MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak (center) and deputy GM Jeff Gonneville (left) huddled with crews at the JFK/UMass Station on June 14, 2019, ahead of a press conference to discuss the investigation into the June 11 Red Line derailment. Photo by Chris Lisinski | State House News Service

Two-thirds of the recommendations an independent panel laid out to address safety deficiencies at the MBTA have been implemented, while a handful of suggested reforms remain on hold in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Thursday.

More than two years after an outside group of experts cautioned that safety was “not the priority at the T,” the agency continues to work to implement its findings and advice.

Four of the 61 recommended corrective actions the safety panel offered are on hold, MBTA Deputy Director of Safety Assurance and Promotion Michael Catsos told a board subcommittee on Thursday.

That list includes three financial matters, which call for a budget analysis aimed at ensuring each department has sufficient resources to ensure safe service and to address concerns that a focus on capital spending detracts from the MBTA’s day-to-day operating needs.

The fourth delayed recommendation is to encourage site visits for new MBTA hires within their first 100 days to help employees better familiarize themselves with the system and processes.

“That one being placed on hold was directly connected to the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” Catsos told the T board’s Safety, Health and Environment Subcommittee. “We’re dealing with a large number of people who are being onboarded every single week. We may eventually be in a place where we’re able to resume that kind of activity, but for right now, the new hire orientation is being held in a virtual format, and it’s not the kind of activity we felt we were able to tackle with the COVID-19 pandemic raging.”

Sixty-six percent of the safety panel’s recommended fixes have been completed and are now being monitored on an ongoing basis, according to Catsos’s tally, including establishment of clear safety objectives and performance metrics, establishment of a safety-focused leadership team, and actively encouraging employees to report concerns.

Another 28 percent of the review’s recommendations remain in progress, Catsos said.

Two Years After Report, T Safety Effort Still Work in Progress

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min