(Below is a recent post from Tarr Talk, the blog of State Senator Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, whose district includes Wilmington.)
[On Thursday, March 19] , I joined with several of my colleagues in the legislature to take an hour long commute from West Gloucester Station to North Station in Boston on the commuter rail to experience firsthand the issues so many commuters face every day. It provided me with an excellent opportunity to speak directly with riders from our region about the frustrations they felt during this past winter’s historic snowfall totals, which caused major delays and cancellations.
During my commute in, I also had the opportunity to also share the details of bill that the Senate Republican Caucus filed last month that would provide the MBTA and commuter rail service vital tools to assist the agency in achieving financial stability. The bipartisan, bicameral bill creates a fiscal recovery trust fund, requires the Secretary of Administration and Finance to identify funds to assist the MBTA, and creates 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.
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.