Monday, December 12, 2016

Brunswick Businesses Brace for Boom; Freeport Too


While you may not be up to speed on the latest changes to the Downeaster schedule, which now makes three daily round trips to Brunswick, Patricia Quinn is in full gush mode on how the schedule changes should mean a real breakthrough for Freeport establishments.

Witness her comments in this artice:

Downeaster sees riders for more than just Boston-based travel, although travel to Boston is one of its biggest markets. Quinn said people in Wells, Maine, will take the short ride to shop at the outlets in Freeport, for example. The Freeport station puts riders right in front of the L.L. Bean flagship store.


A quick look at the schedule shows that shoppers from Wells, Maine would be scheduled to arrive in Freeport at 4:10 pm.


Which should make for a brisk shopping experience, since the return trip from Freeport, if on schedule, departs at 5:35pm, a full hour and twenty-five minutes later.

The circumstances are even better for Brunswick merchants.  Wells customers would arrive at 4:25 pm, and have to depart less than an hour later at 5:20 pm.  That’s barely enough time to revel in the public art piece in front of the station, and quaff a quick Guinness.

The irony here is that Quinn believes people in Wells don’t mind an hour and a half train ride in each direction to shop in Freeport at the ‘outlets.’  Especially when the outlets at Kittery are a mere 21 miles away, with an estimated drive time of 23 minutes.  Sure; Kittery doesn’t have a train station, but you can start and end your shopping trip there any old time you like, and spend as much or little time shopping as you damn well please.  As a bonus, we’re pretty sure Kittery has a far greater selection of outlets than Freeport.  And Brunswick has…..well, none that we know of.

There are some other exciting facts pertaining to the Downeaster service, especially for Maine taxpayers, who subsidize the service to the tune of millions of dollars per year.  Witness these passages in the same Fosters item linked above:

Quinn said Exeter is the biggest ridership on the Downeaster in New Hampshire. Anywhere from 70 to 100 riders travel to and from Exeter a day. "Exeter is a big market for us," Quinn said. "We have a hefty amount of commuters every weekday from Exeter."

Bob Hall, chairman of the Exeter Train Committee, said Exeter last summer topped the 1 million mark for total riders since the service began.

"The monthly pass to ride with unlimited use is $299 and let me tell you, you can't find a parking space anywhere close to that in Boston," Hall said.

"Events in Boston like the Red Sox, concerts or the TD Garden, people like the train," he said. "When the Patriots won the championship and had a parade, every train was sold out for that entire day."

When train service began in 2001, the UNH-Durham stop was only Friday through Sunday. "Soon thereafter, we were offered daily service and it has been transformative," said UNH Director of Special Projects Campus Planning Stephen Pesci. "Sixteen years ago there was no way to get from campus to most of the station communities without a private car."

Pesci said the Durham station is approaching its 700,000-trip milestone.

As a friend has observed, the Downeaster schedule greatly favors southbound travel to Boston, including numerous New Hampshire and Massachusetts commuters, and pretty much ignores commuters to Portland from either the North or South.  Just as you would expect.  Boston is the primary suction for the system, not Portland or any other point in Maine.

The shame of it all is that while Maine subsidizes the Downeaster operating budget, neither New Hampshire or Massachusetts do.

Which may be just what we deserve for being so gullible.

He adds that “Ms. Quinn is an excellent marketeer,” but it’s pretty obvious she isn’t selling Maine.

Like we’ve said before, the prevailing ‘tradewinds’ are out of the northeast.

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