Board asks T workers to do more – NBC Boston

MBTA management and core staff have not done enough to keep its transit service safe, the head of the T’s board said Thursday, while calling on agency members to redouble their efforts.

At MBTA’s first board meeting since a June 1 collision between two Green Line trains, board chair Betsy Taylor said she was “appalled and concerned” by the incident, which has sent four drivers to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“Over the past year, the MBTA has made real progress in implementing and monitoring safety measures, but there is clearly more work to be done,” Taylor said. “Do I have confidence in the safety management plan, in the capital investments to improve safety, and in the general manager and employees who focus on safety? Yes, I have confidence. Their efforts have enough? No. Therefore, I now challenge the General Manager, Security Officer and every T employee to do more.”

The most recent accident is still under investigation and officials have yet to announce a cause, although they reported last week that the investigation is focused on potential human error.

The collision of two underground MBTA Green Line carts in Boston caused continued delays the next day.

Taylor’s comments and those of other board members put further and publicly visible pressure on MBTA Chief Executive Steve Poftak, Chief Security Officer Ronald Ester and the thousands of agency employees at amid a series of high-profile incidents and failures that have caused federal security. probe.

“We recognize that people at all levels of this organization are critical to building a world-class safety culture, and we ask employees to do so because our customers depend on them,” said Scott Darling, Member. of the board of directors, which chairs the safety, health and environment sub-committee.

Governor Charlie Baker’s appointed board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved a $2.55 billion budget for fiscal year 2023 that adds 330 additional full-time employee positions, of which nearly 150 would focus on security needs reported by an independent panel more than two years ago.

MBTA officials are once again staring into the financial void with a $236 million budget shortfall likely to hit next year and remaining pandemic-era federal emergency aid unable to fill the void.

The Federal Transit Administration is reviewing MBTA’s safety practices after several high-profile incidents resulted in the death or injury of its passengers.

But Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler signaled Thursday that the Baker administration doesn’t want those constraints to make MBTA executives reluctant to make safety-related investments.

“I also want, in the spirit of what the chairman has said, to clarify my expectations and I believe that the other members of this board expect the staff and the general manager to bring to us, as a board, all investments that will continue to advance security if not budgeted for,” Tesler said. “When asked, we will continue to find ways to resource and invest in security because that is our main function.”

The independent safety panel that reviewed the MBTA in 2019 concluded that budget crunch played a role in safety lapses within the agency, alongside frequent lapses in maintenance and inspections and a lack of trust in the leadership.

When confronted with questions about the T, Baker regularly points to increased capital spending — which covers maintenance, modernization and expansion — that his administration has overseen over the past seven years.

“Everybody wants to chase the bright ball. I get that, and nobody’s praising you for making the investments we’ve made to modernize the system,” Baker said Thursday at a New England Council event. “But it’s the modernization of the system that makes it safer.”

Yet, aside from a House-approved bill that died in the Senate in 2020 after the COVID-19 hit, neither Baker nor legislative leaders have shown any real interest in rethinking how the state contributes to the operating budget of the T or to fill its persistent gaps.

Lance B. Holton