Commonwealth Magazine | By State Sen. John F. Keenan | Sept. 10, 2017
WE’RE ALL GUILTY OF IT. Something breaks in the house that needs to be replaced by a trained professional, but instead of making the proper investment we glue, tape, and tie pieces back together just to repeat the quick fix in the weeks to come. Then, when you need it the most, it completely breaks down and panic ensues. For me, it’s the leaky pipe under my sink; for some, it’s the refrigerator. For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s the MBTA.
Decades of deferred maintenance at the MBTA culminated in the disastrous breakdown of the agency during the winter of 2014-2015. Our inability to provide public transit in severe winter weather was a complete embarrassment for a state that continuously boasts its status as a leader on innovation and technology hub lists. Panic and public outcry prompted the Legislature to quickly approve Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposals for transportation reform, which involved stabilizing and streamlining the management and administrative functions of the MBTA, so that such crises would not occur in the future.
The reform laid out the governor’s expectations of the MBTA: make smarter financial decisions, eliminate inefficiencies, and revise policies and procedures to allow the MBTA to run at an optimal level. The Legislature approved these reforms, but the privatizing of the MBTA’s core services was not a part of this understanding, nor did we intend to negatively affect the lives of hundreds of hard-working men and women who serve the Commonwealth every single day.
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