JBC Press Release: Train Study Optimistic and Overstated

Assumptions significantly overstate revenue
Josh Elliott-Traficante, Josiah Bartlett Center policy analyst covering transportation policy, commented on the Capital Corridor study released today. Elliott-Traficante described the study’s revenue estimates as rosy and out of line with the experience of every other commuter rail system in the country:“The study paints a rosy picture but its revenue assumptions are significantly overstated. No other train in the country has achieved that level of revenue no matter how close to the central city its route.”

Elliott-Traficante added, “The study guesses that this train would manage to recover 64% of operating costs and lose only $3 million per year. That rosy estimate would make it the best performing line in the country. For example, the supposedly very successful Downeaster manages to recover only 53% of operating costs, the MBTA Commuter Rail system as a whole covers 49%, and MetroNorth which serves Connecticut from NYC covers 58.5%.”

“It’s hard not to see these unrealistic assumptions as an effort to pretend the costs to the taxpayer are much smaller than a realistic estimate would show”