Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Senate Republican Caucus Files Major MBTA Reform Package

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release:

Senate Republican Caucus Files Major MBTA Reform Package

Bill Creates Finance Control Board and Other Tools

Boston- Responding to weeks of repeated performance failures by the MBTA and partner Keolis Commuter Services, the Senate Republican Caucus has filed legislation today that will provide several tools for the beleaguered public transportation system that will financially stabilize the MBTA and restore public confidence in the system.  The bipartisan measure authored by the caucus would create a fiscal recovery trust fund, require the Secretary of Administration and Finance to identify funds to assist the MBTA, and would create a new seven member MBTA finance control board that could ultimately be dissolved in favor of a receiver that would take over the board’s responsibilities as a last resort if sufficient progress hadn’t been made.

“Arctic temperatures and unprecedented snowfall totals has only exasperated the issues currently hampering the MBTA and commuter rail services,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “This legislation seeks to address the underlining problems that have been going on for years to address the needs of the public in order to create a world-class public transportation system that they deserve.”

The responsibilities of the MBTA finance control board/receiver include:

  • Securing financial and performance stability of the MBTA;

  • Implementing fiscal controls;

  • Implementing uniform budget and planning guidelines and procedures for all departments;

  • Levying fines on vendors who fail to maintain on-time rates, vehicle cleanliness, fare collections, station maintenance, and staff training;

  • Executing capital budgets and borrowing authorizations to finance or refinance any debt;

  • Maintaining authority to appoint, remove, supervise, and control all MBTA employees and personnel matters;

  • Developing a long range plan for MBTA financial and structural sustainability; and

  • Requiring the filing of a quarterly report to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means detailing how any expended loan funds were used in the past quarter.

“For years I have been calling on the MBTA to fund necessary maintenance over costly expansion. The consequences of their decisions and fiscal mismanagement have been on full display, it is time for a new direction,” said Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth).

“The legislature cannot sit idly by as commuters continue to feel the pain of a failed public transportation system that they depend on day in and day out to get to work, home, school, and other appointments and destinations,” said Senator Tarr.  “The Senate Republican Caucus has offered a very reasonable, commonsense approach to the long-overdue issues that have been plaguing the public transportation system for years.”