Lowell Sun: Put MBTA reform bill back on right track

The Lowell Sun's editorial board agrees - it's time to pass the Governor's MBTA plan in its entirety. Read their editorial calling on the Legislature to stand up for the riding public.

Put MBTA reform bill back on right track
By the Editorial Board

The trolley left the station, but it's got a long way to go before reaching its final destination. That's the way Gov. Charlie Baker probably feels about the version of the MBTA management reform bill released by the Joint Committee on Transportation on Monday.

While it does contain the formation of a financial control board that the governor insisted was necessary to overhaul the transit system, it omits the tools necessary for that body to enact meaningful reforms.

Specifically, the legislation won't allow for any relaxing of the Pacheco Law to facilitate the privatization of some services, or give the control board veto power in binding arbitration awards involving MBTA unions.


This bill -- currently off the tracks as far as the Baker administration is concerned -- now rests in the hands of a more friendly conductor, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his leadership team.

"We will make further changes," Speaker DeLeo told State House News Service on Tuesday, an obvious reference to the reforms favored by the governor not currently in the bill. DeLeo will hand over that responsibility to House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey.

For instance, the House's version of the state budget contains a provision suspending the Pacheco Law, so we know the MBTA reforms envisioned by the House and governor are similar.

We've already witnessed some give and take in this process. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg initially opposed the creation of a control board, but his body eventually supported it.

And Senate leaders are quick to indicate that most of their views on reforming the MBTA are negotiable.

At least that's the official position of state Rep. William Straus, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee.


So far, Baker, DeLeo and Rosenberg have developed a pragmatic working relationship. Let's hope that extends to this MBTA-reform legislation.

And that should include providing Gov. Baker with the means he needs to make material improvements to all facets of the MBTA -- so we don't see a repeat of last winter's nightmarish performance.


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