Mass. Members Of Congress Speak Against Proposed Commuter Rail Service Cuts

A commuter rail train leaves the Four Corners/Geneva Station on the Fairmount Line. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A commuter rail train leaves the Four Corners/Geneva Station on the Fairmount Line. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation is criticizing a proposal to suspend all weekend service on the MBTA commuter rail and end thousands of door-to-door rides for disabled passengers.

In a joint letter addressed to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve, the 11 Democrats write that the proposed cuts would leave some of the state's "most vulnerable residents" without access to transportation, and "may drive people away" from the commuter rail system in the future.

On Monday, the Baker administration said weekend commuter rail and "premium trips" on The Ride, the T's paratransit service for people with disabilities, are on a "menu" of potential service cuts to help close a $42 million budget gap in the fiscal year starting July 1.

As State House News Service reported:

Suspending weekend service for a year and making capital upgrades to the rail lines during that time would save the MBTA $10 million, T officials said.


The weekday per-trip operating subsidy on the commuter rail is $5, while the weekend subsidy is $34 per trip and on some lines it exceeds $100 per trip, according to the T. ... Shortsleeve said there are about 8,000 commuter rail passenger trips on Saturday and about 4,000 on Sunday. Weekday commuter rail boardings number about 129,000, according to a June 2016 presentation by the T.

In their letter, the members of Congress said they "agree that it is essential ... that the MBTA finds a fiscally responsible path forward," but they urged state officials to consider other options.

Speaking to WGBH-FM Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said "service cuts should be a last resort to deal with budget issues."

In a statement accompanying the delegation letter, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton took a pointed shot at Baker for the proposed cuts, saying, "Once again Governor Baker is looking to balance the books on the disabled, the elderly, and the people who need this service the most."

With reporting by The Associated Press and WBUR's Benjamin Swasey



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