The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Lynn Transit Action Plan Study, which will focus on strategies to enhance the quality, capacity, and reliability of public transportation for residents and local businesses in the city.
For the MBTA’s Focus40 draft plan to move forward with concepts related to improved transit service in the Lynn area, specific and effective short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies will be identified and reviewed within the Lynn Transit Action Plan Study. The study is anticipated to begin early next year and will include opportunities to create and improve bike and pedestrian access to transit locations, possible ferry services, and existing public transportation routes.
“This RFP will serve as the platform through which we can have a thoughtful, constructive conversation with key stakeholders about ways to improve mobility,” said MBTA GM Luis Manuel Ramírez. “By taking a team approach, we can work together to make improvements that benefit all transportation modes and support the local business community. At the same time, this study will allow us to identify additional opportunities for the longer term.”
The MBTA’s Focus40 draft plan identifies Lynn as a “Priority Place” within the existing transit network, which means it would benefit from and can support a higher quality of transit service. A stronger transit network is also a vital part of supporting the city’s lower income and immigrant communities. Many of Lynn’s 95,000 residents commute to Boston (approximately twelve miles away), or to other areas of the North Shore. A number of immigrant communities also comprise Lynn with about 50% of households speaking a language other than English at home. Financial burdens are also a reality for many of Lynn’s residents with 20% of households living below the poverty line and an average household income of $50,000.
The MBTA network currently serves Lynn mainly through the Commuter Rail and several bus routes. The Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line includes Lynn Station, which provides service to North Station in 20 minutes, with many of Lynn’s residents also living within walking distance of the Commuter Rail in Swampscott. Several bus routes operate within Lynn to Wonderland Station on the Blue Line (an approximately 15- to 30-minute bus ride), to other parts of the North Shore (including Salem and Marblehead), and via express service to Downtown Boston.
Lynn residents and riders experience a number of transportation issues and challenges. There is a high level of transit dependency with MBTA passenger survey data showing between 32% and 44% of bus riders living in a household without access to a personal vehicle. Through reliability data gathered in August and September 2018, it was also found that nearly all regular (non-express) bus routes serving Lynn operated below reliability targets of 75%. None of the MBTA’s 15 high-frequency key bus routes serve Lynn and data has shown there is a need for more service during off-peak hours. While the Commuter Rail provides easy access to Downtown Boston, this service may present a financial burden for many commuters.
The Lynn Transit Action Plan Study will identify improvements to address these challenges and improve transit accessibility, including new services, operational changes, capital investments, and other tactics. The study will assess the area’s existing and projected conditions in order to identify transportation challenges; identify and evaluate a comprehensive list of improvements; and produce a final set of recommendations. Lower-cost actions will be identified for short-term implementation. Larger, more long-term investments will also be identified, including assessing the appropriateness of major projects or improvements like the potential of rapid transit, Commuter Rail, or water transportation.