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Commuter rail extends weekend service to Salem as tourist traffic clogs local roadways

MBTA has added extra trains into and out of the "Witch City" for the last two weekends of October.

Riders disembark from the Commuter Rail in 2021. MBTA has added extra trains to and from Salem for the last two weekends of October. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

For the next two weekends, the Commuter Rail will have additional service to accommodate riders looking to visit the largest Halloween celebration in the world, Haunted Happenings, in Massachussetts’ very own Salem. 

Last weekend, Salem, a city of 43,350, saw 101,000 visitors on Saturday alone. The influx of visitors looking to experience the city’s witchy history and attractions led the city to run out of parking spots.

In response, the MBTA and Commuter Rail operator Keolis are adding seven inbound trains and six outbound trains for the weekends of Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30 on the Newburyport/Rockport line. After 6 p.m., visitors looking to get back into the city will have at least two train options every hour. There will also be four extra trains from North Station to Salem, as well as two extra trains to Beverly from Salem and one to Newburyport. 

Witch City:

“I’m grateful to Keolis and the MBTA for providing this expanded service for our busiest time of year,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a release. “Visiting Salem is fun, but trying to find a place to park is not. We strongly encourage visitors to plan ahead and take public transportation to get to Salem, so you can spend less time trying to find parking and more time discovering all that our city has to offer!”

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Tickets are $10 a weekend for unlimited weekend commuter rail travel, and the Commuter Rail’s updated schedule is available online.

“With historic crowds visiting Salem this Halloween season, we’re pleased to offer additional weekend Commuter Rail service during Haunted Happenings between Salem and North Station as well as between Salem, Beverly, and Newburyport,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a release. “The extra Commuter Rail service is a convenient choice for folks heading to Salem’s festivities and an attractive alternative to driving into Witch City.”

October is a chaotic time for Salem residents, with hundreds of thousands of visitors packing sidewalks, filing into restaurants and businesses, and filling parking spots. 

“Salem is not Disney World. Salem is a small city with historic infrastructure. The streets are small, the buildings are small. Salem doesn’t have the space to accommodate 80,000 extra people every day,” Salem resident Kyley Dolan told Boston.com.

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