Charlie Baker can call the MBTA’s service problems unacceptable — and he’s right — but he also has to acknowledge his role in starting the T’s downward tilt about 25 years ago. Following Michael Dukakis’s legendary support of public transportation in the early 1990s, the team of Governor William Weld and Cabinet members Baker and James Kerasiotes took over, dramatically cutting state transportation budgets.
Kerasiotes kept a toy hatchet on his desk to symbolize what a tough budget-cutter he was. He was eventually forced to resign as chairman of the Turnpike Authority, and just this month was sentenced to six months in prison for filing false tax returns.
Baker took credit for shifting billions of Big Dig debt onto the T’s books. The results of those cuts and debt burden can be seen today as the T struggles to overcome its silver anniversary of underfunding and fiscal neglect.
Rather than anyone blaming the condition of the system on the T’s general manager — Beverly Scott had been on the job for just a little more than two years — Scott and her team should get a heroism award for their extraordinary efforts to keep so many of the Band-Aids applied to the equipment over the years from falling off.
The writer is former director of communications for the MBTA.