‘A surprisingly good idea’ from the T

The MBTA may finally be starting to get it.

After years and years of running weekend commuter rail trains that very few people ride, the T this week decided to do something about it. The Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to offer a special fare this summer that allows passengers to take as many weekend rides on the commuter rail system as they want for the flat price of $10. Up to two children 11 or under can ride for free with a paying adult. The new fare starts June 9 and runs through September 2.

An editorial that appeared in the jointly owned Eagle-Tribune, Salem News, and Gloucester Times on Friday hailed the new fare as “a surprisingly good idea” from the MBTA. “That’s roughly half the price of a regular round-trip from Boston to Gloucester for a ticket that can be used multiple times on a weekend,” the editorial said.

What’s great about the fare is that it gets people thinking about ways to travel around the region without using a car. The editorial pointed out one option on the North Shore. Instead of fighting the traffic headed to Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches in Gloucester, people can take the train to the city and then hop on the hourly trolley that deposits them right at the beach. The train trip and the trolley would cost $13, so a family of two adults and two children under 11 could spend the day at the beach for less than it costs ($30) to park one car there.

Every community should start coming up with fun weekend getaways accessible by train. Trains run to Providence, Worcester, Salem, Lowell, Newburyport, and Plymouth. (The Cape Flyer is not part of the promotion.) Trains also run from those places into Boston, where traffic is almost always a nightmare and parking is ridiculously expensive.

The summer fare should also be a great learning experience for the T. The agency’s mindset is focused on weekday commuting, but the new fare offers the opportunity to see if people can be drawn to the rails when they aren’t headed for work. The MBTA should post travel options like the one to Gloucester on its website. It should collaborate with municipal partners to offer a wide variety of weekend itineraries. And the agency should use this opportunity to see if schedules need to be adjusted to accommodate beach and nightlife excursions.

The new fare is a baby step toward rethinking the way public transit is marketed in Massachusetts. For far too long the T has viewed its job as getting people to and from work. Now it has a chance to think about transit more broadly, as a way for people to explore the region and enjoy life.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Brushing aside the concerns of gun rights activists, the House passed the so-called red flag gun bill. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Senate approved a budget for the coming fiscal year and will now work to resolve differences with the House version of the state spending plan. (MassLive) Gov. Charlie Baker, who usually refuses to discuss what he would do with a bill that hasn’t reached his desk, said he would veto a provision in the Senate budget that limits how local police can cooperate with federal immigration officials. (State House News)

Republican Rep. Kate Campanale of Leicester files a bill to expel Judge Thomas Estes from the judiciary. The Supreme Judicial Court earlier this week suspended Estes from the bench for having sex with a drug court clinician. (MassLive) Her effort may not be necessary as the Globe reports that Estes will resign today.

The Baker administration is bringing in a top executive from Fidelity Investments to serve as the new chief of staff in the Executive Office for Administration and Finance in the wake of several recent problems at the Department of Revenue, which the office oversees. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Rockland selectmen held an emergency meeting to discuss charges against public officials but would not identify the officials or the nature of the allegations. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump pulled out of the planned meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, sending the erratic dictator a letter that raises the specter of nuclear engagement. (New York Times) There are, in fact, two erratic principals here, and Matt Viser considers whether there is any method to Trump’s madness. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial says Trump made the right move.

The Trump administration is eyeing new rules aimed at states enacting workarounds to help taxpayers hit by bigger bills with the change in property tax deductions. (Wall Street Journal)

ELECTIONS

State Senate candidate Dave Murphy apologizes to his opponent, Chelsea Kline, for making flattering comments about her appearance at a recent event. The two candidates are running for the seat vacated by Stan Rosenberg. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In the midst of the sexual harassment controversy swirling around the Boston Globe, the paper’s president and editor announced another round of staffing cuts either through buyouts or layoffs. (Media Nation)

A new report recommends increased state investment in the commercial fishing industry to help foster innovation and local partnerships. (Gloucester Times)

An international malware attack may be heading for your internet router. (Boston Globe)

Creepy story of the day: A Portland, Oregon, family’s private conversation was silently recorded by their Amazon Echo and then sent to a random person on their contact list. (Washington Post)

EDUCATION

A new report traces the causes of Latino education inequality in Massachusetts, where the white-Latino four-year college graduation rate gap is among the widest in the country. (CommonWealth)

Attorney General Maura Healey calls for more state oversight of private universities and colleges in the wake of the abrupt closure of Mount Ida College. (Boston Herald)

Drew Faust offers a vigorous defense of higher education in her final commencement address as Harvard president. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

UMass Memorial Health Care, Reliant Medical Group, and Shields Health Care Group are opening a stand-alone surgical center in Shrewsbury. (Telegram & Gazette)

A urologist has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that Steward Health Care applied heavy pressure on him and other doctors to only refer patients to Steward hospitals and specialists. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The Lowell Regional Transit Authority raised fares for the first time in 16 years. (Lowell Sun)  The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority decides to wait a bit longer before giving final approval to a budget to see if the Legislature comes up with more money for the agency, but it’s laying plans to cut service or raise fares if nothing happens. (Berkshire Eagle)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

One of two town-owned turbines in Falmouth that has been shut down for nearly three years in a dispute with neighbors will be dismantled and possibly moved elsewhere after selectmen said there is no viable place in the community to locate it. (Cape Cod Times)

A bone fragment retrieved from the sunken ship Whydah is not from the infamous pirate “Black Sam” Bellamy after DNA tests compared it with his descendants and found no match. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Casino notes: MGM seeks approval for a later “last call” at its casino in Springfield and Wynn Resorts takes the first steps toward building a water shuttle service between downtown Boston and its Everett casino on the Mystic River. (CommonWealth)

Former Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson will helm Verdant Medical, a company aiming to open medical marijuana stores in Boston and Provincetown. (Boston Globe)

Voters at Kingston Town Meeting twice rejected proposals to enact a ban on recreational marijuana sales and cultivation. (Wicked Local)

Synthetic marijuana manufactured with an ingredient in rat poison which can be bought at convenience stores is triggering a spike in fatalities among users. (U.S. News & World Report)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

About 200 people, including a number of politicians, rallied outside the Ruane Judicial Center in Salem to protest Judge Timothy Feeley’s decision to let a heroin dealer off with probation instead of jail time. Although Manuel Soto-Vittini had 40 bags of heroin in his car, the judge was lenient because he said the defendant was just trying to support his family. (Salem News)

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is expected to surrender to face rape charges in New York. (New York Times)

President Trump, at the urging of actor Sylvester Stallone, posthumously pardoned former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, the first black to hold the title but who was convicted of violating the Mann Act for his relationships with white women in a racially motivated prosecution. (ESPN)

MEDIA

Former Boston Globe reporter Hilary Sargent indicates she has more sexual harassment revelations about the newspaper (CommonWealth), while Globe editor Brian McGrory’s lawyer fires off a letter to Sargent’s lawyer that accuses her of making “false and defamatory statements” that are “actionable.” (Boston Globe)  Beat the Press had a special online edition to go over the allegations of sexual harassment against McGrory. A moment we know he’s been waiting for: Howie Carr weighs in with a column suggesting the sexual harassment allegations at the Globe warrant an investigation by the newspaper’s award-winning Spotlight Team. He also says male Globe reporters used to maintain a list rating female interns on their “hotness” and their “availability to older predatory males who prowled Morrissey Boulevard.” (Boston Herald)

PASSINGS

Stephen Mindich, the feisty and pugnacious owner and publisher of the now-shuttered alternative weekly Boston Phoenix, died at age 74. (Boston Globe)