Group demands urgency around known solutions: legislative investment and accountability through naming an MBTA board
Calling for action from both the Governor and state legislature, advocates, riders, and municipal leaders rallied on September 30 at the State House following a series of safety-related incidents throughout the MBTA system, including Red and Orange Line derailments and dangerous conditions on station stairs and escalators.
“We know the solutions to the challenges facing the T, and we have the power to fix them,” said Josh Ostroff, Interim Director at the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition. “The question is -- what crisis will it take for our leaders to act with the urgency and scale required?”
Showing a stack of more than 35 expert reports written over 20 years on the topics of MBTA investment, safety, and planning, the group reinforced key courses of action necessary for a safe and reliable system:
- an investment plan leveraging incoming federal dollars to advance not only a safe system, but the clean, equitable, and modern system Massachusetts residents deserve;
- accountability and transparency to rebuild trust with riders, most immediately through reconvening an MBTA board to replace the Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB), which sunsetted in June; and
- steady and sufficient legislative funding to overcome long-standing MBTA financial deficits, fix outdated infrastructure, and hire the additional talent the T needs to succeed.
“More than ever, we need riders to trust the system. Under the prior board, the MBTA accelerated key projects and increased capital spending – and riders began seeing bright spots of a system moving in the right direction,” said Jarred Johnson, Executive Director, TransitMatters. “We need a new board now to build back that trust and oversee urgent priorities.”
“Investment is key. Federal dollars are critical to bringing forth the system we need, but one-time federal funding is a down-payment, not the full payment,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance. “We need the legislature to step up to ensure the MBTA is on sustainable footing for the long-term.”
“People rely on the T to get to work and school, and they rely on the trains, buses, stairs, and escalators being safe,” said CLF Staff Attorney Juanita Gibson. “The Baker Administration must ensure that safety is the number one priority. Now is the time to invest in the current system and plan for a climate-resilient MBTA of the future.”
"The legislature advanced MBTA accountability and transparency by mandating the new Board include a worker representative nominated by the Mass AFL-CIO, as well as a rider representative who lives in an environmental justice community,” said Lee Matsueda, Co-chair of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition and ED of Community Labor United. “Governor Baker must move quickly to appoint a new board that includes the worker member, and one of the rider nominees backed by dozens of community groups in our July letter."
“A safe, reliable, and affordable transit system is critical for an equitable and resilient economic recovery," said Kasia Hart, policy analyst for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. "Now is the time to create a pathway for sustainable, long-term funding for the MBTA.”
"We know what needs to happen to make and keep the T safe and that none of the bold, transformative improvements we want (like electrification or regional rail or bus transformation) are possible without it,” said Julia Wallerce, Boston Program Manager for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “Right now the only thing standing in the way is political will. It's time for Governor Baker and the legislature to step up to the plate with the investment and funding mechanisms we need to avoid more preventable tragedies and set the system on track for a safe, sustainable future.”
About Transit Is Essential
Transit is Essential is a coalition of 60 organizations calling on state leaders to fully fund robust, equitable and reliable transit service. For more information visit transitisessential.org.