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RAIL MATTERS REAL STORIES FROM REAL PEOPLE

We've reached out to our communities and asked people to share their stories of how high speed rail will change their lives and stitch our state together, lifting every corner of our Commonwealth.

These are their stories...

"I live in East Longmeadow and I'm starting a new tech company. I need highly specialized employees that I can only find in the Boston area or outside of MA. With a rail, I could open an office here and have them commute to a physical location. Instead I will have to start a company without a physical location here, and rely on employees working remotely, so there isn't really an incentive for me to keep the company in MA at all, meaning, all the taxes it would pay go to another state." -Sam, East Longmeadow, MA

"Rail service to Boston would help UMass researchers more effectively connect to the biotech industry that is centered in Cambridge. Moving these biotech jobs west would be good for the people of the Pioneer Valley, for the scientists at UMass Amherst, and for the biotech industry. - Michael Knapp, Belchertown, MA

"It would have been so much less stressful if this rail was in place when my husband was traveling to Dana Farber every other week for chemo treatments. The traffic on Mass Pike was just terrible. We live in Belchertown and it generally took over two hours to get home after treatments. High speed rail would have helped us in this stressful time." - Maryalice Moran, Belchertown, MA

"I live in Palmer Massachusetts, walking distance from the old Palmer train depot. I have 2 adult children living in Worcester and Framingham. My daughter who lives in Worcester does not drive, so whenever she comes to visit, I must drive 2 hours to bring her to my home for the day, then another 2 hours round trip to bring her home. The traffic on the Mass Turnpike sometimes turns those 2 hour trips into 3 hour nightmares. As I get older, I find the drive becoming more difficult every year. My other daughter who resides in Framingham with her husband, wants to purchase her first home soon. She has a fantastic job in Worcester, but home prices are so high in the Eastern part of the state that she may have to save for another 10 years to claim her piece of the American dream. Train service from Palmer, which is a lovely place to raise a family away from the big cities, would open the housing market to many who work in the eastern part of the state and allow them to become homeowners and still keep their jobs. I would love to visit my family more often, and rail service from western Massachusetts would allow me to do so. Once again the taxpayers west of Worcester seem to be forgotten by Beacon Hill. When will our voices be heard in the Commonwealth? We are citizens, taxpayers, voters, just like those residents to our east. We deserve 21st century services in our community. Please reconsider a high speed rail service for the Western MA constituents." - Wendy Deshais, Palmer, MA

My other daughter who resides in Framingham with her husband, wants to purchase her first home soon. She has a fantastic job in Worcester, but home prices are so high in the Eastern part of the state that she may have to save for another 10 years to claim her piece of the American dream.

"I work in an industry that is heavily concentrated in Boston, and the jobs that used to be in Hartford have mostly moved to other locations. As a result, if I want to leave my current position I will likely be unable to find work locally and my family will have to move away. If rail service were offered between Springfield and Boston, I feel confident that I could find a good position without moving, and my kids in particular would be very relieved!" - Jen Fromm, Longmeadow, MA

"I live in Somerville, my aunt and cousins live in Ludlow and Longmeadow. If there were high speed rail, I would be able to see my family more frequently and easily. I would even be able to help babysit my cousin's young daughter more! It is difficult to have a car in the city, and I currently have to take the Peter Pan Bus which is expensive and slow, and you always have to worry about printing tickets. I love public transportation, and would much rather give money to high speed rail, than the Peter Pan Bus company. My cousin has also had to decline jobs in the Boston area in the past, because it would be difficult to commute from Ludlow to Boston. By having a high speed rail between Springfield and Boston it would be much more feasible to have a job in the Boston area while having their home in Ludlow." - Petra Hartman, Somerville, MA

"I live at Boston MA, and a commuter train from Boston to Springfield, would help me visit my family. I moved from Springfield to Boston for university, and don’t own nor can afford a car. Traveling on the MBTA would be more reliable than the overpriced bus service. I just tried to book a round trip, and there is no return service this Sunday, making it inconvenient for a weekend trip. I also have had awful experiences with Peter Pan, from drunk persons being kicked off my bus, and unsafely leaving him on the side road to Peter Pan cancelling my bus several times, once resulting leaving me stranded for a night at the bus station, as I had to be out of the dorm after finals to the bus always late due to traffic on the pike, and making out of the way stops in Framingham, Worchester, and Sturbridge. I once had someone steal my luggage because you have to leave it under the bus, instead of above your seat, like you can on the train. I lost my Christmas presents for my family, and lost all my clothes during my school’s winter break. Calling customer service is not even worth it. I have called and email them for cancelling bus service, or refunding me for rescheduling fees ($10 -$15), or getting a refund of service ($40-$50). Their customer service is like talking into the void, or entering a weird mail in rebate. You have to mail them the ticket and reference an online ticket number, and they don’t send you your money back, and you can’t do it again, because you don’t have the ticket any more. All these problems are nonexistent on the MBTA when you can use your ticket on any train from your phone, stop at multiple stations, safely to pick up passages if there is an emergency, can fit your luggage on the train, visible and safe at all times, No traffic cause of a trains. Cheaper, safer, faster, high capacity, more jobs, and trains!" - Greg, Boston, MA

I was disappointed to hear about the rail study being removed from the budget. It would be a benefit to have rail service between Springfield and Boston. Employment opportunities are a plenty in Boston, and people from Western Mass could really benefit from that. From 2012-2014, I commuted for work to Boston, from Springfield. I had been working in CT and was laid off. I spent 9 months out of work, and went on countless interviews in Western Mass/Northern CT. If we had service, I would not have had to drive 1.15hrs to Grafton and take the train to South Station. Between traffic and train, I commuted 6hrs round trip. Our legislature needs to wake up and take this seriously. I fully support your endeavor. - Richard Alvord, Longmeadow, MA

Personally, I love Western Mass, and I'd love to stay here. It's beautiful, my family is here, and it's nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and traffic. The main issue is that there are very few jobs available and when companies do come to the state, the Boston area makes the most sense

"I worked in Boston for 15 years and commuted into the city from the North Shore daily. It is such a way of life in Eastern Massachusetts. I wish we had the commuter rail out here as it would be much more enjoyable to go into the city more often. Traffic and parking is a deterrent." - Diana Capuano

"I work in Eastern Mass, right outside of Boston. Every day I face a 2+ hour drive one way, losing more than 4 hours a day on the Pike, which is a very inefficient (and expensive, considering tolls and gas) way of travel especially due to the construction and accidents being commonplace. If I decided to start a family, I would never be home to see or spend time with them. Being a recent college graduate, the job I have was the only job I was offered right off the bat, and an entry level job in Eastern Mass pays better than an entry level job in Western Mass, sadly. I like my job, but it's not always practical to move to Eastern Mass either. Moet college grads, including myself, have massive debt, and anything near Boston is pricy when one is trying to pay down debt while still trying to afford necessities. Personally, I love Western Mass, and I'd love to stay here. It's beautiful, my family is here, and it's nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and traffic. The main issue is that there are very few jobs available and when companies do come to the state, the Boston area makes the most sense. Having high speed rail connecting the state would make it easier for many families to access better jobs and manage the commute time. If there was a train linking the state, it would be a better use of my time, and if sure many others would benefit as well. At least on a train you can do work, whereas if you're sitting in traffic, you're very limited. The fact is that right now, the pike is the best way to go east/west, and it's almost embarrassing. We in Western Mass shouldn't have to suffer while Eastern Mass keeps developing and growing." - Alexandra Grzybowski, Montgomery, MA

"I would love a train from Springfield to Boston! I live in Springfield but my family lives in Boston. My back pain has been preventing me from driving out there lately. A train would solve that!" - Victoria Palmatier, Springfield, MA

"I live in Boston but I love visiting Western MA especially during the summer. Greyhound/Peter Pan goes out there but it can get expensive. I think extending the commuter rail would help people who live in the Greater Boston Area more easily visit the rest of their state!" -Amanda Tarbet, Boston, MA

"Both of my sons, ages four and seven, were born with kidney abnormalities. The specialized care that they require is simply not available in Springfield or Hartford so we make the drive routinely from Longmeadow to Mass General in Boston. On several occasions we have had appointments on consecutive days and needed to either travel round trip both days or stay locally which isn't reimbursed by a FSA. All too often, we would travel for 5 plus hours for an appointment lasting less than 30 minutes. A commuter rail service would greatly lessen the burden on my family and others in similar situations. Additionally, such services would ease congestion on the Pike, lower carbon emissions, and create hundreds of jobs with substantial wages." - Christopher Trotta, Longmeadow, MA

On several occasions we have had appointments on consecutive days and needed to either travel round trip both days or stay locally which isn't reimbursed by a FSA. All too often, we would travel for 5 plus hours for an appointment lasting less than 30 minutes.

"While living in Springfield I was in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend in Boston. Travel was difficult due to my physical disabilities and his mental ones. Now we live together in western Mass but he will soon need to start commuting to Boston for work using my very old car. A high speed rail line between Springfield and Boston would make both of our lives easier and allow my boyfriend to work more." - Michelle Paxton, Holyoke, MA

"I am an Occupational Therapist and Lymphedema Therapist in Western Massachusetts. Many of my patients have difficulties with transportation to the Boston area for specialized treatments not always available in Springfield. A rail from Springfield to Boston would bring so many people the opportunities for healthcare not otherwise offered in our area. I have had multiple people miss needed therapy sessions in order to stay over in Boston the night before an appointment to avoid day of traffic. A hotel stay is not only costly, but exhausting for people with, and caregivers of, people with physical and cognitive disabilities of a wide range. Please reconsider this study as it's benefits surely outweigh the cost; this is a needed service for our community both elderly and young, not to mention our veterans." - Marcy Racicot, Longmeadow, MA

"I am the executive director of Zen Peacemakers, an international, multi-national, multi-faith peace-building nonprofit. Our main office is in the Pioneer Valley. Boston is the cosmopolitan hub of New England, and having a fast, efficient and affordable transportation will let us and our partners overseas benefit from the benefits Boston offers, including access to/from Logan International airport, its diverse community and high-end facilities. I support wholeheartedly the Springfield-Boston hi-speed train." -Rami Efal, Northampton, MA

"As a professor of anthropology and Native American and Indigenous Studies at UMass Boston, I have many colleagues at UMass Amherst with whom I have regular contact. We often discuss ways in which we could collaborate on everything from guest lecturing to joint research projects that would have student-centered learning at their core, to joint engagements with communities, to joint work on highly-desirable grant-funded investigations. Any single one of these projects would have EXCELLENT results for the Commonwealth. Part of the reason they almost never come to fruition is that we lack a means to pursue ongoing face-to-face organizing and partnership. The 2-hour plus drive between Boston and Amherst/Northhampton is a big part of this mis-alignment. A high-speed rail link would greatly facilitate our ability to collaborate as sister-campuses within the UMass System. Such synergy would be highly beneficial and would stimulate grass-roots innovation and collaboration among individual faculty members without need for expensive "initiatives" from various administrations within the UMass system." - Christopher Fung, Boston, MA

"I live in western Mass and decided to do a three month educational training that was only available in Boston. I barely made it through the program the commute was so brutal and stressful. I wasn't able to get enough sleep, there was a fender bender in Boston, and my ability to study and focus was shot. I got very little out of the training as a result. If there had been a train option I would have taken it! The stress of the commute was so terrible, I would never do anything like this again unless there was public transportation like a commuter rail available." - Sa Zi, MA

"As someone who grew up in Boston proper, I would certainly love a way to get back there more easily. I would especially love to get a job back in that area, but continue to live here, a place I have come to love with a proper cost-of-living. I currently have a job which pays me a “Boston level salary." As that is quite rare in the Pioneer Valley, I feel I have to keep this job even though I would like to move on to something else. With the salary I have been able to buy a house, and do a lot of home-improvement’s thereby giving lots of jobs to contractors and the like. I would be thrilled in this day and age, of working from home 2/3 of the time, to be able to find a new job based in Boston, and spend the money here in my community. But with no way to commute I’m stuck in my current position. (and no, a bus is no way to commute! Stop this argument, please!)" - Kerry J, West Springfield, MA

"I commute from Wilbraham to the heart of downtown Boston. No fun. Connecting rail from WMass to the hub would help immensely to bring our state a bit closer together for improvements in our economy, tourism, personal well being and education." - Jim E, Wilbraham, MA

"My family moved to Springfield a couple of years ago from Knoxville, TN after the birth of our daughter. We were looking in the Springfield, MA area as I have family in the area and raising a newborn on our own was quite difficult. Thankfully, I found a job working as a teacher at a private school in Hartford, CT. We ended up buying a house in Springfield, and my wife (who has a PhD in Biology) started to look for jobs in the area. After a long year, she was unable to find a position, and we decided that she could specialize in the field of histology. She went to Goodwin college for a year and became certified this past summer. Unfortunately, being this close to the only school in New England with a histology program has made job prospects in the area slim (something that is not a problem in the Boston-Worcester area).My wife recently found a job in Worcester and has been working there full time, five days a week. She is enjoying her job, but I must say that the hour-long commute has been quite difficult on her. I can only imagine the stress that she will have once the snow starts falling. Having a fast, reliable source of transportation would be a life changer for our family. I would no longer be afraid of her falling asleep at the wheel or being involved in an accident. High speed rail would definitely bring me peace of mind." - Nicholas B, Springfield, MA

"I work in the Worcester area, I travel the Pike regularly and it can be a nightmare of a commute, especially in the summer and winter. Imagine the time wasted, gas, polution, tolls. Since I also work long overnight shifts, I am also concerned about fatigue while driving home after a long day. I feel that the rail would be a great alternative to travelling alone." Heather M, East Longmeadow, MA

"Really...No East /West train service, when the tracks are already here! What! Seven Million people in Massachusetts and 5 million live inside Rt. 128. You're cutting 2 million people out of the state's economy. That's just stupid, plain and simple. Count me in. All aboard! " - Rick K, Palmer, MA

"My daughter lives in Boston and comes home to Western Mass one weekend a month. The trip either way on the Mass Pike can take up to 3 hours on most weekends. My other daughter lives in NYC. I drove there on Columbus Day weekend and it took less than 3 hours each way. The Mass Pike traffic gets worse and worse every year. It was never this bad 10-15 years ago. I used to love to visit Boston frequently to go to sports events. I won't take that that trip anymore due to the time delays. A train route from Springfield would encourage more travel both ways and hopefully alleviate the traffic on the Mass Pike as well." - Jeff S, West Springfield, MA

"Boston is the hub for Massachusetts politics and policy-building. Western MA residents are already at a disadvantage given our location -- we're simply not as visible to Beacon Hill. To participate in Emerge MA political training, I had to drive to and from the Boston area for several weekends, and I have been unable to participate in follow-up activities due to the distance and hassle to get to Boston. Traveling from Franklin County, Route 2 can be a very unpleasant commute, particularly in evenings and in the winter. Rail service would make it easier and safer for me to access the resources I need in the eastern part of the state. As a passenger, instead of driver, I could also make the most of the commute time and conduct business on my way in and out of the city." - Hillary H, Greenfield, MA

"The private monopoly on west-east transit has significantly impacted my life. I grew up in the rural parts of Framingham in a chaotic and dysfunctional household. There was a lot of strife, and it also didn't help that I was gender non-conforming surrounded by conservative cisgender people. I managed to make my "escape" by attending college in the Pioneer Valley, but this decision did not take into account the difficulty of travel between Western and Central Massachusetts; and that my housing would be affected by the academic calendar. The deal with my parents was that during breaks I could stay with them, but only if I could find my own way to Framingham at my own cost. The monopolized buses at that time of year would be overbooked and the prices hiked up far outside of my budget. When I was unable to find a way to Framingham, I ended up homeless bouncing between couches and the street between Amherst, Hadley, and Northampton until I either found a job and apartment (during the Summer) or the college housing re-opened (in the Winter). The worst instance of this was one Winter, when I actually had found my way back to Framingham for the Winter term break; but the dysfunction and chaos in my family grew too intense and I needed to get out for my own safety. I knew I had a friend in Northampton who I could stay with but only if I could make it to Northampton. As usual, the monopolized private bus system was too expensive for me to use especially because you were not guaranteed a seat on the bus if it was overbooked. If my plan was to become a runaway, then even if I had the money, I could not risk putting everything on taking the one bus leaving for Northampton that day only to not be able to board. I ended up having to lock myself in my bedroom sustaining myself on a hoard of granola bars while begging on the internet for help. After 3 days of this, I managed to find someone who could bring me to Northampton. Had there been consistent, affordable public transit to Northampton from Framingham or even Worcester, it would have been significantly easier for me to gather the resources needed and escape my abusive household to stay with my friend in Northampton. On the other occasions, had there been consistent transit to Framingham or Worcester from Northampton (or Springfield or wherever) I would have been able to get to my parent's place for breaks and not gotten stuck homeless just because there are no classes." - Shel R, Northampton, MA

"I went to high school in Longmeadow and attended UMass Amherst as an undergraduate. I love the western part of the state and would happily live there but as a woman in my late 20s, career prospects in my field are significantly slimmer. I have instead relocated to Cambridge to be closer to opportunity. Western Massachusetts experiences significant brain drain -- how many UMass Amherst graduates relocate post-college? I would love to be a vibrant contributing member of the communities I grew up in, but without easy access to Boston, or the possible opportunity created by an east-west rail it's just too difficult. As I consider saving for a home or starting a family, I am confronted with the trade-offs of more affordable housing and a community my family might thrive in, or a fulfilling job located within a reasonable distance of my home." - Hannah R, Cambridge, MA

"Recently, my husband and I drove from Longmeadow to Boston to visit my son who works and lives there. The ride in was fine in the early morning, but when we left the city at around 3:30 p.m., we ran into nearly bumper to bumper traffic that went on for miles. In fact, the slow-moving traffic didn't really let up until after the Sturbridge exit. This is nothing new for me. I travel to Boston frequently to visit my son, or my best friend, or my aunt, to attend musical concerts, to visit the museums. I love Boston. I lived there for 10 years right after college, and I would go more often if it were easier. But there's the ever present traffic, and always the worry that if I don't leave the city before 3:00 p.m., the ride home will be a horror. How lovely it would be to board a train, at a convenient time for me, at the newly renovated Union Station, sit back and enjoy the short ride, knowing I'll be doing the same on the way home, again at a convenient time for me and my plans. Why is connecting Springfield to Connecticut given more priority than connecting Springfield to its capital city? Are we a part of Massachusetts or not?" Chris R, Longmeadow, MA

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Created with images by Boston Public Library - "Union Station, Springfield, Mass."

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