Happening Now

Mr. Aiello Goes to Boston

August 7, 2019

Rail Passengers Association Field Coordinator Joe Aiello testified before members of the Boston City Council in support of the North-South Rail Link

(My testimony begins at the 52:00 min mark)

Last Monday night, before I headed to Chicago to join Chef Madi for Summer By Rail, I was asked by Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George to join a distinguished panel for a discussion on the North-South Rail Link. If you wanted to know more about the project and the advocacy behind it - I do encourage you to watch the entire video above. Lucas Santos, formerly of Congressman Moulton's office, gave an overview presentation and Governor Michael Dukakis led a fantastic panel of elected leaders and fellow transportation advocates who are passionate about making sure that "all options are on the table" when it comes to public transportation improvements and expansion in the city as well as the region.

My written testimony:

Good evening, Councilors.

My name is Joseph Aiello and I am the Northeast Field Coordinator for the Rail Passengers Association. The Association is the largest national organization that serves as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the US. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity & regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers.

I am here tonight in my capacity as a Regional Coordinator as well as a member of the North-South Rail Link Working Group under the mentorship of Governor Dukakis.

In his testimony at a MassDOT hearing on the Rail Link Feasibility Study last December, Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews said the following:

“Imagine being able to board a New York-bound Acela at the Anderson Regional Transportation Center. Imagine being able to board a train in Providence bound for New Hampshire or Maine or even Montreal. Imagine being able to ride from the North Shore to the Cape or Gillette Stadium with only one direct transfer. Imagine a single-seat ride from the South Shore or Framingham or Worcester (or even Springfield!) to the TD Garden for concerts, Bruins games and Celtics games. Imagine being able to connect directly from any commuter rail line to the Red, Green, Blue, Orange or Silver lines.

The North-South Rail Link -- really, it’s a *regional* link -- makes all of these things possible. No other solution does.”

The Rail Link is truly a transformative project that has far-reaching benefits on a national level as well because it connects regional rail service from points north of Boston all the way south to Richmond, Virginia by closing only service gap in the National Passenger Rail Network and finally brings Northern New England in line with the rest of the system. It allows much-needed transit expansion in New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island by adding capacity to the corridor. Travelers and commuters in our region deserve far better than the one-sided and fatally flawed study MassDOT commissioned last year.

The rest of the world is passing us by as many major cities around the globe are preparing for the future by transforming their legacy commuter rail systems into all-day rapid transit. They are ending the era of stub-end stations that makes it seem like Boston is becoming the exception, instead of the standard that we should be.

I will leave this committee with this final thought: if the “rail vision” for this city and the rest of the Commonwealth isn’t “all options are on the table and worthy of our full attention” then, as elected officials and advocates - what are we doing here?