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.

Joseph Aiello, chair of the control board, said the panel “will assist us in bringing our safety culture to the next level,” according to a quote in the press release, released just prior to the control board meeting.

“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.

Meet the Author

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.

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.