McGee: Cut commuter rail fares from Lynn

Mayor, lawmakers urge subway-like service into Boston

LYNN MAYOR THOMAS MCGEE, backed by three lawmakers from the area, urged MBTA officials to test more frequent commuter rail service to and from Boston at prices similar to those charged subway riders.

McGee said Lynn is tired of waiting for the Blue Line to be extended to Lynn, an idea that he said has been bandied around since 1946. Instead, he urged the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board to launch a pilot program transforming the existing commuter rail service on the Newburyport/Rockport Line into a more subway-like operation, featuring more frequent trains and one-way fares of $2.40 instead of the current $7.

What McGee and other Lynn officials are seeking is the type of service residents along most of the Fairmount Line currently receive. With the exception of the last stop in Readville, passengers on that line pay a Zone 1A fare of $2.40 one way into South Station. Passengers from Lynn pay a Zone 2 fare, or $7, to travel to North Station.

McGee said Lynn and other communities north of Boston have been shortchanged for more than 50 years, and the situation is only going to worsen as development picks up in Lynn, Beverly, and Salem; at Suffolk Downs in East Boston and Revere; and at Wonderland.

“It’s not working for our communities. It’s not working for the North Shore,” McGee said.

Sen. Brendan Creighton of Lynn said all too often the commuter rail cars are full when they reach Lynn, so more trains need to be added at prices Lynn residents can afford.

Rep. Peter Capano of Lynn said most of his constituents live near the commuter rail but rarely use it because of the high cost. Instead, he said, they end up driving to the Blue Line or all the way into Boston, increasing congestion.

Sen. Will Brownsberger of Belmont lent his voice to those call for reducing fares from communities like Lynn that are served by commuter rail. He said the Legislature would be willing to provide additional financial help to the T to make that happen.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

McGee also said the Fiscal and Management Control Board needs to revise its policy on ferry service pilot projects. He said the requirement that a pilot project be competitive in terms of cost with existing ferry service is a hurdle that no pilot can overcome, in part because existing successful ferry services often took decades to build their ridership.

“There’s no way [ferry pilots] can meet the requirements that the board has identified,” he said.