The board charged with leading an overhaul of the troubled MBTA system is officially in business.
Members of the brand new fiscal and management control board – dreamed up by Gov. Charlie Baker as an effort to make the T more consistent and reliable after the nightmare many riders faced this past winter – held their first meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Officials said the kick-off begins a new era of scrutiny for the T and its litany of problems. The board’s members will oversee everything from commuter rail trains that show up late and lines that grind to a halt in heavy snow, to T riders who don’t pay fares, to employees who may be spending too much time not working.
“You have your work cut out for you,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the five-member board.
The board didn’t move any agendas forward at the meeting, but members have already been given homework. A report on the state of the system is due in September, and a follow-up is due in December.
Their decisions and analysis will guide the changes riders will see during their commutes.
For one, the board would be putting pressure on commuter rail operator Keolis to be on time more often, officials said. The state levies fines on the company for being any more than five minutes late. Keolis has so far been fined a reported $7.5 million. The board would also have a say in how those fines are spent.
Members would also oversee ideas to improve maintenance of the aging rail equipment, guide investment in upgrades and make decisions about who will pay for a system-wide five percent fare increase, which was set to take effect no sooner than July, 2016.
“We want to make sure that we don’t accidentally increase the burden on those that are least able to pay for it,” DePaola said.