BOSTON — The state’s two top public transportation officials were grilled about safety on the T. A joint legislative oversight committee wants to make sure the MBTA has a true plan to address safety after federal investigators inspected the transportation system in the wake of multiple safety incidents.
The MBTA serves hundreds of thousands in the metro Boston area – and legislators say those riders are becoming more and more frustrated, as the T loses credibility.
State Senator Brendan Crighton is a co-chair of the joint committee.
“Building that trust is important. It is fractured at the moment but there is a great opportunity here both in the legislature with the T to reform this,” said Crighton.
The joint legislative oversight committee held a hearing to question the MBTA general manager and the head of MassDOT while the state waits for a federal report on safety concerns being done by the Federal Transit Administration. Lawmakers like State Senator John Keenan, are concerned the T has underlying problems like a weak safety culture.
MBTA Steve Poftak explained what they are doing to improve that culture.
“We understand we needed to change the culture in this organization and we have taken a number of steps to do it,” said Poftak.
The MBTA says it has committed to better listening to employees and bringing them into the equation on operations. Lawmakers are also worried about transparency, bringing up recent derailments they say the T was not forthcoming about right away.
“We could have been clearer and more detailed in our explanation. I also think there were a number of factors that were driving that delay, not solely that derailment,” said Poftak.
“They want to know that they have all the information that we have, that the T has. Whether it is a construction car derailment, a passenger car derailment. It is a derailment. We should be notified,” said Crighton. “I think we have become more transparent. I think we are communicating in ways we have not communicated before. Some of that is with the riding public and much of that is with employee,” said Poftak.
The oversight committee is already planning to call the these two managers back after the FTA report is released late next month. Legislators want to see that report and learn about any other potential concerns.
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