Published in the November 25, 2015 edition.

WAKEFIELD — Those who depend on the 5:15 p.m. MBTA train from North Station received a little reprieve yesterday after transit officials decided not to implement a new schedule eliminating the Wakefield stop from that particular train until the spring.

Local commuters and Wakefield’s Beacon Hill delegration have fought the new schedule’s implementation for at least a week, circulating a petition signed by hundreds upset the Wakefield stop had been eliminated from the 5:15 express to Haverhill.

The town’s Beacon Hill delegation urged MBTA officials at a meeting Monday to suspend implementation of a new commuter rail schedule that eliminates Wakefield as a stop on the outbound 5:15 p.m. train from North Station.

Yesterday, Stephanie Pollack, the state transportation secretary, wrote, “After careful consideration and consultation with our partners at Keolis Commuter Services, MassDOT and the MBTA have decided that the recently revised north side commuter rail schedules will not be implemented until spring 2016.

“The revision of commuter rail schedules is a critical element of our efforts to deliver safe, reliable, on-time service to MBTA commuter rail customers. Building new schedules will help minimize cascading failures and ensure that on-time service can be delivered both safely and consistently. The coming changes will be the most substantive made in decades; when the process is complete, we are confident that the new schedules will serve the best interests of our ridership.

“But the MBTA needs to do more than provide reliable commuter rail service to our customers — it needs to listen to those customers and understand their needs and concerns and incorporate them into service planning. We understand that even small changes to longstanding schedules impact the daily lives of our riders and we need to hear and incorporate their feedback before finalizing schedule changes.

“The MBTA will implement new schedules for the entire commuter rail system — north side and south side — in the spring of 2016. We will of course review the recently proposed north side schedule based on the feedback we have received from legislators, MBTA customers and the MBTA/Keolis operations team. Then, in December, the MBTA will release in draft form proposed new schedules for both north side and south side services, along with specific plans for extensive public engagement. We will provide ample opportunity and time for review, feedback and final adjustments prior to spring 2016 implementation.”

At a Wakefield School Committee meeting last night, state Sen. Jason Lewis made the announcement that the commuter rail schedule changes would be put off until spring.

At a selectmen’s meeting Monday, Chairman Ann Santos and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio both mentioned they had written a letter urging the MBTA, Keolis and the Mass. DOT not to eliminate the Wakefield stop from the 5:15 p.m. express from North Station.

Lewis, State Rep. Paul Brodeur, State Rep. Donald Wong along with others sent out this statement after meeting with state transportation officials Monday.

“As elected representatives of communities north and west of Boston that are negatively impacted by recently announced cuts to commuter rail service, we and our staffs met with representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Transportations Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) earlier today. We explained to the MBTA what we have heard from our constituents – that the service cuts represented in the schedule create substantial hardships and we also explained that the lack of public process surrounding the development of the new schedules was deeply concerning. We requested that the MBTA suspend implementation of the proposed new schedules that would create substantial hardships on the day-to-day lives of our constituents and implement a public process prior to any future service cuts.

“We also shared stacks of constituent feedback as well as the names of more than 1,000 residents who had signed an online petition requesting service cuts be restored.

“The MBTA agreed to respond (today) to our request to suspend implementation.”

In addition to Brodeur, Wong and Lewis, the statement was signed by state Sens. Michael Barrett, Ken Donnelly, Pat Jehlen and Thomas McGee; and state Representatives Paul Donato, Michael Day, Sean Garballey and Christine Barber.

Last week, those same lawmakers wrote the following to administrators with Keolis and the MBTA:

“We are deeply concerned about proposed changes to the Haverhill and Lowell commuter rail lines, changes that reduce public transportation options for our constituents and which appear to have been put into place without the opportunity for our residents and districts to be heard.

“Recently you proposed amending 4 commuter line schedules for north of Boston. Of those 4, we are pleased for our colleagues and their constituents that you added 6 trips to the Newburyport/Rockport Line and an additional trip to the Fitchburg line. Regrettably, this gain for public transit access appears to have come at greater cost to our communities: the Lowell and Haverhill lines have each lost 7 daily train trips. Our constituents are naturally concerned – why, of all the commuter lines in the state, are ours targeted for service reductions?

“Some of these lost train trips come during the rush hour, when our constituents are trying to get to work or trying to get home to their families after a long day. Some examples of concerns our residents have raised:

• Wakefield is losing a prime rush hour train. Train #215, leaving North Station at 5:15 p.m. on the Haverhill line, sees only one change to its itinerary, the loss of the 5:35 p.m. stop in Wakefield. It is confounding as to how the de minimis time saved from the loss of this single stop can be an overall benefit when weighed against the substantial inconvenience imposed upon Wakefield-area commuters who would lose a stop right in the heart of evening rush hour.

• Winchester Center and West Medford lose a number of trains during morning rush hour. Among other impacts, this leaves working parents with school drop off or daycare responsibilities unable to both (1) drop their children off at school and (2) take the commuter rail. These parents live heavily scheduled lives that involve complicated commutes. After drop off (which is constrained by school and daycare operating hours), they take the 8:39 a.m. train inbound, knowing there is the 8:52 a.m. train if they are running late or school drop-off is delayed for any reason. The newly-introduced schedule features an 8:28 a.m. train as the latest pre-9 a.m. train, with another train not passing through West Medford or Winchester Center until more than an hour later, at 9:43 a.m. This schedule makes it impossible for working parents of elementary school children to safely drop off their kids at school and still make it to work until after 10 a.m.

• Winchester residents who work past 5 p.m. will have fewer options. Currently, if one misses Train #337, leaving North Station at 6:25 p.m. on the Lowell line and arriving at Winchester Center at 6:44 p.m., one would take the 6:55 p.m. train (#221) arriving at 7:12 p.m. However, under the revised schedule, missing the 6:25 p.m. train out of North Station would require waiting a whole hour until a 7:25 p.m. train, which wouldn’t arrive at Winchester Center until 7:42 p.m.

• In sum, Wakefield service drops from 19 inbound and 22 outbound trips per day to 16 inbound and 17 outbound. Similarly, Winchester Center and West Medford service drops from 26 inbound and 23 outbound trips per day to 22 inbound and 22 outbound. The total service drop, coupled with Winchester’s new morning service gap and Wakefield’s new evening service gap leave these area’s residents more than just inconvenienced. With families scheduling work, school and other activities around public transportation, this degree of service change is simply unacceptable.

“We are concerned about the process through which these decisions were made, without seeking significant public input about the impact of such changes.

“Thank you for considering the concerns we have laid out in this letter. Your hard work in running the commuter rail service is greatly appreciated and we look forward to resolving these scheduling concerns in partnership with you.”