The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has been in hot water with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for months.
Maintenance procedures, operations center problems, operators not having proper certification, and yard-based runaway trains have been major parts of the problem. On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, RT&S Editor-in-Chief Bill Wilson filed two detailed stories on the safety directives issued to the MBTA since June 15. The special directives, listed on the FTA’s website, have been reproduced below:
- Special Directive 22-12: Related to operating conditions and policies, procedures and training (Aug. 31, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-11: Related to the effectiveness of safety communication (Aug. 31, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-10: Related to prioritization of safety management information (Aug. 31, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-9: Related to managing the impact of operations, maintenance, and capital project requirements on the existing workforce (Aug. 31, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-7: Related to lapsed certifications (June 15, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-6: Related to the Operations Control Center (June 15, 2022);
- Special Directive 22-5: Related to vehicle securement of disabled trains (June 15, 2022); and
- Special Directive 22-4: Related to track maintenance (June 15, 2022).
Last week, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy, chaired by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, held a hearing in Boston to discuss MBTA’s problems and how they should be addressed. Her colleague, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, also participated in the hearing. Both Warren and Markey are Democrats and are the senators for Massachusetts. And, both senators grilled the MBTA witnesses, Steve Poftak, MBTA’s general manager and Matthew Nelson, chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez spoke at the hearing, along with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
Readers may recall that the FTA took over the operations of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in 2015 because of significant safety violations, then turned the oversight over to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, an independent body. However, Administrator Nuria said that the FTA currently does not have plans to take over the operations of MBTA, but will keep a close eye on the situation, including the progress made on completion of the special directives.
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