Pollack not comparing apples to apples

Pollack not comparing apples to apples

N-S Rail Link study is too watered down

WE DISAGREE with Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack’s “apples-to-apples” comparison of the South Station expansion and North-South Rail Link projects, especially with the corresponding studies currently being prepared. What the secretary fails to note is that the projects are not being given a level playing field. MassDOT has spent nearly $40 million studying South Station expansion, yet is offering a mere $1.5 to $2 million for the North-South Rail Link study. That is only “apples to apples” if one is fresh and the other is plastic.

The other major difference between the two studies is how MassDOT watered down the scope for the North-South Rail Link. For example, as currently specified, the North-South Rail Link study does not include updated ridership models (instead using highly dated estimates from 2009-2011) or a health and environmental analysis. Nor does it include an updated cost analysis using modern technology for both construction and operation, which is critical in arriving at a realistic estimate, as well as alleviating concerns over another “Big Dig.”

We strongly urge Pollack, MassDOT, and the Legislature to require a more comprehensive scope for the North-South Rail Link study. The only way the two projects can be given equal footing is if the state starts to take the rail link seriously.

Boston is on track to be the only city in the world without an integrated rail network. We cannot allow the state to remain so historically shortsighted.

Joseph Anton Aiello is a council representative with the National Association of Railroad Passengers and Thomas J. Girsch is northeast division leader of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. Aiello is not related to Joseph Aiello, who chairs the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board.