Gov. Charlie Baker reiterated MBTA management needed a “fresh look” in explaining why he asked for the state’s transportation board to resign during a talk show that aired Sunday.
Baker, appearing on WCVB’s On The Record, cited an advisory panel’s recent report that stated there were problems with the T’s productivity and general management.
Asked about the assertion of some Democratic lawmakers that data in that report doesn’t match its recommendations, Baker, a Republican, said, “There’s no disputing the fact that the T did not spend billions of dollars in available capital funding for signals, switches, systems and infrastructure. That’s a huge problem given the fact that everyone agrees that the T has not invested enough in those activities, in those issues.”
Baker added that the report indicates that absenteeism amongst T staff is significantly “above any other transit system we can find.” He said the T missed opportunities to be prepared for this winter’s historic snow, which caused consistent and significant delays to commutes throughout the MBTA system for several weeks.
Speaking shortly after his first 100 days in the Corner Office, Baker said dealing with the historic amount of snowfall – more than eight feet of snow was dumped on Boston in about a month’s time – was his proudest accomplishment so far.
“At one point we had 150 projects going on with cities and towns. We had equipment manpower from five other states, National Guardsmen from two other states,” he said. “It felt at the time like a pretty big challenge and it’s something we weathered reasonably well. Pun intended.”
He demurred when asked whether he would support the idea of having a sliding fee structure for T fares where people who could afford to pay more do so, while people with lower incomes pay less.
“I’m going to pass on that one until I know more,” he said.
He also deflected questions about who he would support in the GOP presidential primary, saying his “focus is on Massachusetts” before adding that he would not be making political donations to any specific candidate until after a nominee emerges.