Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MBTA Hearing in Salem Cancelled

455W at North St

Next Monday’s “public workshop” in Salem has been cancelled by the governor, following the dismissal of MBTA GM, Dan Grabauskas.   Quote from John Keenan’s email yesterday:

Today Secretary of Transportation James Aloisi suspended the remaining hearings on the proposed MBTA fare increase, including the August 17th hearing scheduled in Salem. 
The Patrick Administration has indicated that there are no plans to move forward on the proposed fare increase until a review of the MBTA's finances is completed.  The review is due by November 1st.

The first “workshop” was already held in Boston, and it was contentious, as I expected.  Some interesting excerpts:

Representative Carl Sciortino, a Somerville Democrat who said he takes the T every day, said the inner politics over Grabauskas’s removal has diverted from the more far-reaching impacts of the proposed fare increase.

“We think the finger-pointing is actually a distraction from the real issue facing the MBTA and its financial health,’’ he said. “We’re looking to move beyond the finger-pointing and get back to the MBTA riders.’’

Hats off to Mr. Sciortino.  He’s one of the few pols who takes the T regularly.  Our own rep, John Keenan, takes the commuter rail, but not sure if he does it every day.

At the start of the meeting, interim MBTA General Manager William Mitchell sat at the front of the auditorium, though after a barrage of critical comments from lawmakers, he moved to the wings of the building. [my emphasis]

Granted, Mr. Mitchell doesn’t go to public meetings every day, but it’s his job in the interim to handle difficult things, including questions.

I agree the fighting over MBTA management and the fare hike is a serious distraction to the future of the agency and public transit in Boston, but Mitchell, and Grabauskas have demonstrated why they were both unsuitable managers.

Dan had an easier time at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  He was a driver, as is the vast majority of citizens in Massachusetts.  All of them (including myself at one point) have been in an RMV office at some point, at multiple points, in their lives.

Dan didn’t take the T.  He lived in Ipswich, but far away from the rail stop.  From what I’ve heard, many of his managers didn’t.

If a T manager had to, for example, go through Kenmore station for years at a time while it endured years of construction.  If he or she had to answer questions from people on the platform as to why it was in the state it was in for years, why it was never finished, and had to do that every day, there would be action and speed.

Closer to home, Dan had never, so far as I know, stood waiting for a train at Salem Depot.

The editorial board of the Salem News is not happy with Dan’s dismissal.  He’s a Republican, he’s in Ipswich, and he’s a Nice Guy (the all-purpose compliment to cronies.)

Not good enough.  I expected better.

No word yet on the service cuts.  This isn’t over.

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