By ADAM SWIFT
PEABODY — It might not turn the city into the next San Francisco, but a proposed study would look at trolley service to Salem’s commuter rail station.
The state budget put forward last week includes $50,000 for the study of operating a high rail trolley service on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority track running from Peabody Square to the Salem Depot. The line item was included in last year’s proposed budget, but vetoed by Governor Charlie Baker.
“We are hoping this year that we’ve done a little more education and that it will make it through,” said state Representative Tom Walsh (D-Peabody). “The idea is that you could run a trolley with a high rail system from Peabody Square to the train station and vice versa. For the younger people looking at apartments in Peabody Square, all they would have to do is hop on the trolley to Salem and then go into Boston for work.”
High-rail trolleys are similar to maintenance vehicles used on railroads that can operate on tracks as well as roads, Walsh said.
Increasing transportation options downtown would fit squarely into efforts by the mayor and City Council to revitalize the area, making it a destination for young professionals, shoppers, and new business.
Not only could the trolley help ease the commute to Boston for residents, but Walsh said it could help bring tourists from Boston and Salem into Peabody.
“We see this as an economic development opportunity,” said Walsh. “But there is still a lot that needs to be worked out.”
Walsh worked with Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr.’s office to help push forward the need for the trolley study. He added that Salem’s mayor and legislative delegation are also supportive of the study and a potential link to that city’s commuter rail station.
“As we continue the revitalization of downtown Peabody, reestablishing a transit link to Salem is an idea worthy of careful consideration,” said Bettencourt. “The budget appropriation is critical to conducting a comprehensive study on which to base any future plans. We are grateful to our state legislative delegation, Senator (Joan) Lovely and Representatives (Ted) Speliotis and Walsh, for their efforts to secure the funds.”