HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP)– The Amtrak Vermonter pulled into Holyoke just a few minutes before 2 Thursday afternoon, marking the return of passenger rail service to the city for the first time in nearly 50 years. The Vermonter runs from Washington, DC to St. Albans, Vermont, making stops to cities including Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, and Springfield.
In just the last fiscal year, ridership along this route increased by 6.6%, providing service to more than 89,000 passengers. Mayor Alex Morse told 22News he’s excited for passengers and businesses to see what Holyoke has to offer.
“The more people see a downtown that’s investing in itself, that becomes a walkable bike-able safe neighborhood. That’s where businesses want to be and that’s where families want to be,” Mayor Morse said.
More locally, the Vermonter connects Holyoke to the Knowledge Corridor — the area along I-91 from western Mass through central Connecticut that contains 29 colleges and universities, and thousands of college students and in-demand skilled workers.
“One of the biggest opportunities I see for Holyoke is to attract young professionals here who want an urban setting to live and begin their career, that’s affordable,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
Service to Greenfield and Northampton began in December last year. The entire Holyoke platform cost more than $4 million, and was paid for with a combination of federal and state funding. The majority of the funding came from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, with $1 million of the total cost came from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Click here to check out schedules and buy yourself a ticket to ride the Vermonter.