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Senators call for MBTA oversight

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Five senators lashed out at the MBTA today saying it should be under the watch of a control board to end years of alleged mismanagement and debt accumulation, the State House News Service reported.

The proposed control board, similar to the model used in Springfield in 2004, would be charged with crafting and implementing a plan for long term stability at the MBTA, while providing quality, affordable transit service.

"It's going to be a fight," Wilbraham Sen. Gale Candaras said, referring to the anticipated Senate debate today over her amendment that would dramatically change the way the MBTA is managed.



Candaras and four colleagues described the MBTA as a heavily subsidized agency that has made a routine of turning to Beacon Hill for bailouts, netting a big chunk of the state's sales tax in 2000, another $160 million in infusion in 2009 and now seeking a $51 million to balance its budget for the fiscal year that starts in less than two weeks.

"Something has to be done," said Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). "At some point this routine has to end."

Under an amendment backed by Candaras, Hedlund and Sens. James Welch (D-West Springfield), Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), a five-member control board would be appointed and possess the same powers as the existing T board and the $51 million sought by the T would be extended in the form of a loan rather than a direct appropriation, the news service reported.

Welch said a state control board put in place in Springfield had stabilized that city's rocky finances and he hoped a similar board would be able to do that same at the MBTA.

T fares are scheduled to rise an average of 23 percent July 1 to close most of the agency's budget gap.

Tarr predicted the T would be back next year seeking a bailout of as much as $100 million.

The Senate planned to consider the bill at today’s 1 p.m. session.

Video of the discussion, courtesy of the The State House News Service:

 
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