Healey plans overhaul of MBTA management
Backs low-income fare, ‘pathway to fare free buses’
MAURA HEALEY, the lone Democratic candidate vying for governor, released a transportation plan on Tuesday that would overhaul top management at the MBTA, set aggressive electrification goals, and establish low-income fares “with a pathway to fare free buses.”
The plan says Massachusetts cannot have a functioning economy without a functioning transportation system. “Right now, it isn’t working. The status quo isn’t working,” Healey said in an interview.
Many of the initiatives she is supporting would come with hefty price tags. Healey’s plan does not get into specifics on how much money would be needed and how it would be raised. In an interview, she said federal funds and the tax on income over $1 million, if it passes in November, would be available.
“Maura is committed to working with federal partners, legislative leadership, businesses, and local communities to think creatively on how we increase revenue, without relying on passenger fares,” the plan says. “Maura believes that there is not one specific funding source that will solve the long-term underinvestment in our transportation system.”
She also indicated she would appoint new leaders at the MBTA, including a general manager and deputy general managers for operations and capital planning. The T currently has a deputy general manager focused on operations, while capital planning and development duties are split between a senior director and a chief.
Healey’s plan indicates she favors something in between the “oversized presence” of the Fiscal and Management Control Board that was in place for several years and the more hands-off approach of the current MBTA board. The next governor will have five appointees to the seven-person board, and Healey’s plan said she wants the panel to collaborate with MBTA leadership but also “challenge, when appropriate, and intervene if necessary.”
Healey said the T’s workforce is demoralized and short-handed. She said she would work with high schools, vocational technical schools, and community colleges to create a pipeline for the next generation of transportation workers.
“It’s not just investing in the trains and in the parts and in the switches and in the rail lines. It’s also about investing in the human capital,” she said.
Healey appears to support most of the capital projects backed by transit advocates, including building a connection between the Red and Blue subway lines, West-East rail, and converting the Fairmount and Rockport/Newburyport commuter rail lines to subway-style service. She listed West-East rail as a priority and said she would appoint a director to focus exclusively on that project.
She also supports expanding the overall frequency of commuter rail service as well as bus service provided by regional transit authorities.Healey said she favors the establishment of a low-income MBTA fare and eventually fare-free buses.
Healey also committed to 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, an increase from the current target of 750,000.