Commonwealth Magazine


TWO KEYS Beacon Hill transport leaders say their goal over the coming year will be to find additional resources for the MBTA, but they said new funds must be accompanied by a change of direction within the company. transit authority.

The two chairmen of the Legislative Assembly’s Transportation Committee – Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and Representative William Straus of Mattapoisett – said the The Codcast that the MBTA needs new leadership to move forward.

Crighton said most of the security issues highlighted by the Federal Transit Administration earlier this year were first identified in 2019 by a security panel made up of outside experts recruited by the former oversight board. of the T.

“What’s most striking is the lack of progress since 2019,” Crighton said.

“You talk about a communication breakdown at the MBTA,” Crighton said. “I think the way the MBTA communicates externally, with Parliament, with the administration, with the public, but also internally with workers who don’t feel empowered to raise major safety issues, it’s is an organization that functions without sound communication which has led to serious dysfunctions.

Straus said he couldn’t agree more. “The manner in which leadership and leadership decisions were made with respect to the T disappointed the public,” he said.

Straus said the agency needs transportation professionals at the helm. “Transportation is the kind of public service that, in my opinion, should be managed and supervised by professionals who have had successful careers in this field,” he said.

“I think at the higher levels of management 1, 2, 3 at T, you’re going to need a drastic overhaul,” Straus said. “The current chief executive is thoughtful, smart, sincere, wants to do a good job, but he reflects that history of coming from the outside world into a really complicated leadership position.”

Straus said the transport secretary should perhaps also come from practical transport experience. He noted Illinois Governor JB Pritzker follow this road appointing a 30-year veteran of the agency in 2019.

“There are lots of roles and lots of places for politicians to voice their opinions, but in terms of direct delivery of transport services, we want professionals to do it,” he said.

On the financial side, the two lawmakers said they would push for more funding for transportation next year. “I can guarantee you that in the next session the funding issues, not just for the T but for all transportation, will be front and center,” Straus said.

Both lawmakers said the legislature repeatedly asked the Baker administration if additional funding was needed, and was told no. Now, at their latest oversight hearing, MBTA officials said more money is needed. “It would have been useful years ago,” he said.

Crighton said passage of the constitutional amendment assessing a 4% surtax on income over $1 million should help. He also said it’s time to have a discussion on ‘mobility pricing’, especially as gas tax revenues will continue to decline as cars go electric. .

“We need to take a fresh look at it. A lot of things have changed during the pandemic,” he said.

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Editor, Commonwealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of Commonwealth magazine. Bruce came Commonwealth from boston globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions spanning business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as Worldchief of the State House bureau in the late 1980s. He also reported for the World‘s Spotlight Team, which won a Loeb Prize in 1992 for its coverage of conflicts of interest in the state pension system. He served as World‘s political editor in 1994 and continued to cover consumer issues for the paper. To Commonwealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written on a wide range of issues, with a particular focus on politics, tax policy, energy and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of Commonwealth magazine. Bruce came Commonwealth from boston globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions spanning business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as Worldchief of the State House bureau in the late 1980s. He also reported for the World‘s Spotlight Team, which won a Loeb Prize in 1992 for its coverage of conflicts of interest in the state pension system. He served as World‘s political editor in 1994 and continued to cover consumer issues for the paper. To Commonwealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written on a wide range of issues, with a particular focus on politics, tax policy, energy and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The two lawmakers also said they would like to see the board that oversees the MBTA be less reactive and more proactive in dealing with issues at the T. Crighton said the previous board pushed for a number of initiatives – electrifying the commuter train and means-tested. tariffs – which have been largely ignored by the current board.

“They had a bit more freedom to pursue their ideas. Unfortunately, many of them have not been put into practice,” he said.

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