Gov. Baker Requests $50 Million For T Upgrades

Gov. Charlie Baker mbta

Gov. Baker speaks at a press conference on MBTA upgrades Tuesday. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)

MEDFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Gov. Charlie Baker is asking the state legislature for a fiscal shot in the arm for the MBTA.

At a press conference at the Wellington Station Garage Tuesday morning, Baker said he's requesting a one-time appropriation from the Fiscal Year 2019 surplus—$50 million, to be used to speed up repairs and upgrades across the beleaguered transit system.

That money would go to flaggers, motormen, and shuttle buses in order to help get much-needed work finished more quickly.

 

The request for more money comes in the wake of the Red Line derailment that left the system reeling. The organization said last week that full service may not be restored until the end of summer.

"Repair on the Red Line can't come fast enough," Baker said.

The bad news, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said, is that the plan to accellerate work across the T may rip up your commute, with "more aggressive" weekend and evening MBTA shutdowns and restrictions being put in place in order to get workers more and longer access to the tracks.

"The MBTA is already doing closures on almost a nightly basis, and will be doing closures on various parts of the system throughout the summer and fall," Poftak said. "We're looking to expand the breadth of these closures in order to give our contractors more access to the track."

 

Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack said contractors will be asked to work faster.

"Can you move the milestones up?" she said the state would ask workers. "What if we gave you bigger work windows so you can get on the tracks earlier in the evening, stay later in the morning, work more weekends, maybe even consider workday closures?"

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito touted the $8 billion that the MBTA plans to spend on improvements over the next five years, and all the speakers present hailed the new safety panel of high-profile experts that was announced Monday—though the cost of hiring those experts still wasn't known.

Gov. Baker said it is track time, not further revenue or taxpayer money, that is needed to fix the T; however, fares are still set to go up Monday, despite a campaign to delay those hikes that saw support from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

 

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