DeLeo ups T ante, pledges long-term fix

Speaker says the MBTA system is in crisis

SAYING THE MBTA is “in crisis,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House is willing to work with Gov. Charlie Baker on a short-term fix but remains focused on a long-term plan and the revenue to make it a reality.

The Winthrop Democrat, who often sees eye to eye with Baker on financial issues, issued his statement on the T hours after the Republican governor announced his plan to use $50 million in surplus fiscal 2019 money to help the T meet its goals for capital improvements and repairs. Baker insisted, however, that new revenues are not necessary to restore the MBTA to good working order.

DeLeo indicated the governor’s plan is lacking.

“For those who rely on the MBTA the system is in crisis” DeLeo’s statement said. “Riders ought not to have to plan additional time to commute to and from work or school each day, much less worry about their safety during their commute. The infrastructure and operational needs of the MBTA go well beyond a one-time revenue solution. Fixing the MBTA requires a long-term strategic plan as well as the long-term dedicated annual revenue to implement it. Nothing short of a modern, reliable, and safe transit system is what MBTA commuters deserve, and it is what the House demands.”

The derailment of a Red Line train on June 11 cast much of the transit system into disarray, and T officials say it will take all summer before service on the busiest subway line returns to normal. The incident, the cause of which still has not been determined, also seems to have galvanized those who favor a new funding source as part of the solution to improve Metro Boston’s transit system.

DeLeo has repeatedly said the House will take up a transportation initiative later this year and all options regarding additional revenues are on the table. But in his statement on Tuesday he indicated the chamber was interested in a holistic approach to problems at the transit authority.

In his statement, DeLeo indicated he would work with the governor on his $50 million request using surplus funds, but he is determined to put a revenue bill before the House before the end of the year.

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