We’re paying for a long legacy of deferred maintenance, poor politics
Re “RIP old Orange Line”: The Globe’s editorial asked what happened to the Orange Line? The shameful answer is decades of deferred maintenance, starting with the early 1990s administration of Governor William Weld, Transportation Secretary Jim Kerasiotes, and then-Secretary of Administration and Finance Charlie Baker. Kerasiotes kept a toy hatchet on his desk to show how tough the administration was on the T’s budget.
Remember the old ad for oil filters that said, in effect, pay me now, or pay a lot more later? Well, now is our later.
The other part of the story is the steady flow of political hires “airlifted” (yes, that was the term that was used) from the State House to assume key positions at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, with responsibilities for multimillion-dollar programs and services that affect the lives of millions of people. Years ago, “60 Minutes” ran a segment on Billy Bulger, then president of the state Senate, that referred to the MBTA as being known as “Mr. Bulger’s Transit Authority.” Bulger is long gone from that seat of power, but the legacy of political interference and malfeasance remains.
Deferred maintenance is not just a T problem. It also shows up on Massachusetts’ bridges, roadways, and dams. With a huge surplus of tax dollars, wouldn’t you think our state government would spend the money needed to prevent another catastrophe before it is too late?
The writer is a former MBTA director of communications from 1990 to 1993.
Transit leadership has got to go
The MBTA’s culture of secrecy, denial, and disregard for its users has been utterly laid bare for all to see and revile. We Massachusetts residents are confronting a litany of deferred maintenance impacts and an absence of staff development. The damage to riders’ livelihood and to the Boston-area economy is severe.
It’s time for T general manager Steve Poftak, his deputies, and state Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler to be dismissed from their positions. Charlie Baker’s time as governor will be up soon enough, in January. Yes, making wholesale management changes comes with its own risk, but keeping these people in power will only reinforce their behavior, absent outright takeover by the Federal Transit Administration. It is the type of hard decision that effective and respected executives often have to make.
Mayor Wu should take a closer look at the city’s potholed streets
Re “Next up in T closures: section of Green Line” (Page A1, Aug. 6): Mayor Michelle Wu says, “We’re going to do everything that we can to make this as painless of a situation as possible,” yet one of the main bike commuting alternatives to the Orange Line, Columbus Avenue in the South End, is dangerously deteriorated, perhaps even in worse condition than the Orange Line tracks that are being repaired. The street is filled with potholes, crumbling pavement, and worn out bike lane stripes. Will Wu do everything she can to finally fix this dangerous stretch of road so that riders have a safe alternative to the subway?