For Immediate Release
October 7, 2017
Sue Chalifoux Zephir Calls for Return of Commuter Rail Service to Gardner, Expanded MART Bus Service, Local Road & Bridge Repairs
Gardner, MA — Standing at what was once Gardner’s commuter rail station, candidate for State Senate Sue Chalifoux Zephir today called for the return of MBTA commuter rail service to Gardner, along with other transportation improvements in North Central Massachusetts.
“The transportation system in North Central Massachusetts just isn’t working, and we need a real plan to fix it,” said Chalifoux Zephir. “If we want to reduce traffic and create good jobs, we must invest in better public transportation and repair our crumbling roads and bridges. That’s why I support the Fair Share Amendment and will campaign for its passage next year.”
The Fair Share Amendment is a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the 2018 ballot. It would create an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above one million dollars, with the revenue dedicated to transportation and public education.
“In the State Senate, I’ll fight to make sure that this new money reaches our district to fund everything from roads and rail trails to bridges and buses,” continued Chalifoux Zephir. “We also need transformative investments, starting with extending daily commuter rail service on the Fitchburg Line to Gardner, with faster and more frequent trains.”
Passenger train service to Gardner ran from 1851 until 1960 and again from 1980 to 1986. The track on the Fitchburg Line of the MBTA commuter rail, which currently ends at Wachusett Station in West Fitchburg, remains in place at the former Gardner rail station.
“North Central Massachusetts deserves reliable commuter rail service riders can count on every single day, better schedule options for reverse commuters, and the return of commuter rail service to Gardner,” Chalifoux Zephir said. “With the MART garage right next door to the old Gardner train station, we can also use a rebuilt train station to expand bus service for families across our region, including more evening bus service for students and workers who need transportation beyond traditional commuting hours.”
In addition to serving as a Leominster city councilor for eight years, Chalifoux Zephir is Executive Director of Ginny’s Helping Hand, a community-based food pantry that serves individuals and families across North Central Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Assumption College and her MBA from Simmons College, and previously worked in public television as a production and business manager. Sue is married to Ed Zephir, a local business owner, and is the mother of three grown girls and a first-time grandmother to six-week old Winnie.
“As director of the local food pantry Ginny’s Helping Hand, I’ve met families who must spend their entire paycheck on car repairs after hitting a pothole,” said Chalifoux Zephir. “Excessive traffic and a lack of transportation options are holding back our economy, and costing families money and time. We need bold solutions and a comprehensive regional transportation plan in order for North Central Massachusetts to grow without gridlock.”