November 9, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced today that among the many proposed service cuts under the T's "Forging Ahead" plan -- created to address the major budget deficit stemming from much-lower ridership during COVID-19 -- is a temporary halting of Hingham/Hull ferry service.
Pointing to the fact that ferry ridership is only at about 12 percent of what it was pre-COVID, with an average of seven passengers per trip, Poftak said "the MBTA is proposing to halt [Hingham/Hull] ferry until the ridership returns. The alternative service will be the Greenbush commuter rail line." Poftak did not specify what the threshold for restoring ferry service would be.
Overall commuter rail service is also at a much lower level than it was pre-Covid, resulting in a proposal to end all weekday service at 9 p.m., to eliminate weekend service, a reduction in service levels, and to terminate some midday service on all commuter rail lines.
"This would result in a reduction in the number of daily trips, but we're not ceasing service on any of the lines and will still run multiple trains during peak hours," Poftak said.
The MBTA is facing "an historic and difficult moment," he said. "The current [overall] level of service delivery with the loss in revenue is not sustainable. Any savings achieved in Fiscal 2021 will help address the projected Fiscal 2022 gap," which Poftak said is expected to be between $300 to $600 million and most likely on the higher end.
The final decision on all the proposed cuts is expected to be made at a public meeting in early December. Any cuts made at that time are expected to take place "largely in the Spring and summer of 2021," Poftak said. "All changes will be continually reassessed based on the status of the state of emergency, commuter patterns, and ridership and fare collections in 2021 and beyond."
While the goal is to continue to serve the vast majority of those who rely on public transportation, "we plan to focus our limited financial resources on continuing to provide service to the riders who depend most on frequent and reliable service, determining the cost needed to run those services, and on allocating more service in areas with higher ridership numbers that have the potential for overcrowding," Poftak said. Service at particular stops located near alternative transportation services could also be cut.
Commuter feedback is encouraged. Visit https://www.mbta.com/forging-ahead for a list of virtual meetings and a public hearing the MBTA will host, to view changes proposed for individual communities, and for an opportunity to provide feedback.
Also visit https://www.savetheferry.org/ for details about this effort to stop cuts/the elimination of ferry service, how to submit comments to the MBTA, and to share your individual story of what ferry service means to you.
1 thought on “Temporary Halt to Hingham/Hull Ferry Service Proposed Today”
The Greenbush Line has been a farce since Romney allowed it to be imposed on the South Shore years ago. The subsidy per Greenbush rider has been obscene from the start. It is much cheaper to run the boat, but the MBTA has gouged boat riders to offset Greenbush losses. Anchor staff: research what the current subsidies are (including debt service) – I’m sure the numbers are shocking. If fiscal responsibility was really an MBTA priority, they would expand boat service, not cut it.