Hull may get a break from T cuts
Community faced loss of all MBTA service
WHEN THE MBTA announced a series of proposed service cuts in October, Hull found itself in an unusual situation.
The South Shore municipality quickly learned the proposed cuts called for the elimination of all ferry service, which would have ended the community’s most direct link to Boston. Another proposed service reduction hit even closer to home – the elimination of the 714 bus that runs the length of the Hull peninsula and connects the community to Hingham, and from there to Quincy and the rest of the T system.
In one fell swoop, the transit authority’s proposed cost-saving measure, threatened to eliminate all MBTA service to Hull. Municipal officials grumbled that the community pays a $250,000 annual assessment to the MBTA and would get nothing for it.
“We were pretty stunned,” said Rep. Joan Meschino of Hull.
On Monday, at a meeting of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, the lobbying effort appeared to pay off. MBTA officials said they were going to revise their list of service cuts and they indicated Hull’s bus service would be retained and ferry service would not be eliminated entirely. The final proposal is expected to be unveiled and voted on this coming Monday.
How could the T propose eliminating all of Hull’s MBTA service?
“Honestly, I think they missed it,” Meschino said. She said the T system is very large, complex, and interconnected. “Our bus route is a small piece of the system, but it’s a big deal to us.”
The 714 bus, run by a private company on behalf of the T, had averaged 158 riders on weekdays pre-COVID and was down to 87 this fall, according to a T spokesman.
Hull Town Manager Philip Lemnios said he thinks T officials got carried away crunching the numbers and failed to take into consideration the people using the service.
“I think they became hostage to the numbers and not what the numbers represent,” he said. “It’s a very mechanical view of the world.”
Meschino said the key to the successful lobbying effort was reminding T officials who would be affected. “We really put a face on the ridership,” Meschino said. “They definitely heard what we were saying. We gave them a lot of volume.”
T officials at the meeting on Monday said the feedback they received from the public centered on the elimination of service – either entirely (ferry, some bus routes, and some commuter rail stops) or partially (late-night bus and subway service and weekend and weeknight commuter rail service).As a result, the T announced a number of new priorities in making service cuts – preserve bus routes whose elimination would result in passengers being stranded more than a half-mile from other service and “municipalities losing all MBTA modal options.”
Both new priorities appeared to benefit Hull.