That Winter 110 Inches of Snow Forced Transit Agency Reform

That’s how Bostonians may someday remember change at the MBTA.

Photo of an MBTA bus in a snowstorm

(AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

This past Boston winter — and its record-setting snowfall — sent locals into a special kind of misery. And through the shoveling and the cabin fever and the public transit delays, a glaring weakness was underscored: The MBTA is in trouble.

A panel organized by Governor Charlie Baker in February after a tough season of commuter delays broke down all of MBTA’s failures in a report — including “unsustainable operating budget” and “organizational instability” — and called for reform of and increased investment in MBTA.

Baker yesterday unveiled legislation that would aim to solve the agency’s problems, with more state control. The Act for a Reliable, Sustainable MBTA proposes considerable shifts to the current model, including a fiscal control board (to be appointed by Baker) and a lift to the cap on fare increases.

“The T failed its stress test this winter when we needed it most, exposing the deep operational problems and lack of planning,” Baker said in a statement. “We simply cannot afford a repeat.”

If the bill passes, the fiscal board appointed will operate through to June 30, 2018.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the Boston Globe that the new board would be a significant change, “bringing the kind of focus, urgency and intensity needed to reform the agency. The control board will be meeting much more frequently and delve much more deeply into the day-to-day management of the T.”

Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

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Tags: public transportationtransit agenciesbostonweather

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