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Fully functioning commuter rail could make all the difference

In this April 24, 2013, file photo, a passenger enters a new bi-level commuter rail coach, which had been implemented on the Haverhill line.
In this April 24, 2013, file photo, a passenger enters a new bi-level commuter rail coach, which had been implemented on the Haverhill line.The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

A visit to New York showed him how easy it could be

Until my retirement at the end of 2019, I was a twice-daily rider on the MBTA’s commuter rail for the better part of 35 years. I have ridden the trains in good times and bad, including the horrendous winter of 2014-15.

I agree with the writers of “A better Boston hiding in plain sight” (Ideas, April 11) that the commuter rail lines are a huge boon to Greater Boston. It is a major selling point that our house is less than a 15-minute walk from a commuter rail stop. However, I also agree that enormous improvement is required to raise Boston’s commuter rail system to the level of service in major metropolitan areas in Europe, Asia, and other cities in the United States.


This was made clear to me on a visit a few years ago to New York City. I opted to stay with a friend in suburban Westchester County. My friend advised me to park and take the train in from the Katonah, N.Y., Metro North station a short drive from their house. The experience could not have been simpler or more pleasant.

I arrived to find ample parking in a spacious lot and purchased a parking pass at the self-serve kiosk. I purchased the train ticket at a separate self-serve kiosk in the station.

An elevator (or the option of stairs) descended to a central raised platform serving inbound and outbound trains. I had to wait perhaps 20 minutes for an inbound electric-powered train that glided, quietly and on time, into the station and opened its automatic double-doors like a subway car. Once I was seated, a conductor came through and punched my ticket. I arrived in Manhattan in just over an hour, and for the return trip later that night, I had the choice of several trains.


As the writers point out, if the Greater Boston commuter rail system can achieve these and other goals, it would increase ridership and revenue, reduce automobile traffic, reduce air pollution, and become part of the lifeblood of the region for residents and visitors alike.

Like any investment in the future, this will take time, but I have no doubt that it is a worthy goal and one that will help Boston rise to the status of a world-class city.

Doug Eisenhart


Think of how many commuters would gladly ditch their cars

Kudos to Jarred Johnson and Luc Schuster for their excellent article “A better Boston hiding in plain sight.” The solution to relieving vehicular traffic congestion into and out of Boston is to run timely, convenient commuter rail as an alternative.

As one who takes the train into Boston regularly, I would gladly leave my car at home in favor of more frequent train service, and I’m sure my fellow commuters would too. It is unrealistic to expect people to wait two to three hours in Boston for the next available train.

The existing infrastructure, for the most part, is already owned by the state and would need some track upgrades (double-track installation has largely been completed on the Haverhill line). As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come.

Robert Serabian