Nashua Regional Planning Commission Fishing For Commuter Rail

Is Rail a wasteful proposition?Regional Planning Commissions are unaccountable bodies of busy-bodies who operate outside the usual rules for political interference in your day to day life. They get access to and spend public money, and can serve as a pipeline for Federal political class priorities. They are also notoriously progressive, so when the Nashua Regional Planning Commission sets up a Nashua Regional Transportation Survey, the magic words that pop into your head should be how we get from here to ‘Commuter Rail.’

I mean, seriously. There’s money just laying around for this stuff, right? We should be spending it!

Tax money that could be driving down the debt or better yet laying around in your wallet instead of piling up in DC putting on make-up and high heels so it can find an easy mark. Hey Sailer, want to park your choo hoo in my station?

The next thing you know you’ve got a rash of spending issues because Federal money never lasts, and comes with strings you can’t cut that never go away, leaving you with a tiny nearly-empty tube of cream and a big itch. But I digress…a little.

The survey is thirty questions plus a spot for comments. It asks about how you get about doing various things from running errands to getting to and fro from work to going south to Boston or for travel around the region. Do you have family members who can’t drive?

Do you drive yourself, carpool, use cabs, buses, or ride-hailing services? Do you walk or use a bicycle? What do you think about congestion, how we generate revenue to address transportation infrastructure needs, and yes, there are questions about rial service and commuter rail.

The most obvious and critical is question Number twenty.

20. If commuter rail service were provided between North Station in Boston and downtown Nashua, how likely would you be to use the service for any of the purposes indicated below? Select no more than two.

Your choices are,

  • Daily or frequently to travel to work
  • Sometimes or occasionally to travel to work
  • Rarely to travel to work
  • Frequently to access recreational attractions or leisure activities
  • Sometimes or occasionally to access recreational attractions or leisure activities
  • Rarely to access recreational attractions or leisure acivities
  • I would not use commuter rail service between downtown Nashua and North Station in Boston

Yes, they misspell activities in the survey.

The question begs more questions, which are never asked. How much? How often? Where in Nashua? How far do I have to drive, walk, cab, or ride-hail my way there, how much is that, and why bother changing once I’m involved with one of those? And this is important.

Most of New Hampshire is not physically convenient to the Concord Manchester Nashua corridor. To get there they have to engage some other mode of transportation. And while people do that, it must be clear that any expansion of commuter rail will.

  • Be nearly impossible to get rid of if it arrives.
  • Will never ever pay for itself.
  • Will never get cheaper.
  • Will require taxpayers to backstop salaries, benefits, infrastructure maintenance (no matter what they tell you).
  • The taxpayer backstop will come out of the pockets (more than likely ) of hundreds of thousands of GraniteStaters will never use the damn thing.
  • Will siphon more employees off to jobs in Massachusetts.
  • Will (yes it will) ferry drugs, delinquents, and crime from Massachusetts into New Hampshire

And if rail is such a  great idea, what kind of congestion problems are created by adding a rail station in Nashua? How much will it cost to resolve parking and traffic up front and annually?

Rail still isn’t going to be more cost-effective. Just a few years ago the conservative estimates suggested that keeping I-93 updated would cost significantly less than adding and maintaining commuter rail. I doubt that’s changed, though I believe in my cynical heart that letting the public know that has.

And yes, we could go on at greater length, but I won’t because of two things.

First, whatever happened to the privately funded Commuter rail deal that was all the rage last fall. For-Profit commuter rail, coming to Nashua. Sure, it was a plan that would take advantage of federal grants and loans (not-for-profit) to address infrastructure and operating overhead, but the rent-seeker was private.

Second, Nashua wants this, and the progressive pantheon wants Nashua to get it ( so they can expand it northward), but in either case, if Nashua can’t afford it, I’m not subsidizing it. Or am I?

Well, that’s the point of the survey.  Nashua can’t afford it so to build a momentum narrative framed to justify expansion of commuter rail into Nashua at your expense, they will poll the masses and I mean masses.

They ask you for your zip code for home and work, but you can lie. There is no obvious mechanism to prevent that. So I’d bet the results will support whatever plan they have to force commuter rail on our wallets and pocketbooks.

If you take the survey let us know in comments or on our Facebook page.

You can find the survey here.

Steve is a New Hampshire resident, blogger, and activist. A member of the 603 Alliance, NHCMP, NHRVC, LFGC, and the host of GrokTALK! Please Note: My opinions are my own and not those of my Family, employers, politicians, campaigns, or other contributors or commenters at GraniteGrok