Manhattan has the High Line.
Poughkeepsie has The Walkway Over the Hudson.
The City of Beacon has the Beacon Line.
The Beacon Line Project is a long term advocacy group centered on finding ways to use this relic of Beacon’s industrial past. Whether light rail, trolley, hiking, biking, alone or in combination, the Beacon Line Project aims to draw attention to the line and potential plans for its use and to keep the drum beat alive until one vision or another is realized.
Contact us at the Beacon Line Project to submit your own ideas or to contribute in other ways to the worthy cause. The only vision that is not acceptable is the current status quo: that a potent transportation alternative, owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority no less, should run right through our city, and simply lie fallow.
Southern Dutchess is growing. Routes 9D and 52 are frequently clogged. Beacon Main Street parking and traffic is maxed out. No one wants to see the Beacon waterfront turn into a Croton Harmon-style parking lot for Southern Dutchess, and 9D turned into a four lane spur of i84. But more and more people will be clamoring to get to New York City as more and more move to the area. This is true no matter what happens with Beacon’s proposed T.O.D.
And yet there exists, a relic of our industrial heritage, a train line, perfectly positioned to solve our transportation problems and to turbocharge Beacon and Fishkill’s residential, business, and tourist growth. Not an archeological train line. Not an abandoned rotting one. A line, in fact, owned and maintained by the M.T.A. Yes, the M.T.A.: not a freight operator, but our regional transit agency. Really? Kevin has inspected the line.
We can’t control growth outside Beacon, so we must revive the Beacon Line if we want a livable city, even if the T.O.D. doesn’t happen. At least with the T.O.D., we have some leverage to bundle the issue when we sit down with the M.T.A. and broach this subject with them and attempt to cajole them into reviving the line.
The M.T.A. is broke. Even with fare increases and an onerous payroll tax, they have serious problems with revenues and their operating budget. Suggesting to them an extension of service, at this time, to the M.T.A. brass, is simply a nonstarter, a joke, even though the M.T.A. eventually does want extension of service on the Beacon Line, similar in size and projected ridership levels as The New Canaan Branch. Consider the M.T.A.’s own words when they purchased the line in 1995 (note that the Maybrook Line is another name for the Beacon Line):
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.
Kevin has an answer for the M.T.A.: turn a line they currently maintain and don’t see any revenue from, into a revenue generator, by outsourcing operations:
As far as ‘just’ getting MNCRR to run revenue passenger trains on the BD line I don’t think that will happen. However the total take over is kind of what I had thought SHOULD be done. But even if a big pile of ARRA funded cash is offered – the MTA MNRR ‘politburo’ will most likely say ‘nyet.’ However as perhaps a more feasible option – if enticed with the agreement that a seperate transit entity were to do most of the work (except for the ROW upgrade, MNCRR could be ‘hired’ to do this) and provide the ARRA (and other available special FRA RR funding) funded big bucks to fix and ultimately upgrade the track, buy the new DMUs, etc. AND pay them to operate and maybe maintain (or maybe not) said rail vehicles on the rehabilitated and upgraded track – much in the same way the LOOP and the Westchester Bee line buses are operated – the county of Dutchess or Westchester gets the funding for and purchases the vehicles, sets the fares and Liberty Lines manages, maintains, and operates the Bee Line buses – the county pays them a flat fee to do this. And so maybe?
This could be done for the Southern Dutchess section of the BD line – Beacon-Fishkill transit or South County Transit District or whatever they would be named, would get the big bucks funding to do all immediate repairs on the track, make some simple stations, set the fare, work out the scheduling, etc. Of course a good chunk of the money would go to the MTA MNCRR for use of their track and to operate the trains.
One would THINK this would be an offer they could not refuse – the financialy troubled MTA would be, get this… actually making money from this line – a steady pre agreed upon yearly fee.
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 will even be faster than driving.
We can even reduce the parking at Beacon Station, and increase it at stops on the Beacon Line. Especially by putting a new Park-and-Ride on the West side of 9D, parallel with Dutchess Stadium (and replace the barely used current Park-and-Ride at Dutchess stadium that relies on buses). There is an old unused industrial property situated at the terminus of the third track that you see looking North on the Hudson Line from the Beacon Station. The existence of this third track means you can run our proposed local Beacon Line transit without interfering with MetroNorth, Amtrak, or C.S.X. (except where the line crosses the two main Hudson Line tracks to get to Beacon Station, of course):