Based on findings recently issued by a panel he appointed in February to investigate blizzard-related system shutdowns, Governor Charlie Baker is now being urged to find new leadership for the beleaguered MBTA. including asking for the resignations of the entire MassDOT Board of Directors. In a press conference, Baker stated there was a need to improve the fiscal responsibility and the performance of the transit system.
One recommendation includes creation of a five-member “Fiscal and Management Control Board.” Over the next three to five years, this board would supervise the MBTA’s finances, develop goals, restructure the MBTA, and “reinvent the labor-management and contract relationships.” Of the five board members, the governor would appoint three and the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would each select one. This board would be given the mission to “aggressively” pursue these and other objectives, ultimately choosing a new CEO for the transit system.Baker shared the recommendations of this panel with the state legislature, saying they were “interested in the findings.” He also said that MassDOT board members are aware of the findings.The report includes recommendations to crack down on fare evasions and to add more advertising and concessions in stations. Interestingly, the report also suggested the state should assume debt payments for the Big Dig, in exchange for which the state would no longer cover shortfalls in the operating budget of the transit authority.Portions of the report have been leaked to the media over the past several days. One uncomfortable finding was that the average MBTA worker was absent 57 days a year. Perhaps more disturbing, the MBTA did not utilize up $2.2 billion in possible grants and bonds between 2010 and 2014.