BOSTON -- The elimination of weekend commuter rail service should be a "last resort" for the MBTA, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday.
MBTA officials floated the idea this week as part of plans to close a projected $42 million budget deficit. On Monday, they presented a number of options to the Fiscal Management and Control Board to solve for the structural budget gap, including the $10 million reduction in rail services and new geographic restrictions on The Ride, which services disabled customers.
"I come at this from a point of view that service cuts should be a last resort to deal with budget issues and this one, I also view, as an opportunity for the Fiscal Management and Control Board and the folks at the T to collect data and hear from people about all the options they put on the table, including this one, but I think cuts to the weekend service, I think any cut to service should probably be a last resort and I'm interested to hear what the conversation looks like going forward," Baker said during a radio appearance in response to a caller from Worcester.
Baker noted the investments his administration has made to improve commuter rail service to Worcester, and said he was not backing away from the commitment.
He noted that since its creation in 2015 the FMCB has rejected or modified multiple proposals put forward by MBTA management, and he expects this concept to get similar scrutiny from the board.
The commuter rail proposal was part of an "option memo" that T officials put together for the control board that could also include reforms to the way the agency handles bus maintenance, Baker said.