News Brief

MBTA track work will affect the Downeaster schedule this weekend. Check out the Priority Alert on the Downeaster website.

Summaries of NNEPRA's monthly board meetings

NNEPRA May Board Meeting - FY2017 Continues Growth

FY173Ridership Report:
Executive Director Patricia Quinn briefed the NNEPRA Board on the Downeaster's Performance.  With one more quarter to go, FY2017 has already eclipsed FY2016 in ridership and revenue. Only two months, October and November, saw a decrease in ridership.

FY2017 is well ahead of FY2016 by 33,954 riders or 9%. 

Revenue in FY2017 to date was $6,425,859 compared to $5,990,533 - an increase of 7%

Brunswick Layover Facility:
From the Performance Report: "During the first full season in the BLF, the Downeaster posted strong ridership gains and our best on-time-performance in five years." Trains did not have to spend the winter months outdoors but were inside the new facility, where 50-degree temperature made ice and snow removal far easier for the appreciative maintenance crews.

Read more: NNEPRA May Board Meeting - FY2017 Continues Growth

NNEPRA February Board Meeting Hears Good News

NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn was pleased to share the strong ridership and revenue numbers

DEPerform2 17First, ridership set a new February record of 37,275 which is 1,321 riders above February of last year. Ridership YTD is 27,816 above the similar period of last year.

Second, revenue set a new February record of $675,094 which is $56,280 above February of last year. Revenue YTD is $381,670 above the similar period of last year.

Third, the Joint Government Oversight Committee of the Maine State Legislature voted 7-3 to discontinue any further investigation of NNEPRA. Last year's investigation had given NNEPRA high marks for its management of the Downeaster service. The investigation had been a pet project of former senator Stan Gerzovski of Brunswick. He tried to bind the new incoming committee to conduct another investigation - the committee voted "no."

Fourth, the very popular Dome car will be back this year from mid-August to late September. You can remember last year's success by going here. 

Read more: NNEPRA February Board Meeting Hears Good News

Good News: The Downeaster Set a Ridership Record for the Month of January!

de snowJanuary & February are normally lean months for Downeaster ridership, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that "America's Favorite Train" set a January record. NNEPRA Executive Director Patricia Quinn reported the numbers at 37,915 as compared to 30,979 for January of 2016.

February is expected to set a new record as well (Amtrak has yet to release those numbers). Attendees to the Patriots parade in Boston on February 6th packed the trains - an extra coach was even added to one of the trainsets.Congratulations to the NNEPRA staff, the Amtrak crews and the dedicated passengers who chose to "ride the rails" rather than fight traffic and take out a second mortgage for parking.

Here's the full Board Packet that was distributed at the meeting.

August, 2016 NNEPRA Board Meeting

Preliminary Report FY2016: The numbers showed continued recovery of the Downeaster service from the botched tie-job of FY 2015 and part of FY2016. 

Ridership: Projected ridership was down by 2% and revenue by 3%. However, this June's ridership numbers showed an increase of 23,109 to a total of 42,605 over the paltry 19,496 of the previous June. 

On Time Performance: I'll pick last year's worst OTP month - May of 2015 was 0% This May it was 81% - not the 90ish NNEPRA is aiming for, but a spectacular return to normalcy.

Overall Customer Satisfaction - June, 2016: The Downeaster continued to eclipse Amtrak service elsewhere with a 92% rating as opposed to Amtrak's 86%.

FY2017 Begins: July, the first month of of the new fiscal year, set a new ridership record of 51,402 passengers and that's an increase of 14,053 riders over July of FY2016. 

Fall Tie Replacement: There remains considerable track work to be done this Fall. From October 1st to November 21st, some 15,000 ties will be replaced between Portland and Wells. This will necessitate no Downeaster service between Brunswick and Wells. Special bus service will bring southbound passengers from Brunswick, Freeport, Portland and Saco down to Wells. Similar service will transport northbound passengers after they reach Wells on the Downeaster. Another painful reminder that maintaining the tracks keeps railroad service up to expectations.

Read more: August, 2016 NNEPRA Board Meeting