Healey not rushing things at the MBTA
Governor searching for GM; no board changes yet
GOV. MAURA HEALEY is slowly – some would say too slowly – putting the pieces in place to take control of the MBTA.
Back in August, when it was widely expected she would replace Charlie Baker as governor, Healey said she intended to hire a new MBTA general manager and a statewide transportation chief. She also said she wanted two deputy general managers hired, presumably by her new GM. One of the deputies would oversee operations and one would be in charge of capital planning.
None of these positions has been filled yet.
After Jeffrey Gonneville, the interim general manager of the MBTA, laid out on January 26 just how bad the situation is at the Springfield plant producing new Red and Orange line trains, Healey stepped in on February 2 and said she was hiring her own team of non-MBTA employees to review the situation.
Healey can appoint at least three other members of the MBTA board, but so far has chosen not to do so.
Under Baker, the MBTA board has demonstrated very little independence or curiosity. When Gonneville dropped the bombshell about the problems at the Springfield plant, board members asked no questions.
Healey is facing pressure from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and transit advocates to add some more independent voices.
Wu is lobbying for Boston to have a permanent seat on the board. Jim Aloisi, who served as a transportation secretary under governor Deval Patrick and is a member of the TransitMatters board, said he would like to see three of the seven members of the MBTA board be municipal representatives.
Aloisi said local officials are closer to problems on the ground and key to implementing policies regarding dedicated bus lanes and commuter rail parking needs.
“There’s a lot of evidence that governance structures matter a lot,” he said.Ray LaHood, a former US transportation secretary and coauthor of a December 2019 report highly critical of the safety culture at the MBTA, told state lawmakers in October that he didn’t think it was wise to appoint local officials to the T oversight board because they would only be interested in their local concerns and not the broader goals of the agency. “You need a board that cares about the total system,” he said.