• Is it time to abolish the MBTA?

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by charlesriverbranch
Riding the Red and Orange Lines lately, I get the distinct impression that despite the best efforts of successive MBTA managements, the system continues to deteriorate. Waiting for a Red Line train at South Station the other day, I found myself waiting ridiculously long for a train that, when it arrived, crept into the station not much faster than walking speed. From there to Broadway it repeatedly stopped, started, moved a few feet, and stopped again. After five or six iterations of this, it crept along at a walking pace and eventually got to Broadway, after which it got somewhat faster.

A friend called me last weekend in a panicked mood because the Orange Line was once again not running, and it wasn't clear how she could get home to Malden. It turned out that while the Oak Grove platform at North Station was blocked off, she had to go to the Forest Hills platform, where trains were running backwards to Malden.

This is after the month-long Orange Line shutdown in August. It never seems to end.

So, let's fire all these people, lock stock and barrel, and bring some people in from elsewhere in the world where they know how to run a transit system. Form a new agency, or prinatize, or whatever: just get rid of these idiots. What say, everyone?
  by RandallW
Massachusetts voters have the opportunity to clean that up every time they vote in state elections, but oddly enough they don't seem to care. As long as elected officials in Massachusetts interfere in the operations the MBTA on an ongoing basis, firing every non-elected person on the MBTA isn't going to help the fact that Beacon Hill is going to make bad decisions on its behalf.
  by jaymac
What happens in the meantime?
"Throw the rascals out" sounds good, but replacing them is a problem.
  by FatNoah
"Throw the rascals out" sounds good, but replacing them is a problem.
I'm pretty sure what happens in this scenario is that the old management gets tossed, and a new operator comes in. That operator needs to hire a bunch of people with experience running a transit agency. Guess who gets hired.
  by BandA
They could outsource management, but nobody has any confidence that it would fix anything. They could outsource bus operations to any bus company. They could compare Keolis' performance, and if it is better have them take over subway operations. What should have happened is Mitt Romney should have fixed the MBTA - he had control of the board, he had a GM that appeared to be competent, and union contracts up for renewal. But he didn't want to rock the boat as it would have made it hard to run for president. Deval Patrick came in, he wanted to spend more money on the MBTA, but he couldn't wait to get rid of Grabauskas and he gave us .... Beverly Scott!!! Baker came in and seemed to have little or no interest in transportation and delegated as much as he could, though he finished on a high note with his Springfield Amtrak speechifying.
  by BandA
Maura Healy has been governor for a month, and we haven't heard anything meaningful from her other than there is a search for a permanent GM. I have to assume she has little knowledge about transportation, and hasn't (publicly) cracked heads at CRRC which involves contract enforcement...
  by jaymac
Mebbe I'm wrong, but wasn't Choo-Choo Charlie governor for 8 years ?

Edited to eliminate typo.
Last edited by jaymac on Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Red Wing
BandA wrote: Thu Feb 02, 2023 5:21 am Maura Healy has been governor for a month, and we haven't heard anything meaningful from her other than there is a search for a permanent GM. I have to assume she has little knowledge about transportation, and hasn't (publicly) cracked heads at CRRC which involves contract enforcement...
That's a little unfair of a quote there. I don't expect her to be an expert on transportation or on trees or on how the water system works. That's why she has people that advise her that knows that stuff and it looks to me she is trying to get the right person for the job so she can "crack Heads" like you'd want. Sometimes it takes more than 3 weeks to find a replacement that can actually do the job and that's what I'd prefer.
  by BandA
You know, you are right, I am being pretty harsh on the governor. But as former Attorney General, I would have expected more on CRRC contract enforcement since that is a well known legal issue and should have been of interest to her.
  by CRail
Charlie Baker was governor for 8 years with an agenda to "fix" the T that was already decades old on inauguration day. He failed to accomplish many of his initiatives and his successes resulted in more colossal failure. His stewardship ended under threat of federal seizure, you consider that a high note?

The MBTA is a state agency by necessity and its abolition would result in the need for another state agency meaning you'd just be changing the name as you'd have no choice but to bring folks over from the old agency. The service provided by the T was insourced when the public private partnership failed in the first half of the last century. There's a saying about those who do not learn from history.

The system needs to be funded adequately and led by people who understand the importance of the good provided over the elimination of its cost. You can have good or cheap, but not both.
  by eolesen
Since Massachusetts keeps electing the same people that the unions want elected, and they appoint the agency head, it's no surprise that the problems will never be fixed...

It's the same problem with just about every other Big City Transit Agency.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by Red Wing
I'm pretty sure us Unions didn't want Teflon Charlie elected.
  by BandA
The most telling thing about Baker was his administration began with the "meltdown" actually a freezeup, of MBTA service. On her way out Beverly Scott said Baker hadn't spoken directly to her during that first month. What manager, faced with a crisis, hides behind his cabinet & doesn't talk to his department heads? His stated "fix it first" philosophy has largely been shunted aside.

So, let's bring back the "fix it first" before expansion, and the Fiscal Management Control Board.
  by wicked
Lots of things are evident.

1. The problem was not Beverly Scott. It was the lack of support for the MBTA by the General Court.
2. There has been repeated talk of adding funding to the T budget — transportation funding reform. It's never happened. Ostensibly this was supposed to be done right before COVID happened. Looks like COVID gave everyone in the General Court a get-out-of-jail-free card.
2a. The "millionaire tax" was passed with a provision that the money specifically goes to public transportation and education. I've heard nothing about how this will be appropriated. The General Court and the governor should probably take a look at that.
3. Healey's position as AG was a powerful one, considering it's been an advocacy-driven position for the past 30 years. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But if she'd thought it was important to do anything about the CRRC situation, it could've been done a year or two ago.
4. Taking a subway ride two stops for a photo op means nothing. Maybe she'll one day do a real ride on the Red Line, which has become a total disaster.
5. The feds stepping in and mandating "safer" operations has only pissed off riders, who mostly don't understand why the system has slowed to a crawl since last summer. No one from the agency has given a good public explanation for it. The only info I learn about it is here and other MBTA-related forums, which are not read by the majority of public transit riders.
5a. A complete FTA takeover would not accomplish much because the main issue is the lack of funding to fix the damn system. Unless the feds are writing big checks. We saw how that worked out the last time a big Mass. transit project received big checks from Capitol Hill. That's probably why we're not getting much (any?) federal funding for these projects. See Cape bridges.
5b. Safer operations are good, but once people give up on the system because they can probably walk to work faster (especially if they live anywhere north of Wollaston!), they're probably not coming back. This goes back to telling the public *why* these things are happening. That involves proactive communications from the agency/the governor's office. Given the Code of Silence during the Baker/Poftak era, they are woefully prepared for such an operation.

I'm sure I'm missing a lot.

Edit: I realize I never answered the question posed in the subject line. You can call it MassDOT or Best Transit Agency Ever or the Boston Super Express Uber Rides to the Moon Authority. If the core issues aren't resolved, it doesn't matter if you abolish the T or do what the city did with the BRA (shine it up and give it a pretty new name to make people think it was gone).