Lawmakers respond to MBTA’s letter to Senator Markey, read full text HERE

Washington (October 26, 2022) – Today Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) issued the following statement in response to a letter from MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak outlining the status of Orange Line speed restrictions and a list of outstanding work required to bring the MBTA up to a state of good repair. The letter from Mr. Poftak also included a renewed commitment to release average train time data, which he said will be released in the form of a Travel Time dashboard on the MBTA website in the coming months.

“We appreciate MBTA General Manager Poftak taking this step toward greater transparency with lawmakers, riders, and the public at large about the operations of Greater Boston’s public transit system. The MBTA’s commitment to honoring the promises made during the hearing Senator Warren convened earlier this month, including by sharing a full list of repairs needed to get the Orange Line back to full speed, is an important first step towards rebuilding trust in the T.

“As we emphasized during the hearing, clear and transparent communication must be a top MBTA priority in the months and years ahead. The public must be able to reliably plan their lives around their commute, and not knowing how long their trip may take—or how long until their commute speeds up—can have real-world consequences for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents. As a result of the commitments we obtained from Mr. Poftak, T riders will now have additional critical information they need to make informed decisions about where and how they live, work, and travel.

“Riders will soon have a Travel Time dashboard to readily access how long a typical trip on their subway lines will take, and the MBTA must ensure that this dashboard is easy to locate and understand. In the same way that we check the weather forecast to plan our days, riders should be able to use the dashboard to more reliably plan their commutes. We also expect that the MBTA will meet its winter deadline for providing this information.

“For the first time, the public also now has specific information about the speed restrictions currently in place on the Orange Line, along with timelines for the work required to get the line closer to full speed. We urge the MBTA going forward to release comparable information on current and future speed restrictions on all subway lines, to ensure greater public insight into service on the T.

“While providing this information is a small step forward, the MBTA still has a long journey ahead. It is frustrating that some Orange Line speed restrictions will remain in place more than two months after the conclusion of the month-long shutdown, despite earlier promises that the shutdown would quickly yield faster service. The MBTA also still must work to implement the 53 safety actions identified by the Federal Transit Administration.

“After years of neglect and underinvestment, the release of this data is a key first step toward clear, reliable communication and making the T a true public good once again—but it cannot be the end of the line. The people of Massachusetts demand and deserve continued transparency from the MBTA—and so do we. We will continue conversations with the Authority and push for increased accountability to get our nation’s first public transit system back on track.”