Former US Secretary of Transportation testifies on MBTA safety
Boston – A former top federal transportation official told state lawmakers they need to re-structure the oversight of the T and do it quickly. Former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified at the state house for a transportation committee looking into how to make the T overall safer.
The MBTA has been getting lists of things to fix. State law makers are now getting ready to come up with their own list. But the biggest changes realistically won’t happen until the new governor takes office in January.
This summer’s federal investigation into T safety raised concern when investigators highlighted a long list of problems. A joint committee in transportation made of state lawmakers has head from the T, the oversight agency, workers and now former US secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Zero tolerance for accidents. That is your baseline. How do you measure safety. Whenever there is an accident it means something wasn’t safe,” said LaHood.
LaHood told the state legislators first priority should be finding a more effective oversight agency saying the Department of Public Utilities is not working. “You need a board that cares about the total system.”
LaHood 3:45 “create a culture of safety, reward people who are pointing out things that are deficient, create opportunities for employees to have as much input as possible to create that safety culture. All these things work. I’ve seen them work,” said LaHood.
The joint committee was not able to hear from the FTA even though they testified recently to congressional leaders in Boston. State Rep William Straus and State Senator Brendan Crighton are co-chairs of the hearings. “The FTA has a role. It didn’t end with a report. They issues recommendations and I’m certain day to day they are looking over the shoulder of the T for compliance,” said Straus. “It was a missed opportunity on the by the FTA, by not coming in, just to discuss the report at more great length,” said Crighton. “They have said everything that has needed to be said and now it is up to the folks here to get their act together,” said LaHood.
The joint committee right now does not know if they need to continue the hearings. That will be determined soon and the plan is to have a full report out before the next governor takes office in January.