At East-West Rail Meeting, Lots Of Enthusiasm For $25 Billion Option
At a public meeting held a week after Massachusetts officials released six options for expanded rail service from Pittsfield to Boston, speakers largely favored a $25 billion proposal to build new high-speed tracks.
The cheapest option the east-west rail study outlined, at $2 billion, would bus passengers from the Berkshires to Springfield, and run trains on mostly existing freight tracks to Worcester, where they could transfer to a commuter train.
But Irene Pereira, a music teacher from Ludlow, said the high-end option of electric high-speed rail from Pittsfield to Boston is worth the investment.
“Can we just sort of bite the bullet, and tell Boston, ‘Sorry, our turn,’” she said at the meeting Wednesday.
Likewise, Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman pointed to costly transportation projects in greater Boston, like MBTA extensions and the Big Dig.
“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it is about time we saw spending and infrastructure equity across the Commonwealth.”
Local officials and others have expressed suspicion of lower-than-expected ridership projections included in the MassDOT study.
Many who spoke – including Greenfield resident John Garrett – didn't buy those numbers.
“I don’t really trust your ridership estimates. I don’t trust the gist of the study,” Garrett said. “I think this is a sand-bagging, and I think the people of western Massachusetts are smart enough to figure out when they’re trying to be fooled.”
The study MassDOT released last week concluded the cheapest option would have about 36 daily users, and the most expensive would have just over 800.
In the coming months, an advisory committee will narrow down the six options to three, for further study.