State Senator Adam Hinds has sponsored two amendments (#1191 and #1194) to the FY19 state budget to support the Berkshire Flyer passenger rail initiative. The Senator’s amendments are geared to ensuring a pilot service from New York City to Pittsfield will be ready to roll by calendar year 2020. Senator Hinds proposes the creation of a subcommittee to be chaired by 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) and focused on details that were cited as needing additional review in the MassDOT Berkshire Flyer Working Group’s report: improving ground transportation options (the so-called “last mile”) for passengers arriving in Pittsfield, collecting and evaluating data on ridership from New York City to Pittsfield, developing a marketing strategy for the service, and identifying and developing private partnerships to support the pilot season. To support the Subcommittee’s efforts, Senator Hinds has proposed $100,000 in funding. (For clarity: the Berkshire Flyer will use Amtrak trains and the pilot service will go via Albany as a one-seat ride from Pittsfield to Penn Station in New York City.)
Further, he has co-sponsored a third amendment, #1186, authored by Senator Eric Lesser (D- Longmeadow), to authorize a feasibility study relative to high-speed rail access between Boston and Pittsfield via Springfield (often referred to as “East/West Rail”).
The Senate budget debate will begin on Tuesday, May 22. You can track the budget and amendments throughout the process by visiting the state legislature’s website: Senate Debate.