has a post on a Telegram package from March 12 about taking the train from Fitchburg to Boston. One reporter drove, the other took the train. Somehow we missed this, so the first lesson is read MA Roads more often.
We couldn't find viable links so here's a summary: One reporter hopped on the train, the other drove from the station. They met at North Station. Train time: 1:35. Drive time: 1:41. Driver hit traffic, train guy had a nice, easy commute in. Train is cheap, parking is expensive. Our comments:
That time is a little skewed. It doesn't take into account driving to the train station, or walking or subway ride to the office. Unless you work right near North Station, there's added time in there. Somehow, the train got to North Station a few minutes early. We can safely report that doesn't happen very often.
The train rider said there were plenty of seats on the train. He was on the 7:20 train, which isn't really a good rush-hour train. Take the express at 6:40, and you won't be in your own seat after South Action a large majority of time. Coming home is ridiculous, with people often standing. Comfort is a necessity on the train.
The driver didn't take any shortcuts. There are a few we use that even if they don't shave off more than a minute or two, at least give us the illusion of moving faster than sitting in traffic. We would have avoided the big rotary backup, and may have skipped Fresh Pond in all probability.
We've been driving to the city a bit more lately, mostly because we value the 15-20 minutes in saved time over the $5 or so we save by taking the train (we pay $14 to park, the same as parking and train tickets. Gas is the extra cost). The train definitely is less stressful, but it is a lot longer.
The stories note a proposal to cut 20 minutes off the ride, which would cost $300 million. $15 million per minute is a lot. We're no experts on this, but schedule changes (like moving the afternoon express to after 5 p.m., for example), would have to help. What about eliminating some stops on some trips? Does every train need to stop in Shirley, for example (maybe, but why not ask)?
The stories also note projected long-term improvements to the Concord rotary and Crosby's corner. For driver, that would be nice, and would tip the scales strongly in driving's favor.
This is a big issue for Fitchburg, which put a lot of faith in the parking garage and considers the commuter rail a big part of the entire city's future. As MA Roads noted, the stories were sort of slanted to the train, but the current reality is that hopping in the car is a bit faster, at the end of the day (literally and figuratively), that's what is important to most commuters.