DeLeo ups T ante, pledges long-term fix

Speaker says the MBTA system is in crisis

SAYING THE MBTA is “in crisis,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House is willing to work with Gov. Charlie Baker on a short-term fix but remains focused on a long-term plan and the revenue to make it a reality.

The Winthrop Democrat, who often sees eye to eye with Baker on financial issues, issued his statement on the T hours after the Republican governor announced his plan to use $50 million in surplus fiscal 2019 money to help the T meet its goals for capital improvements and repairs. Baker insisted, however, that new revenues are not necessary to restore the MBTA to good working order.

DeLeo indicated the governor’s plan is lacking.

“For those who rely on the MBTA the system is in crisis” DeLeo’s statement said. “Riders ought not to have to plan additional time to commute to and from work or school each day, much less worry about their safety during their commute. The infrastructure and operational needs of the MBTA go well beyond a one-time revenue solution. Fixing the MBTA requires a long-term strategic plan as well as the long-term dedicated annual revenue to implement it. Nothing short of a modern, reliable, and safe transit system is what MBTA commuters deserve, and it is what the House demands.”

The derailment of a Red Line train on June 11 cast much of the transit system into disarray, and T officials say it will take all summer before service on the busiest subway line returns to normal. The incident, the cause of which still has not been determined, also seems to have galvanized those who favor a new funding source as part of the solution to improve Metro Boston’s transit system.

DeLeo has repeatedly said the House will take up a transportation initiative later this year and all options regarding additional revenues are on the table. But in his statement on Tuesday he indicated the chamber was interested in a holistic approach to problems at the transit authority.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

In his statement, DeLeo indicated he would work with the governor on his $50 million request using surplus funds, but he is determined to put a revenue bill before the House before the end of the year.

“This fall the House plans to debate the revenue options to fund statewide transportation investments, including funding a long term strategic investment plan for the MBTA,” DeLeo said. “Pending that, we look forward to working with the governor to enact a supplemental budget to provide a more immediate infusion of funds, but only in the context of the larger debate – the long term funding of a strategic investment plan for the MBTA.”