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Baker Says MBTA Is 'Far Better Prepared' For This Winter03:06
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Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday touted the MBTA's progress in implementing its winter resiliency plan and said he believes the T is far better prepared for this winter than it was for last year. Pictured here, a Green Line train station was closed following a February snowstorm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday touted the MBTA's progress in implementing its winter resiliency plan and said he believes the T is far better prepared for this winter than it was for last year. Pictured here, a Green Line train station was closed following a February snowstorm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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Gov. Charlie Baker says he believes the MBTA is "far better prepared" for this winter than it was last year.

Baker made the comments Wednesday while visiting a Dorchester staging area for some of the upgrades being made to the Red Line. He was accompanied by MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola and Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve.

"You never know what Mother Nature's going to deliver, but I feel very good that we are far better prepared than we were last year," Baker told reporters.

After last winter paralyzed the transit system, Baker in June announced plans for $83 million in infrastructure and operations upgrades -- including the installation of new third rails on some vulnerable above-ground sections of the Red and Orange lines. Those new rails have curved tops rather than flat, so snow and ice can't accumulate on them.


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Other updates include the purchase of several new snow plows that can plow low enough between the tracks so train motors don't pick up snow, which was a major problem last winter. And trains will run with their own plows — in all, 20 plows are being built for Red Line trains and another 20 for Orange Line trains.

T GM DePaola says that T staff will also be taking part in drills to prepare for potential storms.

"We'll do some physical exercises where we declare a snow emergency and people will go to their locations that they will have during their snow emergency call ups, so we will be practicing and we will understand what we need to do to be successful," DePaola said.

Baker on Wednesday also acknowledged the release of the first report from the T's new fiscal control board, which painted a bleak picture of the long-troubled transit system's finances.

Baker praised the work being done by the board, which he created in response to last year's rough winter, and said that you can't fix a problem if you don't acknowledge that you have one.

"[That was the] most transparent presentation of the fiscal state of affairs at the MBTA I think in recent memory," he said of the report.

Baker predicted the T would probably spend less this coming winter than the $37 million it spent responding to last winter's storms because the agency is better prepared.

Baker also said the T can do more to raise money and it can deliver service more effectively. He says he is not talking new taxes, period, because as far as he's concerned, there's a long way to go before the T is maximizing its performance and its revenue.

With reporting by WBUR's Fred Thys

This segment aired on September 23, 2015.

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