Fiorentini: MBTA Needs ‘Big Investment’ in New Capital

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini takes the lead in the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s (MMA) endorsement of efforts to reform the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA).

A proposal by Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker to reform the MBTA received the endorsement of the MMA’s board of directors Tuesday morning on a motion from Fiorentini, MMA board member and president of the related Massachusetts Mayors Association.

“Fixing the MBTA is not a partisan issue,” Fiorentini said. “There is no Democratic or Republican way to fix the MBTA, to run trains, shovel tracks, or buy the right equipment. It is a practical issue affecting thousands of our residents.”

Fiorentini told WHAV the public transit system “blacked out” last winter as at least 100 Haverhill commuters were left stranded during major storms. He also believes officials “need to make certain that the system is running efficiently and that taxpayers and rate payers are getting fair value for their money.”

“In the long run, I strongly believe that a big investment in new capital is going to be needed at the MBTA. We need to fix the tracks, we need to fix the trains, we need to fix the stations. We’re going to need to do a lot. But before we do that we need to make certain it’s running as efficiently as possible,” Fiorentini said.

The reforms the MMA is urging the Legislature to adopt include:

  • Passage of a Fiscal and Management Control Board and the appointment of a Chief Administrator for the MBTA;
  • Exempting the MBTA from the Pacheco Law governing contracting for services;
  • Requiring the Control Board to approve future arbitration awards, and prohibiting retroactive awards;
  • Allowing alternative construction methods, including construction management at-risk and design-build procurement;
  • Extending the public records law to the MBTA retirement fund and implementing an independent audit of the T’s retirement system; and
  • Expanding MassDOT’s Board of Directors to include municipal government experience.

“This past winter revealed extraordinary weaknesses in the MBTA’s ability to perform, and major changes are necessary to improve service and ensure the kind of accountability to riders and taxpayers that is necessary,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “The MMA is calling for passage of the governor’s reform bill because tinkering around the edges will not be enough.”

In addition to endorsing the MBTA reform bill, the MMA board is also calling for the state to continue contract assistance funding to the MBTA consistent with the levels committed to in the 2013 transportation finance law enacted by the legislature. “Reducing state funding for the MBTA before all of the reforms are implemented would prolong the agency’s fiscal problems,” said Beckwith. Further, the MMA is calling for a “careful” review of any future fare adjustments to ensure that they are affordable for riders and all those who depend on public transportation.

5 thoughts on “Fiorentini: MBTA Needs ‘Big Investment’ in New Capital

  1. This whole issue is resolved I’m sorry to say in only one way, bankrupt the MBTA, trash the contracts with the carman’s union negotiate down all retirement packages, just like it happens in the real world. Hire a PROFESSIONAL railroad management company to restructure the entire process and give them carte blanch to do whatever in necessary to make the subway and railroads run, efficiently, on time, clean, with courteous personnel. Most personnel are courteous, but there is no efficiency, cleanliness, nor on-time record to speak of. It is time to start over, and not throw good money after bad. This group has had 4 decades to prove their worth and they have failed miserably.

  2. No mention anywhere about the ridiculous risk MBTA Retirement Fund fiduciaries are taking with over 20% invested in hedge funds. Of course as long as markets go up, no one asks what the fees are, or what the risk of destroying all their gains having over 1/5 of their investment in one area. Meanwhile, competent fund managers across the country are divesting themselves of hedge funds completely (i.e. calPERS).

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the executive and deputy in charge of the fund are long time “pay-to-play” players to Beacon Hill and Haverhill pols, as well as a Local 589 Carmen’s Union member on the later.

    There simply won’t be any reform. When it blows up (again), those who are not eating cake already will be the one’s forced to pay (again).

    • Actually, Boomer, this story confirms my suspicions. It seems the mayor’s approach to every problem is to throw money at it. “Investment” is his code word for “spend, spend, spend” at the taxpayer’s expense.

      • Gladys, this failure of a mayor started a speech recently where he said “I am so proud to be a Democrat” and then went on to praise the largest failing social redistribution program in the history of this country….Obamacare. He should change his name to Taxorentini.