It took crowded public meetings, stacks of angry letters, phone calls to numerous departments and even private meetings by House Speaker Bob DeLeo, but in the end state transportation officials allowed Winthrop to keep its bus service.
The MBTA released recommendations late last week concerning its plan to reduce a major budget deficit, and though there were many cost-saving measures, none of them included cutting the Winthrop bus service.
The service, which is operated for the MBTA by Paul Revere Transportation and is the only public transit service in the town, was threatened with being cut under one scenario released by the MBTA in January. It was the second time in three years that the agency had contemplated such a cut to Winthrop.
DeLeo has taken the MBTA situation as a paramount concern statewide, but naturally has been advocating heavily against the potential cut in his own town.
â€œWhether it was students, seniors, or folks commuting back and forth from Winthrop, we were able to make our case and I think he understood and took care of it,â€ said DeLeo, referring to Transportation Secretary Richard Davey. â€œBehind the scenes, Secretary Davey and I maintained an ongoing discussion where I had the opportunity to tell him the importance of that bus line in Winthrop…Weâ€™ve been meeting quite a bit.â€
One of the key pieces in the battle was getting the MBTA out to Winthrop for a local public hearing, which took place earlier this year. In addition, many Winthrop residents visited Chelsea for a public hearing that occurred there as well.
Chamber of Commerce Director Eric Gaynor had been heavily advocating for salvaging the bus. He said it is crucial to how business is conducted in Winthrop Center.
Now that it has been spared, he said it was simply a relief.
â€œWeâ€™re just happy the MBTA came to their senses,â€ he said. â€œWe are especially grateful to Speaker DeLeo for his leadership on this issue.â€
DeLeo said the potential cut brought people out of the woodwork, and made him realize how especially important that service is to the comings and goings of people in Winthrop.
â€œYou learn that very quickly,â€ he told the Sun-Transcript. â€œThe correspondence I received was unbelievable in terms of the amount of concerns people had over this.â€
Nevertheless, while the MBTAâ€™s recommendation spared the bus, it didnâ€™t spare any change for residents.
The proposal calls for a 23 percent increase in fares systemwide.
Within that figure, regular bus fares will go from $1.25 to $1.50, and the subway fares will go from $1.70 to $2.
The monthly bus/subway passes will increase from $59 to $70. For one year, that would be an increase from $708 to $830. The MBTA Board of Directors was scheduled to vote on the proposal late on Wednesday, which was too late for inclusion in this weekâ€™s Sun-Transcript. All indications were, however, that the plan would be approved.