Saturday, March 31, 2012
Amtrak’s Downeaster: Grassroots Success Story.
Over the years, I have made it a point to ride as many of Amtrak’s trains as I could. My list is nearly complete and one of the last ones will be crossed off in a few weeks when I will be taking a round trip on the Downeaster from Boston up to Portland, Maine.
The Downeaster story is a remarkable one. It began in the early ‘90s when a group of ordinary folks living in a number of towns strung out along the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine started agitating for rail service that would link their communities with Boston.
They pestered federal, state and local officials and badgered Amtrak. They kept it up for almost 10 years and simply wouldn't go away. And they got their train, with service beginning in 2001. Furthermore, ridership has steadily increased over the years, long since breaking even their own projections … tangible proof that the Downeaster is a great success.
But there’s a lot more to it that just numbers. Now people living as far north as Portland can travel to Boston for the day … for business or shopping or maybe just to visit family or see the Red Sox at Fenway Park. And they can do it affordably and in relaxed comfort.
Yo! Members of Congress! Are you listening?? Amtrak’s Downeaster is proof positive: Americans want trains!