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Billerica town manager says management issue at commuter rail station resolved

Billerica Town Manager John Curran stands out front of Town Hall on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Billerica Town Manager John Curran stands out front of Town Hall on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

BILLERICA — Several weeks after meeting with officials from both the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Town Manager John Curran said this week that the issue surrounding the future of the property at the North Billerica Commuter Rail station has been resolved.

“In the short term, they’ve agreed to keep everything status quo until we figure out exactly what the long-term arrangement is, but I have a very positive outlook,” Curran said.

Back in May, an LRTA official told the Board of Selectmen that the transit authority would stop maintaining the property at the station by the end of June, surprising and irritating Curran and the board members since they had not been given any notice or say in the matter.

“This is shocking, that station is an important fixture for people who take the commuter rail into Boston every day,” Select Board Chairman Dan Burns said at the May 10 meeting. “It’s disappointing that the LRTA and MBTA didn’t come to us sooner to talk with us, and instead completely left us out of the conversation, which is unacceptable.

The LRTA was brought in to manage the area in 1997 by the MBTA after the station was rehabbed, and has since been responsible for removing trash, providing security, conducting maintenance and removing snow. It also collects parking fees, which helps pay for the expenses.

LRTA Representative Andrew Jennings told the board that because parking revenues had plummeted since the start of the pandemic, the transit authority had been incurring too heavy losses to continue managing the station and was thus terminating its agreement with the MBTA.

“I don’t think the LRTA wants to give up the operation of the station, but with the current losses we just couldn’t afford to keep it up,” Jennings said.

Curran subsequently set up a meeting with officials from the two transit authorities in an attempt to either change their minds or find an alternative custodian.

According to Curran, that meeting was a success, as he said both transit authorities are now willing to work with the town to figure out a long-term solution.

“I think the biggest issue was the lack of communication, since we didn’t really know about what was going on, but now that we’ve talked to them things seem to be moving along in a positive direction,” Curran said.

Curran noted that he still has to set up a meeting with LRTA Administrator David Bradley to work out the details, which has been delayed by people going on vacation, but he is confident that they will reach an agreeable solution.

He also said that the MBTA has indicated that they’ll look after the parking lot rather than the LRTA.