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Lynn lobbies for increased commuter rail service at subway rates

BOSTON — The MBTA was asked to increase the frequency of commuter rail service from Lynn to Boston at more affordable subway rates at Monday’s Fiscal and Management Control Board attended by Mayor Thomas M. McGee and the Lynn legislative delegation. 

State Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) told the MBTA board that the proposed “near-rapid transit service” pilot program would be aimed at easing what he called “soul-crushing commutes and congested roadways” into Boston, which will be further exacerbated by planned housing developments. 

Crighton, McGee, and state Reps. Daniel Cahill and Peter Capano (D-Lynn) urged the MBTA to consider increasing the number of train rides through Lynn on the existing Newburyport/Rockport line. 

“We, as a region, have been short-changed for 50-plus years north of Revere,” McGee said. “Rapid transit has not come to the North Shore and we really believe we have to look outside the box … I think we can use the current infrastructure we have and create a system that works.” 

Many of Lynn’s residents are forced to drive into Boston on congested roadways because the $14 round trip from Central Square prices them out of the commuter rail system. In Lynn, 20 percent of households live below the poverty line and the average median income is $53,513, according to Lynn officials. 

The proposed service would offer rates comparable to the subway system — Lynn and North Shore riders would pay $2.40 for a one-way trip and $4.80 for a round trip, according to a letter submitted to the MBTA from the Lynn delegation. 

“It is time for the MBTA to commit to increased service for the economically disadvantaged cities of Lynn, Revere, Chelsea and Everett through the use of diesel multiple units (DMU) or electric multiple units (EMU),” the letter reads. “The current fares of the commuter rail make access to this public service out of reach for hard-working people in these communities.”

The proposed service would make stops at the Central Square station, McGee said, along with the Riverworks Station, where an 1,100-unit transit-oriented development is planned. 

The mayor said stops in Chelsea, Revere and Everett, and connections to the recently expanded Silver Line, where development is increasing because of the new casino and Suffolk Downs, should be considered as part of the service. 

Crighton said there’s no firm estimate on how much implementing the proposed service would cost, but it would be an inexpensive option compared to other expansion efforts, because the major cost would be the trains. 

The proposal comes at a time where there’s a state focus on improving Lynn’s outdated transportation system. 

Part of the $43.3 billion fiscal year 2020 state budget requires the MBTA to study the feasibility of the decades-long goal of extending the Blue Line from the Wonderland Station in Revere to Lynn. 

In addition, Lynn was named a “priority place” in the MBTA Focus 40 plan, an investment plan that positions the MBTA to meet the needs of the Greater Boston region in 2040. MassDOT has enlisted a consultant to complete a Lynn Transit Action Plan Study, which is underway and is looking at how to revamp public transportation in the city. 

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