Mass. Lawmakers Point To Governor Baker's Office For Latest MBTA Problems

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Massachusetts lawmakers are pointing the finger at the governor's office for the latest MBTA problems.

On Tuesday morning, as riders adjusted to less frequent weekday subway service to help the agency comply with Federal Transportation Administration safety directives, House and Senate leaders released a statement announcing plans for a hearing at some point to learn more about the T's operations.

"The FTA's findings and the MBTA's subsequent service cuts don't inspire any public confidence in our transit system," Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said in a statement. "Since 2015, at his request, Governor Baker has had control of the MBTA. It has since been the Administration's responsibility to keep up with maintenance and manage an efficient system that customers can rely on. Given the FTA's interim findings and alarming directives, there is an increased need to better understand the agency's shortcomings and help restore public confidence. Therefore, we will work with the Joint Committee on Transportation to conduct such a hearing in the coming weeks."

Baker and his appointees control the public transit agency and the governor has pointed to historic increases in capital spending at the T while swatting away calls for new operating revenues at the agency. The House in 2020 approved a transportation revenue proposal but it died without a vote in the Senate, and the transportation revenue debate has not revved back up since then.

Mariano and Spilka also looked forward to "advancing discussions" about extending rail service into western Massachusetts.

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"More public conversations are necessary as we continue to determine the oversight structure, capital and operational funding, and the preferred route alternatives needed for the success of East-West rail," they said. "But we are comforted knowing last session's Transportation Bond Bill included $50 million in initial East-West Rail funding. From that foundation, we expect to increase the amount of available funding for this Administration and the next so that more detailed work on the project can occur. We look forward to continuing conversations with our members and the public, particularly those residents from Western Massachusetts, who have for too long not been front and center in statewide transportation planning."

Baker aides on Friday did not respond to a News Service request for his reaction to the FTA findings. The governor's office did not release a public schedule for Baker for Tuesday.

Baker and Congressman Richard Neal have called for the creation of a new public authority to overseeing the service expansion. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS | 6/21/22 8:26 AM

Written by Michael Norton/SHNS.

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