LYNN — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez promised to bring ferry service back to Lynn and extend the Blue Line to the city during a brief visit with local supporters on Monday.
Gonzalez is vying to unseat Gov. Charlie Baker, the Swampscott Republican running for a second, four-year term. The election is Nov. 6.
Gonzalez chose to make his remarks at the Blossom Street ferry terminal on the Lynnway, which was not in use this summer after Baker cut ferry service to Boston this year, citing a lack of ridership. The service ran in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Under former Gov. Deval Patrick — Gonzalez was Patrick’s budget chief — the state contributed $8.5 million to build the ferry pier and a parking lot off the Lynnway.
On a chilly afternoon, the parking lot was largely vacant.
“In the grand scheme of things, the cost (of bringing back ferry service) is nominal and it is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing,” Gonzalez told The Item after addressing his supporters. “We need to be using our waterway, our shore, much more for transportation, and the ferry service to Lynn is exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing, getting people off our roads. It’s a modest investment that can make a big difference for the community.”
In 2016, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) was able to procure a $4.5 million Federal Transit Administration grant for the city to purchase a dedicated 149-passenger vessel to support long-term ferry service, but the federal government has not yet provided the funds to buy the boat.
Baker told The Item in a previous interview the state has to prove it can operate the ferry, or prove the benefits associated with it, before getting the money.
Gonzalez vowed to extend the Blue Line from Revere to Lynn, but didn’t know what the cost would be to accomplish that. Baker has not committed to the extension, saying in an earlier interview that his goal is to fix the MBTA to make service more reliable.
In 2013, the MBTA conducted a Blue Line Extension study and estimated the cost from $737 million to $1 billion.
“We need additional revenue to not only fix the T and invest in transportation across the state, but to make some of the transportational investments, like extending the Blue Line to Lynn,” Gonzalez said. “That would be game-changing for Lynn, for getting traffic off our roads and making the commute easier.”
His plan to raise new revenue for transportation and education investments, he said, is to bring the millionaire’s tax back, which estimates say could raise $2 billion from the state’s millionaires.
Gonzalez also spoke about how to make education more equitable for districts such as Lynn Public Schools. He said Lynn has been in the position of having to lay off teachers and cut programming because the city, unlike wealthier districts, can’t afford to continue to raise property taxes and put more of a burden on residents to cover the increasing cost of schools.
“The state is supposed to be filling that gap and the state has been falling down on its responsibility,” he said. “One of the reasons why I am going to be asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in additional taxes (is) so that we can fully fund our schools, particularly low-income districts like Lynn that we are failing right now.”
A phone call to the governor’s office seeking comment went unreturned.