SECTION 1. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall convene a working group to be referred to as the Berkshire Passenger Rail Service Working Committee to evaluate and issue a report on the economic and environmental benefits to the Berkshires, other western counties of the Commonwealth, and to the Commonwealth as a whole of establishing year-round, multiple-trip-per-day passenger rail service between the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts and New York, New York using the Housatonic Rail line.
The working group shall assess the short- and long-term economic benefits of passenger service on the Housatonic rail line from: (1) direct and indirect jobs; (2) access to educational opportunities; (3) access to affordable housing; (4) tourism, and; (5) tax and other revenues to municipalities in the Berkshires and the Commonwealth.
The working group shall assess the environmental benefits of passenger service on the Housatonic rail line, including but not limited to the following: climate-change resilience, reduction in overall carbon emissions, transit-oriented development, and green-energy job creation.
The working group shall consider the costs of adding passenger service to the Housatonic rail line.
The working group shall contact state, local and county officials of the states of Connecticut and New York to identify opportunities for collaboration and mutually-beneficial improvements and expansions in passenger rail infrastructure and service.
The first meeting of the Berkshire Passenger Rail Service Working Committee shall take place no later than September 1, 2020. The working group membership shall include, but not be limited to, the Massachusetts secretary of transportation or a designee, the secretary of housing and economic development or a designee, the secretary of energy and environment or a designee, two members of the state house of representatives to be appointed by the speaker and two members of the state senate to be appointed by the senate president, the congressman or designee from the 1st and 2nd Massachusetts congressional districts, the United States senators or their designees, the mayor of the city of Pittsfield, a designee from the Berkshire County Regional Planning Commission, a representative of existing rail service stakeholders, and a representative of a Berkshire passenger rail advocacy group. The secretary of transportation or a designee shall chair the working group.
The working group shall submit its report to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the executive office of housing and economic development, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on transportation, the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on ways and means, and the senate and house chairs of the joint committee on tourism, arts and cultural development on or before May 1, 2021.
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