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MBTA focused on long-term projects at expense of day-to-day safety, feds say in scathing report – Boston 25 News



The Federal Transit Administration on Wednesday is slated to issue a scathing report on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority that indicates the agency prioritized long-term projects at the expense of day-to-day operations, putting thousands of riders at risk.

The T’s focus left the agency with too few workers, too little training, and weak safeguards, according to a copy of the 90-page report that was obtained by The Boston Globe.

“The combination of overworked staff and aging assets has resulted in the organization being overwhelmed, chronic fatigue for key positions in the agency, lack of resources for training and supervision, and leadership priorities that emphasize meeting capital project demands above passenger operations, preventive maintenance, and even safety,”” federal investigators said in the report.

The report added that poor employee training, poor supervision, and lack of preventative maintenance all contributed to the T’s ongoing transportation crisis.

The FTA launched a safety inspection back in June after a rash of dangerous incidents on the MBTA, including the death of a Boston man who was fatally dragged after getting stuck in a Red Line door in April. In January, a Wilmington woman died when a commuter rail train hit her car. It was later determined that the crossing gate failed to close at the intersection.

The FTA later ordered the MBTA to implement safety policies related to operating control center staffing, general safety operating procedures, delayed critical maintenance, and lapses in staff safety certifications.

In July, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the overhaul was going well.

“Following the FTA’s initial safety review, the MBTA was asked to implement changes to the system to improve the way it is run and operated,” said Poftak. “I am pleased that the MBTA has completed many of those updates and continues to make progress on many more. These recommendations will make the T safer and more reliable for both our riders and our employees. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to work closely with these safety experts to improve the MBTA system.”

Just days after Poftak’s remarks, a packed Orange Line train transporting commuters on a bridge that runs over the Mystic River in Somerville caught fire, sending hundreds of people scrambling for safety. About 200 people were forced to evacuate the train, including a woman who jumped into the river and others who climbed through smashed windows.

Later that month, the FTA ordered a “safety stand down” following a parade of runaway train incidents. The order forbade workers that had not completed a safety briefing from operating trains in MBTA railways and storage areas.

FTA Associate Administrator Paul Kincaid will address the media at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Documents available for public consumption will be released following the press conference.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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