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Mass. politicians aren’t happy with the T’s plan to cut commuter rail service

Craig F. Walker/Globe staff

The eleven members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation urged the Massachuestts Bay Transportation Authority to save weekend commuter rail rides and thousands of trips for disabled riders, in light of a recent proposal to eliminate such services to save more $17 million for its $1.95 billion budget.

“Such cuts would leave some of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth without access to transportation, and may drive people away from using our commuter rail system in the future,” the lawmakers said in a March 16 letter to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Brian Shortsleeve, the acting general manager of the MBTA.

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MBTA officials unveiled a preliminary budget on Monday that included suspending weekend commuter rail service and more than 200,000 trips for disabled riders on its door-to-door van service for a year. T officials have stressed any decisions are not yet final, and that they will hold robust public discussions on such moves.

In the letter drafted by US Representatives Seth Moulton and Michael E. Capuano, every US senator and representative in Massachusetts expressed concern over the cost-cutting measure.

“Thousands of Massachusetts people use the commuter rail each weekend, even though it operates less frequently than weekdays,” they wrote. “In addition to benefiting tourist, recreation and hospitality businesses throughout the Commonwealth, many weekend commuters need reliable service to get to work, medical appointments, and to connect with loved ones. Many of these travelers have no other options to get where they need to go.”

Instead of enhancing access to economic opportunity, the lawmakers wrote, the cuts would do the exact opposite.

The prospect of eliminating weekend commuter rail service have left transit advocates locally and nationally in disbelief. If the MBTA goes forward with such an action, it would be the only one of the top ten busiest commuter rail services in the country that would not be open on both days of the weekend.

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Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.