(The Center Square) – A hearing into the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority will be held in the coming weeks, legislative leaders said.
Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Norfolk, and House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano, D-Quincy, issued a statement Tuesday morning addressing a recent report from the Federal Transit Administration into the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority amid public safety concerns.
The hearing will be held before the Joint Committee on Transportation, Spilka said, who will hold an oversight hearing on the transit authority.
“The FTA’s findings and the MBTA’s subsequent service cuts don’t inspire any public confidence in our transit system,” Spilka and Mariano said in the 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.”
The Federal Transit Administration issued a report June 15 outlining a series of corrections the transportation authority must address, which includes the state’s Department of Public Utilities, to increase safety within its network.
The special directives, according to the release, are to be immediately addressed and stem from the FTA’s safety management inspection that started on April 14. The four directives include addressing staffing issues in the Operating Control Center, general safety operation procedures, delayed critical maintenance to the network, and lapses in staff safety certifications. The authority has 24 hours to 35 days to take action and provide responses.
The inspection, according to the release, came about after several incidents occurred within the network which caused one death and injured several other passengers and employees within the rail network.
"Safety is our number one priority and must be the primary focus for the MBTA and the DPU," FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said. "Every transit passenger deserves a safe ride. Every transit worker deserves a safe workplace. The MBTA must immediately take action to improve its safety procedures for its passengers and workers."
Spilka, speaking at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday morning, said she and Mariano were prepared to “announce our support for continued discussion on East-West rail.” The veteran legislator said the efforts include $50 million that was included in the last transportation bond bill while working to “include significantly more in the upcoming one.”
“To compete in the 21st century economy – and meet our climate goals – Massachusetts needs a regionally equitable transportation system that reflects the values and aspirations of our residents,” Spilka and Mariano said in a joint statement. “That is why the Legislature has historically supported East-West rail and why we are committed to advancing discussions as we seek to unlock federal funding from the historic Biden-Harris bipartisan infrastructure law.”