After months of investigating the crisis in the MBTA, top lawmakers concluded that Congress needed to rethink the role of the Public Utilities Administration as the state agency responsible for overseeing MBTA safety. A few other ideas have emerged that don’t seem to have much traction yet. branch.
The Transport Commission, which had 20 members this term, released its final report on Tuesday afternoon, hours before the end of its 2021-22 term, following the panel’s three hearings this year. and compiled a large number of MBTA documents. investigated by parliamentarians.
Most of the 78-page report provides a summary of the upheaval Ryder faced at the MBTA and the interventions made by federal agents this spring and summer following a string of horrific and sometimes fatal incidents. increase.
But rather than offer the entire panel a set of recommendations in one unified voice, the top Democrats chose a different, divergent approach. What they believe should be a “future focus area.”
Both warned of the DPU’s oversight of T’s safety, which the Federal Transportation Administration called inadequate, as an area ready for some legislative action.
Crighton will keep the DPU as a designated state security oversight agency (SSOA), but “enable it to function as an active and independent entity,” reassigning those responsibilities to another existing agency. , or set up a new independent agency. I am only responsible for MBTA security oversight.
In his series of recommendations, Strauss suggested that the MBTA’s security oversight should be kept away from the DPU, but added that lawmakers would need input and approval from the FTAs to do so.
“One option we will consider going forward is to move the SSOA to an office that is well ‘insulated’ from all government agencies. His one option (and possible others) for discussion would be the Inspector General’s Office,” said the Strauss section of the report. “The existing IG appointment process allows the agency to operate free from political considerations that may be imposed by the governor or other governor’s appointees. If so, the forensic role played by the Inspector General would be in line with security oversight, and the SSOA unit within that office would be less likely to be considered a secondary duty (in contrast, the DPU in its 2021 annual report devoted a total of four paragraphs to the SSOA function in its 55-page report).
Outside of the DPU, none of Straus’s and Crighton’s suggestions fit exactly the same topic.
Crichton asked the MBTA to provide the public with more information about the steps it is taking to improve safety. One particularly useful option, he said, would be to compare the findings of the MBTA’s Independent Panel on Safety Failures 2019 report and the FTA’s 2022 report, and to use that information as a “specific safety performance.” The goal and annual tracking progress will be published with ”.
He also flagged staffing as a key area of concern for agencies, but to help T cope with recruitment challenges and a declining workforce, he said that during the 2023-2024 session, lawmakers However, he did not come up with a proposal for specific actions to be taken by incoming Governor Maura Healy.
“It is clear that MBTA needs more employees to roll out safe and reliable services. Recruitment remains a major challenge despite the incentives adopted by the authorities,” Crichton said in the report. section says. “Some of these challenges have a national dimension, such as the struggle to hire bus drivers. may need.”
At one point, Mr. Crighton pointed to a portion of the transportation bond bill that passed this summer that called for the MBTA to submit regular reports to legislators on pending positions, recent hires, and training periods. I was looking for it. Gov. Charlie Baker proposed an amendment to that bill in August after the legislature wrapped up its final formal session of his term, but lawmakers never voted on his proposed changes, leaving the original I have allowed the proposal to fade away.
If legislators want to revisit the topic of a mandatory MBTA staffing report under the incoming Healey administration, they could start the legislative process next term, assuming they disagree with Baker’s changes in the final hours of Tuesday’s session. You have to start over.
“Although the governor has amended this section and returned it to Congress, it continues to be a critical element in ensuring safe services,” said the Crichton section of the report. teeth, [sic] Monitor consistently to determine if additional resources or strategies need to be implemented. ”
Straus’ other ideas include stronger audits and whistleblower protections, and a dramatic restructuring of MBTA’s responsibilities, which he raised at the commission’s first hearing in July. there is.
Through the commission’s final report, Matapoiset Democrats proposed reducing the T to a “lean” agency focused solely on operating buses and rapid transit services. He said lawmakers should move the commuter rail T already has an operating contract with Keolis to the Ministry of Transport’s Rail Transport Department or another office, and move the T ferry to another agency, creating a “massive and complex We should consider offloading ‘capital projects’. to Masdot.
“The following items argue that the MBTA is tasked with providing services and performing operations beyond its responsibility to provide public transportation options to enable residents of the Boston area and eastern Massachusetts to travel. deploy safely, conveniently, reliably and on time,” the report wrote, introducing Strauss’ ideas. “One idea to consider is allowing the MBTA to focus on its core mission of serving as a metropolitan bus and rapid transit service agency. It also allows us to become a more responsive and efficient agency.”
Neither Straus nor Crighton have made clear proposals for MBTA funding. This is an area that has long been a focus for transportation advocates who argue that the huge backlog of deferred maintenance and projected budget gaps in the T require additional state investment. However, Strauss noted that many of his proposals “raise questions about the need to modify existing dedicated transit funding flows.”
Lawmakers in this session raised hundreds of millions of dollars in one-time funding available to MBTA to help MBTA complete the corrective actions required for FTA investigations.
The chair also used the MBTA overseer’s final report to renew his frustration with the FTA, and FTA staff received two invitations to appear before the Transportation Commission before and after the federal investigation closed. refused.
The report alleges that federal regulators “lacked the need to cooperate with other public agencies on this important public safety issue,” FTA officials said at a press conference and Senate Elizabeth Warren. He pointed to what he said at a congressional hearing in Boston convened by lawmakers. However, he said participation in state commission hearings was prohibited by government agency rules.
The Massachusetts legislator also said there were unanswered questions about federal regulations governing hazard detection and mitigation in T. I can make a claim,” he wrote.
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