With rising rent prices in the Portland area, more people are moving to Lewiston-Auburn for affordable housing. However, a typical commuter spends $3.50 on tolls, between $8 and $15 on gas, and anywhere from $5 to $25 just to park in the city.

As we move toward a carbon-neutral future, there’s no easier place to start than with a railroad connecting Lewiston, Portland and Augusta — the most advantageous zone per mile of rail.

Our neighbors down in Massachusetts may not have the greatest public transportation system in the world, but they still bring 160.5 million passengers in and out of the city every year. Scale that down to Maine’s population and that’s still over 31.5 million people.

Let’s imagine that a commuter rail line transported a conservative 1,000 daily passengers. That would save the average commuter 2.5 gallons of gasoline each day. If those thousand people commute five days a week, it would reduce Maine’s CO2 emissions by 12,735,112 pounds every year. Of course, that’s only counting emissions from burning gasoline, while other vehicle-related emissions add up quickly.

On top of the health, environmental and ecological benefits, this would directly save commuters money on fuel, car maintenance, parking and tolls, while driving new revenue into the state for further investments in infrastructure.

People can’t find a better deal than that, no matter how many EV charging stations they build.

Hunter Kissam, Lewiston

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