After Multiple Derailments, MBTA Assembles Safety Panel

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — After six derailments so far this year, the MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) is assembling a panel to examine safety across the system.

At a meeting of the board Monday, FMCB Chair Joseph Aiello named the members of that panel as former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, former acting Federal Transportation Administration head Head Carolyn Flowers, and former New York MTA President Carmen Bianco.

“This is intended to be full rail safety analysis, and the move to ensure that we are practicing best practices from around the world,” Aiello said.

Neither Aiello, nor MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak would say how much hiring the high-profile experts would cost. Aiello said that was still in contract, despite the positions being announced.

“We will make safety our top priority and spend accordingly,” Aiello said.

The MBTA said they still have yet to determine the exact cause of the Red Line derailment on June 11. However, Poftak said a number of factors have been ruled out, including “operator error, any type of foul play, and track infrastructure.”

At the meeting, MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville said that 960,000 wires have to be fixed and replaced on the Red Line.

MassDot’s Stephanie Pollack said on Monday that given the MBTA’s aging infrastructure, more oversight might be needed until the old equipment has been replaced.

According to Poftak, vehicles of the same type as the one involved around the derailment have been inspected.

“I’m pleased to report that we have found no systemic issues,” Poftak said.

Amid the investigations into the recent derailments, some are calling a fare hike — set to kick in July 1 — unfair. Among those against the hike was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who tweeted last week that there should be “no fare increase until the Red Line is fixed

Demonstrators calling for Gov. Charlie Baker to intervene in the matter of the fare hike also attended Monday's FMCB meeting, holding signs urging Baker to ride the T himself, or asking, "Charlie, where's your Charlie Card?"

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WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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