Monday, February 9, 2015

Further thoughts aplenty re: The Sierra Club and AAB

             Family photo 1944 A

Your correspondent grew up the youngest of 5 children (by 8 years), so one of the ‘pleasures’ of our formative years was the teasing we endured from our older, more sophisticated siblings.

We remember one particular case from when we were about 12, the age at which we could get working papers and search for a suitable job.  As we wondered about the possibilities, one of our brothers suggested we could get a job working for a Doctor.  “You could stand outside his office, making people sick,” he said with a gleeful smirk.

We thought about that quip as we pondered another dimension to the item we posted on Saturday, based on a relevant Sierra Club letter.  As readers know, we’ve commented frequently on the lack of objective evidence of any real economic benefit to Brunswick from the Amtrak Downeaster operated by NNEPRA, which is now in its third year servicing the Portland North extension.  The only undeniable economic gain we know of is for Brunswick Taxi, which has a contract for transporting crews back and forth to Portland twice a day.  Meanwhile, local taxpayers shell out roughly $100,000 a year to service Station operations.  We estimate the Taxi contract at twice that amount, so you can see how economic ‘leverage’ works around here.

Not to mention the $8-9 million Maine and federal taxpayers shell out annually to subsidize the Downeaster overall.

                        Parkview Hospital

Anyway, it occurred to us that every cloud has a silver lining, and maybe that cloud of diesel engine residue emanating from the Downeaster while it sits here in town, idling away for five hours a day, does as well.  In a perverse sort of way, we should add.

Reading the Sierra Club letter carefully should alert you to the fact that if nothing else, the local health care industry should see some ‘economic growth’ from the cumulative effects of Downeaster Diesel Dust being spread around our environs.

From our youngest to our eldest, based on the evidence presented in that letter, we would expect all sorts of medical practitioners, and related business interests, to see ‘growth’ from the Downeaster’s arrival in town.

                                 Day Care to tracks

Did you know, for example, that a day care center operates no more than 100-150 yards away from where the Downeaster currently does all its idling?


Think of the growth possibilities beyond the health care segment.  As effects on vegetation and physical structures become better known, we see homeowners spending more for landscaping care, replacement windows, specialized home ventilation systems, exterior home wash-downs, etc.  And let’s not forget local veterinarians, as pets begin to show the effects of train service.

There’s another growth aspect possible here; what if Downeaster Diesel Dust becomes the new asbestos?  Will we start seeing attorneys’ ads on local TV stations full of promises of getting the ‘compensation you deserve?’  We can even think of some local counselors who might be entice by such possibilities.

These things can take some time to come to pass, as it were, but the Sierra Club letter seems to provide a good foundation for such growth possibilities.

We hope the BDA, All Aboard Brunswick, TRNE, and NNEPRA itself latch onto these new possibilities to drum up more support for the passenger rail service, complete with a nicely documented study by appropriate consultants.  And it shouldn’t be limited to Brunswick; it’s just that we seem to have a more pronounced economic growth situation on our hands.

We’ll close with a few questions for the potentates of passenger rail promotion, while we have their attention:

1)  Instead of idling away in Brunswick for 5 hours every day, why isn’t the daily noon arrival (12:25 pm) loading up passengers and returning to Portland as a revenue run?  And then heading back up to Brunswick in time for the 5:55 pm departure south?  This would also be a revenue run, and allow throngs to spend a leisurely afternoon in Portland, though we hope they wouldn’t spend too much there.  No longer would there be a need for the twice a day Brunswick Taxi runs, and the diesel fuel currently wasted on fouling the local area could instead support actual transportation purposes.

2)  If the Downeaster MUST park and idle here in town 5 hours a day, why isn’t it doing so at the Maine Street Station, where it would be a constant reminder to one and all that as AAB Majorette Knox, declared, “Brunswick is on the national train service map.”  Just seeing the train there everyday should prompt a significant increase in ridership, shouldn’t it?  Why is it being hidden on an obscure, out of the way siding?  Parking it in plain sight would be “Top of Mind” messaging, and we’d expect the BDA, AAB, and all the rest to be strongly in favor of such a move.  Train hosts from TRNE could give tours of the train while it sat ‘at the gate,’ purring those soothing railroad sounds.  Those who love the train but don’t want to go anywhere could wile away an afternoon taking in the feel and aromas of good old passenger rail.  And the café car could be open to serve food!

So there you have it; who says our years in business development aren’t doing the town any good?  And we’re not charging for the ideas!

You know, if the rail elites and our elected betters play their cards right, we might even be made famous in a movie some day.

We can dream, can’t we?


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