Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday's "second shoe...."

Slightly after 8pm, this arrived in our office in box:

Work Zone for the tie replacement project:
Tie replacement in the area north of Dover Station. Surfacing between Dover and Exeter Stations.

Thursday, May 28
Train 680
  • On time out of Portland
  • 10 - 15 minutes late into Wells
  • 60 - 65 minutes late into Exeter
  • 75 - 80 minutes late into Boston
Trains  682,684, 686, 688 - Cancelled


Trains 681, 683, 685, 689 - Cancelled

*Note* All delay times are approximate and based on speed restrictions currently placed on the rail line and do not include unforeseen occurrences such as train interference, signal issues, or other unplanned events.  Please continue to check Train Status for exact arrival and departure information on your day of travel.

                     Image result for All aboard brunswick
“All Apalled, Brunswick!”

Be careful about making plans.....minute by minute changes are the "order of the day"


Lot’s of opportunities here for circular finger pointing: NNEPRA, Amtrak, Pan-Am, DOT, STB, FRA, the feds, the state, or anyone else that can be fingered as the culprit.

We repeat again: Amtrak, as someone has said, is the Post Office on rails.  And those in government who decide to pursue improving life by contracting with it and the partners who come with it are reaping the consequences, which of course, they believe can be overcome by spending ever more copious amounts of OPM.  Just like fixing that tough steak you just took off the grill can be made tender by cooking it for another five minutes on each side.

Here’s the good news from just an hour or so ago:
Current Work Zone:
Tie replacement north of Dover station.
Surfacing in the area of Exeter station.
Wednesday, May 27 :
Train 685
  • Cancelled
Train 687
  • On time out of Boston
  • 20 - 25 minutes late into Exeter
  • 65 - 70 minutes late into Wells
  • 80 - 85 minutes late into Portland
Train 689
  • Cancelled
Train 688
  • Cancelled
 Anticipated performance for Thursday morning train 680 will be provided this evening as soon as updated information is available.
Happy tracks to you, cowboy!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A far as we know.....

We just checked the Other Side in basket to see if there’s anything newsworthy at the moment.
We found this rather unusual notification:

*Due to high heat today, Pan Am has placed a heat related speed restriction on the Downeaster line from MA/NH state line to Portland, ME. Max speed 40mph for this evening*

Along with this continuing ‘advice:’
Work Zone for the tie replacement project:
Area of Dover Station to area of Exeter Station

Wednesday, May 27:

Train 680
  • On time out of Portland
  • 10 - 15 minutes late into Wells
  • 60 - 65 minutes late into Exeter
  • 80- 85 minutes late into Boston
Trains  682,684, 686, 688 - Cancelled

Train 687
  • On time out of Boston
  • 25 - 30 minutes late into Exeter
  • 55 - 60 minutes late into Wells
  • 75 - 80 minutes late into Portland
Trains 681, 683, 685, 689 - Cancelled

*Note* All delay times are approximate and based on speed restrictions currently placed on the rail line and do not include unforeseen occurrences such as train interference, signal issues, or other unplanned events.  Please continue to check Train Status for exact arrival and departure information on your day of travel.

So…we have the Northern New England Passenger Rail Service, otherwise known as the Downeaster, managed by a state agency of Maine, proving that the service and it’s schedule are not only terribly vulnerable to the rigors of winter, but are also sensitive to temperatures in the 80’s and above.
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Please Ma’am, can we have several more round trips per day?  And kindly send notices to officials in Waterville, Rockland, Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston/Auburn, and elsewhere as to what they can expect when they ask that hundreds of millions of Moppem, Soppem, and Foppem be spent to bring such advanced mass transit capability to their desperate communities.

We hope they’re planning on means to warm the track beds in winter, and cool them the rest of the year, so that local true believers can enjoy the historically proven benefits of passenger rail.

Oh the pride we all feel.  All Aboard Brunswick!  Hop on the miracle of economic stimulus!  The rest of us will have to get by with the reduction in vehicle traffic on the interstates, and the massive reduction in carbon footprint.

Technorati Tags: Amtrak,NNEPRA,Downeaster

Friday, May 22, 2015

Running Railroads, NNEPRA/Government Style


Those of you who like to set your watches and clocks by the passing train whistle should have learned by now that the Downeaster clucks to the sound of a different clockmaker.  The word cuckoo comes easily to mind.

You might recall that last fall we reported on the subject of ties.  As in ties needing replacement along the Downeaster route between Boston and Cape Brunswick.  That report is found here:

The gist of that story was that the winter of 2013/14 had been ‘unexpectedly’ severe, and that 28,000 ties needed to be replaced on Downeaster operating rail beds.  As we read the news since then, replacement efforts fell short by 22,000 last year, and so this ‘working season’ began with a carry over work load of those 22,000 ties from the previous winter, in addition to any additional numbers rendered in need of replacement by the 2014/15 winter, which some would argue was even worse than the year before.

We haven’t conducted an exhaustive study, but so far, we’ve yet to see any reports identifying the increase in the replacement work load.  No surprise there; if another 30,000 or so more turn out to be sub-standard, the total work-load could well be overwhelming for this season.  At least if you expect there to be any degree of reliable, dependable scheduled service.  We don’t expect such news to be trumpeted by the glitterati of NNEPRA and TRNE.

To that point, we decided yesterday to check the NNEPRA web site to see how things are going.  When we did, we found out you can sign up for email advisories on service delays/cancellations/modifications.   You do so here:

And so we did.  Within hours we received an email advising us as follows:

Current Work Zone:

Tie replacement north of Durham (NH) station.

Surfacing in the area of Exeter station.

Thursday, May 21 :


Train 685

  • On time out of Boston
  • 40 - 45 minutes late into Exeter
  • 60 - 65 minutes late into Wells
  • 75 - 80 minutes late into Portland

Train 687

  • On time out of Boston
  • 30 - 35 minutes late into Exeter
  • 60 - 65 minutes late into Wells
  • 75 - 80 minutes late into Portland

Train 689

  • Cancelled

Train 688

  • Cancelled





Image result for All aboard brunswick

“All Aboard Brunswick!”  But not next week.  And we’ll have to wait and see about the week after, and the week after that, and…..well, you know how it goes.  Maybe the Concerned Ladies of Upper Brunswick can advise us when the news finally turns around.

We have a pretty good understanding of what the term ‘progressive disclosure’ means, and we’re sure it applies here.

It occurs to us there is a double meaning in the case before us.  Or, if you prefer, speech emanating from both sides of certain mouths.

                               Image result for see no evil hear no evil speak no evil

Unless you ask the wrong questions, in which case, you get no speech.  Perhaps OPEGA will be able to get to the bottom of things in their upcoming operational audit of NNEPRA management effectiveness.

And yet, we’re the ones accused of monkey business.  Go figure.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Culture Watch: how King’s ‘dream,’ in the hands of government, is doomed to failure…

What do you get when ‘society,’ or ‘the culture,’ decides to impose identity group politics and policy via government edict?  All in the name of fairness and equality?  And then causes such policy to be ‘trickled down’ via stacks of regulations affecting every aspect of our daily lives, and even worse, the expectations of the masses?

You get winners and losers, at least as the various balkanized identity groups see it.  There is no choice, because once you formalize identity and act upon it, there is no way to make all identity groups equally happy, equally affirmed, and equally treated.

Martin Luther King was way ahead of his time, and must be terribly distressed.

We can’t help but wonder when we’ll see the Asian and Hispanic equivalents of “The Reverend Al Sharpton.”  And when we’ll hear “Asian lives matter. “  Or “Hispanic lives matter?”  Or for that matter, “Caucasian lives matter?”  Or “heterosexual lives matter?”  Or, for the less queasy, “in womb lives matter?”

Closer to home, where does our beloved local white tower institution stand on all of these questions?  They’re prone to establish ‘studies’ programs for every societal segment that claims victimization status. But what about stupidity studies, to examine the idiocy and political correctness that has taken us to this juncture?

Oh well.  We’re fighting another truly annoying cold that descended upon us in Saratoga Springs, NY, as we enjoyed a holiday with good friends.  So we’ll just post the subject article for your consideration.

Complaint alleges university sets higher bar for applicants to limit Asian enrollment

A complaint filed against Harvard alleges the school sets a too-high bar for Asian-American applicants.

A complaint filed against Harvard alleges the school sets a too-high bar for Asian-American applicants. Photo: Moment Editorial/Getty Images

By Douglas Belkin

May 15, 2015 9:26 p.m. ET

A complaint Friday alleged that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants by setting a higher bar for admissions than that faced by other groups.

The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 organizations, says the university has set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their applications merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale.

The complaint was filed with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Many studies have indicated that Harvard University has been engaged in systemic and continuous discrimination against Asian-Americans during its very subjective ‘Holistic’ college admissions process,” the complaint alleges.

The coalition is seeking a federal investigation and is requesting Harvard “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants.”

Robert Iuliano, Harvard’s general counsel, said the school’s admissions policies are “fully compliant with the law.” The school says its admissions process takes into account a variety of factors besides academics, including applicants’ extracurricular activities and leadership qualities.

“Within its holistic admissions process, and as part of its effort to build a diverse class, Harvard College has demonstrated a strong record of recruiting and admitting Asian American students,” Mr. Iuliano said in a statement. He said the percentage of Asian-American students admitted to the undergraduate school rose to 21% from less than 18% in the past decade.

But the group that filed the complaint said that percentage should be much higher given the increasing numbers of Asian-American students that apply.

“There is a lot of discrimination, and it hurts not just Asian-Americans, it hurts the whole country,” said Yukong Zhao, a 52-year-old Chinese-American author who helped organize the coalition. He said there are longtime stereotypes of Asian applicants’ being “not creative enough or risk-taking enough, but that’s not true. Nearly half of the tech start-ups in the country were started by Asian-Americans. Every one is a great example of creativity, and risk-taking and leadership.”

The complaint argues that elite schools “that use race-neutral admissions” have far higher Asian-American enrollment than Harvard. At California Institute of Technology, for instance, about 40% of undergraduates are Asian-American, about twice that at Harvard.

The allegations come six months after a group called Students for Fair Admissions argued in a federal lawsuit that Harvard uses preferences to reach specific racial balance on its campuses.

Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton University sociologist who has done work on race in college admissions, said the complaint was the result of long-simmering anger in the Asian-American community.

“Up until five or 10 years ago the response has been, ‘Well we just have to work harder,’ ” Mr. Espenshade said. “But over the last decade, more groups are starting to mobilize, saying we don’t have to just accept his, we can push back against it.”

        Image result for I had a dream

You may think this is an isolated case, having nothing to do with government intervention in all sorts of other areas, but we take exception to that view.  We’ll make our case in upcoming posts, once we get by our current nasal/respiratory affliction.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

FOAA and Brunswick’s _itch hunt

The English language is a funny thing, full of ambiguities and other opportunities to be misled.

Image result for the witches of eastwick

As one example, we’ve never quite been sure whether “witch hunt” refers to witches going out on a hunt, or others going out to hunt witches.  Not to mention other words that share the  same ‘-itch’ root, many of which have multiple meanings.

This past Sunday, we posted on an issue of accountability here: 

In that item, we mentioned a letter we had seen ‘on background,’ and gave you some hints as to its contents, from what we could remember. 

We also promised to pursue the actual letter via Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.  We did so, and promptly received a courteous response from the responsible office with the letter attached.  Here it is:



You might find it helpful to go back and read the post from Sunday.  For our purposes, we’re going to repeat the “Takeaways” we posted there:


Takeaway 1:   What did the Kings hope to accomplish by having this letter written and submitted to the GOC that oversees OPEGA?  While we can’t know what their hopes were, we can opine on what it actually accomplished.  “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks” comes to mind, adding some Shakespearean drama to the investigation.  We expect the letter will raise the level of interest in how this arrangement came about at both municipal and state levels.  Tally one more egg cracked that can’t be put back into the shell.

Takeaway 2:  The details surrounding Brunswick Taxi’s arrangement provide a near perfect glimpse into the responsibility/accountability void at NNEPRA.  It seems to us the perfect admixture of ‘it’s not my job’ with profuse amounts of OPM.  Virtually no-one of importance has to worry about job security or the survival of the enterprise.  It’s not in their DNA.  Amtrak was created out of the ashes of passenger rail history, by a congress believing it could be made to work again, on a for profit basis, if you can believe it.  As one congressman recently said, Amtrak is the Post Office on rails, and just as profitable.

                                  Image result for The andrews sisters

Here’s an archived photo you might enjoy of the three OPM sisters, Municipal (MOPM), State (SOPM), and Federal (FOPM.)  (“OPM,” for the uninitiated, stands for Other Peoples’ Money; pronounced O-pee-em, most of the time.)  Here, though, we admit to liking the sound of “Moppem, Soppem, and Foppem.”  It rolls off the tongue with a certain lilt.


We think immediately of who is ‘responsible and accountable’ for the recent derailment just outside the Portland depot?  NNEPRA?  Amtrak?  Pan American Railways?  What organization, and what employees within that organization?  Are there subs involved that work for any of them? 

                         Image result for where the buck stops

What about their governing bodies?  Just where does the buck stop?  Who will step up and say ‘this one stops at MY desk?’  Where is the single point of accountability?  In truth, there likely isn’t one.  Government, as clearly demonstrated in recent years, is genetically indisposed to such petty considerations afflicting the private sector. 


Perhaps you built your house, like we have, and employed a general contractor, who brought with him his subcontractors, and took overall responsibility for all aspects of the construction.  Pretty straightforward.  Now ask yourself these questions:

What is the NNEPRA Governance model?  Who do NNEPRA and Patsy Quinn work for?  Their Board?  Who does the Board work for?  The Governor, or one of his Departments?  No.  The legislature?  No. The Governor  nominates for the Board, and the legislature consents, but then what?  How many layers of subcontractors does NNEPRA have?  Amtrak?  PAR?  Parsons Brinkerhoff?  Consigli?  Food service?  Drummac?

                                            Image result for where the buck stops

Who does Pan American Railways work for?

What is the Amtrak Governance model?  Who does Amtrak work for?  The President/Executive Branch and one of the Departments?  No.  Congress?  No.  A Board that oversees them?  Who does the Board report to?  How many layers of subcontractors does it use?  CTS?  LJK Companies, Travelliance, others?  Brunswick Taxi?

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There are simply too many bucks involved to keep track of.

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In a word, who gets the 3 am phone call when things really go off the rails?  What if there’s an environmental emergency at the MLF?

And why has track maintenance gotten to the point where 6 weeks or so of Construction Alerts are necessary?

But wait; it’s  only “temporary: ”  If memory serves, way before the damage from the winter just passed was assessed, there was a residual of 22,000 ties still to be replaced after last year’s ‘hard winter.’  Most would agree the recent winter was worse than the one before; who knows how much will be added to the scope known at this time.  Hence, these encouraging words:

The specific timing of the 2015 Tie Replacement Project is subject to change, but will likely end on or about June 15, 2015.


We hope you’ll agree there are more than enough “GA” concerns here for OPEGA to sink their teeth into.  (Government Accountability)


If you’ve been following Other Side for a while, you may have discerned that we have some favorite movies and favorite actors.  We love “A Few Good Men,” starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.  We love “As Good As It Gets” starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.  We love “Something’s Gotta Give” starring Jack Nicholson and DIane Keaton.

                Image result for the witches of eastwick

We also love “The Witches of Eastwick.” starring, you guessed it, Jack Nicholson, in what we consider a particularly ‘delicious role’  set in a classic, historic New England town.  As chance would have it, the town’s name ends in ‘-wick,’ and the plot is built around the battle between a man who seems to have inordinate powers and several well-known women in the town.

The women attempt to seek revenge, through a variety of witchy methods.  If you’ve never seen the movie, we suspect you may enjoy it.  We find a number of the scenes hilarious.

None of them specifically involve attempts to intimidate elected officials, but use your imagination, and you might just see the connection. 

Brunswick ain’t Hollywood, you know.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own drama queens.  Or whatever else you might want to call them.   

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rail Jobs

We have a bit more info on that post of a little while ago based on the Concord Monitor story.  You can find the study, all of four pages long, here:

One of the nuggets we most enjoyed is this one:

Researchers at the Brookings Institution also found little evidence that rail transit investments have significant impacts on urban form. The only way for rail to have an impact, they found, would be to make private car ownership and usage prohibitively expensive.

The Brookings Institution, we should note, is generally considered liberal or ‘liberal-leaning,’ and was used as the credible source in the Smart Growth study/proposal put forward a half dozen years or so ago as the salvation for Maine, and it’s path to a glorious future.  Think “quality of place’ and all that.  Raised crosswalks, back-in parking, and anything else required to make it real.

Here is the complete conclusion:


Drawing Conclusions:

An analysis of town by town jobs numbers here in New Hampshire shows that merely having access to passenger rail does not create jobs. After a decade of continuous rail service in Dover added jobs, Durham remained unchanged, while Exeter lost jobs.

Can Dover’s impressive growth be attributed to regular passenger rail service? Not necessarily; both Epping and Concord saw greater growth rates over the time frame, and neither has passenger rail service. With the exception of the redevelopment of the downtown mills, the majority Dover’s growth has been on the peripheries of the city in industrial and business parks.

Rail Chart 4

It does not appear that Rochester’s loss has been Dover’s gain either. Comparing the jobs figures, there is no evidence that Rochester’s lost jobs simply moved to Dover. Rather, larger employment trends explain this shift. Statewide, the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen by more than 35,000, replacing them with roughly the same number of service sector jobs. Dover, with its large service sector, was well positioned to benefit from this trend, while Rochester, with its large manufacturing sector, was harmed by it.

Exeter’s loss of jobs is particularly telling because it turns the entire notion that rail service creates jobs on its head. The argument that rail minimized Exeter’s job losses does not hold much weight since neighboring Epping saw substantial gains.

What does this tell us about commuter rail’s ability to create jobs? From the studies that have been conducted after rail service has started and the experience of the Downeaster here in New Hampshire, simply having commuter rail does not create jobs. Rail, whatever its benefits may or may not be, is not a tool to spur job creation.


The interesting approach in the study is the ‘paired comparison’ of communities experiencing changes in employment.

Once again, just so they sink in, reconsider these words:

The only way for rail to have an impact, they found, would be to make private car ownership and usage prohibitively expensive.

Don’t for a moment doubt that those among the rail fan elites would propose such policies.  You do what you have to do to make your premises and promises look valid.  And the three sisters are always available to chip in.

In dubbing around, we also came across this older item:’t

Published in September, 2012, it begins with these words:

In a few weeks, Maine will finish a $44 million project to extend a money-losing commuter train and lose even more money. Fortunately, retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe got them money in the federal budget to fund their profligacy. Some politicians in New Hampshire want to follow suit and spend money we don’t have in the state budget to restore a commuter train that last operated for parts of 1980 until the federal dole ran out.

Hopefully, these referrals will help you overcome your boredom with local spending and property tax concerns.

Any horse in a storm, right?

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Getting back on the horse….


We’ve heard a rumbling around town lately that Other Side has become a one track pony.  So in an effort to get back on trick, we’re going to switch to a different line for this post.

Please bear with us in our attempt to get back on one of our favorite steeds.  And one that Ben Dover favors as well.   Here’s the setup:


We doubt we’ll be there, because after two trips to Augusta already this week, and a lovely evening in town council chambers on Monday eve, we need to have our tanks pumped before we can take on any more ‘effluent.’  Not to mention that we have Weber and Sons stopping by tomorrow to scoop three years of accumulated honey from our household “hive.”

But we do want to provide you with some background info you might find useful.

First, here’s a table of town budget/property tax data we’ve been collecting for some years now.


Plus some related data that shows figures that may be relatively obscure to you, like fund balances, and our ‘what if’ numbers if budget growth had been limited to an increase of 2.5% or 3% a year, as shown in this cut:


At one level, the most interesting data in the clip just above is the property tax rate, or ‘mil rate’ as it’s known.

Our figures could be off a skosh here and there, because we usually track them by budgets as they are approved by the town council before the new fiscal year begins.  Inevitably, ‘actuals’ vary a bit from those baselines, but any variances should be negligible for our purposes here.  As you can see from the above, if total expenditures had been limited to 3% annual growth since the late ‘80’s, total town spending right now would be in the $40 million range, instead of $58 million.

Most folks, at least when it comes to their personal finances, would think a 3% spending increase per year is manageable, unless you have an adjustable rate income, where you can tell your employer how much he’ll have to pay you in the coming fiscal year.  Like the town tells you how much you’ll have to increase your property taxes in the coming fiscal year, to match whatever spending increase they feel like indulging in.

Then there’s this view of things, where we’ve recorded school system enrolment, total expenditures, and expenditures per student since the end of the last century:


You shouldn’t have to look too hard to see how much spending has increased in total, how much enrolment has declined (DOE figures are those reported to the state), and how much dollars per student has increased.

As one of our graphics said recently, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”  We hope you ‘get’ that, but if you don’t, just keep staring at the numbers, and maybe it will suddenly become clear.

Now the really good news; the projections for the coming year, from the Town Manager’s office.  Including a projected increase in the mil rate to $28.83.  On average, that will mean a roughly 5% increase in your property taxes the next time you get your bill.  For us, that’s  in the range of $400 a year; we doubt yours will be that high.  Never mind; the way we overwhelm the town and school department with demands for service, we surely deserve to pay that much more, if not even more.

Stay tuned.  We told you of the proposed ‘revaluation’ gambit.  The closer the mil rate gets to $30, the more embarrassed and worried our leaders will become, and the more they’ll be driven to increase our assessments so they can decrease the mil rate.  As we explained before, increase your assessment by roughly 42%, decrease the mil rate by 20%, and increase your tax bill by 14%.   That’s the sort of possibility such things invoke.

Talk about one trick ponies; what’s not to like?  Sooner or later, you’ll get over the smell.  Just like we’re all supposed to get over the smell of Downeaster fumes.

You can find the proposed budget here:

A passage in the introductory verbiage is this:


There you go.  Imagine how much our local road conditions will improve with this million and a half increase in spending.  Just kidding!

Road condition?  When the need for raised crosswalks and other improvements to traffic calming are screaming out at us?

Wait…..potholes calm traffic, don’t they?  And teachers making another 3-5% more, just because, they calm traffic, don’t they?

Yeah…that’s it.  And you can take that to the bank.  When you go to make a withdrawal so you can pay your tax increase.

We have the feeling that if you pat the pony above in the right place, he’ll open up his food bin so you can put your shekels in it.

                              Image result for Hopalong cassidy

And always remember, boys and girls, to follow Blogalong Poppycock and his white horse in all their upcoming adventures!


We promise it will be way more fun than watching town government!  Honk honk!

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Some new economic data…..NH based….on the Downeaster, etc….

From an unexpected journal….

Concord Monitor

……a report of actual economic study data has been tossed over our transom by a knowledgeable friend.  The same one cited in an earlier post or two (

In this case, we read that a non-governmental agency has decided to compare the ever-popular “projections” to reality.  What a concept!  Note as well that they included the Downeaster in their study.

Don’t know why we haven’t thought of that.  We expect the usual suspects will scream the effort is not credible, because the Josiah Bartlett Center is ‘conservative-leaning,’ and any-one in the know knows any effort by any conservative, or any conservative-leaning individual and/or organization, is subject to summary dismissal by those for whom government is life and OPM is the ‘eau-de-vie.’  Whether Moppem, Soppem, or Foppem.

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No matter; the girls have given us tacit permission to post the report for your reading pleasure.  So enjoy it while you can, before we’re forced to take it down.


    The rails underneath the bridge on Water Street in Concord.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

Bartlett Center: N.H. commuter rail service alone 'does not create jobs'

Associated Press

Monday, May 4, 2015
(Published in print: Tuesday, May 5, 2015)  (Find it here.)

A commuter rail connecting Boston to Manchester probably wouldn’t create jobs on its own, according to a study released yesterday by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

The conservative-leaning center’s report flouted the notion that commuter rail is a tool to spur job creation and instead found that passenger rail can influence growth where already planned investments will happen.

The study strikes a different tone than the Capitol Corridor Rail Study released earlier this year, which was paid for with federal money and found that a commuter line with stops in Nashua and Manchester would bring thousands of new jobs to New Hampshire. Rail advocates are currently calling on the Senate to restore $4 million for commuter rail engineering and planning work that the House stripped from Gov. Maggie Hassan’s capital budget.

The study’s conclusions were based on an analysis of projects in California, Missouri and Pennsylvania, and the Amtrak Downeaster line that runs 10 times a day between Boston and Maine with stops in Exeter, Durham and Dover.

“I like seeing people who are worried and thinking New Hampshire needs more people who are employed, and it would be great if it would create jobs, but the track record kind of speaks for itself,” said Josh Elliott-Traficante, a policy analyst at the Bartlett Center.

Elliott-Traficante used U.S. Census Data from the three New Hampshire towns with stops on the Downeaster to look at job creation. Though the line isn’t technically a commuter rail, the study used it as a functional equivalent, offering multiple departures a day and running over a fairly short distance. Since the Downeaster began running in 2001, Exeter has lost about 300 jobs since the commuter rail started running, while Dover has gained about 1,000 jobs. The number of jobs in Durham remained the same.

The study also looked at the Coaster commuter rail line near San Diego, which is roughly the same length as the Manchester/Boston proposal and connects similarly sized cities. There were minor gains in value for some types of residential property, but commercial property values fell nearly 10 percent, the report said.

“More or less, the studies we looked at came up with the answer that there are benefits to it in certain areas, but by and large it doesn’t really create jobs,” Elliott-Traficante said.

The Capitol Corridor Rail Study, released in February, said a Boston/Manchester line would draw 668,000 riders annually. It would also create 5,600 permanent jobs supporting 3,600 new residential units along the corridor by 2030, the study said. From then on, the expansion of passenger rail would create 1,700 new jobs every year, the study said.

“The New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, the Greater Nashua and Manchester Chambers of Commerce, the hundreds of companies they represent and a growing bi-partisan coalition of elected officials believe that rail can play a key role in jumpstarting New Hampshire’s economy,” said Michael Izbicki, chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, in a statement. “The result of an extensive two-year study on the expansion of passenger rail service along the 73 mile NH Capitol Corridor conducted by globally recognized transportation experts support(s) those assertions.”

Rail alone isn’t the sole answer for solving the state’s economic woes, but it is a part of a system that could be a catalyst for growth, he said.

“However a complete multimodal transportation network that includes passenger rail could serve as a catalyst to promote economic development and should not be dismissed outright because it requires public investment,” Izbicki said.

(Ed note: if you like to get the ‘pulse’ of the NH readership, go to the article link, and read the comments posted there.)


The grand and glorious consultant projections reminds us of the bizarre numbers in the projections cited by Claudia Knox of AAB a few months back, none of which have even remotely proven to be true or valid in any way.  Refresh yourself here:

And here:

                   Image result for you want the truth

Knock, knock; Mr. Nicholson?  You’re on in 5 minutes.

Or less.