TransitMatters believes that safety is a top priority for any public transportation system. We have confidence that overall, the MBTA is safe. We believe that safety is a priority for every MBTA employee. While we acknowledge the importance of a Federal Transit Administration safety review, we note that the situation locally requires funding, transparency and leadership. 

MBTA safety begins with ensuring that the agency has the financial resources it needs. We need the legislature to step up with sustainable funding. The MBTA faces an operating budget deficit next year of over $200 million. The legislature and governor should act now, through the transportation bond bill or budget, and provide additional funding toward key safety and service initiatives. Service cuts and fare hikes are an unacceptable answer to deficits going forward. 

MBTA stakeholders need transparency about the progress on the recommendations from the 2019 safety panel commissioned by the former Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB). We need to know which recommendations have yet to be started, which ones require more resources, and what obstacles stand in the way of 100 percent compliance.  

Stakeholders need an MBTA Board of Directors that provides transparency and accountability. It’s disturbing that the letter was revealed by the Boston Globe and not at the April 28 board meeting. Advocates are frustrated by the board’s lax oversight and refusal to engage with the work of the FMCB. The FTA letter validates those concerns.  

The stakes are high. A full FTA takeover could result in fare hikes and service cuts and put the federal government in charge of setting priorities. This would be a significant setback for priorities like Bus Network Redesign and low-income fares. Climate change, as well as racial, socioeconomic and regional equity demand that the T be able to focus on both safety and expanding service and access.  

The first step must be eliminating the operating budget deficit by taking legislative action now. The second step is to have the legislature step up and provide accountability where the current MBTA board has failed. Lastly, the legislature should commit to having a sustainable revenue source for both the capital and operating budget by next fiscal year.  

We need action now. 

— Jarred Johnson, executive director, TransitMatters(

Fund the T, for Safety’s Sake

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min