Archive for June, 2013

CapeFlyer Takes Off

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

by Dave Towers

No, this does not refer to Superman or any type of aircraft.  CapeFLYER is the new rail service between Boston and Hyannis, MA which began operating on Memorial Day weekend.  This service was introduced by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), in coordination with MassDOT and the MBTA, to create a car-free vacation as well as better multi-modal connections and to contribute to the “greening” of the state transportation system.  The train is scheduled to operate on weekends over the summer between Boston South Station and the Hyannis Transportation Center, making stops in Braintree, Middleborough and Buzzards Bay.



Hyannis Transportation Center

Hyannis Transportation Center

I decided to give CapeFLYER a try for a day trip on Sunday during the inaugural weekend, along with my wife and another couple.  There was little traffic during our early morning drive into Boston, and parking was available and reasonable ($8 for the day) at South Station.  We boarded the train and it departed promptly at 8:00 AM, reaching Hyannis at 10:30 AM – about 10 minutes late.  The ride was relaxing and relatively smooth, and no one seemed concerned about the schedule.  Up to Middleborough, the train runs on the newer MBTA Old Colony commuter line track and travels at a decent speed.  Between Middleborough and Hyannis, however, the rails are jointed and the speed limit is 30 mph. There are plans to upgrade the track which would shorten the trip.

Once in Hyannis, we had eight hours to spend before our return and easily filled the time by strolling along Main Street, checking out the shops and having a leisurely lunch. We also tried the free trolley bus which circulates around Hyannis and is a nice way to see the town. The driver even stopped so we could get coffee and a muffin at Dunkin Donuts – the coffee in the cafe car on the train left much to be desired and the food selection was limited.  On a warmer and sunnier day, we might have taken a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.  In addition, there are bus connections to other areas of Cape Cod and you can also bring your bicycle with you on the train to explore the Cape.

On the return trip, the CapeFLYER left Hyannis promptly at 6:30 PM.  The highlight of this part of the journey was getting the opportunity to have an extended conversation with former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who boarded the train in Buzzards Bay on the way back to Boston.  He was traveling with his wife Kitty and a grandson (who loves trains as much as his grandfather).  The Governor, who is a long-time staunch supporter of public transportation, was pleased with the ridership and has high hopes for the train service this time around (it didn’t last very long when it was previously introduced in the 1980’s).  He noted that there was a five-mile traffic backup going towards the Cape when he took the inaugural train down the Friday before.

The train returned to Boston South Station at 9:05 PM, about 20 minutes late after a delay waiting for the railroad drawbridge over the Cape Cod Canal to lower – again, no one on board seemed to mind.  Being at South Station, we were easily able to have a late dinner in nearby Chinatown before returning home.  All in all, it was a very pleasant day and we expect to make the trip again.  Hopefully there will be sufficient demand and funding to allow the CapeFLYER to continue running for a long time to come, and perhaps even to allow for expanded service somewhere down the road – I mean track!

The other far corner of North America…

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m writing from the Washington Airport Management Association Annual Meeting in Orcas Island (WA), where the soundscape is dominated by waves lapping on the shore of the seaplane base here at the Rosario Resort (ok and an occasional seaplane).  Actually stepped outside to measure it on my iPhone SLM app (see my post from Halifax). 

And this was the view from my window a few minutes ago.

View from the window

View from the window

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a small airports conference – it’s always a good reminder that these folks deal with it all: sessions range from Environmental Review of NextGen Implementation (mine) to Paint Prep Application and Preservation (not mine).