October 06, 2022

Warren Announces Senate Hearing in Boston Next Week on T Safety and Leadership Failures

Warren Invited Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager and Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chair to Testify

Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and Public Transit Advocate Jarred Johnson Will Testify

Hearing Invitation to MBTA Manager Poftak (PDF) | Hearing Invitation to DPU Chair Nelson (PDF)

Boston, MA – Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy, announced that she will lead a hearing of the Subcommittee in Boston on Friday, October 14, 2022, entitled: “Economic Impacts of Inadequate Transit Maintenance and Oversight: Examining Management Failures at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.” U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) will join the hearing as well. 

“The T has had a monumental failure in leadership, commuters are the ones paying the price, and it’s time to hold folks accountable and make the necessary changes so everybody can have a safe and dependable ride,” said Senator Warren. “I hope that MBTA Manager Poftak and DPU Chair Nelson will appear at the hearing and share their plan to get the T back on track.”

Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and Executive Director of TransitMatters Jarred Johnson will testify at the hearing.

Senator Warren has also invited Steve Poftak, the General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), and Matthew Nelson, Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), to deliver testimony at the Subcommittee hearing. 

The hearing will examine the T’s failures to keep passengers safe and provide reliable service, and the urgent need to increase transparency and accountability at the T and the DPU. The hearing will emphasize the benefits of electrification as a long-term solution to improvise the reliability and safety of public transit, promote economic development and social justice, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.  

In 2021 and 2022, the MBTA experienced multiple serious rail incidents: 

  • A collision on the Green Line that injured 27 people (July 30, 2021)
  • A derailment on the Red Line that hit the platform with 47 passengers on board (September 24, 2021)
  • A derailment on the Red Line at Broadway Station that resulted in property damage (September 28, 2021);
  • An out-of-service train that rolled in a rail yard, injuring three workers (December 17, 2021)
  • A death resulting from a collision between a commuter rail train and a passenger vehicle (January 22, 2022)
  • The death of a Red Line passenger caught in a door and dragged off the platform (April 10, 2022)

In the wake of incidents like these, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) stated its intention to assume an increased safety oversight role of the MBTA, assess DPU’s effectiveness in overseeing MBTA, and conduct a safety management inspection of MBTA operations. In August, the FTA’s analysis found that the rates of derailments and collisions on the MBTA rail system far exceed the industry average and those of many of the MBTA’s peer transit systems and have led to shutdowns that affect hundreds of thousands of riders. 

Senator Warren invites Massachusetts constituents to share comments about these important issues with the Subcommittee. Constituents can submit comments on the Senator’s website here.