Republican state Sen. Robert Hedlund of Weymouth said restoring weekend train service on the MBTA's Greenbush line on a trial basis and increasing local aid to communities are some of the reasons why he is seeking re-election in November.
Republican state Sen. Robert Hedlund of Weymouth said restoring weekend train service on the MBTA’s Greenbush line on a trial basis and increasing local aid to communities are some of the reasons why he is seeking re-election in November.
“I support a trial startup of the Greenbush on weekends, but if the ridership level is not there it won’t lead to a permanent restoration,” Hedlund said March 24.
Hedlund has been representing the Plymouth and Norfolk District, which includes Weymouth, Hingham, Hull, Norwell, Marshfield, Scituate, Duxbury and Cohasset, in the state Senate since winning the seat back in 1994. He was first elected to the Legislature in 1990, but lost his seat in 1992 prior to regaining it two years later.
In 2012, Hedlund defeated Democratic opponent Genevieve Davis of Norwell to earn another term. He said he is not aware of any challengers, and state Division of Elections spokesman Brian McNiff said Hedlund is the only candidate who has requested nomination papers.
”The deadline for filing nomination papers is April 29,” McNiff said.
Hedlund said a permanent restoration of the Greenbush line on weekends also depends on whether there are enough funds to operate it.
“The MBTA’s operational deficit is $160 million,” he said.
Hedlund said the number of passengers using Greenbush on the weekend was pitifully low when the trains stopped running on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s a frustrating situation,” he said
Hedlund said the MBTA has pitted the cost of running Greenbush against the operation of the commuter boats, which lost their state subsidies.
“They raised the fares so high on the commuter boats so that they are not subsidized anymore,” he said. “They are subsidizing the Greenbush to $25 million a year to run it. When you have a line that needs that subsidy it is hard to advocate for weekend service when there is virtually no riders,” he said.
Hedlund said the trial run he supports for weekend Greenbush service would include free parking in T lots, which he said would be an incentive to encourage riders to board Greenbush and discourage passengers from clogging the streets on adjacent streets near commuter rail stations.
“It (parking) is archaic,” he said.
Hedlund added he would seek increases in local aid to cities and towns if re-elected.
“The state budget has gone up $5 billion in the last five years, but local aid has been cut by a half-billion,” he said. “In general, I want to hold government accountable. I’m outnumbered 36-4 in the Senate and I’m trying to hold the majority party accountable.”