Gov. Baker Reacts To Preliminary Federal MBTA Safety Report

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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - In a meeting earlier this week, Federal Transit Administration officials informed the MBTA of four issues they want the agency to address quickly.

Those issues include staffing at the operations control center, safety protections in train yard, delayed track maintenance, and recertifying MBTA workers.

MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ronald Easter said he expects the FTA to complete on-the-ground inspections by the end of the week, ahead of a closeout meeting with MBTA leaders on Friday.

Easter said MBTA officials are working on a response plan to share with the federal agency soon.

"The T has dramatically expanded their safety staffing over the course of the past couple of years in response to the study that was done by the Fiscal Management Control Board right before the pandemic" Governor Charlie Baker said in response to the FTA's findings. "The FTA has a series of additional recommendations they want them to pursue which is exactly what we were hoping we would get from them was a set of initiatives based on what they've seen nationally that we should be doing here in Massachusetts."

An FTA spokesperson who agreed to communicate only on background said the agency's on-the-ground inspection is close to complete.

"The Federal Transit Administration is committed to safety as our number-one priority and will ensure that is also the primary focus of everyone at the MBTA and (Department of Public Utilities)," the spokesperson said. "Our safety management inspection is nearing its conclusion, and we are calling on the T to take timely corrective actions to ensure the safety of the employees and the passengers on MBTA trains. We will provide more detail soon."

Federal officials launching their probe into the MBTA in mid-April, describing their reasons as "extremely concerned with ongoing safety issues" at the T. Since April there have been several incidents that have only put more pressure on safety moving forward.

The meeting on Monday, June 13, also shed light on the June 1 Green Line Crash along with manufacturing issues with Red and Orange Line trains.

MBTA Chief Investigation and Safety Assurance Officer Steven Culp revealed during Monday's meeting that the striking train was moving at a speed of 9 miles an hour, and failed to stop at a red signal. The speed limit for that stretch of the track is 7 miles per hour. Culp said the other train was traveling at 5.7 miles per hour, and was moving from a "loop" section of track toward the mainline to begin service. A spokesperson for the T said the speed limit on that loop is 5 miles per hour. The MBTA had previously found there to be no infrastructure errors contributing to the collision and were now looking into possible human errors.

Culp said the investigation remains active.

Since the FTA launched it's investigation, there have also been a number of issues on the new Orange Line and Red Line trains. All of the new trains were pulled from service after a problem with the braking units, caused by an improperly installed bolt.

MBTA workers examined 1,584 similar bolts across the new subway fleet and found 17 others were similar problems. Since then, the trains have been outfitted with new hardware.

The T sent the faulty bolts to Mass Materials Research for a full analysis. The results are expected to be available within 30 days.

The MBTA plans to replace the entire Red and Orange Line fleets with brand-new trains from Chinese firm CRRC. Several dozen vehicles have already arrived, and T officials expect the turnover to be complete by April 2023 on the Orange Line and September 2024 on the Red Line following a delay.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports

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