Framingham Councilors: MBTA Proposed Service Cuts To ‘Afflix Permanent and Crippling Solutions to Temporary Challenges’

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FRAMINGHAM – The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board is scheduled to vote on proposed service cuts on Monday, December 7.

Yesterday, was the deadline to submit written feedback to the Board.

Four Framingham City Councilors submitted a letter opposing the proposed cut by the Friday, December 4 deadline, to that Board.

“We write to express profound concern about the proposed service reductions currently being considered for Framingham and the MetroWest region. While we are acutely aware that the current pandemic has had substantial impacts on ridership, coupled with other complexities at the MBTA; however, these proposed cuts will affix permanent and crippling solutions to temporary challenges,” wrote District 4 City Councilor Michael Cannon, at-large City Councilor Janet Leombruno, District 6 City Councilor Phil Ottaviani Jr. and District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini.

“The timing of these reductions would present even greater difficulty for our health care, food service, and other critical work forces, who are among MetroWest constituencies which rely heavily on the MBTA to get to and from work. Framingham has a significant population of health care professionals which depend on commuter rail service to reach their essential roles within the Longwood Medical Area. These proposed service reductions would commence at a time when this work force is of unparalleled importance,” wrote the 4 Framingham City Councilors.

The proposed cuts would cut the commuter rail service on weekends, to reduce weekday service during midday and stop service late at night.

Framingham’s trio of state representatives also wrote a letter to the Board against the proposed cuts.

“Though we understand that the decreased ridership during COVID-19 pandemic have left you with difficult decision to make, we fundamentally believe that permanent reductions in service in response to a temporary crisis will have a devasting and long-lasting effect,” wrote the trio of state representatives.

Six in 10 residents state-wide oppose the proposed MBTA service cuts, according to a new poll by MassINC Polling Group, a nonpartisan public opinion research firm serving public, private, and social-sector clients.

“As the largest community in MetroWest, the damage that these proposed service reductions would inflict on Framingham will lead to greater and long-term impacts throughout MetroWest. While we recognize the series of difficult decisions the board is tasked with, we urge you to preserve the essential transportation corridors and service levels to Framingham and MetroWest,” wrote the 4 Framingham City Councilors.

The MBTA’s Board has a meeting at 11 a.m. on December 7 to discuss and likely vote on the proposed cuts.

According to the poll, 66% of residents “would rather the State Legislature give the transit agency more funding to close its budget gap. If the cuts are made, only 36% think it is likely the MBTA will restore service to prior levels as the state reopens. A majority (54%) think it is likely the MBTA will not restore service.”

The cuts would reduce the MBTA’s costs by about $128 million next year.

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