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Experts: MBTA safety deficiencies underscored by trust, fear issues

Reuters

The MBTA for years failed to conduct key maintenance and inspections, apply industry-wide safety standards or ensure accountability on its core transit, an independent panel concluded in a report set to be released Monday.

The three outside experts tapped to review the T after a string of derailments this summer concluded the MBTA’s approach to safety is “questionable,” they wrote in an executive summary of their findings. As a result, many existing safety issues likely go unreported, they found.

“In almost every area we examined, deficiencies in policies, application of safety standards or industry best practices, and accountability were apparent,” the safety review panel wrote. “The foundation for safety is also not obvious as the agency has not identified or adopted a comprehensive vision, mission, values or set of strategies and goals to guide the agency’s actions to achieve a safe work environment and to deliver quality service.”

The trio — former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, former acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Carolyn Flowers and former New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco — identified several factors contributing to the faulty culture.
Employees refrain from reporting possible safety issues because they “lack trust in their leadership or fear retribution,” the panel wrote, and the experts determined that frequent turnover in the T’s top general manager post may be the “overarching reason” for safety deficiency.

Gov. Charlie Baker will discuss the report’s findings at a 10 a.m. press conference Monday alongside Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak and Fiscal and Management Control Board Chair Joseph Aiello and and Vice Chair Monica Tibbits-Nutt

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