Letter: Portland-NYC bus service is the way to go

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Harry Blunt, principal of Concord Coach Lines, deserves a transportation sanity award for his recently announced intention to operate direct, non-stop, first-class bus service from Portland to New York City, starting next month. While TrainRiders/Northeast clamors for a multi-stop train in that market, requiring massive expenditures for physical plant improvements and equipment – and an undetermined ongoing subsidy – Blunt chooses to risk his own capital on an innovation to be supported solely by (gasp) its users.

The special 30-passenger motor coaches promise to set a new standard for inter-city ground travel that should preempt further agitation by the “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a train?” crowd to institute rail service that would not be competitive in time, comfort, or price without inordinate taxpayer support. Most importantly, if Blunt’s plan doesn’t work, Concord is left with a couple of buses that can be used elsewhere, not an entire rail route upgraded to an impractical speed standard for freight service that would be a national “white elephant” for imprudent judgment.

Blunt’s initiative proves that the competitive spirit is alive and well. Bus operators are far better positioned to take advantage of perceived market opportunities than those whose mission is finding ways to spend taxpayers’ money on highly speculative passenger-rail ventures requiring massive outlays for single-purpose infrastructure. As a general rule, if a given route can’t support a bus, there is no reason even to think about a train.

George C. Betke Jr., president
Transport Economics

  • Bowdoin81


  • Queenie42

    So, once again I ask this question – why build the massive, industrial maintenance facility in a downtown neighborhood for local use train sets? I think people will find, too late, that this facility will be used for the overflow maintenance for Boston area train sets. After all, the land was bought long before the charade of making us think they were considering other sites. This was a done deal. Period.
    These busses make sense and we do not have to subsidize the price of a ticket for the few who use a train, subsidize the cost of track replacement, nor subsidize throwing hard earned tax dollars down a rat hole of incompetence and mismanagement.
    All Aboard Busses!!

  • poppypapa

    NNEPRA says they draw their locomotives from an assortment of 90 or so belonging to Amtrak in the Northeast area. What’s the chances that ‘industrial maintenance shed’ will be used as the best place to service all or most of the 90? It will likely be the only fully enclosed such facility in the region.

    For more interesting info, take a look here:


    which will give you a place to find a ‘study’ of Downeaster Economic Benefits for Brunswick.