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T improvements are moving in ‘right direction,’ Baker says

The scene at the JFK/UMass Station on the MBTA's Red Line.
The scene at the JFK/UMass Station on the MBTA's Red Line.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

SPRINGFIELD — Governor Charlie Baker said he remains confident that the MBTA is moving in the “right direction” with long-planned fixes in the wake of Tuesday morning’s Red Line derailment that halted the morning commute for many riders, the second such incident in a week.

Baker declined to address the cause of Tuesday’s derailment, citing a T review. But the Republican, who’s long pushed back against calls to infuse the system with more cash, argued the agency is still completing the “overdue” work to update its aging equipment and infrastructure, some of which is decades old.

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“We want to make sure we get it right,” Baker said after an unrelated event in Springfield. “I wish we could install it all tomorrow. We can’t. But I believe we’re heading in the right direction on that stuff.”

Several Boston officials, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh, seemed to disagree Tuesday as they called for more funding to fix the struggling system.

“This week’s @MBTA derailments are unacceptable. We need answers, solutions & more funding, and we need it now. It is imperative that we have a public transportation system for Boston residents and surrounding communities that is safe and reliable,” he said in a tweet.

City Council president Andrea Campbell, whose district includes Dorchester, the site of the derailment, also said it was “unacceptable” and called on Baker to support more funding.

Councilor-at-large Michelle Wu noted that increased MBTA fares are set to kick in next month and called for immediate fixes.

“It’s not working,” she tweeted.

A Suffolk/Globe poll of Massachusetts voters released Tuesday found that 61 percent of respondents — including those who travel by car, bus, train and other means — believed their commutes have gotten worse over the last five years.

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Tuesday’s derailment was the fourth this year, putting the T on pace for the most derailments since 2009, according to MBTA data.

On Saturday, a Green Line train carrying 150 riders derailed near Kenmore Station, injuring 11 people, including the driver, whom officials have blamed for the crash and suspended.

Weeks earlier, another Green Line train that was not in service fell off the tracks as it was crossing over a switch on March 30.

And on Feb. 5, the day of the Patriots victory parade, another Green Line train derailed near the Beaconsfield stop in Brookline. Fifty passengers were evacuated, and none were injured. An initial investigation identified a “track defect” as the probable cause.

Baker stressed that the most recent weekend derailment was not because of an equipment problem but because “the operator was going too fast.”

“There was nothing with the system, there was nothing wrong with the train, there was nothing wrong with the signals or the switches,” he said.


Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed.