Panel named to review MBTA safety practices
LaHood, former Obama transportation secretary, one of three
FORMER US TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY Ray LaHood and two other transit veterans agreed to review the MBTA’s past derailments and safety practices in a bid “to inculcate safety into every facet of the T’s culture.”
An MBTA press release on Monday said the three transportation experts – LaHood and former acting Federal Transportation Administration administrator Carolyn Flowers and former New York Metropolitan Transit Authority president Carmen Bianco – were recruited by two members of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board with the help of the American Public Transportation Association, Northeastern University, MIT, and Harvard.
Joseph Aiello, the chairman of the control board, said after the control board meeting Monday that the three panelists will be paid and they will also have a budget to hire their own staff. With negotiations continuing with the panel members, Aello said the cost of supporting the safety panel has not been determined yet.
T officials have repeatedly reassured the public that the transit system is safe to ride, but the appointment of a panel to review safety protocols suggests possible concerns on that score. The derailment of a Red Line train at the JFK/UMass Station on June 11 heightened safety concerns.
“Bringing in fresh, outside perspectives will help transform the MBTA’s safety culture,” said state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “In light of the age and condition of many MBTA assets, this is a critical step in raising the caliber of the T’s maintenance and inspection protocols to ensure the safety for T customers and employees.”
Gov. Charlie Baker was quoted as saying his administration looks forward to reviewing the panel’s recommendations.
It was unclear from the press release whether the panelists are being paid and whether it will be staffed. The press release said the panel would develop a schedule and a list of deliverables in the next few weeks.LaHood, a Republican who served in Congress from 1995 to 2009, was appointed by former president Barack Obama as secretary of transportation in 2009, serving until 2013. He is currently a senior policy advisor at the law firm DLA Piper.
Flowers currently serves on the board of the American Public Transportation Association and previously held numerous posts with the Federal Transit Administration as well as transit systems in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Los Angeles County. Bianco is currently a consultant, but spent six years as president of the subway and bus systems of New York’s MTA.