Massachusetts citizens recognize the critical importance of sustainability in our energy, transportation, and land use policies, for both environmental and quality-of-life reasons. Yet our backward infrastructure leaves much of our population largely or totally depended on increasingly congested highways that cannot be further expanded even if we wanted to.

Jamaica Pond   [© Paige Mazurek for GoBoston, 2014]

In this context, our commuter rail system is a tremendous potential asset, with 380 route miles of track, serving 140 communities across the state. It is essentially a world class regional rail system hiding in plain sight. By simply connecting the disconnected pieces together we can bring our regional transportation system into the 21st century at a fraction of what it would cost to create such a system from scratch. A unified system with modern operating characteristics will attract many more riders and strongly encourage Transit-Oriented Development across the system, particularly in Gateway Cities. It will take pressure off beleaguered highways, while encouraging more sustainable development patterns – and a better quality of life - going forward.