December 8, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Selectman Joseph Fisher -- who has been keeping a close eye on the MBTA's proposals for public transportation service cuts, especially with regard to the Hingham and the Hull/Hingham ferries and Greenbush commuter rail service -- had some good news for commuters at last night's remote board meeting.
While nothing is definite, Fisher said his take-away following Monday's remote MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board public meeting is that there were indications by the board and Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Stephanie Pollack that contrary to the earlier very-real possibility that ferry service could be eliminated entirely, it now appears that will not be the case.
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced on Monday that proposed service cuts would not be presented at the FMCB meeting that day after all, as expected, and that the initial round of service reductions will be announced next week, on Dec. 14. Poftak also said that some changes to transit services will be moved to Fiscal Year 2022.
Fisher said the large number of comments submitted to the MBTA by residents of Hingham, Hull, and the surrounding area detailing what ferry service means to them and how much they depend on it clearly are having a positive impact, as are efforts by Rep. Joan Meschino, Sen. Patrick O'Connor, other legislators, and town officials from a number of communities opposing service cuts.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power also praised the efforts of Hingham resident and longtime ferry advocate Martha Bewick for the long hours she has spent in helping to make a case for preservation of the Hingham/Hull and Hingham ferry service. "This is a good example of Hingham volunteerism," Power said.
The T is proposing service cuts due to COVID-19-related much-lower ridership numbers and a large budget deficit. On Dec. 14 the MBTA is also expected to present its plans "for adding back services" that are cut when it is feasible to do so and to share public comments made in opposition to service cuts, according to Fisher.
“While it is unlikely that the ferry service will be totally eliminated, it is highly likely that there will be reductions in the level of service (e.g., reduced number of ferry trips to/from Boston),” Fisher said.
For updates and ways to make your voice heard prior to the Dec. 14 meeting, visit savetheferry.org and Rep. Joan Meschino's and Sen. Patrick O'Connor's websites.