Today’s fire on the Orange Line is alarming, but unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. The recent series of safety and operational events at the MBTA continue to undermine confidence in the region’s public transit system and severely disrupt service. The T is in crisis caused by deep rooted structural and systemic safety problems that require strong and decisive action from Governor Baker and the entire MBTA leadership.
In 2015, unusually bad weather events coupled with aging equipment and systems triggered the governor and legislative leaders to create stronger oversight of the MBTA through the Fiscal Management and Control Board. What the T is experiencing today is far worse and deserves a response that is commensurate with the current crisis.
To ensure the system is safe for riders, Governor Baker should immediately appoint a well-established expert in transit safety and complementary team to oversee the MBTA and implement all the recommendations from the Federal Transit Administration’s safety directives. This national expert and team would report to the Governor and other elected officials to bring a credible, independent voice to address the real safety challenges and rebuild the public’s confidence in the MBTA.
Greater Boston cannot function without a safe, reliable, and properly funded MBTA. Providing public transit service that meets these criteria starts today, with action from Governor Baker, and it will require sustained efforts from the next administration. This should be a priority issue for all candidates for Governor and every state government position.