State Auditor Diana DiZoglio’s office will examine the embattled Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, covering a turbulent two-year period in which the T has struggled to improve.
The “performance audit” will begin this month and cover the period of Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2022, according to a letter DiZoglio’s office sent to Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca on Feb. 15.
In a statement, DiZoglio said the audit will focus on “safety risk management and overall areas of improvement” and called for greater transparency and accountability for the transit system.
“Safety issue after issue has arisen and the taxpayers continue to be on the hook,” she said. “Taxpayers deserve to know how their dollars are being spent. It’s frustrating that the T has become synonymous with unreliability. The dependability of people’s daily commute should not be a game of chance.”
MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail that the T received the letter and “will be cooperating.”
During her campaign for auditor last year, DiZoglio vowed to conduct a “safety audit” of the MBTA and work closely with state and federal authorities to “ensure reforms are being made,” according to a campaign press release.
The audit was first reported Thursday by the Contrarian Boston newsletter, where she said her office’s audit will “follow the money.”
In her letter to Fiandaca, Sarah Mongeau, the director of authority and education audits, said that the T will be required to provide “books, documents, and other records pertaining to the audit,” and that the office may make inquiries with T staff responsible for functions related to the audit. DiZoglio’s office redacted half of one sentence in the letter describing what the audit will cover.
During the two years the audit will cover, MBTA service has deteriorated. The T has made drastic subway service cuts amid a shortage of dispatchers, train operators, and vehicles. Those cuts have so far lasted eight months. Bus service, which was slashed repeatedly last year, is worsening as the agency’s efforts to hire and retain drivers have failed. Slow zones cover 6.5 percent of the T’s subway tracks, lengthening commutes.
The T is also working to comply with a Federal Transit Administration safety management inspection conducted last year. That inspection found that the T’s focus on long-term projects had come at the expense of day-to-day operations and safety and directed the it to staff up, improve communication with front-line workers, and bolster safety checks, among dozens of required actions.
Material from State House News Service was used in this report.