Citizens still opposed to NH commuter rail – 82 citizens, 383 responses

Nov 16, 2015

Last month, Executive Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas joined U.S. Rep Ann McLane Kuster to present a funding plan for a southern NH commuter rail. In addition to federal grants and help from the MBTA, the plan would require annual contributions of $3-4 million from the state and $1-3 million from Manchester and Nashua.  After the first year, parking would cost $6/day.  The Live Free or Die Alliance put the plan to Facebook members, asking “Do you support the new commuter rail funding plan proposed by Executive Councilors Pappas and Van Ostern?”

A total of 94% of respondents answered directly or with a concurrence. Out of these responses, a 71% majority opposed to the commuter rail proposal, with only 29% in favor. Of the remaining respondents, 5% opted to discuss the subject in broader terms while 1% commented on unrelated issues. In sum, 82 citizens participated in the discussion with a total of 383 responses. 

Those opposed argued that NH could not afford the required subsidies to run the system. “Not only do we not need a commuter rail but NH taxpayers cannot afford the hundreds of millions of dollars this will cost us,” one commenter wrote. “Commuter rail hasn't been profitable since post WWII, with the building of the interstate system,” a citizen argued.  “If it's profitable to do so, which means people actually want and use it, then it can be built privately,” one respondent said. 

Those in favor said the system would be a good investment. “Investing in infrastructure is one of the smartest investments to be made. The money this will pour into both New Hampshire and Massachusetts is tremendous,” one citizen wrote. “It sounds like a good idea for businesses on both ends,” argued another. “Commuter rail is worth taxpayer support,” a respondent said. 

The broader commenters debated whether the proposal would bring more money into the state, or expressed undecided opinions. “I will check it out more before deciding if it is a good thing or bad thing,” a commenter wrote. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

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