October 14, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Facing the potential elimination of ferry service and major cuts to the Greenbush commuter rail line, State Rep. Joan Meschino (D-Hull) and State Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) are leading the charge to oppose what they call proposed "draconian" service cuts.
Both legislators are working closely with the towns of Hingham, Hull, and Cohasset to rally citizens to join the effort. See related link: https://hinghamanchor.com/representative-meschino-and-senator-oconnor-encourage-residents-towns-to-advocate-for-ferry-and-commuter-rail-services/
"The MBTA has been looking at possible service reductions or terminations with respect to the ferry out of Hingham and with respect to Greenbush commuter rail service," Selectman Joseph Fisher said at last night's board meeting. "And this is more than just a rumor."
Fisher plans to work with Meschino, O'Connor, Town Administrator Tom Mayo, residents such as ferry advocate Martha Bewick, and Hingham's MBTA Advisory Board representative to focus on actions that can be taken to try to stop the proposed cuts.
"What Joan Meschino is looking to have us do is to participate in a write-in campaign, sending messages saying how important Greenbush and ferry services are to our residents, businesses, and neighboring communities," Fisher said.
He went on to say that Hingham officials have been working to attract more Smart Development -- which refers to building close to transit centers -- to town. "They did that at the Hingham Shipyard [which is located near the Hingham commuter ferry terminal], and now the MBTA is threatening to remove that service. This is a real problem. Once any service is halted, it will be gone -- at least for years," Fisher said.
The Selectmen plan to send a letter to the Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and the MBTA to make their voices heard on behalf of the town.
A remote MBTA board meeting with the transit authority's finance committee is planned for next Monday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. Information about the meeting will be posted on the town website, including how residents can attend virtually. The MBTA is not expected to accept public comments at the meeting, but it is open to public attendance.
Concerned residents may call the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation at (857) 368-1655, leaving a phone message by no later than 11 a.m. on Oct. 19 -- to be shared with MBTA board members at the meeting that evening.
The situation is serious, Fisher said, because the MBTA is "likely to act before the end of this calendar year, and these proposed cuts and termination of service could be implemented soon thereafter. We need to mobilize, and we need to act now."
Fisher noted that the MBTA's criteria for proposed service cuts is not based on how public transportation helps to save the environment or how many cars are taken off the road when their owners take public transportation. Those and other factors should be considered, he said.
It was noted that statistics show that about 18 percent of ferry riders from Hingham to Long Wharf are older citizens. "These proposed cuts would affect many of us -- some cuts may be necessary, but I want to ensure that the interests of our community are respected," Fisher said.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power emphasized that the next several weeks will be crucial to the effort to stop the proposed cuts and asked that a ferry-related item be placed on every board agenda during that time and that Meschino, O'Connor, and other individuals be asked to speak.