Critical report mandates improved safety on Boston subway

Aug 31, 2022, 9:44 AM | Updated: 1:17 pm
FILE - A passenger, left, disembarks a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway train at a...

FILE - A passenger, left, disembarks a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway train at an underground station, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Boston. Federal transportation officials say in a highly critical report that the Boston-area's aging subway system has for years neglected safety and maintenance while it focused on long-term capital projects. The Federal Transit Administration's 90-page report on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority released Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, was based on a review started earlier this year in response to several accidents on the system. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston-area’s aging subway system has for years neglected safety and maintenance while it focused on long-term capital projects, federal transportation officials said in a highly critical report based on a review earlier this year in response to several accidents and other problems with the system.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority “is not effectively balancing safety-critical operations and maintenance activities with its efforts to deliver capital projects,” the Federal Transit Administration’s report said. “This lack of balance is at the center of many of the MBTA’s safety challenges.”

“The system has to get safer. It’s just not an option,” Paul Kincaid, the FTA’s associate administrator for communications and congressional affairs, said in an online news conference.

While the capital budget has quadrupled in four years, funding cuts to the operations and maintenance budget have resulted in a reduction in hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of positions.

“The combination of overworked staff and aging assets has resulted in the organization being overwhelmed, chronic fatigue for key positions in the agency, lack of resources for training and supervision, and leadership priorities that emphasize meeting capital project demands above passenger operations, preventive maintenance, and even safety,” the report said.

The FTA’s report includes four “special directives,” requiring 53 separate actions that the transportation authority must take, including addressing worker shortages, prioritization of safety management, safety communication, and operating conditions, policies, procedures, and training.

The authority, which hundreds of thousands of people rely on every day to get to work, medical appointments, and reach the city’s top tourist attractions, is committed to working with the FTA and has already started addressing some of the directives, General Manager Steve Poftak said in a separate Wednesday news conference.

“We have been given a series of special directives by the FTA and a series of findings that will allow us to improve how we operate as an organization,” he said.

The transportation authority has completely shutdown of the Orange Line for 30 days to complete maintenance work that would otherwise take five years.

The agency also established a Quality, Compliance, and Oversight Office to formulate and implement actions to address the report’s findings and will “focus on assessing, recruiting, and hiring as part of workforce management, collecting and analyzing safety data, instilling safety culture across the organization, and improving operating practices,” it said in a statement. The office will report directly to Poftak.

An $840 million supplemental budget proposal filed by Gov. Charlie Baker Wednesday included $200 million for the MBTA to address the FTA’s directives and another $10 million to help recruit and train staff.

“I appreciate the FTA’s thorough review of the MBTA, and this report will make the system safer and more reliable for riders and the T workforce,” the Republican governor, who promised improvements as far back 2015 after a severe winter paralyzed the system, said in a statement.

Poftak and Kincaid said there are no overnight fixes and the process could take years.

“We want today to be the beginning of rebuilding the infrastructure, the culture, and critically the trust around an important community asset that the people of Massachusetts support with their tax dollars and their ridership,” Kincaid said during an online news conference.

There shouldn’t have to be a “false choice” between capital expenditures and operations funding, said Josh Ostroff, interim director of Transportation for Massachusetts, a public transit advocacy coalition.

“We urge our partners in state government to maintain the focus on capital investment, which is urgent and overdue, but not at the expense of rider safety and public confidence,” he said in a statement.

The report also criticized the state’s Department of Public Utilities, which is responsible for safety oversight, saying “the DPU has not consistently required or enforced timely assessment and mitigation of safety risk for passenger operations to prevent organizational blindness to emerging safety concerns.”

The report is specific to the subway system and not commuter rail or bus networks.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FIEL - The Torrance County Detention Facility is shown in this, Nov. 11, 2000, file photo, in Estan...
Associated Press

Groups: Retaliation after migrants report detention center

ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — Migrants held by U.S. authorities at a detention center in rural New Mexico have endured retaliation rather than aid after reporting unsanitary conditions at the government-contracted jail, a coalition of civil rights advocacy groups said Wednesday. A public letter signed this week by at least a dozen migrants within the Torrance […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

EU takes Malta to court over passport-for-pay program

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s executive branch said Thursday that it is taking Malta to court over its golden passport policy that allows wealthy people to buy EU citizenship, even after the small island country suspended the program for citizens of Russia and Belarus. The European Commission launched infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus […]
11 hours ago
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at the F...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How do we know when a recession has begun?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy shrank in the first half of this year, the government confirmed in a report Thursday, underscoring fears of a broad-based slowdown that could lead to a recession. At the same time, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits — a figure that often reflects the pace of layoffs — fell […]
11 hours ago
Pumpkins are loaded into a semi-trailer on Bill Sahs' farm, Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, in Atlanta, Ill...
Associated Press

Pumpkin farms adapt to improve soil, lower emissions

ATLANTA, Illinois (AP) — This Thanksgiving, your pumpkin pie might have a lower carbon footprint. On the central Illinois farms that supply most of the world’s canned pumpkin, farmers are adopting regenerative techniques designed to reduce emissions, attract natural pollinators like bees and butterflies and improve the health of the soil. The effort is backed […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

84-year-old Michigan anti-abortion canvasser shot, wounded

ODESSA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man shot and wounded an 84-year-old Michigan woman who was canvassing door-to-door against a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to abortion in the state. The State Police are investigating the Sept. 20 shooting at a home in Odessa Township, a community about 130 miles (209 kilometers) […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Case against source for Trump dossier advances, barely

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge is allowing prosecutors to move forward with their criminal case against an analyst who provided key details for a flawed dossier on ex-President Donald Trump, although the judge called his decision “an extremely close call.” Lawyers for Igor Danchenko asked a judge Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Critical report mandates improved safety on Boston subway