Fixing the T is going to take a long time

Pollack said job could last 10 to 20 years

MBTA AND STATE TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS made clear on Monday that fixing the T will be a long-term project that could take 10 to 20 years and won’t be finished by next year’s gubernatorial election.

The comments came at a meeting of the T’s five-member Fiscal and Management Control Board as officials discussed how long the board should remain in existence and how it should evaluate pilot service expansion projects.

Under current law, the T oversight board must remain in existence for three years but can extend its life for an additional two years. Gov. Charlie Baker recently urged the board to remain in place for five years, and the four board members present for Monday’s meeting said they thought that was wise policy. The board members, selected by the governor, are in their second year of service. They receive no pay for their work, which typically involves one public meeting a week.

The board members also indicated that they believe the T should retain its own oversight board once their terms expire. Previously, the T had been overseen by a Department of Transportation board with broader oversight over all state transportation issues.

Joseph Aiello, chair of the oversight board, said there had been a lot of swings in oversight of the T over the years and he didn’t think it would be wise to set in motion another as the agency prepares to select a new general manager and CEO.

Steven Poftak, a member of the board, said close oversight of the T will be needed for at least five years and probably much longer.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said fixing the T could take as long as 10 to 20 years, based on how long it will take to bring the transit system up to a state of good repair. She made her comments during a discussion of pilot expansion projects, responding to board members concerned about expanding service at a time when the agency is struggling to provide existing service.

“We’ve got a lot of years left to invest in the system to get in good shape,” Pollack said, estimating the time frame at 10 to 20 years. “It’s a long time to say all we’re going to do is focus on service we already have.”