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The TOD and the Beacon Line, rant number 3,426

http://www.beaconcitizen.com/group/publicdiscussionforum/forum/topi...

I'd like to revive this conversation, but frame it in a different way.

The MTA should be involved. We need to use the track as a branch line to bring commuters to the Beacon station from Glenham, Fishkill and Brinckerhoff. This needs to be rolled into the planning for the TOD.

If commuters could take a train on the branch line to get to the Beacon station, we would have fewer cars on the road heading to the station in the mornings -- and fewer cars leaving Beacon in the evening.

Housing in those areas would be more attractive to potential buyers because they could take a train all the way to the Beacon station. More families could rely on one car, instead of having two.

This could also reduce the need for more parking spaces at the Beacon station. And perhaps even have a role in preventing the need to widen 9D.

As I said, this needs to be part of the conversation about the TOD with the MTA. As I see it, the MTA would run the commuter train/shuttle/trolley.

You have a great idea, but you just need to shift your thinking to include the MTA.

Thanks,

Jill Corson Lake

Yes, yes, yes!

Thank you, thank you, Jill, absolutely correct. As the TOD ramps up again, everyone involved in the process should read her words. The whole Southern Dutchess area is growing. So even if they don't build the TOD, traffic on 9D is going to increase, inevitably. More 9D congestion means pressure to turn 9D it into a four lane artery to i84. Such an artery would stand as a psychological barrier against accessing Main Street business, and it would deteriorate the whole area around 9D up to i84. There is only one way to decrease such traffic: revive the Beacon Line. People living in Fishkill can catch the train there, and not drive to Beacon. The TOD is the leverage to get the MTA to take the issue seriously.

So I think the agenda on the TOD is clear:

  1. Residential space: decide upon the right density/ tower height.
  2. Commercial space: MINIMIZE IT. Now whoever lives at the TOD is a captive audience to Main Street business. Therefore, the TOD becomes a BONUS for Main Street, rather than a detraction.
  3. Parking space: MINIMIZE IT by getting a COMMITMENT from the MTA on reviving the Beacon Line to Fishkill (maybe Brinckerhoff, getting past Route 9 might be a problem, at first, but the reopened part could reasonably go to Hopewell Junction or even Beekman eventually). This puts a real dent in the number of people driving on Route 9D and parking at Beacon. Same concept as the ferry from Newburgh. The Beacon Line is a "land ferry": same reduction in congestion by repurposing a piece of Beacon's transport history.
Its a TRANSIT oriented development, right? The MTA owns the Beacon Line, right? This is such a no brainer.

Mayor Gold was mentioned in PoJo wanting to emphasize satellite parking, like at Dutchess Stadium. But the problem is, this increases the number of hops on somebody's commute and the time involved. Plenty would rather furtively park at Dia or on a sidestreet, and they will. I've seen people park at the River Terrace restaurant and walk to the train. And yes, the big curve on the Beacon Line will make the train slow, but if you reduce the number of hops and the time driving and the stress of parking, people will take the train from Fishkill. And in fact, considering the hassle of getting into and out of Beacon to park and walk to the train, it might even be faster than driving.

And they can catch a train in Fishkill right to the city, no transfer needed. With a reverse maneuver (the conductor just walks from one end of the train to another), the train can pull into Beacon, then continue onto Manhattan.

Other points:
  • There is a lot of federal grant money out there for more rail transportation. Of course, Beacon can't tap that, but the MTA can.
  • The MTA has an image problem in Dutchess with its onerous payroll tax. What are Dutchess residents getting for that money? Here is the answer.
  • The New Canaan Branch in Connecticut is roughly the same length and the same population density/ potential ridership. So if the New Canaan Branch is viable, why not the Beacon Line? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Canaan_Branch
  • East Main, with its own rail stop to New York City. Imagine the economic growth!
  • Finally, consider the MTA's own words when they purchased the line in 1995: http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F6061EFA395E0C768CD...

The purchase of the new line, called the Maybrook, is Metro-North's first acquisition since the railroad was established in 1983. While there are no immediate plans to develop the property, Donald N. Nelson, president of Metro-North, said that it would eventually become an important part of Metro-North's service.

"This is a rare opportunity to preserve for the public the possibility of east-west train travel in New York's outer suburbs," Mr. Nelson said. "This right of way was established more than a century ago and, if lost, would be impossible to re-create."

Mr. Nelson said it was not certain how soon the railroad could develop the new passenger service, though it might be within 10 years. But he said that had Metro-North not bought the Maybrook Line now, it would have almost certainly been sold off in small parts, a pattern seen with aging freight lines nationwide. "We are hedging against the future, knowing that if we had not secured this line, it would have ended up totally gone as a rail corridor for this region," Mr. Nelson said.

I hear all the naysayers now. "It's too expensive right now, it's not viable, blah blah blah." Look, the MTA purchased the dang line. For what? Either they should use it, or get out of the way. I don't care if the MTA turns the Beacon Line into Apple Orchards or a Pet Cemetery or a Skateboarding Park, whatever! Just USE the bleeping property for something already. The MTA cannot sit on the Beacon Line, prevent anyone else from using the thing, and do nothing with it themselves. No, completely unacceptable.

Ostensibly the MTA is a Public Service Corporation. A transit agency. They exist to serve us. This is not the NSA and a top secret government facility in Area 51, this is a train line running right through the middle of our city. The MTA cannot dismissively tell Beacon "we purchased it, and no one can use it, go away." Beacon in conjunction with Fishkill (they're short on cash, they need some positive, cash-infusing news) can get the MTA to commit to the Beacon Line. So 9D does not turn into a four line highway, which is what is going to happen if the Beacon Line is not revived.

The Beacon Line issue has to be bundled with the TOD. Mayor, city council: approach Fishkill, ask them if they are receptive to the idea. Please, as TOD talks are revived, from the ground floor on up, badger them mercilessly, don't let them poopoo or avoid the topic: have the MTA commit to a timeline, feasibility studies, anything to get the Beacon Line used again.

To revive the Beacon Line will be bigger than Dia in terms of infusing economic growth into our gem of a city. But we can't do anything without the MTA. So it must be part of the TOD as leverage. And if it doesn't happen, 9D will become a nightmare.

Views: 158

Tags: 9D, Beacon Line, Commuting, Fishkill, MTA, TOD

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Comment by Ben Royce on November 21, 2010 at 9:05pm
quick note:

http://beaconline.org has been updated with rants from this thread and other thoughts

cheers
Comment by Ben Royce on November 19, 2010 at 11:34am
okay will do frits ;-)
Comment by Frits Zernike on November 19, 2010 at 10:47am
Ben,

I'm on the Mayor's TOD committee, and we're now pursuing options for grants to develop serious ideas relating to transit oriented development in town. I agree with you about the need to integrate the Beacon Line into the equation, and this is something I'd like to bring up with the committee. Please contact me off line to continue this conversation. I think your input, given the research and thought you've already put into this, would be great.

Frits
Comment by Renee Q. on October 12, 2010 at 10:36am
Good luck and I wish you well.
Comment by Ben Royce on October 12, 2010 at 10:14am
Renee, thank you for the discussion, indeed.

We need to choose, and soon.

Southern Dutchess is growing. Nothing any of us in Beacon can do will stop that. Access to Beacon Station will need to grow. We need to decide in what way that access will be: 9D turning into an extension of i84 into a giant parking garage on our waterfront? (And how much does that cost? In financial terms and intangible terms.)

Or: grab those people in Fishkill, Hopewell Junction, Glenham, Brinkerhoff. And having their train do a reverse maneuver at Beacon and get into the city thataways. One seat ride to Grand Central from Fishkill.

That's the choice we have: parking garage or beacon line. Ferries help. Buses help. New Hamburg helps (but they don't want to become a parking lot either).

We need to focus on how the growth of Southern Dutchess is going to help, or hurt Beacon. And that is why I champion the Beacon Line, because I don't want a 4 lane 9D and a parking monstrosity on our waterfront. The Beacon Line can save Beacon from becoming Southern Dutchess's parking lot.
Comment by Renee Q. on October 12, 2010 at 10:01am
We will just have to disagree on this subject. Not everyone has the same point of view and that is what makes this country great. I am glad we each can express ourselves.

When I was mentioning the parking amount I was saying iot was a wash meaning it was not a pont for or against. I was not looking for stuff. As a commuter I did consider parking rates, but that is just me.

There are many points that I could add things to but we would just go back and forth.

Let us just agree to disagree.

Thanks for the discussion! I appreciate the banter.
Comment by Ben Royce on October 12, 2010 at 7:38am
renee: there doesn't have to be a platform. take any train on the new canaan/ danbury/ waterbury tracks... the jersey coastline, amtrak north of poughkeepsie, etc... you just take stairs. metronorth has a few of them laying around for construction projects

as for parking, right off route 9 at the train tracks in fishkill there is a cement plant with lots of available land

the demand exists: its everyone currently parking at beacon

easily accesible road: route 9

15-20 min: competitive with driving to beacon, and walking 10 minutes form the far ends of the lot or surreptitiously on side streets

danbury line, etc.: they cross rural roads, they are still viable

the cost of parking, etc...: you don't have to like the idea renee, but now you are just making stuff up and reaching, for the sake of what?

do you want i84 to be an extension on 9D? do you want our waterfront to be a parking garage? can beacon hold back the growth of southern dutchess? how do you want that growth to effect beacon?

the MTA, as quoted above, has every intention of using the beacon line. they PURCHASED the line in 1995... for what? growing weeds?

as for new hamburg: well then i am certain we could get people in new hamburg to help support us in this worthy cause to prevent their town from turning into a parking lot

the people in orange county take a bus or a ferry

"Maybe we should try to limit the growth within the Beacon Station..."

that's the whole point!! HOW do you do that? you provide ALTERNATE means of getting to the station: shuttle bus, ferry... and unused train line

my question is simple: for what reason do you prefer the line to lie fallow? i completely don't understand that motivation your part
Comment by Renee Q. on October 11, 2010 at 1:01pm
Ok, lets say that this is a workable plan. Where is the Fishkill stop? There has to be a platform and parking..lots of parking if we beieve it would be in great demand Where would that be? It would have to be on a easily accessible road. It would take 15-20 minutes each way for the commute as the crossing of small roads causes speed problems for the MTA. Federal guidelines control which roads are required to have arm crossings and in places where there are none the speed it GREATLY reduced. Think of the crossing with arms in Fishkill/RT 9 every 30 minutes during rush hour..yikes.
Then the cost of the parkign (same as in Beacon so that is a wash although parking is not done by the MTA but another company who has that concession fromt he MTA) and then the cost of the train..The same as a subway ride would be 2.50 now each way so 5.00 a day. What is the cost of park and ride?

MTA already said it was not cost effective to run a train on that line to Danbury not enough ridership. I would assume they woud have looked to see if it was feesible to do anything form either the Danbury or Beacon stations. Currently if you take the MTA line up from GTC to Danbury you have a few choices. Either super slow with conections through CT (never fun after a long day at work) or the Harlem line (super packed). I would imagine since Danbury has a train station that they woul have looked into running the line at least to Brewster North to help with that congestion.

You keep saying how each of the other towns around us are growing and how we have to grow because they are. In reality most people from Fishkill (East Fishkill and Hopewell as well) ride the train out of New Hamburg or bus to White Plais. When I commuted from Wappingers near 376 I came down to the New Hamburg station. I would NEVER come to Beacon to ride the train. A long drive. If I was going to drive that long and deal with town streets I would swing into Cold Spring. Easier to the trainstation, closer parking and sometimes if you are lucky (clear whethe and not icy) you can sit in your car till the whistle blows as the train approaches and get on the platform and to the train in plenty of time. Okay, so I hate standing on a cold platform! Most of the train traffic that backs up in Beacon is from Orange County because they have a TERRIBLE commute otherwise.

Maybe we should try to imit the growth within the Beacon Station area and promote the park and ride system or the idea of a ramp built by the MTA to the bridge. If people can not park then they will have to take the Park N Ride or go someplace else. The MTA owns some land under the bridge and some around. It is an option and woud have a HUGE impact on Beacon as a city. 9D would not have to be widened because the morning traffic trickles in and the evening would be pulled up on the bridge without going on 9D. Seems much easier to do than a train for a handfull of people. Just my opinion.

In the end the problem is as always money.
Comment by Ben Royce on October 10, 2010 at 12:01pm
Amy: what you are talking about is convenience

#1: people already take the ferry form newburgh. why drive and park in newburgh, walk to the ferry, take it, walk to the train, when you can just drive 10 more minutes to beacon station? answer: parking. have you ever walked from some of the distant park spots to the train? there's your 10 minutes right there

#2: a train to fishkill can perform a reverse maneuver at beacon. its easy, the conductor hits a switch. meaning you get in a train at fishkill, you get out at grand central

#3: southern dutchess is growing. nothing beacon can do about that. so we want to manage how that growth effects us. do you want a train into beacon station, or do you want a 4 lane 9d extension of i84 to a monstrous parking garage on our waterfront? how much doe sit cost to build a parking garage and update 9d? how much does it cost to install track signals and parking options in fishkill?

to me, your points about convenience are good ones, but ultimately, convenience argue in the favor of the beacon line running metronorth trains, not against it
Comment by Amy Brosey on October 10, 2010 at 11:09am
If most of the people who commute on MetroNorth are going to NYC to work, they are probably taking the subway to their offices once they get into Manhattan. I don't think people would walk or bike or drive and wait to take a smaller train to get to the MetroNorth train to get to the subway to get to their offices when they could easily drive to the Beacon Metro North station in 10 minutes and get the train from there. Or maybe I am not understanding this plan. I'm not saying it wouldn't be great to have an eco-friendly option, but I'm just not seeing people adding a third train to their commute when they could easily drive to the Beacon station in 10 minutes.

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