To the Editor:

Your recent article on the Downeaster (“Ridership on expanded Downeaster route up,” Nov. 14, Page A1) touted the fact that 52,000 people used the train during the past year. Let me acquaint you with some other claims made by the railroad’s operator since its inception.

It will cost $41.3 million.

It will employ 200 people whose average wage would be $27 per hour and include full insurance coverage.

There will be three trains per day carrying more than 100 passengers; 22,400 over the next eight months.

Now let’s look at the facts.

The actual cost has been $38 million so far, and does not include the projected $12 million for the storage shed, for an estimated total of $50 million.

No figures have been forthcoming as to the actual number of new employees or their wages.

There are two trains per day and — at the 52,000 claimed for the year ending Oct. 31 — this means average ridership going to and from Brunswick is just more than 35 per day, per trip — not enough to fill half of one car of the five-car train.

Given the claims of the operator the cost of just the upgrades and labor based on a 10-year loan at 4 percent, and no increase in labor plus $10,000 for health insurance, the daily cost is $65,000 or $464 per passenger trip.

To put this in perspective, the Concord Trailways bus that carries passengers to the same points in Brunswick and Portland at $20 per passenger, one way, the railroad would have to carry more than 3,250 people each trip — more than 16 percent of the population of Brunswick — to cover this cost.

The foregoing does not even include the cost of fuel, maintenance, or the cost of the rolling stock.

Unfortunately, it tells you an awful lot about the gullibility of the public and the veracity of the politicians who sell these schemes. A similar case can be made for the Brunswick Explorer.

Besides, the train burns a hell of lot more fuel per passenger than the bus and doesn’t require land that could be put to better uses. That should make the Greens happy.

Fred Blanchard
Brunswick