Is someone talking about transportation reform?
Rep. Joseph Wagner, the House transportation committee chairman, competed with chattering colleagues as work began on the transportation reform bill in the House chamber Tuesday afternoon. Wagner opened the session with praise for the Senate's insistence on reform before revenue. “The public requires that,” he said, referring to reform, “if not demands it at this point."
He went on to outline the major differences between Massachusetts Transportation and Infrastructure Authority (as the new agency is known in the House bill) and the current set up. Calling the new model "a hybrid somewhere between a traditional agency and an authority model completely independent of the commonwealth," he explained that the MTIA would house a Department of Transportation made up of five divisions: highway, mass transit (excluding the MBTA), registry of motor vehicles, aeronautics and a "division of constituent and municipal services." A summary of the bill is here.State House News Service (subscription required), the secretary of transportation, who currently heads both the MBTA and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority boards would be barred from chairing the new authority's board. This body would also oversee the MBTA, displacing the authority’s current board.
Wagner thanked his "good friend, the lady from Amherst" (presumably Rep. Ellen Story) for standing up to indicate that she couldn’t hear a thing. The Chicopee Democrat continued with his remarks and his colleagues resumed theirs.