Senators Warren, Markey Urge MBTA, DPU Leaders to Address Ongoing Safety, Service Concerns with Public Transit that Endanger, Inconvenience Workers and Riders
“The communities that rely on the T deserve reliable, safe, accessible, and climate-forward transit. We look forward to working with you to not only fix the T, but turn it into a safe and vibrant transit system worthy of our Commonwealth and its people.”
Boston, Mass. – Today, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Chair James Van Nostrand and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng, calling on them to provide updates on their efforts to address ongoing safety issues and service interruptions on the Boston T. The letter comes after Senators Warren and Markey raised similar concerns to the DPU and MTBA in an October 2022 field hearing of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Economic Policy and in a January 2023 letter to then-DPU Chair Matthew Nelson.
While progress had been made under the new leadership on slow zones, travel times, transparency, and access – with a wave of hiring and the expansion of commuter rail service with New Bedford officially joining the MBTA – there have also been concerning reports about persistent safety and reliability problems. The Senators’ letter highlighted a series of recent, dangerous incidents from fires and train derailments to items falling from station ceilings to accidents that resulted in passenger deaths. In addition to safety issues, the percent of subway track with speed restrictions - which had declined from March to June 2023 - is now inching up: the average Red Line speed is two-thirds of what it was a year ago, ridership has still not bounced back after the pandemic, and the T has announced shutdowns on the Red and Green Lines this fall.
“With the shared goal of fixing Greater Boston’s public transit system, it is crucial that we work together to remain vigilant regarding the continued safety and reliability challenges faced by the MBTA and its riders,” wrote the lawmakers. “Specifically, we write today to gather information on recent reports of ongoing safety issues and service interruptions.”
“We know that systemic failures cannot be quickly rectified, and you will need time and resources to get the T back on track,” the lawmakers continued. “We are committed to supporting you in those efforts. Therefore, we write to request an update on your administration’s work to respond to these incidents and prevent them in the future.”
Senator Warren has led the efforts to hold the DPU and MBTA accountable and push them to carry out their responsibilities to protect MBTA riders and workers and ensure a well-functioning transit system, including:
- In January 2023, Senators Warren and Markey sent an eight page letter with sixteen questions to Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Chair Matthew Nelson following up on the DPU’s repeated failures as the State Safety Oversight Agency of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and requesting information on the DPU’s timeline for corrective actions.
- In November 2022, Senator Warren issued a statement in response to the resignation of Steve Poftak, General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
- On October 26, 2022, Senator Warren and Markey issued a statement in response to then MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak’s letter to Senator Markey in response to his questions during the hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy probing the status of Orange Line speed restrictions and a list of outstanding work required to bring the MBTA up to a state of good repair.
- On October 14, 2022, chairing a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Warren delivered remarks about the leadership and safety failures at the T by the MBTA and the DPU, following years of dangerous and deadly collisions, derailments, accidents, and delays.
- On October 6, 2022, Senator Warren 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.”
- In August 2022, Senator Warren and Senator Markey released a statement in response to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Safety Management Inspection report on the MBTA.
- In July 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee (BHUA), Senator Warren questioned Nuria Fernandez, Administrator of the (FTA), on serious safety concerns regarding the MBTA, which has been plagued with shutdowns, maintenance and safety issues, and multiple deaths last year alone.
- In March 2021, Senator Warren and the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation sent a letter to then-MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak expressing concerns regarding the MBTA’s service cuts that began that week.
- In December 2020, Senator Warren and the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote to then-MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak requesting a full explanation for the short-term and long-term service cuts approved by the MBTA.
Next Article Previous Article