Aug 8, 2022 - News

Top MBTA lawmaker proposes federal takeover

Illustration of an MBTA sign changing into an emergency symbol.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The top legislative authority overseeing the troubled MBTA is proposing a federal takeover of the transit agency as it struggles to maintain service during emergency repair projects.

Driving the news: House Transportation Committee co-chair William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) told Axios last week that federal transit officials need to consider what would amount to a receivership for the MBTA while it implements safety plans prescribed by the Federal Transit Administration.

How it works: FTA administrator Nuria Fernandez could implement enhanced safety oversight, which would allow the agency to take control of the federally mandated projects while state staff workers concentrate on daily service.

  • The FTA would have final say on how repairs are carried out, as well as the ability to remove underperforming managers, according to Straus.

What they're saying: "I believe the T is now clearly going to be in some sort of transition stage. But that transition, for … safety of the public and their employees, needs to be guided at the federal level," Straus said.

Threat level: The T announced monthlong shutdowns of both the Orange Line and the new Green Line extension last week to make critical repairs.

  • The drastic safety measures affect hundreds of thousands of daily riders.

State of play: A spokesperson for the MBTA told Axios that the agency is collaborating with the FTA on the current mandated inspections, and that the T "will address any and all safety issues the FTA identifies."

Context: The FTA took over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's safety operations in 2015.

Yes, but: Even with federal intervention, the Metro still faces many of the challenges the MBTA does.

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