Salem officials urge visitors to use public transportation when traveling to the city in October as record amounts of people are expected during Halloween season.
At a press conference Tuesday at Salem police headquarters, Mayor Dominick Pangallo said the city is not able to provide parking for the large amount of visitors he expects and asked people to use the commuter rail and the Salem Ferry instead of driving.
“We averaged about 80,000 to 82,000 people every Saturday [in October] last year,” Pangallo said. “We don’t have the capacity for parking for that many people, so we rely on the MBTA.”
Last year, during the city’s “Haunted Happenings” festival, the amount of people who traveled via MTBA to Salem was the highest it had ever been, up by more than 400 percent compared to pre-COVID years. Nearly 1 million people visited Salem in October 2022, which was 37 percent more than in 2019, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Pangallo said that beginning midmonth, larger ferry boats that can hold more passengers will transport riders from Boston’s waterfront to Salem.
Abdellah Chajai, the chief executive of Keolis Commuter Services, the company that operates the commuter rail, said trains will be running more frequently between North Station and Salem and will be operating later in the evening throughout October.
“Trains will be leaving every 30-40 minutes from North Station to Salem,” Chajai said. “The last train leaving Salem to North Station will be at 12:45 a.m.”
Lucas Miller, Salem’s chief of police, said the city will expand the amount of police and emergency workers downtown throughout October. Miller said this is because the Salem Police Department “want[s] to maintain [its] ability to respond outside of downtown.”
“We, in effect, create a second police department to police downtown Salem because getting around downtown becomes very, very difficult,” Miller said. “We will have a separate dispatch and separate commanders for that area.”
Miller reiterated the call for visitors to use the MBTA to travel to Salem this fall.
“Drive to Beverly and take the train or take the MBTA from North Station and it will take about 35 minutes,” Miller said. “Please take public transportation if you’re planning to visit during October. Happy Halloween.”