HINGHAM — Leaders from the Towns of Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and Scituate were joined by local elected officials today in voicing strong opposition to the cuts to transit services proposed by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority as part of the MBTA’s Forging Ahead Plan.
The press conference took place at the Hingham Shipyard terminal, just a few hundred feet from the Hingham-Hull Ferry that could soon be eliminated.
Robert Jeffers, Chair of the Cohasset Affordable Housing Steering Committee, spoke not only as an elected official but as a frequent rider of the Ferry.
“The Ferry is simply the best way to get into the city,” Jeffers said. “Not only that, it plays an important role in affordable housing, which is something we have put a tremendous amount of effort into in this region. Affordable housing is only effective if it is accessible to everyone, and public transportation is the cornerstone of that accessibility.”
The Towns of Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and Scituate have launched the “Save the Greenbush-Save the Boat” campaign to voice their strong opposition to the MBTA’s proposed cuts to transit services. The MBTA is proposing drastic reductions to the Commuter Rail (including the Greenbush Line that serves each of the four towns), the elimination of the Hingham-Hull Ferry, and the elimination of the 714 bus route that runs from Station Street in Hingham to Pemberton Point in Hull.
Town leaders, such as Scituate Town Administrator James Boudreau and Hingham Board of Selectmen member Joseph Fisher, argue that the proposed cuts would cause severe hardships to those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work and to access important medical appointments in Boston, as well as increase traffic congestion throughout the region, negatively impact transit-oriented developments throughout the South Shore and hurt local businesses.
“These cuts would not only adversely impact Hingham residents and Hingham business owners, but would hurt the economic development throughout the entire South Shore,” said Fisher. “It also sends a signal — the wrong signal — that Massachusetts is no longer committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
The cuts would be particularly harmful to the Town of Hull, which given its unique geography, relies heavily on the Ferry to be connected to downtown Boston.
“The town of Hull will essentially be cut off from all public transportation if these cuts go through,” said Jennifer Constable, Chair of the Hull Board of Selectmen.
The MBTA, in its Forging Ahead plan, points to the reduced ridership resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as why the cuts in services are being considered. But many are quick to point out that these cuts would be impactful long after the pandemic.
“We are angry and we are disappointed that the MBTA is considering the elimination of the Ferry and cutting services to the Commuter Rail,” State Sen. Patrick O’Connor said. “The long-term impact these cuts would have is enormous. [The MBTA’s] approach is so short-sighted, and will surely stifle the economic recovery of the region once this pandemic is over.”
Holding the press conference at the Hingham Ferry terminal was appropriate, according to State Rep. Joan Meschino.
“The MBTA proudly points to this very spot where we’re standing right now as a shining example of transit-oriented development, and the area of the Greenbush station is also experiencing the same level of investments and commitments,” Rep. Meschino said. “The MBTA — and in fact everybody — should care about public transit. Every person who steps foot on this Ferry is someone who doesn’t drive on the South Shore Expressway.”
Town leaders are urging any resident with concerns over the proposed cuts to contact the MBTA directly at [email protected] and to register to attend a virtual open hearing for residents of the South Shore on Monday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m.
To learn more, follow the campaign on Facebook here.