Lynch: Congressional delegation ‘furious’ about T cuts

Says service reductions unnecessary with more federal aid on the way

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MEMBERS OF THE state’s Congressional delegation will have “hard discussions” with the MBTA and Gov. Charlie Baker in hopes of encouraging the transit agency to back off of service cuts, US Rep. Stephen Lynch said Monday.

Lynch joined Boston Mayor Martin Walsh for a press conference to tout provisions of the $1.9 billion spending bill that President Biden signed last week. The idea of that legislation is “to get America back to work,” Lynch said.

The stimulus package, Lynch said, provides “almost another billion for the state in terms of their transportation systems, and then a targeted increase for the MBTA as well.”

The pandemic has carved into the T’s ridership, and the agency decided to pare back service at a time when riders are scarce to sock away money for when federal money runs out. The agency has come under fire from transportation advocates who say the T shouldn’t cut any service and be ready for when riders return. It’s difficult to gauge when riders will return, and the advocates fear the agency will be caught flat-footed when they do.

The latest portion of a package of money-saving service cuts took effect Sunday, with trip frequency reduced across bus and subway lines and the elimination of nine bus routes. MBTA staff are developing plans that would restore some bus and subway service later this year based on spring demand.

“Speaking for the delegation, that an agency would take federal support from the taxpayer, and then cut services to those same taxpayers, that doesn’t work for us,” Lynch said. “So we’re going to have some hard discussions with the MBTA and with the governor. We hope that more thoughtful ideas would emerge from those discussions, and that there would be a pullback on the reductions of service to the public and also an elimination of any proposed furloughs or layoffs for those transportation employees.”

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Lynch said he has talked to his colleagues in the delegation, “and they are furious about this.”

“I understand the difficulties,” he said. “I understand what the ridership is right now, but the idea is to provide this money to get the ridership to where it needs to be over the next weeks and months.”