometers (19.0 billion passenger miles) or 21% of all kilometers (FTA 2011). Three of fifteen service types account for 91% of public transportation passenger kilometers totaling 84.7 billion (52.6 billion passenger miles) in 2010: (1) bus 33.2 billion (22.6 billion passenger miles), 39%; (2) heavy rail (subways, etc.) 26.4 billion (16.4 billion passenger miles), 31%; and (3) commuter rail 17.4 billion (10.8 billion passenger miles), 21%.  Other service types include cable car, demand services, and monorail.

U.S. public transportation 2013 ridership marked a 50-year high (APTA p 11). U.S. public transportation passenger kilometers 2007-2013 grew 5.1% while motor vehicle travel kilometers dropped 1.9% 2007-2013, remaining below the 2007 record (FHWA 2014). The
2013 84.7 billion public transport kilometers (52.6 billion transport miles) of travel compares to the 2007 record 4.88 trillion vehicle kilometers (3.03 trillion vehicle miles) of travel (FHWA

Table 1: United States Commuter Rail Systems Data

                                                All 25 Systems                               10 Lowest Ridership

                                                Range               Median                   Range               Median

Weekday riders                    1,000-334,100  12,200                   1,000-5,400     2,700

Ridership/km (/mi.)                  31.3-477.3        139.9                      31.3-129.3       54.4
Lines                                            1-13                    1                            1-1                  1

Stations                                       5-240                 17                            5-15                7

Route km                                  24-1530             143                          24-270               65.2

Route miles                              15-951                   89                        15-168              40.5       

Sources: FTA (2006) p 2; APTA (2013, Table 36, p 40); and Wikipedia (2014).

2014).  The characteristics of U.S. and Canadian commuter rail services in Tables 1 and 2 show a wide range of ridership, stations, and route kilometers. The majority of systems
starts—15 of 25 in the U.S. and one of three in Canada—date from 1990 forward. For U.S. systems (Chicago and the Long Island Railroad services date from about 1900) ten began before 1990, seven 1990-1999, five 2000-2009, and three 2010-2013. All ten lowest ridership systems date from 1990.  Ten U.S. systems have more than one line, and nine of those also rank in the top ten in ridership.  For the lowest ten ridership systems: (1) all operate a single route; (2) serve 5 to 15 stations; and (3) operate route lengths 24 to 278 kilometers (15-168 miles). These ten lowest ridership systems set a yardstick in assessing feasibility new commuter rail services like this case.

Vermont Rail Involvement Vermont’s direct rail investment began in 1961 following the Rutland Railroad bankruptcy when the State bought the bulk of the rail properties then leased them to private operators.  Vermont, second smallest U.S. in population, continues a six-decade commitment to maintain and invest in the rail mode. Vermont passenger rail service ended in the mid-1950s except the international Montreal-Washington service, itself undergoing a hiatus from 1966 until restored by Amtrak in 1972. That service continues in a truncated form, now a State supported “Vermonter” Amtrak train St. Albans, VT-Washington. The State supports a second Amtrak service, the Ethan Allen, Rutland, VT -New York City begun in 1997.

In this historic context an unsolicited 1989 report, “VermonTrain,” by former rail passenger administrator and advocate Eugene Skoropowski (Skoropowski 1989) outlined a commuter service along three corridors out of Burlington employing self-propelled rail diesel cars

Table 2: Canada Commuter Rail Systems

Toronto          Montreal        Vancouver

Daily Ridership (2013)       185,000         73,900           11,000

Route kilometers                        390              214                 69

Route miles                                 242               133                43                                               

Note: Ontario Province started Toronto 1965; Société de transport de la communauté urbaine de Montréal first public Montreal operator 1982; and Vancouver’s West Coast Express began in 1995.

operable in two-or-more units (diesel multiple-unit or DMUs) configuration. That report along with two other major studies preceded service, the Champlain Flyer, undertaken through the leadership of Governor Howard Dean along a 19 km (12 mi.) corridor between Burlington and Charlotte 2000-2002.  Auto Decline and Public Transport Growth Skoropowski’s study arrived at the end of Vermont’s last burst of vehicle kilometers of travel growth—57% 1980-1990. Growth collapsed to 16% 19902000 in the six New England States (FHWA Series). Total New England kilometers vehicle travel then slid to a 3% increase 2000-2010, and a decline is possible this decade.

Vermont car commuters—solo and car-share--dropped 2.5% from 87.1% to 84.6 2000-2010 (U.S Census). Public transit commuting increased 72% and bicycle 107%. As documented elsewhere, median wages and household income in the U.S. remain only slightly higher
than 1980.  Households view housing and transportation, upwards of half the typical household expenditure, as a single expenditure and work to minimize the combined impact of these two budgetary items (Redington 1999).

BMC Commuter Rail Service builds on the estimated 240 commuters being served by the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) Montpelier Link on 18 bus runs each workday (CCTA 2013). The 240 commuters served on the Link Burlington-Montpelier corridor account for the majority of commuters on four corridors followed by St. Albans corridor second, 80, Middlebury third, 70, and the new Jeffersonville service.

BMC Rail Service parameters The following outlines parameters employed for estimating BMC Commuter Rail Services passengers:
1. Estimated workdays each year: 250
2. Estimated “commuters” and “commuters served”: Divide passenger trips per workday day by two to obtain “commuters.”  Multiply “commuters” by 1.1 to obtain “commuters served”—a commuter during a 250 workdays year takes about 25 days without using commuter rail or about 10% of all workdays in leave (vacation, sick, family, etc.), work at another site, travel, etc.
3. Journey-to-work Each U.S. Census reports sample journey-to-work data by (1) destination of a jurisdiction residents to other jurisdictions worksites by jurisdiction and (2) origin for a jurisdiction’s worksites by originating jurisdiction.

4. Non-commuter passenger trips: Except for a study of extending the Champlain Flyer service from Burlington to Essex Jct., non-commuter trips are not included (RL Banks 1999, Table 7). The commuter and non-commuter 742 daily boardings from this study (371 individual passenger roundtrips) are allocated as presented along stations from Charlotte to Essex Junction with one minor change.

Base Commuters Estimate Methodology In reaching total workday commuters, 1,110, Table 3, three data and performance sources were utilized: (1) 2010 U.S. Census journey-to-work data; (2) actual commuter trip data for travel from Montpelier to Burlington from
CCTA records; and (3) the RL Banks 1999 study of passenger trips estimated from an extended Champlain Flyer service to Essex Jct.  The total estimate of 1,110 base numbers of “commuters” each workday means about 1,200 individual “commuters served.”

The actual Montpelier to Burlington Link data in combination with journey-to-work numbers establishes an empirical base to calibrate the commuter rail market potential as all boarding Link buses from Montpelier commute to a Burlington worksite. And journey-to-work
Census data on total Montpelier workers commuting to Burlington are combined with three adjacent towns commuter numbers to Burlington to define the “Montpelier market.” The Link daily commuters from the “Montpelier market” to Burlington then results in a 23% “market share” for 2012-2013 for the Link. For purposes of analysis here 25% of commuters in a given station town paired with another station town comprises the core of the passenger estimates.

Exceptions are: (1) excluding any Colchester data because the station location far from most of the Town population; (2) using a 20% factor for South Burlington pairs, again because of the station at the City’s edge; (3) pairing all towns west of Waterbury to all four of the “Montpelier market” towns; and (4) in the case of “Montpelier market”-Waterbury considering only Montpelier to Waterbury commuters. Also for the 59 Bolton outbound commuters a 30% share factor used reflects the Town lacking ready interstate access and therefore a likely higher rail commuter share. Again, for all inter-station trips between Charlotte and Essex Jct. the RL Banks study 371 roundtrips a day was utilized (RL Banks 1999, Table 7; Redington 2013 pp 19-24).

The Champlain Flyer service with a $1 one-way fare averaged 42 commuter roundtrips daily (all dollars in this report are US). Onboard passenger counts totaled 62 roundtrips daily (Vermont Joint Fiscal Office 2003). Note the 1999 RL Banks report estimated Montpelier commuters boarding to Burlington on an extended Champlain Flyer service to Montpelier of four versus the first full week numbers 2014 of 100 daily Link boardings (CCTA 2014).

Translating passenger trips to passenger kilometers/miles, trips are divided into two categories--“long trips” and “short trips”--“long” trip 64 km (40 mi.) and a “short” trip 29 km (18 mi.). These estimates take into consideration the destination of the two highest station boardings, Burlington and Montpelier, and examining shorter distance commutes, particularly
Bolton located about mid-route. Bolton trips in any direction, trips between Charlotte and Richmond in the west, and Waterbury-Montpelier trips–all receive “short” designation.

Table 3: Estimated commuters, Passenger Trips, Passenger Kilometers (Miles)

Annual Passenger Trips Subgroup of Commuters

Short Trips—29 km (18 mi.) Average

185,500         Charlotte-Burlington-Essex Jct. Estimate of 742 boardings, 371 roundtrips each workday (RL Banks 1999, Table 7)

18,000           Montpelier to Waterbury U.S. Census 25% journey-to-work Montpelier to Waterbury only, 36 roundtrips

29,500           Commuting from Bolton to Burlington/Essex/ Winooski/Shelburne/Charlotte and Waterbury/ Montpelier 30% of journey-to-work commuter town pairs, roundtrips 59

Sub-total Short Trips: 466 Commuters 233,000 Annual Trips
6.750 Million Passenger Kilometers (4.194 Million Passenger Miles)

Long Trips-64 kilometers  (40 miles) average

267,500         Commuting between Burlington/Winooski/Essex Junction/IBM Technology Park/Richmond and Waterbury/Montpelier 25% journey-to-work town pairs (for example, “Montpelier market”-Burlington “Montpelier market”-Winooski, etc., roundtrips 535 (“Montpelier market” composed of Montpelier, Barre, Berlin, and Barre Town)

54,500           Charlotte/Shelburne and Waterbury/Montpelier 25% journey-to-work commuter town pairs, 25 roundtrips; 20% between South Burlington and Montpelier/Waterbury, 84 roundtrips

Sub-total Long Trips: 644 commuters, 322,000 Annual Trips
20.728 million passenger kilometers (12.88 million passenger miles)

Total passenger trips annually: 550,000
Total individual roundtrips daily: 1,110
Total annual million passenger kilometers: 27.48 (17.08 million passenger miles)

Translating passenger trips to passenger kilometers/miles, trips are divided into two categories--“long trips” and “short trips”--“long” trip 64 km (40 mi.) and a “short” trip 29 km (18 mi.). These estimates take into consideration the destination of the two highest station boardings, Burlington and Montpelier, and examining shorter distance commutes, particularly
Bolton located about mid-route. Bolton trips in any direction, trips between Charlotte and Richmond in the west, and Waterbury-Montpelier trips–all receive “short” designation.

The 1,110 base daily commuter roundtrips translate to 555,000 individual passenger trips annually. As of mid-year of 2013-2014 Montpelier-Burlington Link service (January 2014) numbers grew 20%. If this trend continues through June 2014, the rate of about 540 daily trips serving almost 300 commuters reaches a level equal to a quarter of the 1,100 base daily commuters.

Role of demand management Since 2000 Burlington’s Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) demand management programming reduced workers solo journey-to-work trips by about 14 percent, about 1,000 of the sponsoring three institutions’ workers (CATMA 2013). CATMA and demand management programming constitute a major element in the success of commuter rail reaching the estimates outlined here. Formed by the
University of Vermont, Champlain College and Fletcher Allen Health Care—CATMA serves their 10,000 employees in Burlington (32% of the City’s employment) and 16,000 full-time students. The yearly benefit to the commuter switching from solo driving to Link service can exceed $8,000. For example, comparing the U.S. federal personal car use reimbursement rate per kilometer of $0.35 ($0.655 per mile) (January 2014) versus the $0.062/km ($0.10/mi.) transit fare ($4.00 one way) for the 64 km (40 mi.) one-way commute between Montpelier and Burlington over 225 workdays—the total yearly commuting cost differential is over $8,000 yearly. Considering the median income household in Vermont of $51,300 in 2013 (U.S. Census), $8,000 represents a 16% increase in income for the commuter. The BMC Commuter Rail Service projects slightly higher fares than Link, $0.078/km ($0.125/mi.) or $5.00 for the 64 km (40 mi.) Montpelier-Burlington commute one-way.

Table 4: BMC Commuter Rail Service: Trains, Annual Train Kilometers (Miles), Passenger Kilometers (Miles), and Passengers Per Train Kilometer (Mile)

Service Level: 14 trains a day composed of three peak roundtrips a.m., three peak roundtrips p.m., and one roundtrip mid-day. Total one-way Charlotte-Burlington-Montpelier Kilometers: 87 (54 mi.)
Operating Workdays Yearly: 250
Trains per year: 3,500 Trains per year less mid-day runs: 3,000. Current Link buses per year (three corridors, 2013): 12,500
Train hours of operation per year: 5,250 (based on 1.5 hour per run between Charlotte and Montpelier)
Daily (Revenue) Train Kilometers (Miles): 1,217 (756)
Annual Train Kilometers (Miles): 304,200  (189,000)
Annual Train Kilometers (Miles) Less Mid-day Run: 260,700 (162,000)
Passenger kilometers (miles): 233,000 “short” passenger trips yearly at 29 Kilometers (18 miles) and 322,000 “long trips” yearly at 64 kilometers (40 miles)--total passenger kilometers (miles): 27.5 million annual passenger kilometers (17.1 million miles)
Passengers per train kilometer (mile): 90 passengers per train kilometer (mile) or about 23.8 passenger kilometers per liter of diesel fuel (DMU assumed to attain 0.26 kilometers per liter)—90 passengers per train mile or about 90 passenger miles per gallon of diesel fuel (DMU assumed to attain one mile per gallon)
Passengers per train: 159 passengers per train (mix of “short” and “long” passenger trips) (current average passengers per Link bus trip Montpelier-Burlington corridor: about 22 on the 18 buses operated each workday (2013)

Schedule and travel times The workday schedule both directions includes three a.m. and p.m. peak trains and one mid-day, 14 trains total. Travel time for Burlington Union Station to State House ranges 60-70 minutes, and Charlotte to Burlington 20 minutes. Figure 1 contains six trains a.m. peak schedule and two mid-day runs. Even though commuter rail makes seven

Map 1 Map of Rail Corridors into Burlington

Table 5: BMC Commuter Rail Service Base Year Roundtrip Boarding Passengers Estimate by Town and Station

Town/Station                                    Estimated Workday Boardings

Charlotte                                                       38
Shelburne                                                     50
South Burlington                                          96

Burlington Union Station                        268
Winooski                                                      76
St. Michael's/Fanny Allen                             7

Essex Junction/Technology
 Park Stations                                           120
Richmond                                                   22
Bolton                                                         59

Waterbury                                                  106
Montpelier                                                268

Total Individual Roundtrip Boardings Daily: 1,110

Note: Actual station boardings certainly to vary significantly because
of use of a mix of estimate methods.

intermediate stops versus two by the Link between Burlington and Montpelier—and five town centers to none for Link--overall time travel times remain about equal between the two anchor cities. Commuter rail furthers the State premier planning goal “to plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement patterns of compact village and urban centers surrounded by rural countryside…” (Vermont Statutes Annotated).

DMUs—speeds, capacity, fuel efficiency The typical DMU—a power car and passenger car—fits Vermont passenger levels well and obtains high fuel efficiency. DMU maximum operating speeds range about 120 to 135 km/h (75 to 85 mph).  Capacity varies considerably depending on seating configuration and space reserved for bicycles and baggage. A two-car DMU carries 125-175 passengers, and an estimated average 95 passengers/km (passengers/mile) for BMC Commuter Rail Service. A test in Florida of the DMU power unit of a Colorado Railcar DMU power unit hauling two coaches attained fuel efficiency of 0.4 liters/km (1 mile per gallon), about a third of the fuel consumption of locomotive hauled passenger cars.

Capital requirements Overall capital requirements for track investments, stations, DMUs, etc., outlined in Table 8 total $58.7 million. Only two small segments of track require substantial upgrade, the 3.2 km (2.0 mi.) between Montpelier Jct. and the State House and 11 km (6.9 mi.) between Burlington Union Station and Essex Jct. The 51 km (32 mi.) Essex Jct.-Montpelier Jct. rail line investments completed in 2012 raised the rating to Class 4 enabling 130 km/h (80 mph) operation with signaling. Capital costs also include a share of Centralized Train Control

Table 6: Populations of Vermont, Chittenden County, Washington County, and Burlington Metro
Area Population                   Percent of State

Burlington Metropolitan Area         211,261                                            33.7

Chittenden County (2012)             158,504                                             25.3

Washington County (2010)             59,534                                               9.5

Chittenden and Washington
Counties combined                       218,038                                              34.8

Vermont (2012)                              626,011                                          100.0

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census (Burlington Metropolitan Statistical Area comprised of the three northwestern counties--Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle).

(CTC) installation and crash preventing Positive Train Control (PTC) with the latter costs indeterminate currently. With new American standards for DMU equipment set in 2012 and little recent DMU manufacture to previous North American standards, the acquisition cost by Denton County, TX acquisition of 11 DMU units in 2009 was used for estimating their cost.

Revenues and Operating The fare-box percentage estimate of 37% of the total cost of service (capital and annual costs) for BMC Commuter Rail Service Phase compares to about 33% for all national and Vermont public transit services. Fare-box recovery of train operating costs estimate is 60%. Estimated operating costs of $9.40/train km ($15.00/train mi.) approximate national averages and those of Westside Express Service DMU service along a 24 km route near Portland, OR with its 1,700 passengers per day.

Source of capital financing and operating support The capital and operating costs for BMC Commuter Rail Service may cost less State dollars support than the $7 million State dollars budgeted for FY 2014 for the two Amtrak trains. Table 10 outlines a State and federal sharing of capital and operating support consistent with U.S. programs with base year State annual
share of all costs $879,000. (Note motor vehicle travel receives large subsidies, for example,
about 42% of all U.S. highway capital and maintenance expenditures paid for by mostly general funds and bonding [FHWA Series].)


Figure 1: BMC Commuter Rail Service--Peak a.m. and Mid-day Schedule

Outbound                                          Inbound
a.m. peak                 mid-day         a.m. peak                  mid-day
Charlotte       5:47    6:27    7:12     11:37             7:08    8:07    8:52   1:41 pm
Shelburne     5:56    6:36    7:21     11:46             6:59    7:59    8:44   1:32
S. Burlington 6:07    6:47    7:30     11:55            6:49    7:49    8:34   1:22

Leave                                                 Arrive
Burlington   6:10      6:50    7:33      11:58            6:46    7:46    8:31   1:19
Winooski       6:16    6:56    7:39      12:04            6:40    7:40    8:25   1:13
St. Michael's/
Fanny Allen   6:20    7:00    7:43      12:06            6:36    7:36    8:21   1:09

Essex Jct.      6:27   7:07    7:50      12:13            6:28     7:28    8:15   1:03 pm
IBM Tech.
Park               6:31   7:11   7:54         12:17           6:23     7:23    8:10   12:58
Richmond      6:37    7:17   8:00       12:23            6:16     7:17    8:02   12:50
Bolton            6:45    7:25   8:08       12:31            6:08     7:08    7:53   12:41
Waterbury     6:56     7:36   8:19       12:42           5:57     6:57    7:42   12:32
                   Arrive                                                       Leave
  House        7:15      7:55   8:38       1:02  5:40    6:40     7:25  12:15 pm
                    Arrive                                                      Leave

Note: The balance of the workday schedule includes three peak p.m. trains in each direction.

Table 7: BMC Commuter Rail Service Capital Cost Estimates Summary: Track and Bridge, Stations, Rail-Highway Crossing Warning, Centralized Train Control and Rail Passenger
Equipment (DMU)

Category                                                        Cost Estimate $ (million)
New Stations (7)                                                 1.4
Centralized traffic control (2/3 share)                  3.3

Track and bridge upgrades                                   8.0
Rail-highway crossing upgrades                           3.6
Rail equipment maintenance facility                     0.5

Subtotal: Track and other physical
             improvements:                                                       16.8

Rail equipment—five two-car DMU sets                            36.6
Contingency (10%)                                                             5.3
Total Capital Funding Estimate               $58.7

Table 7: BMC Commuter Rail Service Capital Cost Estimates Summary: Track and Bridge, Stations, Rail-Highway Crossing Warning, Centralized Train Control and Rail Passenger
Equipment (DMU) (concluded)

Notes: 1. Estimates (except as noted) based on past studies with inflation factors applied, and Vermont rail administrators with knowledge of rail infrastructure costs.
2. DMU sets cost based on 2009 Denton County, TX purchase.
3. A shared cost not included here, Positive Train Control for crash prevention, is a certain future requirement.

Table 8: BMC Commuter Rail Service Annual Revenue and Costs Except Capital

                                                                        Estimated $  

Total Annual Passenger Revenue                                   2,565,000

Revenue per train kilometer (mile)                                    5.24   (8.45)
Annual Costs Except Capital

Operating costs

Train Operating Costs:
Stations                                                 400,000
Train Operations
($8.08 per train kilometer,
$13.00 per train mile)                         2,460,000

                                           Subtotal: 2,860,000

Shuttles                                                                  250,000

Administrative (including insurance)                   1,150,000  

Total Annual Operating Costs               4,260,000

Annual Operating Cost Deficit                              1,695,000
Operating costs per train kilometer                                 9.40
Operating costs per train mile                                       15.12                                    
Annual cost support per passenger trip                          3.05
Annual cost support per passenger kilometer                0.062
Annual cost support per passenger mile                        0.100
Passenger farebox percentage of total annual costs     60%

Notes: 1. Commuter rail average operation cost per revenue vehicle kilometer $9.32 (per revenue vehicle mile $15.00) (FTA 2011).
2. Revenue per passenger kilometer $0.093 (per passenger mile $0.150)

Conclusion This study finds BMC Commuter Rail service feasible in view of the projected 1,100 commuters daily, comparable to other low ridership U.S. systems. The service capital and operating cost estimates also track near national averages. The recent movement of
Vermont workers away from car commuting, rapid growth of commuters on Link services since 2003, and Burlington demand management programing successes shifting car commuters to bus transit and other modes—all augur well for a successful commuter rail service for the Burlington Metropolitan Area.

Table 9: BMC Commuter Rail Service Support per Passenger Trip and per Passenger Kilometer (Mile)

Passenger Support ($)
Support Category                                        Per Trip     Per Kilometer (Mile)

Dollars per Passenger
     Annual Costs Less Revenue               3.05               0.062 (0.10)

Capital (amortization)                               4.65                0.093  (0.15)

Total support:                                         7.70                0.155  (0.25)

Note: Operating support per base 555,000 annual trips Table 3, and operating and capital outlined in Table 7 and 8.

Table 10: BMC Commuter Rail Service Estimated Total Annual Funding—State and Federal for Operations and Capital

Annual Funding ($ )

Federal Funds (80%)         State Funds (20%)    Total

Operating Support               1,356,000                  339,000                        1,695,000

Capital                                   2,160,000                  540,000                        2,700,000

Total                                       3,516,000                  879,000                       4,395,000

Note: Capital financing, $58.7.4 million, Table 7, amortized over 25 years at 3.0% interest. Federal funding is possible through a number of avenues with no more than a 20% State match.


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Tony Redington
Burlington, VT 05401

Blog: TonyRVT.blogspot.com

May 2014