The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail company, MBCR, is clarifying to its employees the rules on petition gathering and canvassing on MBTA trains. On Monday morning Boxborough resident Kurt Hayes, a former independent congressional candidate and Republican legislative candidate, went to collect signatures for Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate Campaign at the Lowell train station. In a departure from his previous experience, Hayes was asked to not board the train.
During his run for U.S. Congress as an independent candidate Hayes routinely went to the Lowell Commuter Rail Station and boarded the train early to collect signatures. Lowell is an end of the line train station and there is about a half hour lag before trains depart. This allows ample time to talk to riders before leaving the train. On Monday morning September 14, 2009 Kurt met resistance for the first time.
Upon arriving at the platform Hayes asked three assembled MBCR union employees, one conductor and two other employees, if he could gather petition signatures. “One of the employees asked whom I was gathering signatures for. I replied Scott Brown and the employee said, ‘he’s the one who wants to take away my job'”, said Hayes. Hayes then asked the employee again if he could collect signatures. The employee stated, “not on my train.” Hayes was however allowed to ask for signatures on the platform.
Hayes told Red Mass Group that in the past he had not been denied the ability to collect signatures on the train. That this was the first time he had been denied.
Scott Farmelant, spokesman for the MBCR had the following to say on the matter, “MBCR/MBTA policy prohibits political canvassing of any kind on MBTA passenger vehicles. Any prior incidents of canvassing should not have taken place. All MBCR train crews will be reminded of this policy.”
As they say, “if you see something say something”, if you see other candidates representatives being allowed to collect signatures on MBTA trains please let us know. As always video or photographic evidence would be best.