A CapeFlyer train at Buzzards Bay
|Service type||Regional rail|
|First service||May 24, 2013|
|Current operator(s)||CCRTA using MBTA trains|
|Former operator(s)||New Haven Railroad
|End||Hyannis Transportation Center|
|Distance travelled||78 miles (126 kilometres)|
|Average journey time||2 hours 19 minutes|
Friday, Saturday and Sundays,
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Track owner(s)||MBTA, MassDOT|
The CapeFlyer (stylized CapeFLYER) is a passenger rail service in Massachusetts between Boston and Cape Cod that began in 2013. It is operated by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The service runs on the weekends, beginning Friday evenings and including holidays, between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.
During 2013, its first season, the CapeFLYER carried a total of 16,586 passengers, with service extended from Labor Day to Columbus Day weekend due to its early success. In October 2013, MassDOT announced the service would return in 2014 and in subsequent years, and would add a stop in Wareham, Massachusetts beginning in 2014. Year-round weekend service over the route and full commuter rail service as far as Buzzards Bay are under consideration.
It is the first scheduled passenger train to Cape Cod since Amtrak's Cape Codder ceased operation in 1996, and the first direct service between South Station in Boston and Cape Cod since 1961. The Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad operated scheduled service between the Braintree MBTA Station, a suburb south of Boston, and the Cape from 1984 until 1988, but did not extend that service to Boston proper.
- 1 Route
- 2 History
- 3 Ridership
- 4 Finances
- 5 Expansion and development
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The CapeFLYER utilizes the MBTA Middleborough/Lakeville Line from Boston's South Station to Middleborough and continues to Hyannis via the Cape Main Line, a state-owned corridor used for freight (via the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad) and heritage service (via the Cape Cod Central Railroad).
Scheduled travel time between Boston and Hyannis, a distance of 78 miles, is about 2 hours and 15 minutes; Friday service to Hyannis takes 2 hours and 38 minutes due to additional local stops between South Station and Middleborough/Lakeville. The relatively slow running time is due to the current track conditions on Cape Cod, which presently limits the speed of passenger trains on the Cape to just 30 miles per hour. Extensive track rehabilitation was completed in early 2013, resulting in faster operating speeds between Middleborough and Buzzards Bay.
Fare and ticket information
The adult fare between Boston and Hyannis is $22 one-way and $40 round-trip. CapeFLYER tickets, which are unreserved, can be purchased at the ticket office in South Station or on board the train at no additional cost, as well as being purchased with the MBTA mTicket App.
The CapeFLYER connects with shuttle buses to the Steamship Authority ferry dock in Woods Hole for service to Martha's Vineyard. Additionally, CCRTA buses provide service to other destinations, notably Falmouth and Sandwich.
CapeFLYER connects with CCRTA's existing Fixed Route bus network and shuttles buses to the Hy-Line Cruises and Steamship Authority ferry docks, for service to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The CapeFLYER also connects to the Plymouth & Brockton motor coach service to the Outer Cape.
Early railroads on Cape Cod
The first passenger train, which was operated by the Cape Cod Railroad Company, arrived in Hyannis on July 8, 1854. It is said that the train was met by a crowd estimated at 3,000. Immediately the line started running three trains a day to and from Boston.
Year-round direct passenger service between Boston and Hyannis continued until June 30, 1959 when the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NH) ended passenger service on its Old Colony division. Up until that time, daily passenger service between Boston and Cape Cod had been operated to both Hyannis and Woods Hole with trains such as The Cranberry, The Sand Dune, and The Buttermilk Bay Service to Provincetown ended in 1941. The bridge over the Neponset River between Dorchester and Quincy burned soon after, preventing the quick return of service on the Old Colony Main Line.
From 1960 to 1964 NH operated weekend service from New York to Hyannis/Woods Hole. Riding from Boston generally required a change of trains in either Attleboro or Providence, though a Boston-Hyannis trip ran via Stoughton and Taunton briefly in mid-1961.
Since then, numerous attempts have been made to restore regular passenger service. In 1974 officials from Penn Central, the owner of the rail lines on the Cape at that time, met with state and local officials to discuss the possible restoration of service. Most remaining trackage on the Cape was purchased by the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1976 to preserve the infrastructure for both freight service and future passenger service. A trial passenger train between Hyannis, Buzzards Bay and Falmouth, was operated for a week in the summer of 1979 after trackage was rehabilitated. Politicians hoped to have service regularly operating by 1981.
Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad
During the summers of 1984 to 1988 the Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad operated scheduled passenger service between Braintree and Cape Cod, with service to both Hyannis and Falmouth. The one-way trip to Hyannis took 2 hours and 25 minutes. In its last year of service, the Braintree to Cape Cod service carried 89,000 passengers. It was the last time Falmouth was served by passenger trains; derelict trackage was dismantled south of North Falmouth in 2007 and replaced with an extension of the Shining Sea Bikeway.
The Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad ceased operation in February 1989 when the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Construction suspended the subsidy for the 1989 season due to the state's fiscal crisis.
Amtrak's Cape Codder and other service
From 1986 to 1996 Amtrak operated a train known as the Cape Codder from Washington, DC/New York City to Hyannis. The service was routed from Attleboro to Taunton via a section of track that was once part of the Taunton Branch Railroad. Traveling between Boston and Cape Cod required transferring to Providence/Stoughton Line or Regional service at Providence. The Cape Codder was discontinued after 1996, despite moderate success, due to the end of the state subsidy.
The Middleborough/Lakeville Line opened in September 1997 along with the Plymouth/Kingston Line, restoring passenger service to 60 miles of the Old Colony network. Initial plans called for full service as far as Buzzards Bay, but the final route was scaled back due to high costs and uncertain ridership. In 2007, a Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization report analyzed the possibility of an extension to Buzzards Bay. At that time ridership was estimated to be between 1,766 weekday riders with four daily trips, and 2,750 riders with all Middleborough trains extended to Buzzards Bay.
The Cape Cod Railroad operated excursion service from 1989 to 1997, followed by the Cape Cod Central Railroad starting in 1999. However, neither service ventured north of Buzzards Bay and occasionally Wareham, making them largely useless for those traveling to the Cape from outside areas.
In early 2011 the CCRTA awarded a contract to the Transportation Planning and Resource Group, a consulting firm, to study the "obstacles, impediments and funding issues associated with reviving passenger rail service to Cape Cod." At that time the CCRTA had hoped to launch seasonal rail service from Boston for the summer of 2012. The launch of service was pushed back a year, to 2013, in part to avoid the perception that the CCRTA's new service to the Cape might be adding to the MBTA's fiscal problems.
In late 2012 the CCRTA announced that a decision had been made to restore passenger service between Boston South Station and Cape Cod starting Memorial Day weekend 2013. The Patrick-Murray administration made the announcement official on April 2, 2013 at a press conference at South Station in Boston.
A test train with passengers aboard was run on May 18, 2013 - the first direct train from Boston to Cape Cod since 1961, and the first via the Old Colony main line since 1959.
The CapeFLYER's inaugural journey departed South Station at 5:12 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2013, with about 200 passengers destined for Buzzards Bay and Hyannis.
Over its first five weekends of service in 2013 ridership totalled just over 6,000 riders. On July 24, 2013 CCRTA announced that the CapeFLYER had carried nearly 1,000 passengers over the previous weekend, the highest non-holiday weekend total to date. At that time, the service had carried 8,100+ riders over its first 9 weekends of operation. Ridership over the 5-day Fourth of July weekend was 2,377 passengers, with 1,304 Cape-bound trips and 1,073 return trips. On Sunday, July 7, 2013 a total of 672 people traveled back on the last train of the weekend - the same day a 25-mile traffic jam on Route 6 and gridlock at the Sagamore Bridge occurred.
The final total for the 2013 season was 16,586 passengers.
Ridership was 1,037 passengers for the first operating weekend of 2014, a 28% increase over the same weekend in 2013. Prior to its final weekend, service in 2014 earned $202,000 in fares, again more than matching its operating costs. For the entire 2014 season, the CapeFlyer carried about 12,600 passengers, down from about 15,000 in a similar time frame from the year before. Fare revenue for the service brought in $221,000, with $93,000 brought in with advertising. This was down from $293,000 for the 2013 season (including the period after Labor Day), and $27,000 in advertising revenue.
In its inaugural season the CapeFlyer generated $290,756 in fare revenue and its operating costs were estimated to be $180,000 to $190,000. Marketing costs during the first year were between $110,000 and $120,000. These costs were offset by ticket sales and revenue collected from on-board concessions and advertising.
The capital costs associated with the start of the CapeFLYER in 2013 were approximately $3.4 million. This included track surfacing, fresh track ballast, installation of new railroad ties, new signage, improvements to the Buzzards Bay and Hyannis stations, and repairs to numerous grade crossings along the Cape Main Line.
MassDOT's draft Capital Investment Plan for FY2014-FY2018 includes $31 million to complete track and signal projects necessary to restore permanent, seasonal Cape Flyer passenger service to Cape Cod.
In 2014 a new station platform in Wareham was constructed and the station platforms in Buzzards Bay and Hyannis were expanded, at a total cost of about $2.5 million.
Expansion and development
Less than a week after the service launched Thomas Cahir, the Administrator of the CCRTA, announced that the CapeFLYER would stop at the station in Wareham starting in 2014. The CapeFLYER does not currently stop at the Cape Cod Central Railroad stations in Sandwich or West Barnstable in an effort to get the train to Hyannis in a reasonable amount of time.
In October 2013, MassDOT announced that the CapeFLYER would be a permanent seasonal service, with a study to be made of year-round weekend service. The MassDOT announcement included confirmation of the addition of the Wareham stop in 2014, though Cahir backtracked on his previous statement saying the stop was not "fiscally prudent." However, CCRTA and MassDOT proceeded with plans for the Wareham stop. Construction of a high-level platform at Wareham began in April 2014, and the CapeFLYER began stopping there in late June.
In September 2014 it was announced that MassDOT is considering a new CapeFLYER station stop in Bourne for the 2015 season. The new 400-foot station platform, as proposed, would be built at the railroad right of way below the Bourne Bridge approach.
MassDOT has also announced plans to restore a siding on the north side of the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and to install a new double-ended 4,000-foot passing siding just south of the canal. The new track work, and associated switches and signals, would facilitate multiple train moves during a single bridge drop.
- "Governor Patrick Announces Permanent Seasonal Service for Cape Flyer, New Science Building for Cape Cod Community College". The Official Website of the Governor of Massachusetts. 29 October 2012. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "Governor Announces Cape Flyer Permanent Seasonal Service". Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- Kinsella, James (16 August 2013). "Cape Commuter Rail Is A Real Possibility". Cape News. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- Belcher, Jonathan (23 March 2013). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
- Transportation Planning and Resource Group (May 2012). PHASE I Project Report: Cape Cod Seasonal Passenger Rail Service. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "CapeFLYER 2014 Schedule". CCRTA. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- Cape Rail Digest (Cape Cod Chapter, National Railway Historical Society). April 2013.
- Grundstrom, Gretchen (April 11, 2013). "Cape Flyer train plans to traverse Rochester, Wareham". Wareham Courier. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- "Schedules and Fares". CCRTA. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- "GATRA Bus to Meet CapeFLYER in Wareham". GATRA. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- "Upper Cape". CCRTA. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
- "Mid-Cape". CCRTA. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
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- "Dukakis Budget Would End Braintree-Cape Rail Subsidy". Boston Globe. January 28, 1989. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
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- Overholt, Emily (10 July 2013). "For some, train to Cape Cod beats the traffic jams". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "CapeFlyer Announces Highest Weekend Ridership" (Press release). Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- "CapeFlyer train has strong Fourth of July showing". The Cape Cod Times. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "Governor Offers Dual Boosts for Cape". Cape Cod Times. October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
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- "MassDOT Releases Five-Year Investment Plan". MassDOT. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
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- Rebhan, Jaime (May 28, 2013). "First weekend of Cape train service successful, Wareham stop planned". Wareham Week. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- "CapeFLYER will fly by WB". The Barnstable Patriot. December 20, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- Cassidy, Patrick (29 October 2013). "Governor offers dual boosts for Cape". Cape Cod Times. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "New Wareham CapeFLYER Stop Opens" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
- "Chamber: Bring on commuter rail to Wareham, Buzzards Bay". Wicked Local Wareham. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- "Bourne Stop on Cape Flyer Route to be Considered For Next Season". CapeCod.com. 4 September 2014.
- "New Bourne Capeflyer Station meeting to be held by MassDOT Dec. 1". Wareham Courier. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
- Harris, Patricia; Lyon, David (June 8, 2013). "The CapeFlyer to Hyannis". The Boston Globe.
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- "Cape Cod welcomes the CapeFLYER". The Barnstable Patriot. March 24, 2013.
- Transportation Planning and Resource Group (March 2012). Phase I Project Report: Cape Cod Seasonal Passenger Rail Service (Report). http://www.scribd.com/doc/116840547/PHASE-I-Project-Report-Cape-Cod-Seasonal-Passenger-Rail-Service.
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