Baker Drops Weekend Commuter Rail Cuts, Will “Explore Alternatives”

The MBTA will look elsewhere to trim its $42 million deficit.

The Baker administration will no longer consider the elimination of weekend commuter rail service and door-to-door rides for the disabled, and will instead “explore alternatives” to shore up the MBTA’s $42 million deficit.

“Our administration is exploring alternatives to last week’s MBTA budget proposals to make weekend commuter rail service more efficient, and will not pursue proposals to eliminate weekend service altogether,” Baker told the State House News Service in a statement Monday afternoon.

The proposed cost-cutting measure would have saved $10 million by halting all weekend commuter rail service for one year in order to make capital improvements. The idea, originally described as just one item on an “options menu,” was widely panned, as were proposed cuts to door-to-door services offered by the Ride. Both items were part of the preliminary budget process.

“The Baker Administration should retract their outrageous proposals to eliminate weekend commuter rail service and cut service for disabled passengers. These offensive cuts should never have been on the table,” Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Gus Bickford said in a statement. “The Baker administration should stop holding the threat of cuts over the thousands of riders who depend on weekend commuter rail and the Ride.”

In his statement, Baker said he hopes the T board will continue to pursue reforms, including the privatization of the agency’s bus maintenance, which outgoing general manager Brian Shortsleeve said could save approximately $40 million a year.