On a brisk fall day in Barre, former Vermont legislator Chuck Bohi of Hartford took a ride on the Budd RDC train cars, and recalled his past experiences riding in Canada. Traffic congestion across the nation is much worse since Bohi last rode these RDCs in the 1960s, and he is adamant on the relevance of trains for today's needs. “These Budd cars are perfect for short-haul routes,” he said.
While the RDC slowly floated along the track outside the rail yard, Bohi enthusiastically discussed the promising future of passenger rail in VT. “Many people today aren't aware of our extensive VT rail network. Our railroad infrastructure is remarkably intact.”
As we talked, it became clear that Bohi has both a love for rail and for Vermont. To him, it’s not just about creating a renewable means of transportation. It’s also about getting where you need to go efficiently, affordably and conveniently.
“The car was a wonderful invention, and it took us far,” Bohi said, “but with increased traffic in and around our downtowns, driving no longer offers the value it once did.” It’s more and more difficult to get around, park, and pay
for the costs required to your own vehicle, something too expensive for many Vermonters.
For commuting, cars might be an obvious choice, but Bohi says they shouldn’t be the ONLY choice. This is where an integrated public transportation system comes into play. It’s about having a holistic view of what it means to use multiple systems to get around for cost, convenience and environmental sustainability.
Bohi believes Vermont is poised to be a great place for this to happen. Apart from stable and safe infrastructure, the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express Amtrak trains enjoy strong political support and ridership. “Vermonters like the idea of just hopping on the train to get around.”
And when we consider the efficiency of an RDC, it seems only logical to push for their use in a 'Back to the Future' scenario, such as the RDCs providing intercity rail services for Vermont commuters (as they did many years ago). We’ll all be better off because of it.