How do you solve a problem like the T?
On Monday, the snow pounded Boston all day long and the roads were a mess, but the MBTA limped along until it was shut down around 7 p.m. Today, the snow is scheduled to taper off and the major roads are clear, but the T is shut down for the entire day. No wonder Gov. Charlie Baker is calling the T’s performance unacceptable.
But what everyone wants to know is what’s going to happen next. The record-setting snowfall and the ensuing severe delays and stoppages in T service have opened everyone’s eyes to a number of inconvenient truths about the regional transit authority.
The transportation system is heavy in debt and badly in need of more revenue. Charlie Chieppo estimates the MBTA has a $3 billion maintenance backlog and owes nearly $9 billion in debt and interest. He says the T’s interest payments alone eat up nearly all of the money it collects in fares.
Yet despite the financial hole the T finds itself in, the transit agency keeps on growing and laying plans for even more expansion. The T is moving ahead with the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford, continuing to experiment with costly late-night service, and laying plans and spending money on South Coast Rail and a new Red Line station in Allston.
“All I can tell you is it’s been very difficult to count on the representations that have been made by the T over the course of the past few weeks, and the first time that happens you can blame it on the weather, but after a while it starts to feel like something more,” Baker told reporters on Monday afternoon.
Eventually the sun will come out and the snow will start to melt away, but the problems at the T are unlikely to disappear. Baker now faces an immense challenge, made all the more difficult by his vow not to raise taxes.
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says Baker will probably sack T General Manager Beverly Scott (the Boston Herald is leaning that way, too) but warns the agency’s problems go way beyond her. Globe business columnist Steve Syre sounds more optimistic. “I don’t know how much improvement any one person or plan can make,” he writes. “But I would be hard-pressed to come up with anyone else better suited to the job than Baker and his well-established problem-solving skills.”
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has another lease problem, CommonWealth reports.
Proposed legislation would require Massachusetts employers to provide accommodations to pregnant workers, CommonWealth reports.
James Aloisi speaks out in support of Brian Murphy and public service.
The Dorchester Reporter talks with nine 20-somethings who hold key positions in Mayor Marty Walsh‘s administration.
Conor Yunits explains how he went from being one of the leading opponents of hosting the Olympics in Boston to a supporter of a Beantown Games.
Tim Murray of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce has four words for Olympics enthusiasts: “Remember the Big Dig.”
London’s mayor is bullish on Boston hosting the Games, WBUR reports.
The Globe reports the obvious: there likely will be changes in Boston 2024’s venue plans.
The National Review editors say net neutrality is “a non-solution to a non-problem.”
Oregon’s attorney general launches a corruption investigation of Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancee Cylvia Hayes, Governing reports.
The snow is challenging Boston restaurant owners.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy spotlights the nation’s top 50 charitable donors in 2014, none from Massachusetts, though.
Newly elected Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who campaigned on his disdain for organized labor, issued an executive order barring unions from collecting dues from nonmembers who nonetheless benefit from collective bargaining agreements.
The Broad Foundation, which grants $1 million prizes to urban school systems with high populations of low-income and minority students that show progress in test results, has suspended the award this year because they said no district in the country has improved enough.
Some school systems are looking at holding Saturday sessions as well as curtailing April vacation to make up for the glut of snow days. The same holds true north of Boston, where most communities have already run through the snow days they build into their schedules, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Lowell-area schools aren’t panicking yet, the Sun reports.
Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is named the NFL’s chief health and medical advisor.
Lexington-based Imprivata hopes to cut down on prescription fraud with its new, all-electronic system for dispensing medications, the Globe reports.
Stranded passengers had to be rescued from a disabled train that sat for two hours on tracks between the Quincy Adams and Quincy Center stations.
Next snow-related problem: Cape towns have to pick up salt supplies themselves, rather than wait for deliveries, which may lead to problems treating roads.
A Boston Uber driver is charged with indecent assault on a passenger, WBUR reports.
Officials on both sides of the span agree the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge that stretches across the Acushnet River and dates back to 1801 needs to be replaced, with proposals ranging from $50 million to $120 million.
A New York startup is offering unlimited flights between Boston and White Plains, New York, for $2,000 a month, the Globe reports.
State officials are letting cities and towns, and some state agencies, dump snow in the ocean. Marblehead, Salem, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation have permission, the Item reports.
Amid the raging environmental debate over the Keystone pipeline and off-shore drilling, one thing missing is data; no federal agency tracks, analyzes, and confirms the thousands of oil spills in the United States each year.
The world’s largest solar farm opens in California, Time reports.
A team of scientists has announced they have discovered evidence of the oldest human-created air pollution, found in South America and dating back 500 years.
Victor Paul Alvarez, who was fired by Boston.com after writing a piece suggesting House Speaker John Boehner was a drunk, apologizes and, amazingly, offers to buy Boehner a drink to bury the hatchet. In the process, he also disputes the story line put out by Boston.com that he was a “rogue editor who secretly placed an irresponsible story on the site’s front page.”The manager of the French Quarter’s Ritz Carlton hotel during Katrina has has come forward and her version of events bears little resemblance to those of NBC’s Brian Williams.
(Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Boston Globe CEO Mike Sheehan played a role in labeling Victor Paul Alvarez a “rogue editor.”)