Leadership is scarce in the transportation system in Massachusetts. By that, I emphatically do not mean that the current leadership is weak. Rather, I mean that every management team has a finite capacity to plan and to solve problems and that the range of challenges facing MassDOT’s management team is very broad.
Last night, the Senate adopted the Governor’s recommendation for a Financial and Management Control Board for the MBTA. The vote was unanimous after a week of debate and negotiation. The process in the Senate on this issue was a great credit to the leadership style of Senate President Rosenberg.
The exciting frontier of transportation planning is in information technology: car sharing, ride sharing, on-demand shuttles. We can’t expect public transportation agencies to lead in creating these evolving business models. We need to experiment.
The Governor has accepted political responsibility for fixing the MBTA and has asked the legislature for a set of tools. While there are some elements I cannot support in the Governor’s bill, most notably the reduction in contributions into the Transportation Fund, we should be giving him as much as we can of what he has asked for.
The central recommendation of the Governor’s MBTA task force was greater accountability for the MBTA. I agree — the management team needs direct accountability to the Governor. That accountability will give the team the strength it needs to sharpen its focus and make change happen.
In response to the significant service disruptions experienced across the MBTA system during the winter of 2015, Governor Baker convened a special panel to review the management and operations of the MBTA. The panel has issued a 50 page report of findings. Here are the key findings of the panel.