The New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) was created in 2007 to study the feasibility and oversee restoration of passenger rail service in the Granite State.
NHRTA’s members are all volunteers and the Authority has not used any state money. It has, however, attracted several million dollars in grants to conduct an in-depth study on the feasibility and implementation of commuter rail between Manchester, Concord, Nashua and Boston. Such a rail line is vital to future economic development and livability of New Hampshire and Manchester.
New Hampshire’s House legislative leadership, however, is vehemently opposed to rail transit despite overwhelming public support for the project. The Transportation Committee of the New Hampshire House voted last week on a bill, HB218, to repeal the NHRTA amidst somewhat unusual circumstances. The bill will now go to the full House and, if passed, to the state Senate. Governor John Lynch has said he will veto the bill, but if the majority votes en bloc it is large enough to override a veto.
If the New Hampshire legislature repeals the NHRTA it will be sending a message that it does not support rail transit, which could reduce the likelihood of federal grant money making the state a doughnut hole in a region where all other states are investing in rail transit. Without passenger rail, economic development, business investment and residents will migrate to Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and other states in the region. Similarly, Manchester will be at a business and livability disadvantage to Portland, Worcester, Providence and other satellite cities of Boston. With the recent extension of MBTA commuter rail service to T.G. Green Airport in Providence, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is already at a competitive disadvantage in attracting Boston area travelers looking for an alternative to Logan.
If you are one of the 75% of New Hampshire residents who supports the restoration of passenger rail service to the state, please contact your legislators in the New Hampshire House and Senate, and tell them how you feel and what rail will do for the state. If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find the answer here.Correction: a previous version of this post stated, inaccurately, that repealing the NHRTA would make New Hampshire ineligible to receive federal grant money dedicated to rail transit. In fact, NHDOT will manage and funding and operation of rail transit in the state. Repealing NHRTA does, however, send a strong negative message to Washington and endanger future funding, as well as eliminating an all-volunteer advisory board.