Ben Heckscher sees transparency as one of the keys to building back better

At Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts you can buy a ticket to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. But you cannot buy a ticket to get you to Fenway Park in Boston.

With the Infrastructure Bill finally passed by Congress, we turn to Ben Heckscher, co-founder of Trains In The Valley, to talk about what this long-awaited funding could mean for transit projects in western Massachusetts. Will East-West (or West-East) routes become a reality? Will Bay Staters finally be able to take a train to see the Sox?

Ben also explains the process he went through, including filing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, when he realizes the extent to which Amtrak is operating without public accountability and the kind of transparency we expect from government agencies. Stay tuned for some surprises!

Perhaps borrowing from his experience reporting on NYC’s tumultuous Second Avenue subway project, Ben shares his findings about the Amtrak board on the Trains in the Valley website. His work to increase the transparency of Amtrak, our national rail service, is especially timely, since Amtrak, thanks to the Infrastructure Bill, is going to receive its largest injection of public funding ever.

Ben Heckscher is the co-founder of the local rail advocacy group Trains In The Valley, a non-profit organizing efforts for continued rail improvement and expansion in the Pioneer Valley. Ben founded the group, along with Zane Lumelsky, in 2016 after relocating to western Massachusetts. Previously, Ben published the well-regarded blog: The Launch Box, which focused on the highs and lows of constructing the long-awaited Second Avenue subway line in New York City. With a degree in Electrical Engineering, Ben spent the majority of his career working in the telecommunications industry in the U.S. and in Germany where he enjoyed Europe’s well-developed rail-system. However, his first introduction to trains was via his grandfather who worked for The Budd Company who manufactured stainless steel train cars in Pennsylvania.