We agree that the legislature must act swiftly to appoint a new, independent MBTA board (“Advisers urge action on governing panel for MBTA,” Metro, June 7). The MBTA is too complex and too important to add to the already-full agendas of the Department of Transportation. But just as important is making sure the board represents the people who depend on the system most, and those who keep it running. We are thankful that the House supplemental budget takes a step in the right direction by including a labor representative chosen from nominations from the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, which represents thousands of workers in various occupations at the MBTA. However, the House language falls short of what is needed on a rider representative. It calls for a rider seat filled by anyone who lives in the MBTA area and “uses local service or express service of the authority.” Instead of this vague definition, the rider seat should be redefined to ensure representation of environmental justice communities like Chelsea, Roxbury, Chinatown, and Dorchester, which both depend most on the T and are worst impacted by traffic-related air pollution. The Legislature should require the governor to make the rider selection from a list of nominations from community organizations serving environmental justice communities.
Chief of staff, Massachusetts AFL-CIO