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Jennifer Thomson-Sullivan captured video of the chaos that ensued as people jumped out of the windows of an MBTA Orange Line train that caught fire, July 2022.Jennifer Thomson-Sullivan

Various stories on the MBTA generated many comments on The following is an edited sample:

The T is an embarrassment to any developed city, let alone one that thinks it’s the best in the world. (sihaque)

Appointing a czar is a feel-good move that won’t change a thing. Our US senators and congresspeople are the only ones who can convince federal dollars to come our way. (Justthedata2)

And why should we need federal dollars? Why should we be asking the rest of the country to foot the bill for what amounts to a local need? (Manyoso)

Who is the governor’s Transportation secretary? (orangeline)


Huh? Governor Maura Healey’s been in office a few months and you lay blame for decades of mismanagement and years of disinvestment at the doorstep of the new governor? Give it a little time. Good grief. (VTinBOS)

You’re right. There have been decades of mismanagement at the T. Democratic and Republican governors, and a mostly Democratic Legislature, all have kicked the can down the road. That’s why things at the T are where they’re at now. Healey will not be able to make inroads any more than anyone before her because it’s going to take massive amounts of $$. The riders will have to sign on with intermittent construction delays and maybe higher fares and the taxpayers will have to sign on with additional taxes. Will the riders want to pay more? Will the taxpayers (particularly those west of I-495) want to pay more? (holymoses)

For the MBTA to be in a state of “disarray” assumes it had been in an organized state sometime in the past few decades. The entire service needs to be reimagined (factoring in housing projections, downtown and adjacent construction plans, etc.) Then, hands-on work begins. Existing employees need financial incentives to remain so their knowledge and expertise aren’t lost. Don’t discount their contribution to the future. One or two decades of (re)work are needed to bring the MBTA up to a level we expect to find it in, even during winter conditions. (RideLikeTheWind)


Charlie Baker set the bar so low; he campaigned on fixing the T and passed the buck for eight years. (grahammaster)

Baker started off pretty aggressively, privatizing certain parts of the T like the money counting room and parts warehouses. That reduced costs and improved productivity, but he got so much pushback from the unions that he seems to have quit making any more substantive changes. That’s the real problem at the T, we’ve got a bunch of very powerful unions that make any real change next to impossible. We need a culture change there and I hope Healey is up to it. We keep throwing billions at it and it never seems to get better. (User_19801984)

The MBTA probably isn’t fixable at this point. It’s the infrastructure equivalent of an octogenarian with a dozen comorbidities being brought in for surgery and then wondering why there was a negative outcome to the procedure. How do you fix a system that has been poorly, if at all, maintained for decades, poorly staffed, and poorly managed? There is no way to fix the subway without killing it. The necessary evil here is shutting the T down, line by line, for two to three years at a time, gutting the entire thing out, and starting over — rebuild the tunnels, the power infrastructure, the tracks, the signals, the stations, every aspect of each line. Can the MBTA function with a missing line for multiple years? No, it can’t. Boring new tunnels isn’t really an option since better than 50 percent of modern Boston is built on landfill, and disrupting that has interesting effects on the area surrounding it. Any underground construction project is going to run into surprises, very expensive ones at that. Where you would put new stations is also an issue. State Street is a perfect example. Does anyone think in 2023 or beyond that the proposal of putting a T station in the back third of a historical building would be allowed? I wish there was a more positive and happier outlook. But there really isn’t. Any fix is going to be extremely expensive, time consuming, and fraught with problems we haven’t even thought about yet. (North of Boston Yeti)


How clear is it that the MBTA does not even know how to document the track work it has COMPLETED over the last few years? Also DPU has not kept track of this over the years? Why doesn’t the safety group ask for this paperwork after every shift of track being completed. These are some of the basic questions that we, the paying public, should know. (fenway1234)

Meanwhile in New York City on Friday they rolled out brand new cars for the A train line, with wide doors, accessible seats, and improved messaging. There are hundreds of more cars scheduled. No issues reported with defective manufacturing as has plagued our system. I am giving Governor Healey a pass since she is new, but I will hold her responsible if these systemic issues are not fixed soon. (DaveSensible)


I was in DC last month and used the Metro. Great experience and wow, how to underscore that it is possible to have a well-run transit system that extends deep into the suburbs and would be an absolute dream to commute compared to the MBTA and commuter rail we have in Massachusetts. (areagirl)

My son lives in NYC and he reports the city’s subway system is just as decrepit as Boston’s, if not more so. Facts are, mass transit systems nationwide — what few there are — have been starved of resources for 70 years now. The only system that is running mostly smoothly is the DC system, which gets way more federal funding than any other system. (shhrcc)

I would much rather take public transportation than drive a car. But during the past couple of years, I have often decided to drive where I previously would have taken the T because it has become so slow and unreliable. Multiply that by however many Greater Boston residents make the same calculation and you end up with more traffic jams, accidents, and pollution. Meanwhile people without cars are wasting vast amounts of time and getting to work late. This should be viewed as the crisis that it is. (Dendroica)


Exactly. When I was a kid the T was reliable and we took it everywhere, and I bought my first car at 30 when I moved out of the city. I’m a huge fan of public transportation — time to read and people watch, and get some exercise walking to and from the train. But over the last 15 years the MBTA has become a sick joke played on the people of this city by incompetent politicians who don’t care about the poor suckers on the T. And so I bought a car and changed my work hours to avoid the worst of rush hour. I’m not happy about it, but it beats spending an irritating, frustrating 90 minutes getting from Medford to Cambridge. (JmGv)

Good thing we put up with that monthlong closure of the Orange Line. Like I said, Baker and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak are gone so we are left with the problems. (boston2015)

And they want people to return to the office. (cp77)

I was in Salt Lake City recently. The train ran from the airport to downtown and beyond. The fare was around $2.50 and we could buy an all-day pass for my family of four for $15, a deal. The T should be affordable for everyone, on time, clean, and fast and the riders will return. It’s not really asking too much. The budget should be adjusted to accomplish this. Clean out the ranks of unnecessary management staff and raise morale at the same time. (BlueLoon907)