Senator hopes towing bill frees up spaces at Park-N-Ride lot

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STATE HOUSE — Legislation permitting operators of state-owned park and ride facilities to tow vehicles didn’t make it to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk prior to the July 31 end of formal sessions, but lawmakers got it there in early August.

The bill (S 2452) was approved by the Senate on July 21 and by the House on Aug. 4. Both branches enacted the bill on Monday, sending it to the Corner Office.

Based on legislation filed by Newburyport Democrat Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, the bill authorizes facility operators to tow vehicles left unattended for more than 21 days and requires state transportation officials to pass regulations outlining the details.

According to O’Connor Ives, users of a park and ride facility in Newburyport, near Rte. 95, have been leaving their vehicles there before heading to Logan Airport for trips out of state.

In some cases, she said, people have left vehicles there in the winter and gone to Florida. “You can tell because they’re covered with snow for weeks on end,” she told the News Service Monday afternoon.

The lot is owned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation but managed by one of two bus companies that run operations from the facility, including daily trips to Boston and to Logan.

Parking is free at the “super busy, super popular” lot, the senator said, and cost-conscious daily commuters in the area, including residents of Amesbury, Salisbury and New Hampshire, see it as a preferable alternative to driving to Boston. O’Connor Ives said she hopes the bill, if signed by Baker, will deter long-term parkers and free up spaces so they can turn over more frequently.

MassDOT, which Baker oversees, was “comfortable” with the bill, she said, adding that it would solve the management company’s present lack of authority to tow vehicles.

— Written by Michael P. Norton

Copyright State House News Service