Town Readying For Start Of Summer Passenger Trains To The Cape
By: Diana T. Barth
Summer weekend passenger train service from Boston to Hyannis is being marketed across Massachusetts and beyond, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Thomas S. Cahir told Bourne’s Main Street Steering Committee this week.
He said trains wrapped in advertising touting the CapeFLYER service are already criss-crossing the state and printed flyers are showing up everywhere from South Station to tourist sites.
Now, he said, is the time to explore what that service will mean locally.
Mr. Cahir updated members of the Bourne committee on the plans for the train, which is set to run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
An inaugural dry run that will bring a select group of legislators, government officials, and transportation planners down to the Cape to dedicate the new CapeFLYER service is being planned for the week before the train’s start.
The only significant criticism he has heard of the plan for the trains so far is that there are not more stops, he said. Wareham, Sandwich and West Barnstable all wanted one.
Buzzards Bay is the only Cape Cod town to have a stop before the CapeFLYER reaches its destination at the Hyannis Transportation Center, Mr. Cahir said.
The other stops along the way include South Station, Braintree, Holbrook, Montello, Brockton, Campello, Bridgewater and Middleborough.
Mr. Cahir said more stops may be added next year, but that this first year, the CCRTA and transportation planners focused on keeping the ride to the Cape to as close to two hours as possible.
The cost to ride the train is $20 one-way or $35 round-trip. Riders can bring their bikes for free.
“Getting to the Cape has never been so easy,” said the advertisement for the CapeFLYER that Mr. Cahir showed the Bourne committee this week.
That means people riding the train can both beat the traffic and, he said, stay off the roads and bridges.
From Buzzards Bay, those exiting the train will be met by transit authority buses and other links to destinations such as Sandwich, Falmouth, Woods Hole, and the islands.
Buzzards Bay, he said, should be prepared for those who want to bike the canal, have lunch, and explore.
The steering committee members quickly agreed.
The transit authority has already reached out to at least one taxi service, but committee members knew of more.
Both CCRTA employees and committee members, who include Marie Oliva of the Cape Cod Region Chamber of Commerce, Bourne Town Planner Coreen V. Moore, and Pamela R. Matheson of the Buzzards Bay Beautification Group, discussed plans to make sure Bourne’s businesses are aware of and ready for the weekend trains.
Mr. Cahir said someone from the transit authority would be there to direct people to, for example, the buses heading to Woods Hole and the ferry, but planning board chairman Christopher J. Farrell, also a Main Street Steering Committee member, had an expanded vision of how Bourne could welcome visitors.
He started by discussing the needs of bicyclists who might be on those trains.
He pulled out his cell phone and showed a photograph of a bike rack shaped like a fish that had caught his attention while traveling. People had stopped and had their picture taken with the rack, he said.
Ms. Oliva, who said the old, tired bike rack in front the chamber offices on Main Street were well-used, said she might consider a replacement like that.
Mr. Farrell said that one thing Bourne might do for bikers is install signs that direct them from the end the Cape Cod Canal path or the end of Main Street sidewalks across Scenic Highway and on a safe route across the Bourne Bridge and to points south.
The ideas for making visitors welcome began to flow, including a discussion of the ways available to bring bicyclists to the start of the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth.
CCRTA buses, Mr. Cahir said, do not have the capacity to carry more than a couple of bikes. The need for transport that carries bikes, those present said, provides an opportunity for expanded commerce.
Sallie K. Riggs of the Bourne Financial Development Corporation, of which the steering committee is a part, mentioned the crowds of people who will be coming for the 2014 celebration of the Cape Cod Canal’s 100th anniversary.
That segued the conversation to parking and other issues.
Mr. Farrell and Mr. Cahir agreed that the parking at the Buzzards Bay station was adequate for the weekend trains in normal years. Mr. Farrell pointed out, however, that Bourne planners need to look at ensuring that there is a safe, perhaps even designated turn-around for those from Sandwich, Wareham, and other nearby points who come to the station to pick up guests coming in on the train. Ms. Oliva thought that most people would turn around by the chamber building.
Selectman and former police chief John A. Ford Jr. mentioned the fear that he has heard from residents that the train will ultimately mean a surcharge imposed on the town by the MBTA.
The CapeFLYER is sponsored by Cape Cod’s transit authority, but it involves the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.
Mr. Cahir answered Mr. Ford by saying that the weekend service is being run by the CCRTA, and that it pays for the use of the MBTA trains. The CapeFLYER, he said, is not an MBTA service.
The Friday night train will depart from South Station at 5:12 PM and arrive in Hyannis at 7:50 PM. The cars heading to the Cape on what is normally a commuter run will be specially designated. That train will arrive in Buzzards Bay at 6:50 PM. The hour it takes to get from Bourne to Hyannis is, in part, a measure of how much more slowly the train needs to go. That, Mr. Cahir explained, is caused by both a difference in the type of rail and the fact that the line runs through residential neighborhoods.
The Friday night train will not stay on Cape overnight, Mr. Cahir said. It leaves Hyannis at 8:30 PM, getting back to Boston at 10:45 at night.
On Saturday and Sunday, people can take the train from Boston at 8 AM and be in Hyannis by 10:18 in the morning.
It will head back to Boston at 6:30 PM on those two days, arriving at South Station at 8:45 in the evening.
Those riding the weekend train to the Cape will arrive in Buzzards Bay at 8:18 AM.
Whether or not there are 10 people departing Buzzards Bay, or 100, Bourne needs to welcome them, Mr. Farrell said.
Ms. Oliva is already thinking about a welcome CapeFLYER banner for the side of the chamber building that faces the tracks.
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