Groups Release Report on Future of MBTA Management

Recommend significant changes to oversight board

May 18, 2020 (BOSTON, MA) –  A coalition of transportation advocacy groups released a report today that details recommendations for future oversight of the MBTA. With Governor Baker’s Fiscal and Management Control Board set to expire, the report offers a path forward that will better serve riders and create a transportation system for the future.

“The FMCB has begun to solve the MBTA’s litany of problems and that work must continue,” said Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. “The board must be empowered to take on the T’s toughest challenges and create a future system that works for all riders. It is the only way we will transform the crisis-ridden MBTA into something our region can be proud of.”

The report recommends further strengthening and empowering the future governing board through several new policies:

  • The board should focus on planning for the future, rather than solely solving short-term problems;
  • Board members should be economically and geographically diverse, and should meet 24 times per year;
  • The board should be solely responsible for hiring and firing the MBTA General Manager;
  • The board should be independent of the MassDOT board;
  • And board members should be compensated for their time, to help ensure that the MBTA Board is representative of the region.

”The Fiscal and Management Control Board has helped to stabilize the MBTA during a time of crisis, and we are indebted to its members for their service. Now is the time for the state legislature to consider best practices for transit authority governance, and ensure that the MBTA makes continual progress to better serve its riders and the region. We hope this report makes a contribution to the legislators’ important decisions in the weeks and months to come,” said Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts.

“The MBTA is a complex organization that requires a dedicated board of directors to oversee it. Members of the Massachusetts House and Senate should act to ensure that a new governing body, dedicated to continuing the important work of the FMCB, is in place before the end of June 2020. This report offers suggestions on what we believe is the best way to constitute this board. The legislature should not lose the momentum the FMCB has made towards improving MBTA safety, finances, and operational improvements,” said Brian Kane, Acting Executive Director of the MBTA Advisory Board.

“The MBTA is the backbone of our region,” said Matt Casale, MASSPIRG Transportation Campaign director. “When the system ground to a halt in the winter of 2015, so did the Boston area. The FMCB helped guide us out of that crisis, but over the past five years it has become increasingly clear that turning the MBTA into a world-class transit system is not a short-term project. We need a permanent and transparent oversight board to continue the FMCB’s progress on safety, financial stability, and rider-focused service improvements.”

The full report and recommendations can be found here.

The report was created by Conservation Law Foundation, MASSPIRG, the MBTA Advisory Board, and Transportation for Massachusetts.

Experts are available for further comment.