May 26, 2021
Two state senators introduced a budget amendment last week that is meant to increase transparency between lawmakers and MBTA officials. The amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Nick Collins and Walter Timilty, would require quarterly reports on all MBTA capital projects, including railway refurbishment.
The legislative push comes in the wake of news reports detailing delays in trolley refurbishments on the Mattapan-Ashmont line. Collins said a breakdown in communication left legislators in the dark and months of work unaccounted for.
“This line takes a lot of commuters daily to and from their workplaces, to and from their homes. This isn’t just a leisure ride; it’s essential, and it’s essential that we reach our communities with the transit service they need and in a timely manner,” said the senator.
“We know that delays happen, but we can’t communicate issues in transit operations to our constituents, who, many of them, are transit-dependent, if we’re the last to know.”
In early May, an NBC10 Boston report documented delays in the $7.9 million refurbishment effort that would replace 1940’s era trolleys over the span of 10 years.
The report also prompted a letter from two state representatives—Brandy Fluker-Oakley and William Driscoll— to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak requesting a briefing on the Mattapan High Speed Line. Lawmakers have not yet been briefed, according to Collins.
The Senate began debating the 2022 Fiscal Year budget on Tuesday, and Collins hopes that legislative momentum and mounting public pressure will send a message to MBTA brass.
“They’re pulling it together as fast as they can, and we don’t think that’s fast enough,” he said.