Rep. Vargas Backs Study Calling for Haverhill Trains Every 15-30 Min.

Rep. Andy X. Vargas speaks with members of TransitMatters, a commuter rail advocacy group. (Courtesy photograph.)

State Rep. Andy X. Vargas last Wednesday joined transit advocacy group TransitMatters in calling for modernization of the state’s commuter rail network, including rail service to Haverhill every 15 to 30 minutes.

TransitMatters recently released a report on the status of commuter rail, with suggested improvements and incremental steps.

“The current commuter rail system operates in an antiquated way—only accommodating those in the traditional 9 to 5 jobs—when in reality, our modern-day workforce looks a lot different than that of the 1960s,” said Vargas in a statement. “We’re leaving out startups, part-time workers, people working three jobs, nights, weekends and odd hours. If we modernize the commuter rail and make responsible investments in infrastructure, we can increase ridership, decrease deficits, be more responsible to the environment and create opportunities for workforce and housing initiatives that can transform our city and region,” he added.

TransitMatters recommended a conversion of the existing commuter rail system to a regional rail system, which they describe as being “a reliable and more cost-effective intercity rail system based on a 21st century business model...operating more like a subway service with level platforms and frequent service all day.” The group calls for systemwide electrification, high boarding platforms, infrastructure investments, fare adjustments and service to cities like Haverhill at least every half hour during normal operating hours.

Vargas later noted that a round trip ticket to Boston from Haverhill costs $21: the equivalent of a tank of gas to many families. He plans to establish a caucus of Massachusetts House members whose district supports a station on the Haverhill commuter rail line in order to study deficits in the current rail structure and encourage pragmatic and incremental improvements.

More information here.