Sen. Warren holds hearing in Boston to urge MBTA improvements

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat, of Massachusetts, at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill, Sept. 22, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat, of Massachusetts, at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill, Sept. 22, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Ongoing safety problems at the MBTA and their economic impact will be the focus on Friday of a rare Senate hearing held here in Boston.

Leading that hearing will be Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who's long been critical of the MBTA's efforts to improve.

She joined WBUR's Morning Edition host Rupa Shenoy to discuss.

Highlights from this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.

Interview Highlights

On what she's hoping to learn and accomplish in the hearing

"Look, I am a huge supporter of transit, of the MBTA. We've tried — Senator Markey and I and the rest of the delegation — to get plenty of funds into the MBTA. But without a plan, without management, without some indication that they're actually using that money to deliver what the people of Massachusetts are entitled to, and that means safe, accessible trains that runs on time, a transit system that works, we can't just keep pouring money into this. So this is about the management report that the federal government has now done as a matter of oversight and bringing in the leaders of the MBTA to say basically, what's gone wrong and why is it you guys still have your jobs? At the federal level, I want to be able to support the MBTA. I want to help get it resources. But not just pour money into a hole with no real plan on what they're going to do going forward. That's what today is going to be about."

On where the money to fix the T should come from 

"I think some of it should come from the federal government and some of it should come from the state. This is about a good partnership. But money without vision is just a waste. We need that money to be used in ways that really do produce a transit system that works. And part of what we're going to talk about are the preventable errors, the preventable waste. That's going to be a big part of what this hearing is about today, and why it is that a strong governor can step in and put her vision on the MBTA, and really make it work for the people of Massachusetts."

On whether the age of the system and the lack of staffing are valid excuses

"Well, why do you not have enough people? Why would the MBTA have trouble hiring? They pay well. If management is not creating a safe working environment, if it's not creating an environment where people want to come to work and do the work, then you can't just blame that on people who didn't show up at the MBTA and somehow volunteer to work. That is also a management issue."

On why she wanted to hold the hearing in Boston

"A field hearing is unusual, but when things get so badly out of control, one of the jobs of the federal government in the transit area is to step in and actually talk about what's wrong and exercise some oversight. And that's what I'm trying to do with this hearing, is to shine a spotlight on a federal report that tells about the terrible failures of the MBTA — the kind that the MBTA itself doesn't want to bring forward, the kind that the agency that oversees the MBTA doesn't want to bring forward — to bring all of that forward into the public view so that we can make real change."

This segment aired on October 14, 2022.


Headshot of Rupa Shenoy

Rupa Shenoy Morning Edition Host
Rupa Shenoy hosts WBUR's Morning Edition.


Headshot of Dan Guzman

Dan Guzman Executive Producer, All Things Considered
Dan Guzman is senior producer for Morning Edition at WBUR.



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